HIGH Court judge Justice ‘Maseshophe Hlajoane on Monday reserved judgement to a tentative date of 29 September 2016 in a case in which two factions of the Lesotho People’s Congress (LPC) are locked in a leadership battle.
Justice Hlajoane said she might deliver the judgement before, after or on the exact date because she had other judgements already lined up.
The looming judgement is on an application by the LPC National Executive Committee (NEC) to interdict party leader Molahlehi Letlotlo and his co-respondents from holding a special conference in Maseru on 31 October to 1 November 2015.
The LPC and its NEC on 30 October 2015 obtained an interim High Court order blocking Mr Letlotlo, who is also Social Development minister, and five other NEC members namely Mabala Maqelepo, Maballo Molibeli, ‘Makopano Sekhobo, ‘Maleseli Leseli and Tseko Koantle from holding the conference that was scheduled for Lakeside Hotel until the application filed before the court had been finalised.
The minister was also interdicted from accessing the LPC’s bank account pending the finalisation of the application.
LPC deputy leader, Mabusetsa Makharilele, sought the interdict on behalf of the NEC and LPC as an institution. In his affidavit to support the application, Mr Makharilele said the LPC’s troubles reached boiling point when Mr Letlotlo dismissed party secretary-general Moipone Piti and publicity secretary Bokang Ramatšella in October 2015.
The court application was a continuation of the bitter infighting within the LPC which has since seen the NEC writing to Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili urging him to fire Mr Letlotlo as minister because the party had lost confidence in his leadership.
The NEC argued Mr Letlotlo’s appointment was due to his leadership of the LPC, which gave him the party’s single Proportional Representation seat in the 120-seat National Assembly after the 28 February 2015 snap elections.
Lawyers representing the LPC and its NEC as well as Mr Letlotlo and his co-respondents made their arguments before Justice Hlajoane on Monday.
The lawyer representing LPC and its NEC, Attorney Qhalehang Letsika, told the judge Mr Letlotlo did not have powers to call for a conference in October last year.
“No one has a right to convene a conference, but only the National Executive Committee through the secretary-general,” he argued.
Attorney Letsika also said the committee that made a resolution for the convening of the October conference, consisting of Telang Pule and ‘Mapaseka Mothae, did not qualify to be members of the committee.
Mr Pule and Ms Mothae attended the committee meeting that resolved to convene the conference in October 2015.
But Attorney Letsika argued they were not legitimate members because they did not qualify to be members of the NEC according to the LPC’s constitution.
On the other hand, the lawyer representing Mr Letlotlo and other respondents, Advocate Zwelakhe Mda King’s Counsel (KC) said the case had been overtaken by events because the conference the applicants wanted to stop was scheduled for last year.
“I think we should now focus on the issue of costs because this application has been overtaken by events. The only issue that I think should be argued is the question of costs,” he said.
“I submit that this application should be dismissed with costs, but the costs should be paid by deponents in the application.”
Advocate Mda KC further argued some individuals hid behind the name of the party and NEC to bring the application before court.
However, Justice Hlajoane said she would deliver the judgement on, before or after 29 September this year.
“This is a tentative date and not fixed because I might give the judgement either after or before the date,” she said.