MASERU –– Disgruntled members of the Lesotho Public Service Staff Association (LEPSSA) have lost their court battle to dissolve the association’s executive committee.
The LEPSSA members formed an interim committee in May to replace the incumbent committee which they accused of abusing property and misappropriating funds.
They wanted the executive committee to be disbanded so that they could run the union of civil servants.
The interim committee had sought and obtained a High Court interdict barring the executive committee from using the association’s funds pending finalisation of the case.
The order, issued on May 22, effectively crippled the incumbent executive and paralysed the activities of the association which represents 7 000 government employees.
The executive committee however filed an urgent counter application with the High Court seeking to bar the interim committee from interfering with LEPSSA’s affairs and to stop representing themselves as the legitimate executive committee of the association.
They said the election of the interim committee was unlawful because it was not done at the association’s general conference as stipulated by the constitution.
They wanted the court to nullify the election.
High Court Judge ‘Maseforo Mahase this week ruled in their favour and granted their application to stop the rebel committee from interfering with the affairs of the association.
Mahase agreed with the executive committee’s argument that the provisional committee was illegal because the disgruntled members had not exhausted all possible remedies in the association’s constitution to solve their problems.
“In the premises and for the foregoing reasons the meeting of the 10th May 2009 in which respondents herein purported to remove and replace from office the executive committee office bearers of the second applicant is declared unconstitutional and of no force and effect. This application is therefore granted as prayed,” Mahase ordered.
The vice-president of the executive committee, Mohale Thipe, had argued in the court papers that the meeting that elected the interim committee was convened without following procedures.
“They said the interim committee is unconstitutional in as much as the three-year term of office of the present executive committee had not come to an end,” Thipe said.
“The procedures for convening a meeting with powers to remove the present executive committee were not followed.”
“I therefore submit that the alleged interim committee is both unconstitutional and unlawful,” Thipe said in his affidavit.
The ruling means that the executive committee is now free to utilise the association’s funds and resources.
The chairman of the interim committee, Afelile Sekhamane, told the Lesotho Times on Monday that the interim committee was planning to meet to discuss the way forward in light of the judgment.
He said he had not read the judgment but was aware of the verdict and its implications.
“Although I have not laid my eyes on the judgment I will meet with my team to discuss the way forward because we want to rescue the association,” Sekhamane said.
He said they had not agreed on a meeting date.
LEPSSA’s executive committee was elected into office in October 2007.
Members pay a M10 monthly contribution.