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Ex-finance official sues government

Tefo Tefo

 MASERU — A former senior manager in the finance ministry is demanding M100 000 in damages from the government for the humiliation and pain that he suffered after he was dragged to a disciplinary hearing six years ago.

Melato Mokuena, a former computer centre manager at the finance ministry, says he suffered “pain and humiliation” after he was summoned to a disciplinary hearing in the presence of his juniors.

In his court papers Mokuena says in September 2004 he was called by the acting principal secretary in the finance ministry, Lineo Ntoane, before a panel to explain why salaries for soldiers and the police had been delayed.

Senior staff members from the department of treasury and the computer centre were also present at the meeting, the papers allege.

The finance ministry’s computer centre which Mokuena headed was responsible for processing salaries for civil servants.

The meeting was held after soldiers and police officers complained to the ministry’s top officials that they could not get their salaries from the bank because the ministry had not processed them.

Mokuena’s department had not sent the diskette containing names and details of soldiers and police officers to the bank to facilitate the payment of salaries.

Mokuena says Ntoane did not have authority to call him for the hearing because she had not been legally appointed to act as the principal secretary.

“Plaintiff felt embarrassed, humiliated and insulted not only by the fact that all the officers who formed the panel, including defendant, were junior to him and were consequently not entitled to embark on proceedings when they did but also by the fact that third defendant (Ntoane) was not even legally appointed to act in the capacity she was acting,” says the court papers.

“Defendants knew or ought to have known that their act would cause plaintiff harm through humiliation and insult and yet they proceeded to call plaintiff to such hearing.”

In her response Ntoane says Mokuena does not deserve the money he claims from the ministry because he had failed to do his job.

“I had the right to call Mr Mokuena and ask him why the people had not been paid,” Ntoane says.

“This delay in paying the army and the police was caused by negligence on the part of the plaintiff; he ought to have seen that the diskette (was) taken to the bank timeously.

“As the manager of the computer centre he must take responsibility for the performance of his subordinates.

“I, therefore, dispute the plaintiff’s claim for damages in the amount of M100 000 for pain and suffering, and injured feelings.”

Ntoane also disputed Mokuena’s argument that she was not qualified to call him for an explanation.

The case is expected to proceed before High Court judge Semapo Peete next month.

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