Chief Justice blasts government

Chief Justice blasts government

MASERU – CHIEF Justice Nthomeng Majara has fired salvos at the government for claiming that it is working with her to prepare for the Court of Appeal sitting. In a stinging letter that signals a dramatic deviation from the quiet diplomacy that had characterised the relationship between government and the judiciary, the Chief Justice said the government was misleading the nation.
Her rage is aimed at Government Secretary Moahloli Mphaka who issued the statement that gave the impression that the Chief Justice is working closely with the government.

Mphaka said the government is working with the Chief Justice to recruit foreign judges to hear Court of Appeal cases next month.
The judges are expected to hear Justice Kananelo Mosito’s appeal against the Constitutional Court ruling that he is not fit to be a judge.
Justice Mosito’s appointment as President of the Court of Appeal was successfully challenged by four prominent lawyers last month.
Irked by the claim, the Chief Justice wrote Mphaka on March 20 saying the government sidelined her and she only heard from unofficial sources that the government was preparing for the Court of Appeal’s April session.

Chief Justice Majara accused the government of making the preparations behind her back. Although the constitution does not say the Chief Justice is the head of the judiciary it is common practice that the incumbent is involved in the appointment of High Court and Court of Appeal judges.
Justice Majara said when she heard of the appointment she tried to advise the government on how to observe the constitutional imperatives “so that we do not get into trouble when the judges finally arrive”.

“I volunteered to offer an advice,” she says. Justice Majara reminded Mphaka that before he released his statement the two had agreed Mphaka and Honourable Minister Samonyane Ntsekele (Water Affairs Minister) would issue a statement “clarifying that it is not true that I, the Chief Justice, am doing my utmost to throttle the government’s plan that the cases should wait for foreign judges”.

Ntsekele is also the secretary general of the ruling All Basotho Convention (ABC) party. Justice Minister Mokhele Moletsane is responsible for the judiciary. Justice Majara further explained that she has been put under immense pressure and subjected to threats by top government officials including the former Minister of Justice, Dr Mahali Phamotse.

She said Dr Phamotse was with her Principal Secretary Lebohang Mochaba when she told her that the government would make her seat so hot that she would leave office. She said the minister told her that “the government no longer wants to engage me as the Chief Justice”.

Majara Molupe

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