Court reserves judgment in LCD case

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MASERU — The constituencies of the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) demanding a special conference that will decide whether Pakalitha Mosisili and his National Executive Committee (NEC) should be booted out or not will have to wait a little longer.

On Saturday evening Judge Kelello Guni reserved judgment in a case in which three party members wanted the court to compel the party’s executive committee to hold a special conference on September 8.

The trio wanted that special conference to discuss petitions from some constituencies calling for the removal of the entire party leadership, including Mosisili and his deputy Lesao Lehohla.

The applicants are Rethabile Marumo (Mohobollo MP), Ramahooana Matlosa (youth league member) and Ts’oeu Mokeretla (Mashai MP).

They argue that the LCD executive committee has violated the party’s constitution by refusing to organise a special conference to discuss the petitions.

The petitions and the application are seen as part of the battle between two LCD functions whose bickering has left the party split into two.

Speculation is also rife that the party, which has ruled Lesotho since 1997, is now heading towards a plight. Natural Resources minister Monyane Moleleki is said to be leading the Lijamollo faction which party sources say wants to control
the executive committee.

The LCD secretary general Mothetjoa Metsing, who is also the communications minister, is said to be the kingmaker in the Litimamollo faction which currently controls the executive committee. Moleleki and Metsing have in the past denied
links to the factions.

Hundreds of the LCD supporters and some MPs packed the court during Saturday’s hearing.

Advocate Motiea Teele (KC) who represents the executive committee and the LCD said allegations that his clients had refused to organise a special conference were false.

He told the packed courtroom that Mosisili had done “nothing that warrants a vote of no confidence in him”.

“The leader is a man of good standing and he is being included for convenience,” Teele argued.

“Even if an inference could be drawn in their favour that the NEC is refusing, which is still denied, mere disregard of the constitution of the association like that of the LCD is not sufficient justification for a court of law to intervene in the internal management of the association.”

He said before the court can intervene there must be proof of actual prejudice of the civil rights of the members who are complaining. The onus, he said, was on the applicants to prove  that prejudice.

Teele also argued that the three applicants do not have a loco standi (legal right) to bring the application.

He said the mere fact that a person is a member of an association does not mean that they do not have to prove a direct and substantial interest as required by law to establish their loco standi.

“The applicant must possess some kind of proprietary right or interest to seek the court’s assistance and this must be alleged and proved,” Teele submitted.

Teele said the first hurdle which the applicants cannot overcome is the fact that there are no petitions filed by 10 constituencies as required by Clause 5.2 of the constitution of the LCD.

“For a petition to be in proper form, according to the LCD constitution it has to be written and signed by at least 10 constituencies,” he said.

“In the present matter that is not the case.”

Teele did not agree with the contention by the applicants that a “mere” letter from a constituency committee is enough to compel the party to orgainse a special conference.

“This cannot be so. We submit that Clause 5.2 provides that the petitioners must come from constituencies not constituency committees.”

“It is the members who must sign a petition not the committees. Constituency committees on the other hand are provided for in terms of clause 7.6 of the constitution and it is clearly a separate entity from the constituency as defined by clause
6.5,” he said.

Advocate Kananelo Mosito (KC) who is representing the applicants argued that by virtue of being party members his clients had a legal right to bring the application.

Mosito said there was no reason why the application should not succeed.

He said the judgment in a previous application involving 26 constituencies had successfully dealt with the question loco standi.

Mosito said the executive committee does not decide what party members want.

“If members want to have a conference they should not be prevented,” he added.

He said instead of asking for reasons
the executive committee must just facilitate the conference as demanded by the
party members.

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