MASERU — Court of Appeal president Justice Michael Ramodibedi this week refused to recuse himself from a case in which three members of the ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) party are appealing against a High Court judgment.
Hundreds of LCD members on Monday filed a petition demanding that Justice Ramodibedi recuse himself from hearing the appeal.
The petitioners alleged that “due diligence and protocol were not observed in handling the appeal application of the case at hand”.
“The reason for urgency was not motivated and for this case to have skipped to the front of the roll is an indication of the vested interest by the President of the Appeal Court,” the petition said.
They also alleged that the appeal will be heard when the High Court judgment that dismissed their case on September 9 had not been given to the respondents on time.
They said the “lack of written judgment has deprived the client the freedom of change of advocate or the beefing up of the defence counsel”.
But Justice Ramodibedi rejected calls for him to recuse himself saying the court had an obligation to hear all cases before it.
He said the court’s role is to uphold the constitution.
He added the court could not stand by while the ruling party tears itself apart.
The judge ruled that the case will proceed on October 14 after consultations with lawyers representing the two sides.
Justice Ramodibedi also serves as chief justice in Swaziland and also sits on Botswana’s Supreme Court bench.
The LCD members wanted Justice Ramodibedi to recuse himself from hearing an appeal by three party members who lost their case in the High Court.
The three — Rethabile Marumo, MP for Mohobollo, Tšoeu Mokeretla, MP for Mashai and LCD youth league chairman Ramahooana Matlosa — had their application to compel the LCD national executive committee organise a special conference rejected by the High Court.
The trio wanted to use the special conference to remove the national executive committee which is believed to be aligned to Communications Minister Mothetjoa Metsing.
The Metsing faction is fighting to retain control of the party against a rival faction said to be led by Natural Resources Minister Monyane Moleleki.
Both Metsing and Moleleki have in the past denied leading any faction.