Leaders from the Southern African Development Community are set to meet in Pretoria today about the “political and security” situation in Lesotho, while an unprecedented court case against King Letsie III in Maseru is threatening to spark protest action.
There have been some concerns about security in the Mountain Kingdom, where voters are set to go to the polls next Saturday following a coup attempt in August last year.
South Africa’s department of international relations and cooperation said yesterday that there would be an extraordinary summit of the SADC Double Troika, involving Zimbabwe, Botswana, Malawi, South Africa, Lesotho and Namibia.
Meanwhile a Lesotho businessperson has told City Press that there are plans for a protest in the Lesotho capital today as Attorney-General Tsokolo Makhethe will be challenging the king and Prime Minister Tom Thabane in the country’s constitutional court about last month’s appointment of Kanalelo Mosito as the new president of the Court of Appeal.
“It will be a protest to say ‘hands off our king’,” the businessperson said.
According to the Lesotho Times, Makethe is supported by Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing, who says Mosito’s appointment violated agreements signed by various political party leaders ahead of next week’s elections.
Metsing is from the Lesotho Congress for Democracy, which is one of the parties that has made up part of the rocky coalition with Thabane’s All Basotho Convention party since the 2012 elections.
Thabane advised King Letsie III to make the appointment and went ahead with Mosito’s swearing-in, but Makhethe has argued that Thabane doesn’t have the powers, that he didn’t consult Cabinet and that he failed to apply his mind.
Advocate Jeremy Gauntlett, SC, who was previously a judge in Lesotho’s Court of Appeal and who is accredited as an advocate in that country, will be representing Thabane, King Letsie III, Mosito and two ministers also cited as respondents.
The Lesotho Times reports that South African Judges George Maluleke from the South Gauteng High Court, Sulet Potterill from the North Gauteng High Court, and John Musi from the Free State will preside over the case.
Thabane has painted the court action as an attack against King Letsie III, but Metsing told the Lesotho Times the action wasn’t aimed at the king, who doesn’t have executive powers, but the prime minister.
Thabane fled to South Africa in August last year after the army surrounded his residence and police stations in Maseru. Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa was appointed to mediate in the dispute and the parties agreed to move the elections forward by two years.
Earlier this month there were shootings in the capital between two factions dressed in army uniform, which has contributed to pre-election jitters.
International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane was in Lesotho earlier this week to launch the SADC observer mission two weeks ahead of the elections.