By: Thoboloko Ntšonyane

MASERU- In its ruling handed down last week, the High Court sitting as the Constitutional Court has nullified the 9th Amendment to the Constitution declaring it unconstitutional.

This ruling is a result of a case lodged by Thaba-Moea’s No.73 Member of Parliament (MP) Hon Lejone Puseletso.

The applicant wanted the court to order the deferment of the motion of no confidence in the government pending the finalization of the ongoing national reforms “in terms of which the Parliament shall promulgate the comprehensive provision to regulate the passing of no confidence”.

In his application,  the Revolution for Prosperity (RFP) MP wanted the court to make an order to the extent “that the 9th amendment to section 87 (5) (a) of the constitution be declared unconstitutional to the extent that it violates the basic structure of the constitution per section 1 of the Constitution of Lesotho 1993”.

This case was instituted at a time when the government was a spirited vote of no confidence.

The applicant wanted the motion of no confidence to be suspended pending finalisation of the reforms.

On the prayer that the motion should not proceed, the court declined to entertain the matter saying that it is the parliament’s prerogative and as such it has no business in telling the august house how to go about this matter.

There was a dissenting opinion in the ruling as Judge Keketso Moahloli did not concur to the majority ruling by Judge Tšeliso Monapathi and Judge Molefi Makara.

The 9th Amendment to the Constitution was moved through a private members bill which was sponsored by the Popular Front for Democracy (PFD) leader, former Minister and long-time MP Advocate Lekhetho Rakuoane. It was passed into law in May 2020.

This piece of legislation was introduced in order to have a change of Prime Minister in parliament if such incumbent loses to the vote of confidence motion. Previously, when the motion of no confidence succeeded against the sitting Prime Minister, they would advise the King to dissolve the parliament and announce the call for fresh elections.

Section 83 (4) ( b) of Constitution reads: “if the National Assembly passes a resolution of no confidence in the Government of Lesotho and the Prime Minister does not within three days thereafter either resign or advise a dissolution the King may, act in accordance with the advice of the Council of State, dissolve Parliament”.

Since the advent of coalition governments in 2012, Lesotho has witnessed snap elections which were the result of the motion of no confidence against the sitting Prime Minister, and this Amendment was an attempt to counter those.

Lesotho went for snap elections that were resultant of the motion of no confidence, both Prime Ministers Motsoahae Thabane and Pakalitha Mosisili are victims of removal in power through the motion of no confidence.

Since the coalition government became the order of the day in Lesotho, only Dr Moeketsi Majoro survived the motion of no confidence.

The jury is still out if the incumbent Prime Minister Ntsokoane Matekane will survive or lose to a vote of no confidence provided it is eventually moved.

Meanwhile, Advocate Rakuoane has vowed to appeal this ruling.