High Court dismisses call for LCD leadership conference

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MASERU — The High Court on Monday dismissed an application by three members of the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) to compel the ruling party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) to hold a leadership conference.
In his judgment Justice Tseliso Monaphathi ruled that the applicants did not have power to sue in their individual capacities. “My finding is that none of these applicants has been mandated by the structures and they have no power to sue the NEC and the party,” Justice Monaphathi said. The judge said he would provide reasons for the ruling later. The applicants – Ramahooana Matlosa who is the chairman of the Maseru Constituency No 32 and two others – were suing the LCD national executive committee, the party’s women’s league as well as the youth league. The three argued that under the party’s rules it was mandatory for the national executive committee to call a leadership conference between September and October. They also wanted the court to order the party to hold the leadership conference within 14 days after the court’s ruling. The application however fell flat on its face on Monday after Justice Monaphathi dismissed it with costs.
He ruled the three applicants had not been mandated by any structures of the party to bring the case before the court adding that they did so in their individual capacities. He said the applicants had no power to sue the executive committee.
“This point alone must dispose of this application,” Justice Monaphathi said. The judge said the LCD women’s league and youth league had also been wrongfully cited in the application. “I find no justification or convenience that the women’s league and the youth league ought to have been joined in the proceedings,” he said. The applicants had earlier told the court that as members of the party they were empowered by the constitution to protect it in the event that the party flouted its own rules. But Advocate Motiea Teele, for the LCD national executive committee, said the respondents failed to hold the leadership conference in September or October because they were busy preparing for the local government election for October 1. But counsel for the applicants, Advocate Letuka Molati, countered that the local government election could not have interfered with the holding of the leadership conference. The respondents further argued that the applicants had no locus standi to sue. They pointed out that the constitution of the party provides structures and people who are entitled to sue adding the applicants had no power to sue in their individual capacities. Advocate Teele said if the three were to be allowed to sue, this would open floodgates for anybody to sue whenever they disagreed with the party. This would make it impossible to run the party effectively. Justice Monaphathi ruled that the calling of an elective conference falls within the control of the internal management of the national executive committee. “The applicants before coming to court must have engaged in discussions with the NEC,” he said. He said the applicants had no right to come to court without going to the national executive committee or asking it to account for its performance. “On these grounds the application fails,” Justice Monaphathi said. He added that the reasons given by the national executive committee for not holding the leadership conference were also plausible. He cited the case of the local government election in October. “This was a plausible plea by the NEC. This in my opinion is conclusive that the conference could not be held, and the application fails with costs,” he said.

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