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RAMODIBEDI LOSES AGAINST LESOTHO PM

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MANZINI – The Chief Justice Michael Ramodibedi has lost his case against Lesotho Prime Minister (PM) Thomas Thabane.


Ramodibedi had been involved in a legal battle challenging that country’s PM Thabane’s decision to call upon him to step down as President of the Lesotho Court of Appeal.
The Lesotho Constitutional Court dismissed Ramodibedi’s application and ordered him to pay costs, the Lesotho Times stated. This means that Thabane’s government could proceed with the impeachment proceedings it intended to institute against Ramodibedi, the publication stated.


Suspend


Ramodibedi had also sought an order directing Thabane to stop advising the Lesotho King to suspend him.
He had applied for an order to stop the enquiry into his alleged acts of misconduct warranting his impeachment. He had argued that the processes leading to the setting up of the tribunal and the whole impeachment bid were unlawful.


Three retired judges from South Africa, who had been engaged to hear the matter as a constitutional one, disagreed with Ramodibedi and dismissed his application.
The PM was reported to have asked Ramodibedi to quit, blaming him for tarnishing the reputation of the Lesotho Judiciary. However, Ramodibedi refused to comply with Thabane’s order, despite that his official vehicles had been confiscated from him. He won an interim order allowing him to have access to the official vehicles.
The ruling marked a turning point in the long-running tussle pitting Justice Ramodibedi against former Chief Justice Mahapela Lehohla.


Disagreements


Ramodibedi and Lehohla had been in disagreements over seniority, the Lesotho Times stated.
Thabane stepped in and reportedly advised King Letsie III to appoint the three South African judges to establish a tribunal to consider reasons to remove Ramodibedi  from his position.


The Lesotho Minister of Correctional Services and Law, Mophatho Mkonyake was quoted to have expressed satisfaction with the verdict.
“This paves the way for us to continue with the impeachment process,” Monyake was quoted to have said.
He said Justice Ramodibedi had been given an opportunity to be heard.


Advocate Sipho Mdluli on behalf of the Lesotho government reportedly said the state was ready to proceed with the impeachment process as soon as possible. He, however, said Ramodibedi had an option to appeal the decision, even though chances of him winning were slim.
Some of the allegations against Ramodibedi included that he failed to protect the integrity and independence of the Judiciary because of his failure to resolve disputes between him and former Chief Justice Lehohla.


Cancelled


He was also accused of paying double allegiance to Lesotho and Swaziland at the same time. He was further accused of having cancelled a January 2013 court of Appeal session after Lehohla had refused to release High Court judges to sit in the higher court.


Justice Ramodibedi and Justice Lehohla’s tussle for seniority at King Letsie’s birthday celebrations in 2012 was also cited in the court papers among the misconduct allegations against the Appeal Court president.


Ramodibedi did not comment on the issue when called yesterday. He hung up his phone in two attempts.

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