Victory for recalled diplomats
THE long-awaited High Court judgment for six diplomats who were challenging government’s decision to terminate their tour of duty prematurely was finally delivered in their favor yesterday.
Bothata Tsikoane (New Delhi, India), ’Malejaka Letooane (Pretoria, South Africa), Mophethe Sekamane (Pretoria, South Africa), Dr ’Mabaphuthi Moorosi-Molapo (Malaysia), Nkopane Monyane (Geneva, Switzerland) and Lerato Tšosane (Durban, South Africa), were recalled through letters dated 21 August 2015, and asked to report to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Relations headquarters on 9 November 2015.
However, the diplomats’ lawyer, Advocate Monaheng Seeiso Rasekoai of Phoofolo Associates, challenged the recall, arguing the move was politically motivated. He noted in his application that the decision had “ripple effects of rupturing one of the pillars of the Kingdom’s foreign relations”.
Advocate Rasekoai also said government should not proceed with the “large-scale termination” of the contracts which he noted was “politically-biased.”
He prayed for the court to “interdict the respondents (Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Relations, the ministry’s Principal Secretary, Government Secretary and Attorney General) from executing the proposal to recall and or terminate the applicants’ employment from Foreign Service,” and “declare the decision to recall the applicants as breach of contract of their employment”.
Advocate Rasekoai also wanted the court to declare the recall “both selective and discriminatory in nature, hence unlawful”.
He continued: “There are three other diplomats who were engaged by the government in similar posts but have been selectively left out and their appointments remain intact.
“The said diplomats are Advocate Kelebone Maope (KC) who is in New York representing Lesotho in the United Nations, High Commissioner in China Mpeo Mahase- Moiloa, and Lebohang Ntšinyi who is the ambassador of Lesotho in Belgium.
“The ambassadors who have been selectively left out from recall are politicians who are aligned to the ruling regime.
“It can safely be concluded that the selective, discriminatory and arbitrary decision-making process relating to the termination of the diplomatic posts of all the applicants is driven and inspired by political considerations than anything else.”
Justice Hlajoane yesterday ruled: “The proposed letters of recall have the effect of termination of affidavits’ employments on foreign duties and the termination can only be made on good cause, and not on political reasons.
“Therefore, the respondents are interdicted from executing the recall of the applicants. “The applicants’ application is granted with costs to the applicants. The effect of this judgment is that the applicants remain in their posts in the foreign missions until their contracts there expire.”
Tsikoane’s contract expires on 3 July 2016, while Monyane’s also lapses next month but the day is not indicated in the court documents.
Moorosi-Molapo’s employment comes to an end in June 2017, while Letooane’s contact expires in January 2017.
The contracts for Sekamane and Tšosane have already expired and they are back in the country.