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Diplomats in court bid to block dismissal  


Brian Chiwanza

Four diplomats are seeking a High Court interdict to stop their dismissal by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Relations.

The envoys —Bothata Tsikoane (New Delhi, India), ‘Malejaka Letooane (High Commissioner to South Africa), Johannesburg Consul-General Mophethe Sekamane, and High Commissioner to Malaysia Dr ‘Mabaphuthi Moorosi-Molapo—were given a 15 November 2015 deadline to give reasons why their contracts should not be terminated.

According to a letter written by Government Secretary (GS) Lebohang Ramohlanka dated 28 October 2015, government no longer had confidence in the ambassadors hence the ultimatum.

The letters, headlined ‘Termination of your engagement’, read: “I am instructed to inform you that the government intends to terminate the contract of your engagement. Reasons for the intended termination are stated hereunder.

“The posts of High Commissioner, Ambassador, Permanent Representative and Consul General are political in nature.

“Appointment to the said posts is based on political considerations. Holders of those posts are the face of the ruling regime or administration in the countries to which they have been posted.

“The relationship between holders of the posts and the ruling regime is that of utmost trust and confidence.

“You were engaged to hold the post by the previous ruling regime. Your engagement was based on your political alignment with the said regime and that regime is now the opposition to the present government.

“The government no longer has trust and confidence in you to properly represent it in the country or countries to which you have been posted. There is no trust that you can properly and earnestly advance policies of the now ruling regime because of your non-political alignment with the ruling regime.

“The government is, therefore, not comfortable and willing to keep you in your post in the circumstances.

“You are, accordingly, invited to make representations, if any, why your engagement may not be terminated by invoking provisions of Clause 7 of the Schedule to the engagement Agreement No: MPS/P/72730 between the government and yourself. Your representations should reach my office on or before 15 November 2015.”

However, in response, the envoys’ lawyer, Advocate Monaheng Seeiso Rasekoai, on Friday filed a notice of motion before the High Court, indicating his intention to make an urgent application on Tuesday this week, seeking an order blocking government’s plan to fire the diplomats.

According to Advocate Rasekoai, government’s action was “a display of contempt” as the diplomats had challenged their recall by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Relations, Tlohang Sekhamane. Mr Sekhamane wrote to the diplomats on 21 August 2015 ordering them to report to the ministry’s headquarters in Maseru tomorrow, 9 November, for redeployment. The diplomats opposed the recall through the High Court, arguing government had not followed due process in prematurely ending their tour of duty which started in 2012 when a new government, led by Thomas Thabane, came to power. The case was still pending before the court when government withdrew the recall letters and “rectified” its mistake by slapping the diplomats with the “show cause” ultimatum.

Advocate Rasekoai wants the court to nullify government’s 28 October 2015 ‘show cause’ letter until the diplomats’ challenge of their recall is finalised.

Meanwhile, other envoys who have since ben been served with recall letters are Nkopane Monyane (Switzerland), Felleng Makeka (United Kingdom), and Sempe Lejaha (Italy).

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