HIGH Court judge Tšeliso Monapathi will hopefully end the battle for the control of the All Basotho Convention (ABC) when he delivers judgment on 17 December 2019 in a case in which Professor Nqosa Mahao and his allies are challenging their "expulsions" from the party by its leader Thomas Thabane.
The case, which has been pending before the High Court since 20 August 2019, was eventually heard to finality on Monday by Justice Monapathi.
It was filed after Dr Thabane's decision to "expel" Prof Mahao and four others from the ABC for insubordination. Prof Mahao was "expelled" on 17 June 2019 alongside his fellow national executive committee (NEC) members, Lebohang Hlaele (secretary general), Samuel Rapapa (chairperson), Montoeli Masoetsa (spokesperson) and his deputy Matebatso Doti.
The quintet was "expelled" for alleged insubordination after they convened and addressed rallies in apparent defiance of Dr Thabane's orders for them not to do so. This after Prof Mahao and his allies won their posts into the NEC at the party's elective conference in Feberuary 2019 but Dr Thabane's faction refused to recognise them.
The 17 December judgement will also end the interim interdict issued by Justice Monapathi on 4 September 2019 suspending the expulsions until the finalisation of the case.
The respondents are Dr Thabane, the ABC, the ABC's NEC, Moeketsi Majoro (appointed in August by Dr Thabane to replace Prof Mahao), Kemiso Mosenene (appointed chairperson in place of Mr Rapapa), Sentle Rabale (appointed spokesperson in place of Mr Masoetsa) and Joel Mohale (appointed deputy spokesperson in place of Ms Doti).
Dr Thabane had made the four appointments with effect from 9 August 2019. He had not immediately filled the post of secretary general made "vacant" by the "expulsion" of Mr Hlaele promising to do so in due course. The judgment issued on 4 September effectively nullified the appointments as Judge Monapathi interdicted Dr Thabane from instructing any member of the ABC to discharge functions of the offices held by Prof Mahao and his allies.
Prof Mahao's lawyer, 'Mabatṧoeneng Hlaele this week argued that Dr Thabane, who is her father, had no powers to expel any party member without ratification of the NEC.
"The decision of the leader to expel the applicants is against the constitution of the ABC which does not allow him to make unilateral decisions, therefore should be nullified," Adv Hlaele said.
She asked the court to revoke their expulsions from the ABC and further prohibit Dr Thabane from making party decisions without the involvement of the NEC.
On the other hand, Advocate Rethabile Setlojoane, representing Dr Thabane, argued that "the leader expelled the five to protect the party as they acted contrary to his instructions as the leader by holding parallel rallies to his".
Justice Monapathi then reserved judgement to 17 December 2019.
The five first challenged their dismissal on 22 June 2019 but the application was dismissed on 14 August 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.