Diplo­mats await fate

Lesotho Times - - News - Tefo Tefo

ACT­ING Court of Ap­peal Pres­i­dent Jus­tice Ian Far­lam yes­ter­day re­served judg­ment to Fri­day next week in a case in which the govern­ment is ap­peal­ing a High Court rul­ing that four re­called diplo­mats con­tinue to hold their po­si­tions.

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 ini­tially is­sued with let­ters dated 21 Au­gust 2015 ask­ing them to “show cause” why their con­tracts should not be ter­mi­nated and asked to re­port to the Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs and In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions head­quar­ters on 9 Novem­ber 2015.

How­ever, the diplo­mats 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 then premier Thomas Tha­bane, came to power.

The case was still pend­ing be- fore the court on 28 Oc­to­ber 2015 when the 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 the govern­ment should have waited for her rul­ing in the main case be­fore pro­ceed­ing with the “show cause” let­ters as a new case.

The govern­ment, af­ter with­draw­ing the re­call let­ters, ar­gued in the High Court that it was not nec­es­sary to pro­ceed with the case be­cause the let­ters had been with­drawn.

But Jus­tice ‘ Mase­shophe Hla­joane ruled in the diplo­mats’ favour and they con­tin­ued oc­cu­py­ing their posts. How­ever, the govern­ment chal­lenged the rul­ing in the Court of Ap­peal.

In his ad­dress to the Court of Ap­peal yes­ter­day, the en­voys’ lawyer, Ad­vo­cate Mon­a­heng Rasekoai said the judge was cor­rect in rul­ing in his clients’ favour.

“When they (diplo­mats) were re­called, we chal­lenged the let­ters on the ba­sis that they were not given a hear­ing,” said Ad­vo­cate Rasekoai.

“And when the case was still un­der con­sid­er­a­tion, they re­ceived let­ters with­draw­ing the ini­tial let­ters si­mul­ta­ne­ous with the ‘show cause’ let­ters and we had to file the in­ter­locu­tory ap­pli­ca­tion.

“Au­thor­ing the with­drawal and show cause let­ters was vi­o­lat­ing the prin­ci­ple of sub­ju­dice. We ask that the mat­ter be re­moved from the roll with costs.”

How­ever, Deputy At­tor­ney-gen­eral Tse­bang Put­soane ar­gued that Jus­tice Hla­joane “erred” by not up­hold­ing the ar­gu­ment that the case was no longer rel­e­vant be­cause the re­call let­ters were al­ready with­drawn when the case was ar­gued.

“The judge should have de­cided on the is­sue of moot­ness be­cause our case was that the case was then moot,” he said.

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