NRA members sue chairperson Letsoela

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Mohalenyane Phakela

OUTSPOKEN Thaba-Bosiu chief, Khoabane Theko, and 12 other members of the National Reforms Authority (NRA) have filed a High Court application for the nullification of the contracts of NRA CEO Mafiroane Motanyane, his deputy, Tsiu Khatibe and other NRA officials.

Chief Theko and his co-applicants accuse NRA chairperson, Pelele Letsoela, of unilaterally and unlawfully renewing Adv Motanyane and others’ contracts after they expired in September and October 2021. Mr Letsoela allegedly extended them to an unspecified date in 2022.

The other 12 applicants are Malimatle Hlalele, Nkoale Oetsi Tšoana, Matsele Mapolle, Thabo Thelingoane, Tieang Sefali, Motsamai Nyareli, Sechaba Moqoko, Rosa Lenea, Seeiso Letsie, Rantelali Shea, Gosene Djama and Leqheka Ntjatsane.

Mr Letsoela, Adv Motanyane, Mr Khatibe, the NRA, Law and Justice Minister Lekhetho Rakuoane and Attorney General Rapelang Motsieloa are the respondents along with seven individuals who Mr Letsoela is allegedly attempting to recruit into the NRA. The seven are Makamoho Majoro, Motsamai Motsiba, Joel Moleme, Lieketseng Makoko, Sekoala Letuka, Lesekelo Makara and Mathabo Sebilo.

“The first respondent (Letsoela), without the authority and authorisation of the NRA itself, has unilaterally and unlawfully renewed and extended to 2022, the contracts of the NRA’s CEO and deputy CEO, which contracts ended in September and October 2021 respectively. This notwithstanding the protestation and objection of the members of the NRA against the renewals and extensions,” the applicants state in their court papers.

“The chairperson of the NRA has, in a similar and discriminatory fashion, renewed and extended to 2022 the contracts of some of the NRA members of staff and continued to unlawfully suspend the chairperson of the Media Sector Reforms Committee (second applicant Tšoana). The CEO, whose contract has been unlawfully renewed, has thereafter continued to purport to recruit a human resource manager and finance manager of the NRA whilst he has no power to do so and the NRA has not authorised such recruitments.

“The chairperson, whose authority is to convene the meetings of the Authority and determine the agenda or business of the meetings of the NRA, has refused to convene the NRA meeting so as to enable the NRA to deliberate and determine the issues, thus immunising not only himself but also the CEO and the illegal administration of the Authority from scrutiny by the Authority.

“The illegal and unlawful conduct of the chairperson and the CEO deleteriously prejudices and affects the proper administration and operation of the Authority. It flies in the face of due process, undermines the rule of law, infringes the rights and interests not only of the Authority, its members and those of the chairperson of the Media Sector Reforms Committee, but also has a debilitating effect of hampering the reforms processes themselves.”

The applicants argue that Messrs Letsoela, Motanyane and Khatibe do not have the powers to recruit, hire and appoint employees of the NRA without being authorised by the NRA.

They therefore want the High Court to set aside Mr Letsoela’s decision to renew Messrs Motanyane and Khatibe’s contracts.

They also want the court to nullify the suspension of Mr Tšoana.

The NRA is tasked with spearheading the multi-sector reforms process. However, the reforms process risks being derailed by the factionalism pitting Mr Letsoela and Chief Theko’s camps.

The two factions have been haggling for control of the NRA and its outcomes.  Chief Theko’s side has accused Mr Letsoela, a leader of a small political party — the Basotho Democratic National party — of trying to usurp the NRA to promote his agenda and that of his fellow smaller parties.  Mr Letsoela has, among other things, been pushing for the number of proportional representation seats, which normally benefit smaller parties that fail to win constituencies, to be increased from 40 to 60, an issue fiercely opposed by Chief Theko’s side which believes it would make it impossible to produce coherent government.

Last week, Deputy Prime Minister Mathibeli Mokhothu implored members of the NRA to stop the infighting and concentrate on their mandate of producing reforms aimed at saving Lesotho from political turmoil in future.

Minister Rakuoane repeated Mr Mokhothu’s exhortations for unity and peace.

The latest lawsuit by Chief Theko’s faction, is therefore a clear indication that the infighting is far from over.

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