Stop the mess

Stop the mess

LESOTHO’S judiciary has over the years hogged the limelight for the wrong reasons with devastating consequences for the delivery of justice.

The Court of Appeal is virtually in limbo after it failed to sit for its April and October sessions amid a fierce power struggle over the leadership of the apex court.

The President of the Court of Appeal resigned in a huff in May, leaving the court without a substantive head.

The result has been a paralysis within the justice system that has left litigants in limbo. For some of the people whose cases are in court, their lives are now virtually on hold until the cases are finalised.

It is on this basis that we think the Thomas Thabane-led government must move with speed to resolve the crisis in the judiciary.

This is a crisis that has hovered over Lesotho for close to a decade now.

From as long back as 2008, we have been reporting about the vicious power struggles in the judiciary between former Chief Justice Mahapela Lehohla and the then President of the Court of Appeal Justice Ramodibeli over who was senior.

With the two senior judges out of the way we thought sanity would be restored within the judiciary.

We were wrong.

Ever since the departure of the two legal gurus, the judiciary has hardly enjoyed sustained moments of tranquility.

In 2013, Thabane’s attempt to elevate Justice Kananelo Mosito to the apex court was met with fierce resistance within the judiciary. It was no surprise that the previous government went all out to get Mosito out.

We understand there are now fresh moves to reinstate Mosito to head the judiciary at the expense of current Chief Justice Nthomeng Majara.

Justice Majara could likely face impeachment over some alleged misdemenour, potentially setting the stage for yet another bruising legal battle within the judiciary.

The Director of Public Prosecutions, Leaba Thetsane, was this week sent packing, paving way for his retirement next year.

Thetsane, who is seen as pro-Mosisili, by the current administration was viewed as a major stumbling block in the current government’s attempts to pursue justice for victims of rights abuses.

The government says Thetsane had worked fiercely to frustrate the government’s attempts to arrest “criminals” who served in the previous government.

On the other hand, the opposition says the Thabane-led government wants to reappoint Mosito and get rid of Thetsane in a calculated attempt by the government to capture the judiciary.

It says the government wants a pliant judiciary that will serve its interests.

We are of the strong view that the government must move swiftly, either way, to address the stalemate at the Court of Appeal and the rest of the judiciary so that this country can move forward.

Lesotho must take advantage of the SADC-driven constitutional and security sector reforms to push for radical changes to address some of the concerns.

The proposed constitutional reforms provide a platform for Basotho to express what they think must be done to resolve once and for all some of the challenges we have grappled with in the sector.

We need to put a stop to this mess.

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