LCD makes new demands

LCD makes new demands

MASERU – THE Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) has demanded the reinstatement of Chief Justice Nthomeng Majara, among a raft of preconditions for its exiled leader Mothetjoa Metsing to participate in the national reforms process. Teboho Sekata, LCD spokesman, said the environment is not conducive for the party to participate in the reforms agenda.
He said the decision was reached during a meeting held in South Africa last Sunday. Metsing and senior LCD members attended the meeting, where Chief Justice Majara’s suspension was a topical subject.

“What (the government is) doing is dangerous because they are saying their aim is to reform the justice system but then expel people in the very same system,” said Sekata.
Chief Justice Majara was suspended last week to pave way for processes that could lead to her impeachment after Prime Minister Thomas Thabane accused her of renting a house from a colleague house in violation of procurement regulations.

The government also complained of a backlog of cases under Chief Justice Majara’s management. Chief Justice Majara has since challenged her suspension in the High Court.
The multi sector reforms, came at the recommendation of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in 2016 as the sub- regional body battles to play midwife to a democratic and prosperous Lesotho following decades of political turmoil, coups and alleged human rights violations. The reforms are envisaged to transform the country’s Constitution and usher changes in the legislature, the judiciary, security, public service and media in hopes of fostering a sustainable democratic culture.

Sekata said the party is also unwilling to participate in the reforms process until the government begins to respect freedom of speech.
He said Moafrika FM, a pro-congress radio station, has been taken off air in certain parts of the country “and that is the government’s plan to silence the free media”.
He accused the government of using an ongoing digitalisation process to shut out Moafrika from parts of the country.
The government has said that the digitalisation programme in the broadcasting sector will eventually widen reach as radio stations will be able to extend coverage countrywide.
However, some radio stations would be affected in the process, according to the Communications.

Moafrika and opposition parties interpreted this as a deliberate move to silence stations perceived as anti-government.
“They are doing this to sideline Moafrika Fm so that information flow is limited,” he said.
Sekata also LCD is also snubbing the reforms process as a protest against alleged police brutally and torture.
He accused government of failing to dismiss and prosecute offending officers.

“One police officer who killed a man in Motete was transferred to Police Training College instead of arresting him,” he alleged.
Another stumbling block is government’s desire to control wool and mohair business in exclusion of farmers.
“They do not help the farmers to take care of their livestock but they take their wool by force,” he said.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Lesego Makgothi said the government will proceed with the reforms without the LCD.

“The Chief Justice’s suspension does not relate with reforms at all. Besides, she was derailing the arrival of foreign judges,” he said.
He claimed that “for a long time” Chief Justice Majara derailed the Court of Appeal’s sessions by failing to facilitate the coming in of foreign judges.
“She does not have transparency as a Chief Justice,” he said.

“There are countless cases in court, some people are about to spend five years in jail without any hearing of their cases,” he added.
Lesotho has 11 judges. “We asked the EU for help and the Chief Justice does not want that to happen,” he said.
He said the letter of suspension was signed by King Letsie III after convincing himself that the decision had to be made.
“They are looking for empty reasons to derail reforms,” Makgothi said.

He warned that SADC has a standing decision to take action against those derailing the reforms.
“If they are not going to be part of reforms like they have been threatening, we will just wait for SADC action on them,” he said.

Nkheli Liphoto

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