MASERU – The much-awaited recruitment of seven High Court judges has been put on hold the cash-strapped judiciary failed to solicit funds to cater for the new appointments. The judiciary yesterday announced that it has no funds to cater for the appointments after their negotiations with the Finance Ministry hit a brick wall.
The Judicial Service Commission (JSC), a body responsible for the appointment of judges then resolved to suspend the appointments. The chief accounting officer for the judiciary, Advocate Mathato Sekoai, told reporters at a press briefing yesterday they had thought Treasury would head their call to release more funds but the funds were not forthcoming.
Sekoai said the appointments will be suspended while the judiciary continues to negotiate with Treasury. “We will continue to negotiate until something happens,” Sekoai said. She explained the challenge stems from the continued underfunding of the justice system and that despite budget constraints already faced by the institution, their budget has this financial year been cut with by a staggering M9 million.
The entire judiciary has been allocated M11 million from the M20 million they were allocated in the previous year and this has left the institution in a bad state struggling to make ends meet. The appointments were meant to fill the vacant posts in the High Court and the commercial division of the High Court after the death of two of its judges. The court was left without a judge as these two were the only commercial court judges. Two other High Court judges also retired and their post remains vacant.