Ramodibedi faces impeachment in Lesotho
MBABANE – Chief Justice Michael Ramo-dibedi faces impeachment in his country for alleged misconduct and fraud related charges. It has been claimed that Lesotho born Ramodibedi is being investigated for a number of issues relating to bad behaviour in that country and in Swaziland. Lesotho Prime Minister Thomas Thabane is alleged to have decided to institute impeachment proceedings against Ramodibedi. Thabane is expected to advice the Lesotho King to set up a tribunal to investigate Ramodibedi and report whether or not he should be removed as that country’s President of the Court of Appeal. Ramodibedi took the Lesotho Prime Minister and some government officials to court challenging the premier’s alleged call for him to resign as Court of Appeal President. He claimed that the premier had acted unlawfully when he asked him to step down as Judge President at a meeting on April 22, 2013.
Lesotho Minister of Justice Mophato Monyake has denied that Ramodibedi was asked to resign from his position. This is contained in Mophato’s affidavit in answering papers to Ramodibedi’s application and Ramodibedi is yet to respond to the allegations.
It will be the first time in Lesotho history to have a judge impeached, it has been reported.
Mophato has claimed that the Prime Minister had only intended to address problems in the Judiciary, but Chief Justice Ramodibedi stormed out before the issues could be discussed.
“I take this opportunity to advise that, in the light of the present litigation instituted by Mr Justice Ramodibedi against the government, and for the reasons set out in this affidavit, the prime Minister has taken the decision to institute impeachment proceedings against him in terms of sections 125 (4) to (6) of the Constitution of Lesotho,” Monyake said.
“Accordingly, the Prime Minister will in due course advise the King to appoint a tribunal to enquire into and report on whether Mr Justice Ramodibedi ought to be removed from office,” reads the affidavit.
He, Monyake, submitted that it was unusual for a senior judicial officer to be a litigant in his own court. He said it would be impossible for Ramodibedi to properly perform his judicial function, by instituting the proceedings and seeking punitive costs against the Prime Minister and Lesotho Government.
He said the Chief Justice had brought himself into conflict with the government, the commissioner of police and the attorney general to the extent that the government is worried that he might be biased against it when he deals with cases in the Court of Appeal.
Mophato argued that Ramodi-bedi’s suit against Prime Minister Thabane is contrary to public policy and not justifiable. He is also accused of having misled the court in his affidavit filed before the court.
He said Ramodibedi had sought to embroil the High Court, sitting as the Constitutional Court, in a dispute on matters of government policy. He also said the matter should ‘be resolved through consultation and otherwise within the government administration, not in the courts’.
“This application is entirely subversive of the doctrine of the separation of powers under the Constitution, which is premised on a culture of respect and cooperation between the Judiciary and the other branches of government,” Monyake said.
“Justice Ramodibedi has abused the court process to pre-empt and frustrate the amicable and cooperative manner in which the Prime Minister and other members of the Executive sought to resolve its concerns over the functioning of the Judiciary,” he said.
The Lesotho Constitution stipulates that a judge can be removed for misbehaviour or failure to perform duties.
It says a tribunal made up of a chairman and no less than two other members should be appointed to investigate the allegations against the judge before he can be removed. In the case of Ramodibedi, by virtue of being the Court of Appeal President, members of a tribunal to investigate him before removal are to be selected by the Prime Minister.
The charges the tribunal will be required to investigate Ramodi-bedi on, have not been clearly spelled out, but Monyake, in his affidavit, alleged that they would also involve misappropriation of funds, misleading the court and his supremacy fight with former Lesotho Chief Justice Mahapela Lehohla.
His storming out of a meeting with Lesotho Prime Minister, it has been alleged, will form part of the issues investigated on.
Monyake wants the High Court to dismiss Ramodibedi’s application on the grounds that it is not justifiable and he has not made out a case on the merits.
The court granted Ramodibedi an interim order interdicting the seizure of his official vehicles.
Monyake submitted that if the court was not inclined to dismiss the application then it must be stayed pending the conclusion of the impeachment proceedings against Chief Justice Ramodibedi.
The matter is pending before the Lesotho High Court.
