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Thabane withdraws court challenge

by Lesotho Times
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Prime Minister Thomas Thabane and his estranged wife Lipolelo Alice Thabane

Prime Minister Thomas Thabane and his estranged wife Lipolelo Alice Thabane

Tefo Tefo

Former prime minister, Thomas Thabane, yesterday withdrew a case in which he wanted the High Court to set aside a judgment which declared his estranged wife, Lipolelo Alice Thabane, Lesotho’s First Lady.

The High Court on 13 January this year declared Lipolelo the country’s First Lady and that she should be afforded all the benefits that came with the title, such as a chauffeur-driven government vehicle, bodyguard, free medical treatment, as well as personal and official allowances.

The judgment was delivered when Liabiloe Ramoholi was recognising herself as Dr Thabane’s rightful wife and therefore, the First Lady.

The All Basotho Convention leader, who was replaced by Democratic Congress leader Pakalitha Mosisili as prime minister on Tuesday this week, had later filed an application seeking High Court judge, Justice Molefi Makara, to overturn his judgment, pointing out he had filed for divorce on 27 July 2012 although the case was still pending.

But following the new turn of events, Dr Thabane’s lawyer, Advocate Lerato Makholela, yesterday withdrew the application, noting pursuing the case would now be a waste of time.

The decision to withdraw the case was made in Justice Makara’s chambers between Advocate Makholela and Lipolelo’s lawyer, Advocate Zwelakhe Mda.

Both Advocates Mda and Makholela yesterday confirmed the new developments to the Lesotho Times.

Advocate Mda said: “It was agreed that the case be withdrawn after the applicant’s lawyer submitted that it would just be an academic exercise to pursue the matter.

“This is because Dr Thabane’s status has since changed, and again, he had already started complying with some of the orders of the judgment, which included paying school-fees for the couple’s adopted child.

“However, because of the judgment, it means my client (Lipolelo) has the right to enjoy Dr Thabane’s retirement benefits.”

On his part, Advocate Makholela also said there was no need to proceed with the case anymore.

“Most of the issues we were challenging related to his status as prime minister. Now that he no longer holds the position, it would just be academic to proceed with the case,” he said.

Asked if Lipolelo was now entitled to Dr Thabane’s pension, Advocate Makholela said: “I cannot comment on that because it falls outside the parameters of the case I was handling.”

Meanwhile, in his judgment, Justice Makara had ruled that Liabiloe should be banned from “performing any functions and exercising any rights vested in the applicant (Lipolelo) as the First Spouse in terms of Act 10 of 2011.”

The judge had also ordered Dr Thabane and former Public Service Minister Motloheloa Phooko to “stop making any payments to Liabiloe from government coffers”.

Justice Makara had ordered that Lipolelo be given all the benefits due to her in terms of the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister (Retirement and Spouses’ Benefits) Act, 2011 (Act No: 10 of 2011), and that Dr Thabane should also pay school-fees for a minor child the two had adopted.

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