MASERU — Army captain Bulane Sechele yesterday lost a court case in which he wanted the Court of Appeal to outlaw a recently introduced government pension scheme.
Sechele filed his case before the Court of Appeal in December after three judges of the High Court sitting as the Constitutional Court rejected his initial application.
The Court of Appeal yesterday upheld the Constitutional Court’s decision.
High Court judges Justices Tšeliso Monaphathi, Semapo Peete and Nthomeng Majara ruled that Sechele’s mandatory membership to the fund was constitutional because he would eventually benefit from the scheme.
“The appeal is dismissed,” Court of Appeal president Justice Michael Ramodibedi said while delivering the ruling.
But the court made an order to amend the Public Officers’ Defined Contribution Pension Fund Act to allay Sechele’s fear that the Act posed a threat that he might get a less amount of money than he would have received before the pension scheme law was enacted when he retires.
Sechele had argued that the Act contravened the constitution because “it provides him with far less gratuity and pension than would be the case under the Defence Force (Regular Force) (Officers) Regulations No. 26 of 1998”.
The Court of Appeal ordered that section 27 of the Act be amended to add words “provided that the retirement benefits payable to a member shall not be less than the benefits such member would have received under the law with respect to pension benefits which would have applied if this Act had not been passed”.
The amendment was made after the court found that there was a possibility that one could get a lesser amount if the fund did not do well in proceeds.
“Notwithstanding the foregoing considerations I have come to the conclusion that it is not possible to say with certainty that when the appellant retires the pension benefits he will receive will definitely be more favourable than they would have been if the Act had not been passed.
“This is because it is possible that the Contributory Pension Fund may not do as well as is hoped,” Justice Ramodibedi said.
Speaking after the ruling, Sechele said although the court dismissed his appeal the amendment to the Pensions Act would “cure the problem I had with the Act”.