MASERU – Business Mogul, Teboho Mojapela’s Socialist Revolutionaries (SR) is backtracking on its alliance with Movement for Economic Change (MEC). It says Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) should have rejected the alliance for its inconsistency with the National Assembly Act of 2011 and want an MEC Member of Parliament (MP) appointed under its banner as a result of the said partnership disqualified. MEC Chabaseile Mabusela was on October 25 sworn in as an MP following SR Deputy leader, Mamarame Matela resignation as an MP on October 20. Matela resigned at the wake of a motion of no confidence against Prime Minister Ntsokoane Mtekane.
Party leader, Mojapela is on record saying he does not know Matela’s reasons for resignation and that he only got to learn about the resignation when Speaker of National Assembly, Tlohelang Sekhamane read Matela’s resignation letter in Parliament. She was rumoured to be making way for an MEC MP in an attempt to stabilize government and increase its numbers in parliament but SR insist that the appointment of an MEC member on a Proportional Representation (PR) seat reserved for SR is illegal.
The party has petitioned the High Court (sitting as the Constitutional Court) to declare Mabusela’s swearing in as an MP unconstitutional and is seeking a declarator that his appointment and installation pending two court applications is invalid. SR initially went to court on October 20 to block Mabusela’s swearing in but High Court Justice Molefi Makara on October 23 declined jurisdiction saying the IEC tribunal is best placed to deal with the matter in a ruling that paved way for Matela’s replacement to be appointed.
However, SR appealed the ruling, applied for stay of execution of Judge Makara’s judgment and later launched the present application. They are asking the Constitutional Court to declare that notice of an appeal against the High Court judgment automatically suspends all actions related to the appeal. SR also want the court to suspend the continued participation of Mabusela in parliament pending their appeal case.
SR argue that the Speaker out to have waited for the determination of the pending cases before installing MEC’s Mabusela as an MP but the Speaker went ahead and swore him in. Molula alleges in her affidavit that the Speaker disregarded the law when he agreed to the swearing in of Mabusela despite the pending cases and objections from MPs.
“This Appeal was served upon the Speaker in the forenoon. Over and above this Appeal, a stay application plus a letter urging the Speaker not to go on and swear in and install the 2nd Respondent were served upon the Speaker. Despite all these processes and communication, the Speaker insisted to install the 2nd Respondent on the 24th October, 2023. This caused unnecessary commotion in the Parliament which nearly led to self-help or bloodshed in the Parliament.”
She adds: “It was really unnecessary and illegal for the Speaker to purport to install the 2nd Respondent as the noting of appeal automatically suspends all actions related to the appealed case. Additionally, the Honourable Speaker had in the recent past when the Motion of no Confidence was sought to be passed against the Prime Minister alleged that there was a case filed in court in a certain.”
SR and MEC entered into a pre-election agreement during the 2022 October general elections wherein their representatives were not supposed to compete against each other. When a representative from either party contested in certain identified constituencies supporters from both parties were asked to rally their support.
The move which resulted in MEC’s Proportional Representative (PR) list containing names of SR members and the SR PR list also containing MEC members but SR now says its agreement with MEC was a nullity because there was no signed declaration of an alliance between them in violation of section 47 (8) and 47 (7) of the National Assembly Act of 2011.
“Failure on the part of the IEC to reject such SR PR list is a nullity without more ado as it cannot be utilised to legitimise the illegitimate occupation of the seat by Chabaseile Mabusela,” reads SR papers in part. Chairperson of the SR’s National Executive Committee (NEC),’Mapali Molula says the appointment of Mabusela as an SR MP instead of her discriminates against her on the basis of gender/sex and is in violation of a zebra model.
Molula claims that the position was supposed to be assumed by her as a female replacement of a resigned female gender Matela as contemplated by the zebra model. “The installation of a male, namely: 2nd Respondent in the place of a female violates and discriminates female gender and violates equal representation of men and women in parliament contemplated by the Zebra Model.” According to Molula, the Zebra Model underpins gender parity inside Parliament and it is unconstitutional to act against it. She argues that the Speaker of the National Assembly acted against the model when he swore in Chabaseile as an MP. “The SR already has a male in Parliament namely: Honourable Mojapela who represents the male gender, the female gender had resigned, namely Mamarame Matela. She must be replaced by 3rd respondent who is a female since Mamarame resignation created the gender gap and disparity in parliament.”
Molula argues that by going ahead to swear in Chabaseile, the Speaker violated and threatened SR’ rights to a fair trial, infringes on the parliament’s standing order, the sub judice rule and the common rule which dictates that the noting of appeal automatically suspends all actions related to an appeal.
“The purported swearing in despite appeal is self-help on the part of the Speaker and self-help disturbs national peace and calls for Court’s urgent intervention,” she added.