Fired min­istry staff fight for re­in­state­ment

Lesotho Times - - News - Tefo Tefo

JUS­TICE Te­boho Moiloa yes­ter­day or­dered the Pub­lic Ser­vice Com­mis­sion (PSC) to be part of court pro­ceed­ings in a case in which 38 em­ploy­ees are fight­ing dis­missal from the Min­istry of De­fence.

De­fence and Na­tional Se­cu­rity Prin­ci­pal Sec­re­tary (PS) ‘Mam­pho Kotelo-‘mo­laoa on 25 Fe­bru­ary 2016 wrote let­ters to 44 of­fice as­sis­tants she al­leged had not been prop­erly em­ployed.

The PS in­formed the em­ploy­ees that they should leave the min­istry by 31 March 2016.

But only 38 of the em­ploy­ees chal­lenged the dis­missal in the high Court on 4 March 2016. The ap­pli­cants wanted the court to find that Dr Kotelo-‘mo­laoa acted be­yond her pow­ers when ter­mi­nat­ing their em­ploy­ment.

On Mon­day this week, a lawyer rep­re­sent­ing the PS , King’s Coun­sel Motiea Teele, ar­gued it was nec­es­sary that the PSC – as the em­ployer of all civil ser­vants– should be part of the pro­ceed­ings.

“Ar­gu­ing the PS did not have the author­ity to ter­mi­nate the em­ploy­ment sug­gests they were prop­erly em­ployed and the PSC is re­spon­si­ble for em­ploy­ing civil ser­vants.

“This cre­ates a di­rect and sub­stan­tial in­ter­est for the PSC to be heard,” he said.

On the other hand, the lawyer rep­re­sent­ing the ap­pli­cants, At­tor­ney Tu­misang Mosotho, told the court the PSC did not have di­rect in­ter­est in the case.

“All we are ask­ing is for an or­der that the PS did not have the author­ity to ter­mi­nate the em­ploy­ment of the ap­pli­cants.

“And again, there is no need for the PSC to be joined in the case be­cause the At­tor­ney Gen­eral has also been cited as one of the re­spon­dents,” he said.

in his rul­ing, Jus­tice Moiloa said: “The de­ci­sion of the court is that the join­der is al­lowed.

“The Pub­lic Ser­vice Com­mis­sion should be joined to the pro­ceed­ings and this should be done within 14 days.

“The case will be heard on 10 June this year.”

Ac­cord­ing to the dis­missal let­ters signed by Dr Kotelo-‘mo­laoa, the of­fice as­sis­tants’ ap­point­ment by then De­fence PS Sehloho

Moshoeshoe in March 2014 was un­law­ful be­cause it had not been sanc­tioned by the PSC.

The let­ters read: ‘in­vi­ta­tion to show cause why re­la­tion­ship be­tween the par­ties may not be ended . . .

“On the 6th March 2014, you were writ­ten a let­ter pur­port­edly ap­point­ing you as an Of­fice As­sis­tant in the Min­istry of De­fence and Na­tional Se­cu­rity. Sub­se­quently, there was also a doc­u­ment signed by you and the Prin­ci­pal Sec­re­tary, giv­ing ef­fect to the pur­ported ap­point­ment.

“The doc­u­ment is of­ten re­ferred to as a let­ter of of­fer of ap­point­ment. Re­gret­tably, i write to in­form you that it has since turned out that nei­ther the let­ter nor doc­u­ment re­ferred to above had the author­ity/ap­proval of the law­ful ap­point­ing body for pub­lic of­fi­cers, the Pub­lic Ser­vice Com­mis­sion.

“You may wish to refer to sec­tion 137 (1) of the con­sti­tu­tion. Sec­tion 6 of the Pub­lic Ser­vice Act of 2005 bears a sim­i­lar pro­vi­sion. The sad re­al­ity is that, in law, there was there­fore, no ap­point­ment at all. We were all op­er­at­ing un­der a mis­ap­pre­hen­sion.

“it is in the light of the above that i re­gret to in­form you that i in­tend to bring to an end any form of ‘ em­ploy­ment’ re­la­tion­ship with you vis-à-vis the Min­istry of De­fence and Na­tional Se­cu­rity in­clud­ing ef­fect­ing stop­page of the ‘ wages’ you have so far been paid, and also with­draw­ing and can­celling the ‘ap­point­ment’ let­ter (so-called) re­ferred to above, in­clud­ing any­thing which arose there­from.

“how­ever, even as i in­tend to pro­ceed in the man­ner de­scribed above, for fair­ness’ sake, the in­ten­tion is that the end 31st March 2016 shall be the end of any re­la­tion­ship be­tween you and the Min­istry of De­fence and Na­tional Se­cu­rity.

“it is pos­si­ble that you may wish to com­ment on the mat­ter in writ­ing within the seven days of re­ceipt thereof.”

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