By Staff Writers
Less than two weeks after the Court of Appeal temporarily blocked Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s ambitious plan to get rid of the Court of Appeal President Justice Kananelo Mosito, Thabane is at it again and has sent Mosito another letter questioning his fitness to hold office.
The letter, which the The Night’s Watch has seen, was sent to Mosito on Wednesday, August 14.
In it, Thabane requested Mosito to “show cause” as to why he should not be suspended as President of the Court of Appeal “to preserve the administration of justice as a whole”.
Thabane took issue with Mosito’s continued employment relationship with the National University of Lesotho (NUL), “whilst you remain the President of the Court of Appeal”.
“It appears that you continue to be employed with the National University of Lesotho because you find the emoluments attached to the position of the President of the Court of Appeal to be insufficient.
“As you put it, all judges of the Court of Appeal (the President included) get sitting allowances only per sitting. I find this excuse not to be valid,” Thabane wrote.
In order to preserve the integrity of the office of the President of the Court of Appeal and the administration of justice as a whole, kindly be advised that I further intend to advise His Majesty the King to suspend you from office.
He said when Mosito accepted his appointment as President of the Court of Appeal, he was certainly aware of the emoluments attached to that office.
“It is concerning that because of the insufficiency of the emoluments attached to your office as the President of the Court of Appeal, you are prepared to compromise such office and engage in other functions that are inconsistent with perceived impartially and neutrality of a judge,” he wrote.
According to the Prime Minister, Mosito’s employment relationship with the NUL might compromise his independence, impartiality, integrity and competency as a judicial officer.
“I therefore intend to advise His Majesty the King to appoint a tribunal in terms of section 125(5) of the constitution to investigate the aforesaid misconduct and your fitness to hold office.
“In order to preserve the integrity of the office of the President of the Court of Appeal and the administration of justice as a whole, kindly be advised that I further intend to advise His Majesty the King to suspend you from office in terms of section 125 (7) of the constitution,” he said.
Mosito must submit reasons why he should not be suspended within a period of seven days after receiving the Prime Minister’s letter.
This is not the first time Thabane had threatened Mosito with a suspension.
On July 5, he requested Mosito to show cause why he could not be suspended pending the establishment of a tribunal to inquire into his fitness to hold that office.
This was after the Acting Chief Justice ‘Maseforo Mahase wrote a letter to Mosito criticizing him decisions taken by the Court of Appeal, principally, reversing some judicial decisions Mahase made as a judge of the High Court in a highly politically charged litigation involving the ruling All Basotho Convention (ABC) which is led by Thabane.
On the strength of Mahase’s letter, Thabane then requested Mosito to show cause why he could not be suspended because of the assertions made by Mahase against Mosito.
Perturbed by the action of Thabane and that of Mahase which it perceived as a constitutionally impermissible interference with the Mosito in his judicial capacity and that of the Court of Appeal, the Law Society of Lesotho launched an urgent application in the High Court seeking interdictory relief against the King, Thabane and Mahase, among others.
Although having a direct personal interest in the outcome of the Law Society’s urgent application, Mahase elected to preside in the matter when the application fell to be heard.
Aggrieved by the decisions taken by Mahase, the Law Society launched an urgent application to the Court of Appeal against Mahase’s allocation of the case to herself and presiding in the matter while she is a litigant.
The appeal is yet to be heard and is pending in the Court of Appeal.
Concerned that Thabane might carry through his threat against Mosito before the appeal is heard, the Law Society then sought an interim interdict against Thabane pending final determination of the main appeal.
The Prime Minister is hereby interdicted from advising and/or recommending to His Majesty the King, the suspension of the President of the Court of Appeal, Dr Kananelo Mosito
Accordingly, the Court of Appeal, on August 2, ordered that pending the hearing of the main appeal, Thabane “is hereby interdicted from advising and/or recommending to His Majesty the King, the suspension of the President of the Court of Appeal, Dr Kananelo Mosito”.
The King was also interdicted and restrained from suspending and/or establishing tribunal intended to enquire and investigate into the competence of Mosito. NW