Group wants Mahase out

Group wants Mahase out

MASERU – VOICE of the Voiceless, a human rights advocacy group, has petitioned Prime Minister Thomas Thabane not to confirm Acting Chief Justice ’Maseforo Mahase to the substantive position.Handing over a petition to the Registrar of the High Court Pontšo Phafoli last Friday, the association’s secretary-general ’Masetota Leshota accused Justice Mahase of letting the country down.“Prime Minister Thomas Thabane should look elsewhere for a new chief justice,” Leshota said.

Justice Mahase is still holding fort as the Acting Chief Justice after the government booted out Nthomeng Majara as Chief Justice last year.
Hundreds of protesters who included members of the ruling All Basotho Convention (ABC) and Basotho National Party (BNP) and the opposition Democratic Congress (DC) and the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) marched to the Moshoeshoe I Monument to hand over the petition.
Justice Mahase was not available and Phafoli received the petition on her behalf.
Leshota said the march was to protest against the “misconduct” of the courts.

The association’s charge at Justice Mahase comes after she took long to finalise an urgent case on the power struggles rocking the ABC.
The applicants in the case are Keketso Sello and Habofanoe Lehana who lost the elections, while the third applicant Mohapinyane Mohapi did not contest for any position.
Filing their court papers, the three warned of “bloodshed” if the courts fail to handle the application on an urgent basis.
Justice Mahase has ruled that the outgoing executive committee could continue handling party affairs until the court challenge is finalised.
However, Justice Mahase has kept postponing hearing the case for reasons the incoming executive committee claims are not genuine and are meant to keep the outgoing committee in control of party affairs.

The new executive committee has been unable to assume office because of fierce resistance from the outgoing committee, which is against newly elected party deputy leader, Professor Nqosa Mahao.
The continuous postponement of the case has worked in favour of the old executive committee, which has clung to power.
Both the Voice of the Voiceless and the ABC faction loyal to Mahao view Justice Mahase as an interested party in the outcome of the case.
The association dared Justice Mahase: “Please prove us wrong in our assumptions by speedily dealing with this case as soon as you can.”
High Court registrar Phafoli, who answers directly to Justice Mahase, announced that the Court of Appeal could not sit for the April session because of lack of funds.
But both the Justice Minister Mokhele Moletsane and Finance Minister Dr Moeketsi Majoro have publicly said funds have been allocated for the judiciary and expressed shock at Phafoli’s statements.

The Voice of the Voiceless and the ABC faction rallying behind Mahao interpreted this as Justice Mahase’s way of ensuring the case is not heard.
The petitioners described Justice Mahase’s “siding with the ABC” as “embarrassing”.
“Experts say they have never seen anything like this before,” Leshota said.

During the march, Leshota said Basotho once marched to the courts of law protesting the closure of the Court of Appeal from 2015 to 2017 and “sadly today history was repeating itself”.
“We believe the Prime Minister should make a decision after realising that you have let Basotho down,” Leshota said.
She said the Court of Appeal should resume hearing cases in the first week of May, arguing that the ministers of justice and finance have already debunked the claim that there is no money for the court to operate.
“We hope after this march you will listen,” she said.

Nkheli Liphoto

 

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