Appeal Court ‘lies’ anger MPs

Appeal Court ‘lies’ anger MPs

MASERU – MEMBERS of Parliament have disputed High Court Registrar Pontšo Phafoli’s claims that the Court of Appeal cannot sit because the judiciary is broke.
The MPs described the statements as “humiliating untruths”.
“There are genuine reasons that the Court of Appeal will not sit for this session,” Phafoli said.
“This is beyond our control,” she said.
“We have to provide transport, accommodation and other logistics for foreign judges sitting in the Court of Appeal and we do not have funds for such.”
Phafoli said she was in talks with the Ministry of Finance for money to fund the court’s operations.

However, Finance Minister Dr Moeketsi Majoro yesterday said there are no negotiations between him and the judiciary as claimed by Phafoli.
Majoro said nobody came to him requesting an additional budget for the judiciary.
He also said the judiciary never indicated to him that it was facing financial problems.
“I do not believe that it is true that there is no money,” Majoro said.
“I know that the judiciary has enough money for the Appeal Court to operate,” he said.
Majoro said he provided the judiciary with M500 000 for foreign judges’ accommodation.

Justice Minister Mokhele Moletsane, who is responsible for asking for funds on behalf of the judiciary in parliament, also said it is not true that the courts are broke to the extent that the Court of Appeal cannot sit.
“I am certain that we allocated funds for the judiciary as parliament and I am the one who asked for it,” Moletsane said.

Chairman of Law and Safety cluster in parliament, Advocate Lekhetho Rakuoane who is also leader of the opposition Popular Front for Democracy (PFD), said no one from the judiciary submitted or requested additional funds needed by the Court of Appeal.
Rakuoane said he was surprised that Phafoli announced that the court would suspend its sitting citing lack of funds.

“I was there during the presentation of the budget in parliament, and no one from that court ever proposed to us as the committee that for the Court of Appeal to operate they would need a certain amount of money,” Rakuoane said.
He said even before the budget could pass, every ministry proposed to the committee their needs, but as for the judiciary, there was no proposal for the Court of Appeal.
“They know that their target was to suspend it and claim there is no money to operate,” he said.
“They are just pushing their political agendas in the courts,” he said.

The Social Cluster chairperson, Mabote constituency MP Fako Moshoeshoe, also said it was surprising that Phafoli pinpointed the Court of Appeal out of all the judiciary sections as the only one lacking funds.
He said it could only make sense if she said the whole judiciary did not have money.
“The embarrassing part is that we gave them the money and further added close to M2 million to the M97 million that was allocated to them,” Moshoeshoe said.

Moshoeshoe further denied that there are negotiations happening between them and the judiciary for more funds for the sitting of the Court of Appeal.
“If there were negotiations going on, my committee could have known,” he said, adding: “We could have had such information from the Law and Safety Cluster which deals with judiciary issues, but there was nothing brought to us until now.”

The Lesotho Council of Non-Governmental Organizations (LCN) executive director, Seabata Motsamai, said the Court of Appeal situation was embarrassing.
Motsamai said a month has not even passed after parliament allocated all the ministries the budget for 2019-2020 financial year “but the judiciary claims there is no money for the Court of Appeal”.

“This is so embarrassing that the registrar said in public that they are facing financial problems hence the court of appeal will not sit,” Motsamai said.
He added there is a lot of pretentiousness happening in the courts.
“The courts have been turned into a playground where people are playing with the community’s minds. This has to come to an end and whoever is responsible for this mess should be ashamed and (should) put everything in order,” he said.

Democratic Congress spokesman, Serialong Qoo, said there is no way the Court of Appeal can claim to be too broke to operate.
He alleged that a political hand was responsible for the mess in the judiciary.
“We as the opposition once advised the government that what they are doing is very dangerous but they did not listen,” Qoo said.

“We saw it coming, the government made their bed so they have to lie on it,” he said.
The Lesotho Congress for Democracy spokesman, Teboho Sekata, also said it is “impossible” for the Court of Appeal to run out of money for operations.
He said All Basotho Congress (ABC) politicians are pushing their agenda to try to capture the

President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Kananelo Mosito, “as they seem to have done with the Acting Chief Justice”.
“All we want is for politicians to stay away from the judiciary,” Sekata said.
President of the Law Society of Lesotho, Advocate Tekane Maqakachane, said lawyers will not go to work until the Court of Appeal is operational as a sign of protest.

Itumeleng Khoete

 

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