Acting Chief Justice ‘Maseforo Mahase yesterday frustrated a fair chance for Professor Nqosa Mahao to speedily appeal her judgement in a lastditch effort to be allowed to contest the All Basotho Convention (ABC) position of Deputy Leader.
Prof Mahao who has been excluded from the party’s Deputy Leader race contested by Minister of Finance Dr Moeketsi Majoro, Botha-Bothe Member of Parliament Motlohi Maliehe and Minister of Transport and Public Works Prince Maliehe, is fighting for a chance to participate in the party’s National Elective Conference underway today.
Delivering a much anticipated judgement in court last night, Judge Mahase refused to release a typed and signed copy of her judgement to the matter where Koro Koro constituency wants the court to overrule ABC NEC decision of dismissing Mahao’s nomination.
Her refusal in that regard raised eyebrows and questions of whether her acts were a possible sign of dabbling in ABC politics.
The MNN Centre for Investigative Journalism therefore learnt last night that following the judgement, Chief Justice Mahase deliberately refused to sign a court order prepared by the lawyers on grounds that she shifted her attention on writing her speech for today’s opening of the High Court.
The Centre learned the judge had only managed to work on a hand written extempore judgement and would only provide full reasons in the case later on.
Today, the Koro-koro constituency lawyers and supporters were visible at the Place of Justice’s premises waiting for the Judge to append her signature on the court order or to issue them a written judgement as Acting Chief Justice Presided over the Official ceremony for the opening of the High Court.
Some of Mahao family members were also spotted at a protest demonstrated at the high court carrying placards protesting against the Acting Chief Justice and accusing her of having been biased in the manner she handled the Koko-koro constituency’s case.
Some of the placards in the protest against the Acting Chief Justice were written: “’Maseforo Mahase since when are you a politician. Be a Judge not a politician”.
The Centre understands for an appeal to be lodged officially there should be a signed court order or written judgement delivered by the High Court whether an extempore judgement or full judgement with reasons.
While the Koro-koro constituency awaiting justice Mahase’s signature, the ABC National Elective Conference, an occasion that the constituency is seeking the Court to intervene and allow Mahao to participate in is already underway.
This could be interpreted to mean that Justice Mahase’s decision frustrated Mahao’s possible candidacy in the ABC poll by denying him a chance to approach the Appeal court timeously.
Initially, the Court of Appeal, in cognisance of the urgency of the Koro-koro constituency’s case, made a ruling on Monday this week ordering that the Acting Chief Justice must hear the merits of the Koro-Koro constituency’s case on Tuesday.
But on Tuesday, the judge ended postponing the matter to Wednesday morning when she would have read the submission before court citing her failure to ascertain what the case is when listening to arguments of both Advocate Nthontho for Koro-koro cited as applicants and Advocate Thoahlane for ABC leadership cited as respondents in the case.
Then, the two lawyers were at each other’s throats arguing on whether the court should entertain Nthontho’s request to address the court on the need for the ABC National Elective Conference to be postponed to a later date pending the finalisation of the Koro-koro constituency’s case.
Then on Wednesday the case was heard the whole day until late at night and when judgement was issued on Thursday evening, it came as an extempore judgement, and the judge further refusing to issue a typed copy of the same.
When briefing his clients, the Korko-koro constituency and supporters gathered at the Court, Advocate Nthontho said he was shocked that after waiting in vain for the court to furnish him with a written judgement on a ruling made by the court on Wednesday during the proceedings, dismissing his request for the stay of the conference pending the finalisation of the case, there is still no written judgement amid a promise to seek one before noon from the Judges’s Clerk.
Nthontho said later on the wait for a full judgement on the case is only to be met with an extempore judgement whose written copy the judge refuses to release to him to facilitate his clients orders to take appeal against justice Mahase’s judgement.
When delivering judgement, Justice Mahase said it was almost impracticable to prepare a full judgement and that she noted she must congradulate herself for having been able to produce a hand written judgement.
“I only have an extempore judgement, with the pressure I have been put under, I think I should congratulate myself for having at least prepared a extempore judgement.
“I wish to make the following remarks before giving judgement and I know people are going to misinterpret what I’ve said. But I think as a court I’ve got to say what I’m going to say,” she said.
She continued to read her judgement and said: “it is very disheartening to realise that in this country it has now become a norm for political party members to hastily rush to court whenever they have grievances without having exhausted the local remedies which are provided in the constitutions of their political partes which they are members.
“For instance, in this case, there is absolutely no reason why the applicants did not call for the convening of a special conference through which they could have resolved their disputes or grievances as those that are referred to here in this proceedings.
“Issues such as the preferential treatment of some members within the party could well have been decided or dealt with by the Special Confernce.
“This could even include the amendment of the constitution of this party so as to avoid an inconsistent way of dealing some party members and also could have resolved issues such as the ones they complain about in respect of clause 5 E. I think it is that clause that says if any members of this party sues the party or comes to court then he or she has automatically dismissed him or herself from the party.
“ I am aware, I think I am talking correctly here, that this party’s elective conference is held every five years. Why applicants had to wait until now when they ought to have known that at sometime there is going to be an elective conference to be held. I don’t know why they had to wait or the dates to be announced to rush to court.
“The courts are being placed under unnecessary pressure. Each one of us here, I mean the judges here, we have tremendous lot work to do and we are working under very straining conditions. All that I wish to say is to plea with party members, NECs to go and clean their houses. I am sure you will agree with me that there is no one who can work under the pressure that I’ve been put under,” she said.
Then the judge went on to hand-down her judgement.
“The order of this court is that the main application as well as prayer 2g are dismissed with costs to the respondents,” said Justice Mahase.