HIGH Court judge Justice Teboho Moiloa yesterday ordered the Movement for Economic Change (MEC) to file answering papers by Tuesday next week in response to an application that seeks to review and set aside their registration with the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).
The IEC issued a certificate of registration to MEC as a political party last week. The party is led by former Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) secretary general and former Small Business Development minister, Selibe Mochoboroane .
However, Majalefa Development Movement (MDM) on Monday lodged an urgent application before the High Court seeking an order to review and set aside IEC’s decision to register MEC as a political party on the grounds that MEC was registered under the logo and slogan that belonged to Majalefa.
The party’s logo is a clock, while the slogan is ke nako – a Sesotho expression that can loosely be translated to mean “Now it is time”.
Justice Moiloa yesterday said that “by consent of all parties the first and second respondents (Director of Elections and IEC respectively) should file their answering papers by Monday the 20th of March”.
“The third and fourth respondents (MEC and the Attorney General) should file their answering papers by Tuesday the 21st March 2017,” he ordered.
The judge also postponed the case to next Friday for the court to decide on the date to hear the application.
However, the judge said the case should be re-allocated to another judge as he would be fully engaged in a criminal case involving Lehlohonolo Scott and his mother on Friday next week.
The time table for hearing the application was set after the lawyer representing Majalefa, Advocate Sello Tšabeha urged the court to treat the case on an urgent basis.
“The matter is a review of the decision by the first and second respondents to issue the third respondent (MEC) with a certificate for registration as a political party,” Adv Tšabeha said.
“We came to this court because there was an objection to the IEC even before the certificate was issued because we intended to use the symbol and the slogan which the third respondent have now used.
“We consider this to be an urgent matter because it was announced verbally by IEC during the ceremony to issue a certificate to the third respondent that there were only 14 days before the closing date for registering political parties.”
Advocate Tšabeha also wanted MEC to return the certificate to the IEC until the case has been finalised.
The lawyer representing the IEC, King’s Counsel Karabo Mohau asked the court to give them “reasonable” time to file their answering papers to the Majalefa challenge.
“I only received instruction towards lunch time today and I haven’t got full instructions,” Adv Mohau said, adding, “We ask to be given time to file our answering papers”.
The lawyer representing MEC, Advocate Rethabile Setlojoane also complained that Majalefa did not give them sufficient time after they filed the application.
He said the rules of the High Court provide for ‘two clear court days’ before the application could be moved.
“The application ought to be moved tomorrow, not today,” he said.