FORMER Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s son, Rethabile’s High Court application for reinstatement as Lesotho’s chief delegate at the Lesotho Highlands Water Commission (LHWC) will be heard on 21 September 2017.
High Court judge, Justice Tšeliso Monaphathi announced the date on Tuesday.
Mr Rethabile Mosisili occupied the plum and influential position for three months after being controversially appointed 1 April, 2017, just two months shy of 3 June snap elections that prematurely ended the tenure of the seven parties’ coalition government headed by his father.
The LHWC is the largest infrastructure partnership between the Lesotho and South African governments, and consists of three delegates from each of the two nations. The commission is tasked with implementing the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP) — a multiphase initiative comprising several dams and tunnels in Lesotho and South Africa.
The LHWC is accountable to the two governments for the overall implementation of the LHWP. It advises, monitors and has approval powers on activities of the Lesotho Highlands Development Authority (LHDA) and the operations and maintenance function of the Trans-Caledon Tunnel Authority, the two authorities charged with the implementation of the LHWP in Lesotho and South Africa respectively.
It is currently tasked with overseeing the estimated M26 billion second phase of the LHWP aimed at alleviating South Africa’s acute fresh water shortages.
Mr Mosisili was appointed to the post in April this year by then Water Affairs minister Kimetso Mathaba. Sources privy to the matter told this publication that Mr Mathaba was initially reluctant to appoint Mr Mosisili. However, the sources said Dr Mosisili had to intervene by “encouraging” the minister to appoint his son.
The appointment, which was made after the 1 March 2017 parliamentary no-confidence vote on the Dr Mosisili-led seven-party coalition government, ignited an outcry from the-then opposition parties and other stakeholders.
They accused Dr Mosisili of deliberately placing relatives in strategic areas of the government to retain control even if he were to lose power in the 3 June 2017 National Assembly elections.
The polls brought Thomas Thabane’s All Basotho Convention and three other parties to power after they won 63 seats, enough to form government.
The new government reviewed Mr Mosisili’s controversial secondment and subsequently reversed it in a letter they wrote to him on 24 July this year.
“Please be informed that despite several attempts to get your secondment approved, the Public service Commission (PSC) has still not approved it,” part of the letter reads.
“The government has therefore found it fitting to recall you from Lesotho Highlands Water Commission; and you are to revert to your substantive position of the Deputy Principal Secretary, in the Ministry of Water, with effect from 24 July 2017.”
Dissatisfied with the government’s decision Mosisili filed an urgent application before the High Court seeking an order setting aside the decision to recall him from the LHWC.
In his court papers Mr Mosisili wants the court to “review and set aside the letter of recall issued by the 1st respondent on 24 July, 2017 as null and void and of no force and effect in law.”
He cited the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Water, the Highlands Water Commission, Public Service Commission and the Attorney General as first to fourth respondents respectively.
In his affidavit, Mr Mosisili said he was forced to seek relief from the court after the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Water Affairs repeatedly ignored his written requests to have his recall reversed.
He said his application called for urgent attention by the High Court.
“The current situation is that I am expected to oblige and return to the Ministry of Water as Deputy Principal Secretary, something that should be interdicted as failure to do so will be as good as effecting the recall in circumstances which are not legally justified.
“I have been informed that the diary of this Honourable Court is congested with other matters already being set down for the latter part of 2018.
“Under those circumstances I stand to suffer prejudice should the normal periods and modes as set down in the rules be followed, because by the time this matter is heard my contract as Chief Delegate will be as good as terminated and probably replaced by someone,” Mr Mosisili stated.
He further argues that the government recalled him without even affording him a hearing.
“I need not over-emphasise the need to have been afforded a prior hearing before the decision to ‘recall’ me was made. I can only surmise that this is a political decision triggered by change of government.
“To expect me to pack and leave on the date of the letter is rather irrational as that is physically impossible and impacts on my reputation. It is trite that in any workplace, things like handing over and submission of final reports should be systematically undertaken to ensure smooth progress of the work,” Mr Mosisili argues.