Parly rallies behind civil servant

Parly rallies behind civil servant

MASERU – PARLIAMENT has intervened on behalf of a senior civil servant who was fired after a physical fight with the former prime minister’s son, Rethabile Mosisili.
Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) gave a soothing answer to ’Mambulelo Motekase, a top official in the youth department of the Sports Ministry, when it said she was entitled to be paid.

Mosisili was Motekase’s boss as the ministry’s deputy principal secretary.
The Labour Court instructed the ministry to reinstate her but the Human Resources Director refused to pay her salary for the month she was out of office.
The director told the PAC her interpretation of the Labour Court order was that it did not say she should be paid but be reinstated.

Also the ministry’s legal adviser, Likeleli Matubatube, said “there is nowhere where the order says she should be paid salaries of when she was not at work”.
PAC member Nyapane Kaya asked what, in Matubatube’s understanding, reinstatement means.
Matubatube said it means one is given back her position together with its entitlements.
She could not answer why Motekase is not treated as such.

Matubatube said it would be difficult to justify paying Motekase. She said Motekase’s case was a first of its kind.
Both the human resource office and legal office had advised Motekase to go back to her lawyer and approach the court for an order compelling the ministry to pay her.
Principal Secretary Tjoetsane Seoka agreed with Matubatube’s interpretation of the court order.
But PAC chairman Selibe Mochoboroane warned that Motekase would win the case if she goes to court because reinstatement means “being put back to one’s original position from when they were illegally fired”.

“I’m sure she will win this case and you will have to pay her full salaries together with 18 percent interest and cost of suit,” Mochoboroane said.
“Our concern as the PAC is that we will have lost a lot of money.”
“You are arrogantly saying this lady should go to court because you know that you are not the ones who will pay when she wins the case,” he said.
“I warn you that we will surcharge you if she wins, for I am sure that she will win.”

The PAC instructed Seoka to get legal opinion from the Attorney General. .
Ironically, Attorney General Haae Phoofolo KC was Motekase’s lawyer when she won the Labour Court case against the ministry before he was appointed to his current office.
The PAC also learnt with shock that ever since Motekase was reinstated four years ago, she has not been allocated any duties and her bosses treated her like she was not part of the staff.
“I was not even aware that the office is coming to appear before the PAC today because I am sidelined,” Motekase said.

She said it is by coincidence that they met there when she had come to complain about her treatment.
PAC member Thuso Litjobo said the committee must be aware that there are a lot of government employees who are loitering because their bosses despise them to an extent that they cannot allocate them duties.

“This lady is one of such employees,” he said. Motekase’s relationship with Mosisili soured after a confrontation in December 2011.
The incident happened at the ministry’s headquarters at the Post Office Building.
Motekase was then dragged before a disciplinary panel whose chairperson was Mosisili.

The fracas started after Motekase asked Mosisili to recuse himself as the hearing’s chairman because he had vested interests in the case.
Mosisili is alleged to have left his chair and approached Motekase who was seated on the other side of the table.

It is alleged that Mosisili then grabbed Motekase by the scruff of the neck and tried to drag her out of the room.
Motekase pulled out a pepper spray canister and sprayed it into his face.
Both Motekase and Mosisili opened assault cases which were later withdrawn at the instruction of the then Director of Public Prosecutions.

Thooe Ramolibeli

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