Mo­choboroane’s salary frozen

Lesotho Times - - News - Bongiwe Zih­langu

THE gov­ern­ment has sus­pended Se­libe Mo­choboroane’s salary and ben­e­fits fol­low­ing his dis­missal as Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy min­is­ter last month, the Le­sotho Times has learnt.

The decision to stop the re­mu­ner­a­tion — in­clud­ing that of his staff such as pri­vate sec­re­tary, of­fice tea-lady, maid and gar­dener — was made after the Min­istry of Fi­nance’s le­gal team ques­tioned whether it was still law­ful to keep him on the min­is­ters’ pay­roll de­spite be­ing fired by Prime Min­is­ter Thomas Tha­bane on 16 Oc­to­ber 2014, al­legedly for in­sub­or­di­na­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to doc­u­ments the Le­sotho Times has man­aged to ob­tain, the le­gal team, un­der the guid­ance of Ac­coun­tant-gen­eral Rankoe Mphaka, sub­se­quently sought ad­vice from At­tor­ney-gen­eral ( AG) Tšokolo Makhethe (King’s Coun­sel) on the is­sue, as well as Mr Mo­choboroane’s con­tin­ued per­for­mance of min­is­te­rial func­tions.

How­ever, de­spite Ad­vo­cate Makhethe’s ad­vice that since Mr Mo­choboroane’s dis­missal is now be­fore the courts of law, it would be il­le­gal to with­hold his min­is­te­rial re­mu­ner­a­tion, Mr Mphaka has stopped the pay­ment.

Dr Tha­bane filed an ur­gent ap­pli­ca­tion in the High Court on 7 Novem­ber seek­ing an or­der to com­pel Mr Mo­choboroane to va­cate the min­is­te­rial post with the case de­ferred to 16 March 2015 by Jus­tice Teboho Moiloa.

Mr Mphaka told the Le­sotho Times yes­ter­day: “Since the prime min­is­ter is­sued his let­ter of ex­pul­sion and a gov­ern­ment gazette to that ef­fect, Mr Mo­choboroane has been get­ting a mem­ber of par­lia- ment (MP)’S salary.

“Pay­ments per­tain­ing to him as a min­is­ter have been stopped, but he’s still get­ting an MP’S salary be­cause he’s still a mem­ber of par­lia­ment.

“We made what we call a ca­su­alty re­turn, in­formed based on au­thor­ity, in this case be­ing the let­ter of ex­pul­sion from cab­i­net and a gov­ern­ment gazette to that ef­fect.

“The let­ter of ex­pul­sion and the gov­ern­ment gazette are trig­gers of the valid ca­su­alty re­turn.”

Asked about the ad­vice given by the AG re­gard­ing the is­sue, Mr Mphaka said although he had not yet seen the re­sponse, it was him who had rec­om­mended that ad­vice be sought from Ad­vo­cate Makhethe “as the most rel­e­vant per­son to in­ter­pret the sit­u­a­tion”.

“We sought the AG’S ad­vice be­cause we were in a dilemma as Mr Mo­choboroane was still in of­fice ex­er­cis­ing his pow­ers as min­is­ter de­spite the di­rec­tive by the PM, with peo­ple who were sup­posed to evict him seem­ingly un­able to do so,” Mr Mphaka said. “We had stopped pay­ments per­tain­ing to him as a min­is­ter, as I’ve said al­ready, but there was also po­lit­i­cal pres­sure, based on the coali­tion gov­ern­ment’s agree­ment.”

M r Mphaka added since he was yet to see the com­mu­ni­ca­tion from Ad­vo­cate Makhethe, “I can only make a decision once I have seen the con­tents of the ad­vice”.

“I am yet to hear from the Prin­ci­pal Sec­re­tary (fi­nance min­istry) and study the word­ing of the ad­vice be­cause that’s very im­por­tant.

“Only when I am con­tent with the ad­vice, can we then make a decision,” Mr Mphaka said.

Asked whether he had spo­ken to Mr Mo­choboroane about the re­mu­ner­a­tion is­sue, Mr Mphaka said the Tha­bana-morena Con­stituency No 52 MP only called him once to com- plain about an of­fi­cer in the fi­nance min­istry, who would not process some pay­ment due to him.

