A threat to the rule of law of law

A threat to the rule of law of law

On April 5, 2019, we welcomed and appreciated the judgement of the High Court of Lesotho in repealing and setting aside the wool and mohair regulations passed down the throats of farmers by Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s coalition government.
However, our collective relief has turned into apprehension as in the last few days there have been worrying developments in the the corridors of power that threaten the rule of law.
The Deputy Minister of Home Affairs Machesetsa Mofomobe, inebriated by arrogance of power, has childishly posted on Facebook declaring to all and sundry that wool and mohair will only be sold or auctioned in Lesotho.
It is worth mentioning to the junior minister that court orders are sacrosanct in as far as they have not been repealed by an upper court.

Compliance with court orders is not an option for ministers or the government. Rather, it is a crucial matter of constitutional and civic obligation.
This announcement by the “Facebook Minister” was made contrary to Acting Judge Mokhesi’s judgement that the 2018 Wool and Mohair Regulations were null and void in as far as they are ultra vires the principal legislation.
Immediately after the delivery of the judgement, Minister Phori indicated that the government was going to appeal the judgment. At the same time he applied for a stay of execution pending the appeal of the court decision.
Arguments for and against the stay were heard by the competent court and the court decided to make a decision on April 18.

Subsequent to the passing of the judgement, the wool and mohair traders approached the Animal Health Department applying for export permits with the judgement in their hands.
Dr Mahloane of the Department of Animal Health informed the farmers that he had been instructed by six cabinet ministers not to issue permits under any circumstance, thus deliberately disrespecting the court’s authority. This is a clear prima facie case of contempt of court.
On April 18, Justice Mokhesi ruled that a stay was not going to be granted. It is my humble submission that the coalition government’s refusal to comply with the court orders over the last few weeks threaten the rule of law and undermines the constitution.

The Wool and Mohair Regulations 2018, remains the worst draconian legislation the Parliament of Lesotho has ever passed on its people! The ridiculous way in which the regulations were introduced left a lot to be desired.
Our country has irrationally been sold to the Chinese for a dish of tapanyaki. These tragic and deceitful regulations have impoverished our people.
You see, it’s not an issue of contravening the government’s decision and regulations. Why would a good initiative be forced down on poor Basotho through coercion, intimidation and threats?

That alone makes it evil and my government is yielding to pressure from the Chinese to have the regulations imposed upon its citizens with immediate effect and have them subject to sell all their wool and mohair through Stone Shi.
Why am I saying again that it’s evil? The High Court has already issued an order that the 2018 wool and mohair regulations are null and void and wool and mohair growers are at liberty to sell their produce anywhere in the world.
But the government has acted in defiance and contempt of the court order.
Isn’t this in itself suspect and worth thinking over? I wouldn’t put it past this government that the last thing they will do is switch off the air we breathe.

This government, regardless of the dissenting voices among citizens, has resorted to coercion to push these Wool and Mohair 2018 regulations down our throats.
Let’s face the facts: There are no buyers coming to buy at Thaba-Bosiu. There are jobs that have been lost. There is income that has been lost by the farmers.
There is an increase of the index in Port Elizabeth and yet farmers are complaining they are realising lower returns (those that were paid by Stone Shi). Nobody believes the story except Phori and Machesetsa.
If selling at Thaba-Bosiu is that good, why is there compulsion for farmers to go there? Farmers are smart and price sensitive. They are not fools! Why does Thabane and his government force them on an opaque system?
The majority of citizens have evidently expressed concern about this whole initiative but the government has still continued to force it up on their throats.

Farmers have been complaining about Stone Shi’s late and arbitrary payments. I came across such a farmer recently whose payment was publicised on social media – Chief Masupha Seeiso.
This is what he said to me: “Those who say Stone Shi paid me more money compared to what BKB was paying me, should tell me which account of mine received such payment, that’s madness?”
There are many disgruntled and aggrieved wool and mohair growers who share the same disappointment as Chief Masupha Seeiso.
The irony of the whole fiasco is that Phori has been declaring to all and sundry that the Mahao faction in the ABC fiasco must respect the court processes.
The very same Phori flip-flops and defies the very same court orders in the wool and mohair case.
Basotho should not fall victim to undue pressure. William Shakespeare in his book, “Measure by Measure” says “it is great and excellent to have the strength of a giant, but it is tyrannous to use it like a giant”.

Ramahooana Matlosa

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