Directive barring suits against King worries Lesotho govt
MBABANE – The directive barring courts from entertaining any lawsuits against the King here in Swaziland worries the Lesotho government.
The directive was issued by Chief Justice Michael Ramo-dibedi in 2011, to the Registrar of the High Court and all entrusted with court process, to refuse any summons directed to the King or his office.
He said His Majesty the King, as stated in the country’s Constitution, cannot be sued directly or indirectly.
This, Lesotho Justice Minister Mophato Monyake said in an affidavit, appears to be subversive of the independence of the Judiciary and the separation of powers between the Judiciary and the Executive, as these principles were appreciated and practised in Lesotho.
Monyake further accused Ramodibedi of disregarding the Constitution of Swaziland as well as rendering the Swazi independence of the Judiciary ineffective.
Monyake said the directive was calculated to frustrate access to justice.
... Lesotho must respect SD’s sovereignty - Percy
MBABANE – Lesotho must respect Swazi-land’s sovereignty, government Spokesperson Percy Simelane said.
He said while it was a known fact that Chief Justice Michael Ramodibedi is a Lesotho subject, it would not be in Swazi-land’s best interests to see him through the eyes of the ‘Kingdom of Lesotho’.
Simelane, reacting to Ramo-dibedi’s directive barring lawsuits against the King said he had a feeling that such was ‘cooked to demonise the chief justice.
“While we have very diplomatic relations with the Kingdom of Lesotho, we shall continue to expect their government to respect the sovereignty of our country,” he said.
He added, “Our Constitution is online and I believe it will help them to read it much more slowly with understanding and they will pick the true picture in the lawsuit in question. We are a sovereign state with a soul of our own. We have not yet asked anybody to think on our behalf as a nation.”
... CJ investigated for alleged E123 000 fraud
MBABANE – Lesotho Police are allegedly investigating Chief Justice Michael Ramodibedi for alleged E123 000 fraud.
According to court papers filed by the Lesotho Government in response to Ramodibedi’s court case suing Lesotho Prime Minister Thomas Thabane, he allegedly instructed his former Chauffeur to submit a false motor vehicle accident claim to the Lesotho national General Insurance Company.
The allegations are contained in an affidavit filed by Lesotho Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Mophato Monyake, whose merits are yet to be contested before court. Ramodibedi is yet to respond to the allegations.
This, it has been alleged, was a cover up of an accident that Ramodibedi’s son was involved in while driving an official government vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. The accident allegedly happened in January 2010 in South Africa.
The Chief Justice allegedly instructed his chauffeur to falsely say he was the one who was driving the motor vehicle.
“It appears that no report of the accident was filed with the police, either in Lesotho or in South Africa,” Monyake said.
“As a result of the alleged fraudulent claim, the Lesotho National General Insurance Company paid out R123 502 to repair the vehicle and the government, through Avis, paid an excess amount of E18 789.20,” Monyake alleged.
The vehicle in question is alleged to be a Toyota Land cruiser 200.
CJ’s double allegiance no pleasure to Lesotho govt
MBABANE – Chief Justice Michael Ramodibedi’s double allegiance is no pleasure to the Lesotho Government.
The Lesotho Minister of Justice Mophato Monyake, in an answering affidavit to Ramodibedi’s application against Lesotho Prime Minister Thomas Thabane and other government officials, has said Ramodibedi’s appointment as Chief Justice of Swaziland has huge financial implications for the government of Lesotho.
He has submitted that the agreement of service Ramodibedi signed as Chief Justice, had effectively saddled the government of Lesotho with the his travel costs when he was required to perform his duties in Lesotho. Ramodibedi is President of the Lesotho Court of Appeal.
This arrangement was not contemplated by the Lesotho Government when it appointed Ramodibedi President of the Court of Appeal in 2008, Monyake stated in his affidavit.
He further said Ramodibedi’s appointment as Swaziland’s Chief Justice created another problem when he committed ‘to act in all respects according to the laws and Constitution of Swaziland while at the same time pledging his allegiance to the Constitution of Lesotho’.
“In the view of the Government of Lesotho, these official commitments are incompatible, particularly because Swaziland is an absolute monarchy where there is no constitutional separation of powers,” he says.
BY LINDA JELE