Majara hits back at Thabane

Majara hits back at Thabane

MASERU – SUSPENDED Chief Justice Nthomeng Majara will not go down without a fight.
Last night she responded to Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s decision to suspend her with a law suit.
In court papers seen by thepost, Justice Majara asks the court to order King Letsie III to revoke her suspension until finalisation of a case she has with Thabane.
Justice Majara was suspended last week under circumstances that have been described by some as controversial and criticized by at least two international organisations as an assault on judicial independence.

A few days later Justice ‘Maseforo Mahase, her temporary replacement, granted government an interim order blocking Justice Majara from entering her office and performing her duties.
Her affidavit, filed through Attorney Qhalehang Letsika, is a stinging attack on the prime minister whom she says is violating the law and trampling on her rights.
She says she has no choice but to approach the court because her suspension violates a court order.
Justice Majara says when she arrived back from a conference in Australia on Monday she was shocked to find newspaper reports about her suspension.
“I was surprised and perplexed by the conduct of the Prime Minister because I knew that this honourable court granted an order on 17th May 2018 interdicting the Prime Minister from engaging in that which he did.”

“The court order further prevented and interdicted Thabane from recommending to the King the appointment of the tribunal contemplated in terms of the constitution pending the recusal application to be brought by the respondent.” She claims that Thabane “acted illegally, defied a court order and undermined the rule of law by advising the King to suspend” her and established a tribunal to investigate her conduct. Thabane’s conduct, she says, is inimical to the spirit of the constitution and in particular violates the provisions of the constitution.

“The Prime Minister is fully aware of the contents of the two court orders because they were obtained in the presence of and by consent of his lawyers who were also served with the said orders.”
She says Thabane’s conduct undermines the independence of courts of law yet, as prime minister, he should be promoting and safeguarding judicial independence by obeying court orders.
Chief Justice Majara further accuses Thabane of improperly using the constitutional procedures to push her out of office.

She alleges that Thabane “unlawfully started negotiating” her exit and “when it failed he is abusing the powers set out in the constitution to seek (and) achieve the same result”.
She says in the main case she made it clear that Thabane requested her to show cause why he could not recommend the King to suspend her and she responded to every allegation he raised against her.

“The hounourable Court will observe that the Prime Minister went ahead to recommend my suspension without giving me a hearing by failing to inform me that he is not satisfied with my explanation at all or in respect of certain complaints against me.” Thabane does not say if the same issues her raised in the ‘show cause’ letter are the once that influence influenced him to advise the King to suspend her, she adds. “He does not say if he relies on new grounds to have decided to advise His Majesty to suspend me.”

“I aver that he was obliged to inform me that notwithstanding my representations and notwithstanding the court order interdicting him from recommending my suspension he held a view that I should be suspended still and that he would advise His Majesty the King to establish a tribunal for that purpose.”
The judge argues that Thabane ought to and was obliged to give her a hearing.
She also says Thabane’s and Attorney General Advocate Haae Phoofolo’s press interviews concerning her suspension “constitutes a hallmark of the government of Lesotho of scandalising my integrity and dignity”.

“They did so knowing fully well that I was not in the country and did this with the clear intention of embarrassing and humiliating me.”
“This conduct coupled with the inflammatory language used in the answering affidavit in the main application is indicative of government officials that are determined to scandalise, not only myself, but courts of law in particular.”

“I have sought an order that the Prime Minister should not be heard until he has purged his contempt.”
Chief Justice Majara says this request welled from her observation that Thabane “does not recognise the powers, authority, decorum and constitutional role of the honourable court”.
She says courts of law do not hear people who approach them with dirty hands.

“A court of law will not allow a litigant who defies its order to be heard unless they purge their contempt.”
She wants the court to interdict three foreign judges, Justices Frederic Egonda-Ntende, SL Ramadhani and Simbi Mubako from being part of the tribunal established by the King to investigate her conduct.

Besides the prime minister and attorney general other respondents are Minister of Law Lebohang Hlaele, the Acting Chief Justice ’Maseforo Mahase and the King.
Justice Majara also wants the court to declare that the appointment of the three foreign judges was made in violation of an order of court of May 17, 2018 and is therefore null and void.
She also seeks an order declaring that “the recommendation to appoint the (Justice Mahase) as Acting Chief Justice made by the Prime Minister to His Majesty’s the King and the subsequent appointment of the third respondent as the Acting Chief Justice are null and void and of no force and effect”.

Majara Molupe

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