Be very very afraid

Be very very afraid

THE first sitting of Appeal Court which was supposed to have run from April 15 to 25 will no longer take place allegedly because the government has not allocated funds for the session.
That is what we have been told by senior court officials who swear that there is no money.
But those who know how government operates will find this story hard to believe.
The reason proffered for the court’s closure just doesn’t make sense, either way you look at it.

Its either someone is trying to pull wool on our eyes or there is a much more sinister political plot being cooked here. We know that the parliament of Lesotho has just passed the national budget and that the government’s financial year started on April 1.
We are aware that funds were allocated to the judiciary for this financial year.
The responsible ministry has already said as much. He too doesn’t believe the story being sold by court officials. He has called it ‘untrue’.

Yes, the money might not be enough, but I refuse to accept that it is so little that it cannot fund the first session of the highest court in the land.
Yet someone wants us to believe that the judiciary is so broke that it cannot keep its doors open. Such tall stories can only be told at a kindergarten playground teeming with impressionable minds.

They cannot wash in the world of adults, educated or not.
My thinking is that the judiciary has become the latest victim to the chaos in the All Basotho Convention (ABC). It is on record that some people in the ABC are furious at the Court of Appeal for ruling in Professor Nqosa Mahao’s favour when the party tried to block his candidature in January.

Prime Minister Thomas Thabane is on record as having said he blames the Court of Appeal President Justice Kananelo Mosito for “interfering in ABC matters” when he ruled that Mahao has the right to contest the party’s election.
That statement alone gives an impression of a leader who has an axe to grind with the Court of Appeal and its president.

Could the court’s closure be a way to punish the court? The answer to that question is not obvious but the impact of the decision is.
It is common knowledge that the old committee has filed a court case to challenge the new committee’s election and legitimacy. Chances are high that the matter will obviously end up in the Court of Appeal.

The closure of the court means that the new committee will not have redress if the High Court rules against it. So you will not be an alarmist if you see the closure as a pre-emptive strike against the new committee.
There is a dirty game being played here, and we must see it for what it is.
Even if that is not precisely the case, the timing is just too curious to demise as mere coincidence.
Perception matters in politics.

Speculation is part of the staple in politics. We can speculate that the closure of the court has little to do with money. As things stand, all indications are that this is a political game being played.
There is no denying that the courts in this country have become entangled in the messy politics in the ABC.

For evidence of this you need not look further than the behaviour of the two factions in the party.
The old committee seems to think it has the High Court in its clutches.
The new committee seems to think whatever adverse ruling against them in the High Court will be reversed by the Court of Appeal.

We should be very afraid when politicians trust one court more than the other. Habakkuk 1:4 says “The law has become paralyzed, and there is no justice in the courts. The wicked far outnumber the righteous, so that justice has become perverted.”
We are living in dangerous times.

There are dozens of litigants who are going to be affected by the court’s closure. In some cases, lives will be damaged forever.
Justice delayed is justice denied. Any day that passes without the court hearing appeals is a travesty of justice. It is a blow to the rule of law in this country. But the assault does not end there.

It’s now a cocktail of bad decisions that have accumulated to give an impression of a government that has lost its moral compass.
The parliament has been adjoined sine die, the Court of Appeal has been canned, the DCEO Director has been pushed out, the Independent Electoral Commission is operating ultra vires. And more chicanery will come as people become more desperate to cling on to power. We should be every very afraid because a storm is coming.

Ramahooana Matlosa

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