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Bid to block Shao from contesting election



MASERU – A group of Basotho led by the Christian Advocates and Ambassadors Association have filed an urgent application to get Zhang Yu Shao disqualified from standing in next week’s election.
They allege that he cannot speak, write or read both Sesotho and English fluently and cannot therefore represent anybody in parliament.
They also argue that if a naturalised Chinese can be an MP in Lesotho, the same should apply in China.
Molupe Mosito, one of the applicants in the case, told the High Court in an affidavit filed on Monday that he wants the Sesotho and English language proficiency tests done on Shao.
“We know for a fact that (Shao) does not speak both English and Sesotho well enough to participate meaningfully in the parliamentary debates as contemplated by sections 56, 57, 58 and 59 of the Constitution,” Mosito said.
“We harbour a serious reasonable suspicion and apprehension that the Independent Electoral Commission violated the Constitution by not subjecting (Shao) to the mandatory Sesotho and English proficiency test,” he said.
“The Independent Electoral Commission always subjects all candidates to the language proficiency test by testing them on whether they can speak and write both Sesotho and English well.”
Mosito says the scope of the application is meant to “assist to curb the impending overpopulation of Chinese and/or naturalised Chinese citizens in the Parliament of Lesotho in the near future”.
Mosito concedes that Shao, in terms of the constitution, is not to be barred from pursuing his means of livelihood and enjoying social benefits on the basis of his country of origin, colour and language.
However, he says, the constitution provides that parliament “has power to limit and disqualify naturalised citizens from enjoying certain social benefits and occupying certain public positions”.
He submitted that the social benefits and positions include occupying an office of MP and enjoying its benefits before expiration of ten years (from the date of naturalisation).
Mosito asks the court to direct parliament to enact a law listing social benefits and positions which cannot be enjoyed and occupied by naturalised citizens before the expiration of ten years, as required by the constitution.
“For lack of doubt, the Court has constitutional mandate as the custodian of the constitution to see to it that all the arms of government including parliament comply with their constitutional duties,” he argued.
He said the constitution itself is unconstitutional, with regard to the eighth amendment because it violated the original constitution, when it gives naturalised citizens rights without first observing practices in their countries of origin.
Mosito argued that the eighth amendment “violates the principle of equality, freedom from discrimination and reciprocity which dictate that if Chinese naturalised citizens may occupy certain positions and enjoy certain social benefits in Lesotho then naturalised Basotho must necessarily have the same rights and privileges in China”.
“Once the arrangement is one sided …Basotho rights to be treated equally with the naturalised Chinese-Basotho citizens is violated,” he said.
“Basotho are being discriminated (against) and their right to be treated equally with the naturalised Chinese-Basotho is violated.”
He said parliament had violated the constitution by failing to promulgate a law enlisting which social benefits and positions are “reserved for indigenous Basotho and which ones may be enjoyed by foreigners…and which ones may be enjoyed equally by indigenous Basotho and naturalised Chinese-Basotho and after how long”.

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