MASERU — The High Court on Friday dismissed without costs an application by 14 sports commissioners who were claiming unfair dismissal by the Ministry of Gender, Youth, Sports and Recreation.
The commissioners had approached the High Court arguing that the ministry acted unfairly and unilaterally by dismissing them on October 13.
The commissioners were fired after 20 sporting associations passed a vote of no confidence against their leadership at an AGM on October 11.
The ministry had, in turn, dismissed the commissioners through a letter written by the principal secretary, Makalo Theko, which pointed out that their term of office had expired on September 30.
The commissioners had then sought a High Court interdict on October 27 which was granted on November 3.
The interdict thereby suspended the ministry’s decision and also barred the Lesotho Sports and Recreation Commission (LSRC)’s chief executive officer from interfering with the organisation’s finances until the matter was finalised.
Advocate Zwelakhe Mda, representing the commissioners, had argued that the minister should have acted fairly since their term office had not lapsed.
“When their term of office finished, they should have acted on a temporary basis (for a further three months) while a new committee was elected,” he said.
But High Court judge Gabriel Mofolo on Friday laid the matter to rest by dismissing the commissioners’ application without costs.
The commissioners and other interested parties who filled the gallery couldn’t believe their ears when Justice Mofolo announced his ruling.
Justice Mofolo said: “Account had to be taken that the commissioners had to go to preserve calm.
“It was expected by the minister that the new commission would have been elected (at the AGM) but it never happened.
“The minister had to act promptly.
“The chief executive officer (of the LSRC) shall be the director of the Sports Commission.
“The spirit of the action is to make a smooth transition to a new commission.
“It does not seem that the minister was motivated by any ulterior motive but expedience.
“Nowhere have I seen in the LSRC constitution that the commissioners continue for a further three months after their tenure has expired.
“Section 12 (1) of the Sports Act says they can have a three-year tenure and can be re-elected.”