“It was a civil tele­phonic dis­cus­sion and I said I would look into it and that was that.

“Even the Min­is­ter of Fi­nance, Dr Leketekete Ketso, also called me about it, and we were civil in our brief con­ver­sa­tion,” Mr Mphaka said.

Mean­while, in his re­sponse to the re­quest on whether it was le­gal to con­tinue treat­ing Mr Mo­choboroane as a min­is­ter, AG Makhethe tells fi­nance min­istry Act­ing Prin­ci­pal Sec­re­tary (PS) Khosi Letsie:

“The is­sue of whether or not Hon Mo­choboroane MP, should serve as min­is­ter, and re­ceive ben­e­fits of of­fice, is very much in­sep­a­ra­ble from the core is­sue of the va­lid­ity of his dis­missal, a mat­ter to be de­cided by the court.

“If, there­fore, for what­ever rea­son the gov­ern­ment were to also con­cern it­self with ex­ec­u­tive de­ter­mi­na­tions as to whether Hon Mo­choboroane MP is to con­tinue in of­fice and re­ceive ben­e­fits in the in­terim pe­riod of the pen­dency of lit­i­ga­tion, in this case that would bear all the hall­marks of ex­ec­u­tive usurpa­tion of the pow­ers of the courts of law.”

The AG warns in his let­ter dated 20 Novem­ber 2014, that it would be in vi­o­la­tion of the court’s decision to de­lay the ap­pli­ca­tion to a date de­cided on by the court, if the min­istry were to cut the min­is­ter’s ben­e­fits, when no fi­nal decision on his le­gal sta­tus had been de­ter­mined.

“In my view, the is­sue of whether Hon­ourable Mo­choboroane MP should con­tinue in of­fice and ac­cord­ingly, re­ceive re­mu­ner­a­tion is now sub-ju­dice, as it is un­avoid­ably and in­ex­tri­ca­bly in­ter­twined with the very key is­sue, which the courts have to de­cide, be­ing whether his dis­missal from the of­fice was law­ful,” AG Makhethe ad­vises.

“The fun­da­men­tal pur­pose of the sub-ju­dice rule is to pro­tect the au­thor­ity, in­de­pen­dence, dig­nity and ef­fec­tive­ness of the courts of law.”

He adds: “The rule, in essence, re­quires that mat­ters pend­ing be­fore courts are to be left to the courts to de­cide with­out un­due in­ter­fer­ence.

“For the gov­ern­ment, the as­pect of pro­tect­ing the au­thor­ity, in­de­pen­dence, dig­nity and ef­fec­tive­ness of the courts is a con­sti­tu­tional im­per­a­tive.”

AG Makhethe fur­ther states from the point of view of the sub­ju­dice rule, he would ad­vise that gov­ern­ment ex­er­cises pa­tience and re­straint “lest it is seen to be un­der­min­ing the in­de­pen­dence, au­thor­ity, dig­nity and ef­fec­tive­ness of the courts of the realm”.

“I ac­tu­ally un­der­stand that, in­deed to date, the gov­ern­ment has been cir­cum­spect and has not at­tempted to pre-empt the decision of the court, by some rash ac­tion along the lines of self-help.”

More­over, he con­tin­ues, after con­sid­ered thought, he ad­vised gov­ern­ment that pend­ing the fi­nal­i­sa­tion of the court case, “Hon Mo­choboroane should be al­lowed to con­tinue (as has al­ready been done, any­way) to be in of­fice as min­is­ter, and re­mu­ner­ated ac­cord­ingly.

“What is of mo­men­tous im­por­tance in this case, is a decision on the le­gal va­lid­ity of the dis­missal; there­after ev­ery­thing else will fall into place, in ac­cor­dance with the decision it­self.”

Re­peated ef­forts to get a com­ment from Mr Mo­choboroane proved fu­tile yes­ter­day.

sus­pended com­mu­ni­ca­tions Min­is­ter se­libe Mo­choboroane.

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