MASERU — Selematsela Montsi is challenging his dismissal from the Lesotho National Dairy Board (LNDB), arguing the agriculture minister has no legal authority to terminate his employment.
Montsi’s lawyer, Sekara Mafisa, is demanding that the dismissal be rescinded.
Montsi was relieved of his duties on March 9 by Minister Ralechate ’Mokose,
In a letter to ’Mokose, the lawyer noted that Montsi was employed by the LNDB chairman not the minister.
“It is not clear to him (Montsi) exactly which appointment you are seeking to terminate,” reads part of Mafisa’s letter seen by the Lesotho Times.
“Client has been appointed the Executive Director and head of LNDB by the Chairman of LNDB and appointed a member of and Secretary to LNDB,” reads the letter.
“Apart from that ambiguity, client contends your purported termination of him (sic) is grossly irregular and illegal.”
The letter says in terms of the law, ’Mokose “may not terminate” Montsi’s appointment “except on the recommendation of the board for reasons of misconduct or incompetency”.
The letter says Montsi is aware that the board has not advised ’Mokose to fire him.
“For the above reasons client will, with great respect, remain in office as if no letter such as yours has ever been addressed to him,” reads Mafisa’s letter.
“He therefore very humbly requests you, Honourable Minister, to withdraw your letter forthwith.”
’Mokose has confirmed receiving Mafisa’s letter.
“They fail to mention that Mr Montsi was appointed by the Minister of Agriculture as the executive director and therefore the minister has powers to fire him,” said ‘Mokose.
Quoting from sections of the law establishing the LNDB, the minister said he could justify his every step to dismiss Montsi.
“The law explicitly says the executive secretary is appointed by the minister of agriculture and I don’t understand why they say the minister can’t fire him,” he said.
“The chairman of the board whom they say appointed him to be executive secretary and head of the LNDB is the principal secretary of the ministry of agriculture and he carries out instructions of the minister.”
’Mokose said Mafisa’s letter failed to mention that the tenure of office for all members of the board was three years yet Montsi “has been there for over 20 years”.
The LNDB was established by the agriculture ministry in 1991 to prescribe standards of production, storage, packaging, processing and distribution of dairy products.
The LNDB is vested with powers to issue permits to companies that produce, process and distribute dairy products.