Let’s look  at Plan B

Let’s look at Plan B

LAST week’s decision by three senior lawyers to challenge the appointment of Justice ’Maseshophe Hlajoane as acting president of the Court of Appeal comes as no surprise to us. Attorney Qhalehang Letsika, Karabo Mohau KC and Zwelakhe Mda KC have over the last four years been engaged in a virtual war of attrition against Professor Kananelo Mosito.

It is a war that has seen thousands of Basotho, who are waiting for their cases to be dealt with at the Court of Appeal, being caught in the crossfire.
This time, the three lawyers are challenging Justice Hlajoane’s appointment and want her interdicted from being sworn in as acting president of the Court of Appeal.

They also want the court to interdict Justice Hlajoane from discharging the functions of the President of the Court of Appeal.
They also want the court to declare the removal of a South African judge, Justice Yvonne Mokgoro, as acting president null and void.
While this battle for control of the apex court rages, it is the common man who continues to bear the brunt. That is why it is critical that some kind of solution is found to resolve the matter. This surely cannot be allowed to continue.

However, we doubt that the two sides are in any mood for a compromise. The two sides have crafted the narrative as a winner-take-all battle. No side appears willing to give in. This will be a fight to the finish.

There is no doubt that Professor Mosito is one of the sharpest legal brains in Lesotho. Yet, the last judgment by three foreign judges was so damning as to have consigned his judicial career to the graveyard.

The judgement essentially said Professor Mosito was an unfit person to be a judge after he was found guilty of violating Lesotho’s tax laws.
Professor Mosito, in spite of his brilliant legal mind, faces a mighty battle to overturn that judgment. The three lawyers appear determined to block Prof Mosito from being a judge, by any means necessary. On the other hand, the coalition government also appears hell-bent on getting Mosito at the Court of Appeal by all means. It will take a monumental effort on the part of the government to reverse the last judgment without appearing to be interfering with the justice system.

Any moves to get Prof Mosito back in favour through a judicial cleansing process must not appear to be a brazen attempt to capture the judiciary.
The government must therefore tread carefully on the Professor Mosito issue lest it is accused of seeking to capture the judiciary by seeking to appoint its “own man” at the apex court.

While we know who is behind Professor Mosito, we still don’t know who is backing the three lawyers. The lawyers cannot escape the common notion that they are fighting a proxy war on behalf of the previous government. They must quickly disabuse us of this notion if we are wrong.

As we continue to watch this cynical soap opera roll on, we can only think of the thousands of Basotho who are waiting for justice at the Court of Appeal and cannot have their cases heard. There is no doubt that this fight has come at a huge cost for Basotho. Perhaps the government must start looking at Plan B to resolve this impasse. That will not be an indication of defeat. It would be an act of prudence.

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