LRA challenges court ruling on suspended managers

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Pascalinah Kabi

THE Lesotho Revenue Authority (LRA) has appealed against the recent High Court ruling which set aside the suspension of its five senior managers.

The five senior management officers are Chief Financial Officer Mangangole Tsikinyane, Chief Planning and Modernisation Officer Idia Penane, Chief Legal and Policy Officer and Acting Board Secretary Seth Macheli, Head of Litigation Moutloatsi Lichaba and Commissioner of Enforcement, Realeboha Mathaba.

They were suspended from work on 7 March 2018 after the authority’s workers’ union, presented the LRA board with allegations of financial and governance impropriety including the misappropriation and alleged pilfering of millions of LRA funds.   The managers strenuously denied the allegations and challenged their suspensions in the High Court in March this year.

The LRA initially suspended them for six weeks to facilitate an audit exercise to ascertain the veracity of LERASU’s allegations and the suspension was subsequently extended for an indefinite period late last month.

The quintet reported for work on Tuesday after last Friday’s ruling by acting High Court judge, Justice Moroke Mokhesi, that the suspension was unlawful and the five must be reinstated with immediate effect.

The LRA filed an appeal on Monday, where it argued that Justice Mokhesi erred and misdirected himself when ruling against the suspensions.

The LRA argued among other things, that the High Court did not have the jurisdiction to hear the case.

In its appeal court papers filed on Monday, the LRA said Justice Mokhesi “erred and misdirected himself by concluding that the…High Court has jurisdiction to hear the matter”.

“The learned judge erred and or misdirected himself by arriving at the conclusion that there was no prima facie (on the face of it) grounds for suspension of the respondents.

“The learned judge erred and misdirected himself by failing to draw a line of demarcation between labour disputes of public servants and those which fall under the private sector and this led to a grave misdirection in determine the merits of the case.

“Consequently, the learned judge erred and or misdirected himself by concluding that the high court has jurisdiction to hear and determine the matter. The learned judge erred and or misdirected himself by failing to analyse the pleadings and ascertaining whether the matter is a labour dispute or an ordinary matter that falls within the purview of the high court sitting in its ordinary civil jurisdiction,” read the court papers.”

The LRA further argued that Justice Mokhesi erred and misdirected himself by concluding that the five managers were never accorded a hearing.

They said even if the managers had not been accorded a hearing, it was still wrong for Justice Mokhesi to conclude that the failure to give them a hearing amounted to “substantive and procedural unfairness”.

The LRA further argued that Justice Mokhesi erred and misdirected himself by granting relief to the managers when the merits of the case clearly do not justify the grant of the declaratory order.

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