King’s aide sues for unpaid leave days

MASERU — The senior private secretary to King Letsie III has taken the government to court demanding payment for the leave days he accumulated when he was still a civil servant.
Mabotse Lerotholi, who resigned from the civil service in September 2005, claims the state refused to pay him cash in lieu of the 105 days he accumulated when he was serving the government in different capacities including diplomatic missions.
As His Majesty’s secretary, Lerotholi is employed on a renewable contract basis.
He says he should have been paid for the leave days he accumulated when he was a full-time civil servant for almost 30 years.
Lerotholi worked in different capacities in government from 1977 until he retired in 2005 before being rehired for royal duties.
He is citing the government secretary, the principal secretary of the Ministry of Public Service, the accountant-general and the attorney-general as respondents in the case.
The matter was supposed to be heard in court on Tuesday but the crown counsel, Masito Mapetla, told the judge that the attorney-general was now dealing with the matter.
Mapetla said the matter had to be postponed because the attorney-general was now seized with the matter and there will be consultations between the court clerk and lawyers representing both sides over the date of hearing.
In his papers Lerotholi says the public service principal secretary refused to approve payment for his accumulated leave days.
Lerotholi claims he could not take his 306 foreign services leave days on “account of exigencies of the services, nature of work and demands of His Majesty’s office”.
He said although in 2003 the government had issued  a circular saying civil servants who fail to use their leave days will lose them, an exemption had been made for cases “where exigencies of work do not permit” a worker to take leave.
The circular said in those cases the leave days “must be paid in full . . .”
He said the public service ministry was told in writing that “the senior private secretary to His Majesty was unable to utilise his leave accordingly due to the nature of work and demands of His Majesty’s office”.
He said the office of the King had also communicated the matter to the government secretary in 2005 “with the same humble prayer for payment to plaintiff of cash for his foreign service leave and annual holiday”.
“At no time ever did the principal secretary for public service or government secretary deny the fact that the exigencies of the service made it impossible for plaintiff to proceed on leave,” Lerotholi says in the papers.
He alleges that there was discrimination because some civil servants in similar situations had been paid without problems.
But the defendants in their court papers deny that on retirement Lerotholi had the balance of annual leave days that he claims.
“Defendants deny that plaintiff was unable to utilise his leave days as alleged or on account of exigencies of the service, nature of work and demands of His Majesty’s office and put plaintiff to proof thereof,” they say.

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