Lawyers challenge Mosito appointment

Lawyers challenge Mosito appointment

MASERU – FOUR prominent lawyers on Tuesday challenged the reappointment of Justice Kananelo Mosito as the Court of Appeal President arguing it undermines the independence of the judiciary. The lawyers filed their papers in the Constitutional Court. Attorney Qhalehang Letsika, Advocate Karabo Mohau KC, Advocate Motiea Teele KC and Advocate Zwelakhe Mda KC argue in the court papers that Justice Mosito’s reappointment “seeks to undermine the independence, dignity and effectiveness of the judiciary”.
They want the court to declare the removal of Justice Robert Nugent from office as President of the Court of Appeal null and void and of no force and effect because it has not met provisions of Section 125 of the Constitution.

They say Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s decision to advise King Letsie III to appoint Justice Mosito should be reviewed and set aside as irregular and unconstitutional.
They also argue that Justice Mosito’s appointment is unconstitutional because it does not meet the requirement of Section 24 (3) (b) of the constitution because “he is not a fit and proper person to hold judicial office”.

In an affidavit, Letsika said in their capacity as legal practitioners they have “legal and ethical obligations and duties to uphold and protect the rule of law, all the laws, human rights and in particular the values envisaged and protected by the constitution”. “We have a duty to ensure that the administration is not brought into disrepute,” Letsika said.
“Upon admission as legal practitioners each of us took oath to demean (sic) ourselves to the highest standards and to practice law without fear or favour,” he said.

“We have a duty to protect the administration of justice by ensuring that courts are independent and impartial in the discharge of their duties and functions,” he said.
Letsika argues that Justice Mosito does not qualify for the Court of Appeal bench because the tribunal appointed by the King after he was indicted for tax violations recommended his removal.
He also said during the tribunal hearing, Justice Mosito “conducted the litigation improperly often times employing deplorable language”.

“I will show that he made derogatory, insulting and discriminating remarks against not only the courts, the learned Chief Justice, judges of both the High Court and Court of Appeal that had been recruited to deal with his case because of policy considerations but also against the applicants (four lawyers) and other legal practitioners particularly those that appeared against him during the tribunal’s hearing,” Letsika said.

Letsika quoted Justice Mosito’s earlier remarks during his legal battle to retain the Presidency of the Court of Appeal when he said he would be “prepared to come back soon to serve the nation in the administration of justice when the political climate will be conducive”. “I aver that the moment (Justice Mosito) believed either rightly or wrongly that his appointment depended on a political dispensation it is clear that he is not fit to hold office,” Letsika said.

“I submit that judges do not hold office depending on political regimes,” he said. “They hold office by virtue of and in accordance with the Constitution and other laws of Lesotho.”
“His beliefs, no matter whether they are held genuinely that his appointment is at the pleasure of politicians, make him unfit to hold the position of judge.”
Letsika argues that following his impeachment, Justice Mosito was found guilty of misbehaviour in respect of all three charges against him as clearly appears from the tribunal’s report.

Staff Reporter

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