…meanwhile Mahao’s quintet says any contempt of court will be dealt with decisively
KEISO MOHLOBOLI and MATIISETSO MOSALA
All Basotho Convention (ABC) leader Thomas Thabane’s anointed party executive committee yesterday defied a High Court judgment, and only said it welcomes expelled executive members but as ordinary party members.
The statehouse cabal—ABC’s national executive committee members anointed by Thabane to replace the expelled members—were yesterday part of a press briefing held in Maseru following the court judgement.
This state house cabal decided to cherry-pick on the Court’s decisions reinstating the elected national executive committee members.
High court ruled that Thabane’s decision expelling ABC’s inbound deputy leader Professor Nqosa Mahao and co-applicants null and void.
The High Court reigned that Thabane had no legal force and effect therefore, Mahao (Deputy Leader), Lebohang Hlaele (Secretary General), Samuel Rapapa (Chairperson), Matebatso Doti (Deputy PRO) and Montoeli Masoetsa (PRO) remain the members of the ABC NEC.
Mahao’s quintet, speaking today at a separate press briefing said the court has ruled in their favor and declared them the rightful party NEC and not the Thabane anointed statehouse cabal.
Mahao further said they have no desires to leave the party.
“We did not fight this long and hard only to leave and form a new party. We fought because we believe in the party and we will fix it and restore it”, Mahao said.
The Professor admitted that the instability within the party is affecting government functions noting that the seek peace and unity so as to restore stability in the party.
Hlaele shared his leader’s sentiments adding that they will be moving to the previous known ABC office at Metcash building to show that they have taken control. He said the office was closed to avoid bloodbath after a scuffle over the office led to someone sustaining minor injuries.
Handing down his judgment, Justice Tšeliso Monaphathi said Thabane is permanently interdicted from interfering with the affairs of the NEC without full involvement of the full contingent of the governing body.
Justice Monaphathi further ordered that Thabane is permanently interdicted from instructing any member of the ABC and NEC to discharge the functions of the offices held by Mahao faction.
“Dr Moeketsi Majoro, Kemiso Mosenene, Rabale Sentle and Joel Mohale are permanently interdicted from holding themselves out as members of the ABC NEC and discharging any duties within the NEC”.
“The decision of the 1st respondent (leader of ABC) to expel all the applicant is null and void ab initio and has no legal force and effect.
“As such the applicants being; Nqosa Mahao, Lebohang Hlaele, Samuel Rapapa, Matebatso Doti and Montoeli Masoetsa are members of the ABC and the NEC”.
“It is ordered that the leader of ABC does not have powers to expel any member of the ABC and the respondents to pay the applicants,” Justice Monaphathi ordered.
“Expulsion is an extreme measure when there is suspension and should be the last resort,” Monaphathi said repeatedly.
Justice Monaphathi stated that the court realizes that Thabane should have referred the ‘mischievous’ members to disciplinary committees as per provisions in the party’s constitution.
Taking their turn a few hours after the court ruling, Majoro and Joel Mohale introduced themselves before the media as legitimate members of the ABC and its NEC.
In a much contradictory statement, the party’s deputy secretary-general Nkaku Kabi said they unreservedly accept the court’s judgment and welcome the five previously expelled members back into the party.
However, did not want to acknowledge Mahao’s quintet was reinstated back to its positions in the NEC with Majoro arguing that the court did not make a ruling on Kabi and Mohale.
ABC’s Qoaling constituency legislator and Small business Minister Chalane Phori, also present at the conference acknowledged Majoro as the deputy leader of the party and not Mahao, contrary to the Court’s decision.
Mahao’s quintet first challenged its dismissal on 22 June 2019. However, the application was dismissed by the High Court bench comprising of Justices Thamsanqa Nomngcongo, Sakoane Sakoane and Moroke Mokhesi on a technicality, saying it had not been properly filed before the court.
Judge Monaphathi remarked that the nature of the case had made history in Lesotho due to the circumstances that brought it to the court of appeal.
He said also that the court had to be careful in contouring the terms of the appeal because not every detail could be used in arriving at a judgment.
“Issues such as improper or unofficial handover between the outgoing and incoming committee was a non-issue. The most important thing is who was elected; if indeed they were voted for.
“A sensible cause for concern would have been the quorum; that is whether there were enough members to vote and declare the vote official and legal” the judge detailed.
Addressing the media and supporters shortly after the ruling, Mahao said the ruling ascertained that the five that had been expelled are indeed part of the ABC’s National Executive Committee (NEC) as elected in the party’s February elections.
“It is now a matter of whether the other faction that is against democracy will accept the court interpretation of the ABC constitution which led to this outcome. If they do, we will work harmoniously as one united party going forward”, he stated.