The mess  Thabane left

The mess Thabane left

MASERU-A case in the High Court has brought to the fore the massive mess that former Prime Minister Thomas Thabane left within the government.
Four months ago, with his political star on the wane, Thabane appointed Nonkululeko Zaly as the new principal secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs.

That appointment was to be with effect from July 1.
However, Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro had other ideas when he took over. The Prime Minister recently appointed Tumelo Raboletsi the new PS for the ministry starting August 1.

Raboletsi was previously the director of National Identity and Civil Registration (NICR).
Raboletsi’s appointment started immediately after the expiry of ’Machabana Lemphane-Letsie’s contract.
But Zaly has now sued both Dr Majoro and Raboletsi claiming she is the rightful person for the post.

She told thepost last night that on the day she reported for work she was told to go back home on account of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Zaly filed an urgent application last week asking the court to set aside Dr Majoro’s decision to withdraw her appointment as the Principal Secretary of the ministry.

She wants the High Court to restrain and interdict Raboletsi from discharging duties and functions of the office.
In her founding affidavit Zaly said Thabane appointed her following advice from the Public Service Commission per section 139 of the Constitution.
“My tenure was thirty six (36) months running from July 1 this year,” she said.
She said her appointment was subsequently considered and confirmed by the Public Service Commission.

Zaly said she has existing and legitimately expected rights, interest and privileges arising from appointment, occupation and discharge of the functions of duties of the Office of the Principal Secretary for the Ministry of Home Affairs for a period of 36 months commencing from July 1, 2020.
“However the current caretaker Prime Minister Dr Majoro has unduly and illicitly delayed my occupation of the position,” she said.

She said Dr Majoro’s conduct was contrary to the inheritable previous appointment of his predecessor-in-title Thabane, hence a nullity.
“He ignored my appointment on the alleged grounds that my appointment is contrary to current coalition agreement without specifying in what respects,” she said.

“I am not in possession of the alleged Coalition Agreement. I was never afforded an opportunity to make representations before the decision substituting for Raboletsi was made.”
She said she knew on July 29 that her appointment was arbitrarily and irrationally withdrawn by Dr Majoro.

She said Dr Majoro’s decision has affected her status, proprietary and livelihood rights and privileges.
“My appointment was in line with the Constitution and cannot be outlawed by the alleged coalition agreement, the coalition agreement must be consistent with the constitution and not otherwise,” she said.
She said the nature of Thabane’s decision was administrative and not political.
“Even if it was political, once it affects my vested rights it was bound to be turned after a hearing to me,” she said.
She said Dr Majoro was bound to inherit all the contracts of the former Prime Minister.

“My appointment to the position of principal secretary being an administrative act per section 139 of the constitution of Lesotho cannot be ignored by Majoro being ‘a public official’ in line with the principle of presumption of regularity in favour of all administrative acts.”
She said ignorance of an administrative act by a public official, especially a Prime Minister, on any grounds is dubious for self-help, “and invites a vortex of uncertainty, unpredictability and irrationality”.

“The clarity and certainty of governmental conduct, on which we all rely in organising our lives, would be imperilled if an ‘allegedly’ irregular or invalid administrative acts could be ignored because officials consider them valid,” she said.

Zaly said every act of government official must derive its validity from the law and constitution.
She said it is also the duty of the Prime Minister to protect the law and constitution.
She emphasised that the office of the current Prime Minister via Thabane has fully and finally discharged office in relation to the issue of her appointment.

“Consequently, Dr Majoro is barred from revisiting the issue by purporting to replace me with Raboletsi,” she said.
“My cause of action is ‘ongoing’. I am already liable to be in office and discharging the duties and functions of the Principal Secretary for the Ministry of Home Affairs,” she said.

“Raboletsi’s position poses a threat of and actual loss of status and livelihood (salary/property) and consequent loss of support for my minor children and other dependents,” she said.

Itumeleng Khoete

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