Stop harassing judiciary: PFD

Stop harassing judiciary: PFD

MASERU – THE Popular Front for Democracy (PFD) is concerned that the government is “harassing” the judiciary at a time when reforms are just about to start. PFD leader Lekhetho Rakuoane told thepost this week that the attempt to remove Chief Justice Nthomeng Majara flies in the face of the efforts to reform the judiciary, the security sector, the constitution, parliament and the public service.
The reforms were recommended by SADC to deal with the political and security instability that has rocked the Kingdom for decades.
The catalyst for the reforms was the instability in the army, the killing of Lieutenant General Maaparankoe Mahao and the political skirmishes that led to the demise of the government in 2015.

Justice Majara is in a precarious position after the government moved to impeach her for alleged incompetence, negligence and dereliction of duty, allegations she has strenuously denied. Although the government has couched the impeachment as an attempt to deal with clear transgressions by the judge others see it as part of a scheme to staff the courts with preferred judges.

At the same time the government’s attempt to install Justice Kananelo Mosito as Court of Appeal President is facing still resistance from some senior lawyers. They see the government’s insistence on appointing Justice Mosito despite losing various court battles as an attempt to control the courts.
Justice Majara herself is suing to block the government from interfering with her work and bringing impeachment proceedings against her.
The battle for Justice Majara’s removal and Justice Mosito’s appointment has stalled the hiring of judges in the Court of Appeal.

The result is that cases have mounted on the Court of Appeal’s roll, denying justice for hundreds of people.
“We appeal to SADC to stop the government from threatening judges so that the rule of law prevails,” Rakuoane said.
“They should also stop threatening the judges for the sake of the rule of law.”
The PDF also wants the government to briefly halt hiring for posts likely to be affected by reforms.
Rakuoane said his party instructed the national executive committee, together with him as the leader, to persuade the government to stop hiring for the time being.

The instruction, he said, was made during the 11th PFD conference last Wednesday. Rakuoane said the danger of hiring now is that the reforms might freeze some positions and create new ones. The result, he said, is that the government might have to pay out those holding positions rendered redundant by the reforms.  The PFD leader said the party “believes and maintains that a government of national unity or a grand coalition” is the only way to stabilise the country.

Rakuoane said the party also wants the government to consider lifestyle audits and declaration of assets for senior government officials as a way to curb corruption. “And this is the right time to look into the salaries of ministers and parliamentarians. They should be in the public where everyone can see,” he said.

He said the coalition government should “stop exploiting SACU revenue, water projects revenue and diamonds revenue” by creating a special account for those monies. That way, he said, the government will live within its means and use the revenue from SACU, water and diamonds to deal with special challenges.

“Big companies and mines should sign a code of ethics and good social corporate responsibility so that the conflicts between the community and mines come to an end.” He was referring to the ongoing dispute between Kao Mine and a community in Mokhotlong.
Rakuoane also said industrial bargaining councils should be established between factory workers and employers so as to prepare for transparency.
“The International Labour Organisation should work with other stakeholders to investigate the health of factory workers,” Rakuoane added.

Nkheli Liphoto

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