THE organisers of the ‘Hands off Mosito’ campaign have implored Prime Minister Thomas Thabane to immediately dismiss Chief Justice Nthomeng Majara and three senior High Court judges for allegedly plotting with the opposition to topple the government.
The Hands off Mosito campaigners describe themselves as a “team of patriotic Basotho men and women who are increasingly irked by the deliberate delayed swearing in of Judge Kananelo Mosito as President of Court of Appeal after his appointment by a government gazette in terms of Section (98) sub section (1) of the constitution”.
Their attempts to have Justice Mosito sworn in have so far hit a brick wall in the form of a February 2018 Constitutional Court judgement which states that his appointment was unconstitutional as he found to be unfit for office by a duly constituted tribunal.
The campaigners have since trained their guns on Justice Majara and Justices, Tšeliso Monaphathi, Sakoane Sakoane and Teboho Moiloa who they accuse of working with the opposition Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) and the Democratic Congress (DC) to frustrate government and ensure its ultimate collapse.
In a statement on Tuesday, they said the quartet would ultimately succeed in ousting the Dr Thabane-led four-party coalition if it failed to heed their call to dismiss the judges.
“We call on the Prime Minister to immediately fire the Chief Justice, Judge Sakoane, Judge Monaphathi and Judge Moiloa,” part of the statement reads.
They questioned why the government was seemingly reluctant to fire Justice Majara for unprocedurally renting a house for M27 000 per month from a colleague Justice Teboho Moiloa, a figure “way above” the statutory allocation for her housing allowance.
Justice Majara has also been accused of appointing Justice Moiloa to act in her position when she was away on several occasions, even though there were other more senior judges.
The campaigners also allege that Justice Moiloa refused to have Dr Thabane’s portrait in his office during his first government from 2012 to 2015.
“Is this the same judge (Moiloa) the government is still keeping in office, expecting him to serve this government with the loyalty it deserves? Never. The government is misleading itself. The LCD is singing these judges’ praises- the same people who are making questionable court decisions.”
The campaigners accused Justice Sakoane of disparaging attacks on the government and the Speaker of the National Assembly, Sephiri Motanyane when the latter presided over the case in which the deputy leader of the DC, Mathibeli Mokhothu, successfully fought to retain his status and benefits as the official leader of opposition in the National Assembly in February this year.
“He (Justice Sakoane) spat venom in that ruling, attacking the government by stating that the speaker didn’t have the powers to withhold Mokhothu’s benefits because the government did not understand legal clauses.
“Has Sakoane ever worked in parliament so that he can claim to know the laws of parliament more than the speaker who has more than 30 years of parliamentary experience and is surrounded by highly qualified lawyers giving him sober legal advice,” the campaigners asked.
The campaigners further accuse the four judges of having a predetermined outcome in the court application that the LCD is planning to file against the appointment of Attorney General, Haae Phoofolo.
The LCD announced last week that it was planning to go to court to reverse the appointment of Adv Phoofolo on the grounds that at 70 years old, he is above the retirement age for public officials which is 60 years.
The Hands off Mosito campaigners believe the case has already been decided in favour of the LCD even though it has not even been filed.
“The government has already lost that case to LCD, just like many that came before this one which the state lost even before they were instituted. We strongly suspect that the purported court case has been jointly worked on by the LCD, DC, the four judges and prominent lawyers who have been fighting this government. We already know the judge who will be assigned to the case and we know that government will lose.
“Phoofolo and others will lose court cases because the head of the judiciary will make sure that they rule against the government. We gave this government powers so that it can correct mistakes in the judiciary. Why is the government finding it hard to fire judges who work against it when it is so easy for it to fire ministers and civil servants?”
Meanwhile, the Press Attaché in the Prime Minister’s Office, Thabo Thakalekoala, said the organisers had not written to Dr Thabane, adding that the premier only acted on issues directly addressed to him.
“With all due respect, the Prime Minister cannot act solely on the basis of a press release. It is therefore important for them to write a formal letter to the Prime Minister clearly stating their grievances. After receiving the letter, the Prime Minister will apply his mind to the matter and make a decision,” Mr Thakalekoala said.