THE High Court has set 29 August, 2017 as the date for hearing the case in which former Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s son, Rethabile is challenging his recall from the influential and plum post of chief delegate for the Lesotho Highlands Water Commission (LHWC).
Mr Mosisili, who was controversially appointed to the post in April this year, was sent back to his previous position as deputy principal secretary (PS) in the Water Affairs ministry late last month.
Then Acting Government Secretary, Emmanuel Lesoma, told the Lesotho Times that Mr Mosisili’s appointment to the influential post had not been approved by the Public Service Commission and was thus null and void.
“Mr Mosisili was served with a letter to refer him back to his former post,” Mr Lesoma said, adding, “His secondment to the post of chief delegate was never approved by the Public Service Commission as ought to have been the case”.
The LHWC is the largest infrastructure partnership between the Lesotho and South African governments, and consists of three delegates from each of the two nations. The commission is tasked with implementing the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP) — a multiphase initiative comprising several dams and tunnels in Lesotho and South Africa.
The LHWC is accountable to the two governments for the overall implementation of the LHWP. It advises, monitors and has approval powers on activities of the Lesotho Highlands Development Authority (LHDA) and the operations and maintenance function of the Trans-Caledon Tunnel Authority, the two authorities charged with the implementation of the LHWP in Lesotho and South Africa respectively.
It is currently tasked with overseeing the estimated M26 billion second phase of the LHWP aimed at alleviating South Africa’s acute fresh water shortages.
Mr Mosisili was appointed to the post in April this year by then Water Affairs minister Kimetso Mathaba. Sources privy to the matter had told this publication Mr Mathaba was initially reluctant to appoint Mr Mosisili. However, the sources said Dr Mosisili had to intervene by “encouraging” the minister to appoint his son.
The appointment, which was made after the 1 March 2017 parliamentary no-confidence vote on the Dr Mosisili-led seven-party coalition government, ignited an outcry from opposition parties and other stakeholders.
They accused Dr Mosisili of deliberately placing relatives in strategic areas of the government to retain control even if he were to lose power in the 3 June 2017 National Assembly elections.
The polls brought Dr Thabane’s All Basotho Convention and three other parties to power after they won 63 seats, enough to form government.
The new government reviewed Mr Mosisili’s controversial secondment and subsequently reversed it in a letter they wrote to him on 24 July this year.
Part of the letter reads: “Please be informed that despite several attempts to get your secondment approved, the Public service Commission (PSC) has still not approved it.
“The government has therefore found it fitting to recall you back from Lesotho Highlands Water Commission; and you are to revert to your substantive position of the Deputy Principal Secretary, in the Ministry of Water, with effect from 24th July 2017.”
However, Mr Mosisili filed an urgent High Court application on last Monday seeking an order setting aside the government’s decision to recall him.
He cited the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Water, Lesotho Highlands Water Commission, Public Service Commission and the Attorney General as first to fourth respondents respectively.
In his affidavit, Mr Mosisili said he was forced to seek relief from the court after the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Water Affairs repeatedly ignored his written requests to have his recall reversed.
He said his application called for an urgent attention by the High Court.
“The current situation is that I am expected to oblige and return to the Ministry of Water as Deputy Principal Secretary, something that should be interdicted as failure to do so will be as good as effecting the recall in circumstances which are not legally justified.
“I have been informed that the diary of this Honourable Court is congested with other matters already being set down for the latter part of 2018.
“Under those circumstances I stand to suffer prejudice should the normal periods and modes as set down in the rules be followed, because by the time this matter is heard my contract as Chief Delegate will be as good as terminated and probably replaced by someone,” Mr Mosisili stated.
He further argues that the government recalled him without even affording him a hearing.
“I need not over-emphasise the need to have been afforded a prior hearing before the decision to ‘recall’ me was made. I can only surmise that this is a political decision triggered by change of government.
“To expect me to pack and leave on the date of the letter is rather irrational as that is physically impossible and impacts on my reputation. It is trite that in any workplace, things like handing over and submission of final reports should be systematically undertaken to ensure smooth progress of the work,” Mr Mosisili argues.