Tem­po­rary re­lief for di­plo­mats

. . . as court blocks govt’s move to fire four en­voys

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - Tefo Tefo

THE High Court granted four di­plo­mats an in­terim court or­der block­ing a fresh bid by the govern­ment to ter­mi­nate their con­tracts.

The en­voys, Bothata Tsikoane (High Com­mis­sioner to In­dia), ‘ Male­jaka Le­tooane (High Com­mis­sioner to South Africa), Mophethe Seka­mane (Jo­han­nes­burg Consul-gen­eral), and ‘Maba­phuthi Moorosi-mo­lapo (High Com­mis­sioner to Malaysia), were is­sued with let­ters dated 29 De­cem­ber 2015 and signed by Govern­ment Sec­re­tary Le­bo­hang Ramohlanka ask­ing them to “show cause” why their con­tracts should not be ter­mi­nated.

Part of the let­ter writ­ten to Dr Moorosi-mo­lapo reads: “I am in­structed to in­form you, as I hereby do, that the govern­ment in­tends to ter­mi­nate the con­tract of your en­gage­ment as the High Com­mis­sioner of Le­sotho to Malaysia.

“Rea­sons for the in­tended ter­mi­na­tion are stated here below:

“The posts of High Com­mis­sioner, Am­bas­sador, Per­ma­nent Rep­re­sen­ta­tive and Consul Gen­eral are political in na­ture. “Ap­point­ment to the said posts is based,

in­ter alia, on political con­sid­er­a­tions. “Hold­ers of those posts are the face of the rul­ing regime or ad­min­is­tra­tion in the coun­tries to which they have been posted.

“The re­la­tion­ship be­tween hold­ers of the posts of High Com­mis­sioner, Am­bas­sador, Per­ma­nent Rep­re­sen­ta­tive and Consul Gen­eral and the rul­ing regime or ad­min­is­tra­tion is that of ut­most political trust and con­fi­dence.

“You were en­gaged to hold the post of High Com­mis­sion by the pre­vi­ous rul­ing regime or ad­min­is­tra­tion.

“Your en­gage­ment was based on the trust which that regime had in you, pre­sum­ably based on your political align­ment with the said regime; and that regime is now the op­po­si­tion to the present govern­ment.”

The let­ter fur­ther states that the present govern­ment did not have “trust and con­fi­dence” in Dr Moorosi-mo­lapo.

“You are ac­cord­ingly in­vited to make rep­re­sen­ta­tions, if any, why your en­gage­ment may not be ter­mi­nated by in­vok­ing the pro- vi­sions of clause 7 of the sched­ule to the en­gage­ment agree­ment No: MPS/P/72730 be­tween the govern­ment and your­self,” the let­ter read.

Sim­i­lar let­ters was sent to the other three di­plo­mats on the same day. The let­ters gave the en­voys un­til Mon­day this week to sub­mit rea­sons why their con­tracts should not be ter­mi­nated.

How­ever, the di­plo­mats ap­proached the High Court on Wed­nes­day last week on an ur­gent ba­sis seek­ing an or­der to nul­lify the let­ters. The re­spon­dents were the Min­is­ter of For­eign Affairs and In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions, Min­istry of For­eign Affairs Prin­ci­pal Sec­re­tary, Govern­ment Sec­re­tary and At­tor­ney Gen­eral re­spec­tively.

In their no­tice of mo­tion, the en­voys sought an or­der stat­ing “that it be de­clared that the de­ci­sion of re­call­ing ap­pli­cants from their con­tracts of em­ploy­ment in the For­eign Ser­vice is a breach of con­tract”.

They also sought an or­der “that it be de­clared that the re­call of ap­pli­cants from For­eign Ser­vice is both selec­tive and dis­crim­i­na­tory in na­ture and hence un­law­ful.”

High Court judge Jus­tice Kekeletso Moahloli on Mon­day granted the in­terim or­der. How­ever, the case is far from over as it will be heard on 18 Jan­uary 2016.

The di­plo­mats were ini­tially 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 en­voys op­posed the re­call through the High Court, ar­gu­ing govern­ment had not fol­lowed due process in pre­ma­turely end­ing their tour of duty which started in 2012 when a new govern­ment, led by Thomas Tha­bane, came to power. The case was still pend­ing be­fore the court on 28 Oc­to­ber when govern­ment with­drew the re­call let­ters and “rec­ti­fied” its mis­take by slap­ping the di­plo­mats with the “show cause” ul­ti­ma­tum.

The case was ar­gued in the High Court on 10 Novem­ber and the fol­low­ing day, Jus­tice ‘Mase­shophe Hla­joane said govern­ment should have waited for her rul­ing in the main case be­fore pro­ceed­ing with the “show cause” let­ters as a new case.

In her rul­ing, in favour of the di­plo­mats on 9 De­cem­ber 2015, Jus­tice Hla­joane said: “The con­duct of the re­spon­dents to have writ­ten let­ters of show cause in the face of a pend­ing de­ci­sion is the one that prompted this court to have granted the prayers in the in­ter­locu­tory ap­pli­ca­tion. The con­duct of the re­spon­dents was bor­der­ing on con­tempt.

“As a re­sult since the re­call let­ters have been with­drawn, that ends the mat­ter in the main case.”

High Com­mis­sioner to Malaysia ‘Maba­phuthi Moorosi-mo­lapo.

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