War veterans win case

War veterans win case

MASERU – FOUR Lesotho Liberation Army Veterans Association (LLA-VETA) members have won a case forcing the government to return them to their positions as reconciliation officers.
High Court judge Justice Teboho Moiloa on Monday ordered that Teko ’Molotsi, Tsietsi Phenethi, Lisema Malefane and Tšolo Koepe be reinstated to their positions with immediate effect.
Justice Moiloa also declared the termination of their contracts and the filling of their positions as null and void.
He ordered that the quartet should not lose any benefits.
The Lesotho Liberation Army (LLA) was the armed wing of the Basutoland Congress Party (BCP), which fought a low-scale war against the government of Chief Leabua Jonathan in the 1970s and early 80s.

The LLA took up arms after Jonathan suspended the constitution and declared a state of emergency.
The ex-combatants, who fought alongside Azania People’s Liberation Army (APLA) against apartheid, have been claiming compensation ever since Lesotho returned to democratic rule in 1993.
Successive governments had ignored the ex-combatants’ call for compensation.

Twenty-three years since the return of democracy in Lesotho, the government decided to look into their welfare by creating offices that would coordinate their affairs.
In August 2016 the government signed an agreement with the veterans and created four positions of reconciliation officers.
The four men who were applicants in the court case occupied offices from November 2016 but in October last year the newly elected government led by Prime Minister Thomas Thabane kicked them out on the basis that they were above the age of 60.
Civil servants retire at 60.

Teko ’Molotsi, one of the applicants in the suit, was to be paid M94 836 a year as a reconciliation officer.
LLA-VETA deputy chairman, Khotso Morojele, told thepost after the court victory that initially the ex-combatants wanted to be absorbed into the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) but the government was unwilling to co-opt them.

Morojele accused the government of over-looking the ex-combatants for “a long time”.
The government failed to imitate other regional countries that paid compensation or initiated empowerment programmes for liberation war veterans, said Khotso Morojele.
“We are suing the government over the matter. Until we get what we deserve we are not going to stop,” Morojele said.
“There are more than 500 members who haven’t been compensated,” he said.

In the application, the veterans’ lawyer Advocate Habokhethe Sekonyela, stated that the applicants who were absorbed in the Prime Minister’s office were on three year contracts. However, they had only served one year from November 2016 to October 2017 when their contracts were terminated on the basis that the applicants had reached the retirement age of 60.
Sekonyela argued that some of the veterans had already attained the age of 60 when they signed the contracts. Cabinet made a decision to exempt them from retirement age regulations, said the lawyer.

Senate Sekotlo

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