Set­back for re­called diplo­mats

Lesotho Times - - News - Brian Chi­wanza

the high Court yes­ter­day dealt a body blow to four diplo­mats who were chal­leng­ing gov­ern­ment’s de­ci­sion to pre­ma­turely end their tour of duty.

the en­voys — Bothata tsikoane (New Delhi, In­dia), ‘Male­jaka Le­tooane (high Com­mis­sioner to South Africa), Jo­han­nes­burg Con­sul-gen­eral Mophethe Seka­mane, and high Com­mis­sioner to Malaysia Dr ‘Maba­phuthi Moorosi-mo­lapo — were re­called through let­ters dated 21 Au­gust 2015, and asked to re­port to the Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs and In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions head­quar­ters on 9 Novem­ber 2015.

how­ever, the diplo­mats are chal­leng­ing their pre­ma­ture re­turn on the ba­sis it is “po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated”.

But in her rul­ing de­liv­ered yes­ter­day, Jus­tice ‘Mase­shophe hla­joane said she could not in­ter­dict the re­call be­cause the rea­son for the ap­pli­cants’ de­lay to chal­lenge their re­turn was not jus­ti­fied.

the diplo­mats’ lawyer, Ad­vo­cate Mon­a­heng Seeiso Rasekoai, ar­gued in his ap­pli­ca­tion that the de­ci­sion had “rip­ple ef­fects of rup­tur­ing one of the pil­lars of the King­dom’s for­eign re­la­tions”.

Ad­vo­cate Rasekoai also said gov­ern­ment should not pro­ceed with the “large-scale ter­mi­na­tion” of the con­tracts which he noted was “po­lit­i­cally-bi­ased.”

he prayed for the court to “in­ter­dict the re­spon­dents (Min­is­ter of For­eign Af­fairs and In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions, the min­istry’s prin­ci­pal Sec­re­tary and At­tor­ney Gen­eral) from ex­e­cut­ing the pro­posal to re­call and or ter­mi­nate the ap­pli­cants’ em­ploy­ment from for­eign ser­vice,” and “de­clare the de­ci­sion to re­call the ap­pli­cants as breach of con­tract of their em­ploy­ment”.

Ad­vo­cate Rasekoai also wanted the court to de­clare the re­call “both se­lec­tive and dis­crim­i­na­tory in na­ture, hence un­law­ful”.

he con­tin­ued: “there are three other diplo­mats who were en­gaged by the gov­ern­ment in sim­i­lar posts but have been se­lec­tively left out and their ap­point­ments re­main in­tact.

“the said diplo­mats are Ad­vo­cate Kele­bone Maope (KC) who is in New york rep­re­sent­ing Le­sotho in the united Na­tions, high Com­mis­sioner in China Mpeo Ma­hase- Moiloa, and Lebo­hang Ntšinyi who is the am­bas­sador of Le­sotho in Bel­gium.

“the am­bas­sadors who have been se­lec­tively left out from re­call are politi­cians who are aligned to the rul­ing regime.

“It can safely be con­cluded that the se­lec­tive, dis­crim­i­na­tory and ar­bi­trary de­ci­sion­mak­ing process re­lat­ing to the ter­mi­na­tion of the diplo­matic posts of all the ap­pli­cants is driven and in­spired by po­lit­i­cal con­sid­er­a­tions than any­thing else.”

But in op­pos­ing the ap­pli­ca­tion, Deputy At­tor­ney Gen­eral, tse­bang put­soane sub­mit­ted there was no ur­gency in hear­ing the case.

“they did noth­ing for two months and are now rush­ing to court on an ur­gent ba­sis ask­ing for an in­ter­dict.

“It was just un­rea­son­able de­lay and the prayer to in­ter­dict the let­ters should fail with no al­ter­na­tive rem­edy,” he said.

In her rul­ing, Judge hla­joane noted: “there is no ex­pla­na­tion for the de­lay from mid-au­gust to Oc­to­ber for them to have filed their ap­pli­ca­tion as they had am­ple time.

“It has not been stated as to why even those based in South Africa could not re­act to the let­ters ear­lier than has been the case.

“I de­cline to grant the prayer on in­ter­dict­ing the Min­is­ter of For­eign Af­fairs and In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions and prin­ci­pal Sec­re­tary of the Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs from ex­e­cut­ing the pro­posed re­call of the ap­pli­cants.

“the court will be loath to be seen to be in­ter­fer­ing with the busi­ness of gov­ern­ment where there are no jus­ti­fi­able rea­sons to do so.”

Judge hla­joane post­poned the mat­ter to 4 Novem­ber for ar­gu­ments.

Mean­while, the other en­voys who have been or­dered to pre­ma­turely re­turn home in­clude Fel­leng Makeka (united King­dom), Sempe Le­jaha (Italy) and Nkopane Monyane (Switzer­land).

All the re­called of­fi­cials as­sumed their posts dur­ing the three-party coali­tion gov­ern­ment led by Dr thomas tha­bane, and which ceded power in Fe­bru­ary this year.

The am­bas­sadors who have been se­lec­tively left out from re­call are politi­cians who are aligned to the rul­ing regime

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