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Letsoepa sued over police promotions


Tefo Tefo

THE Lesotho Police Staff Association (LEPOSA) has dragged Police Commissioner Molahlehi Letsoepa to court challenging the legality of promotions for 44 officers announced on 4 June 2017.

In a case set to be heard in the High Court on Tuesday, LEPOSA wants the court to nullify the promotions, arguing that they violated provisions of the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) Act no. 7 of 1998 and other regulations.

The association also wants the court to temporarily halt the promotions until the case has been finalised.

LEPOSA filed an urgent application last Wednesday after the promotions were announced a day after the 3 June 2017 National Assembly elections.

The promotions were announced in a memo addressed to various police departments and titled “Announcement of Senior Officers Promotions”.

Part of the memo reads: “The following promotions to the rank of Senior Assistant Commissioner of Police, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Senior Superintendent, Superintendent and Senior Inspector herewith published for information of all ranks.”

The respondents include Commissioner Letsoepa, his staff officer, LMPS human resource officer, the 44 promoted officers and Attorney-General Tšokolo Makhethe – from one to 47 respectively.

Motivating the application, LEPOSA deputy president, Senior Inspector Teboho Modia chronicles the events that led to the lawsuit.

“On the 4th of June 2017, there was a memo published by the 2nd respondent (Commissioner Letsoepa’s staff officer) purportedly on behalf of the 1st respondent (Commissioner Letsoepa).

“The said memo announced the 44 promotions to the ranks of Senior Assistant Commissioner of Police (SACP), Senior Superintendent (SSP), Superintendent (Supt.) and Senior Inspector (S/Insp.) effective from the 1st of June 2017.

“The memo does not provide the date when the decision was made to effect the promotions; neither does it provide the body or authority which effected them.

“This is so notwithstanding section 8(1) of the Lesotho Mounted Police Service Act No. 7 of 1998 which clearly provides for the procedure for effecting promotions with the police service.”

The section referred to reads: “There shall be a Police Appointment and Promotion Board which shall be responsible for the appointment and promotion of senior officers, cadet officers, and such classes of civilians appointed under section 33 as the Commissioner may designate.”

Sen Insp Modia further states that the memo is “similar to the other memos which have been made since 2015”.

“The striking feature of these memos of the years 2015, 2016 and 2017 is that they almost have the similar faces of secluded group of officers, who are the beneficiaries of these promotions.

“There is no justification whatsoever provided for these preferential promotions.

“These preferential promotions offend the purpose of the Police Act and it is unfair.”

He adds: “Another anomalous feature of these promotions is that they are not based on any established criteria of promotions contrary to the provisions of Regulation 7 of the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (Administration) Regulations 2003 as amended.

“Equally, some of the said officers who have preferentially benefitted from spades of promotions have been skipping ranks and have not waited in the rank for probationary period of 12 months provided by the law.”

Sen Insp Modia argues that the promotions were without merit because Commissioner Letsoepa had been “promoting them based on his mere preference”.

“It is inconceivable that only a certain group of police officers qualify for the promotions out of many members of the 1st respondent.

“These promotions are unfair, discriminatory and violate the provisions of the Police Act read with Lesotho Mounted Police Service (Administration) Regulations 2003 as amended.”

He continues: “I further aver that the promotions of the said officers did not follow due process prescribed by section 8(1) in that the 1st respondent promoted them singlehandedly without consulting with the board of promotions.”

Sen Insp Modia demonstrates his point by stating that the “preferential nature” of promotions to the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) had increased the number of ACPs to 16 “thereby exceeding the establishment of the structure of the police service.

The promotions have also ignited a political firestorm, with parties in the incoming governing coalition questioning the timing and alleging that they were part of a strategy by the outgoing regime to retain control after losing power.

The parties said the promotions were in keeping with outgoing Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s deployment of allies and family members in strategic areas of the government so that he could “rule from the grave”, referring to the premier remaining in control of the government even after leaving office.

However, Police Molahlehi Letsoepa rebuffed the allegations, in an interview with the Sunday Express’ sister paper Lesotho Times, saying the promotions were not politically-motivated but based on merit.




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