Parly snubs Ombudsman’s recommendation

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MASERU — A parliamentary committee has thrown out a recommendation by the Ombudsman to force the Bureau of Statistics to reinstate a trainee woman who alleged she had been denied a job because she spurned her boss’ sexual advances.
The Ombudsman, Sekara Mafisa, had recommended that Sehlabaka Ramafikeng, who was the 2006 census supervisors’ training co-ordinator, be severely reprimanded for abusing his authority.
The woman, Sebabatso Masitha, alleged that she was not considered for employment after she turned down Ramafikeng’s sexual advances during a training camp held at Christ the King High School in Roma four years ago.
Masitha then approached the Ombudsman seeking redress.
In his report, the Ombudsman recommended that Masitha “be paid her wages in full and be reinstated to the position she would have been as her contract was terminated unlawfully”.
He also recommended that Ramafikeng “be severely reprimanded for abusing his authority and be warned against using his position to seek sexual advantages from the vulnerable”.
But the Bureau of Statistics and Finance Minister Timothy Thahane ignored Mafisa’s recommendations forcing the Ombudsman to place a special report before parliament.
On Monday, parliament’s ad hoc committee recommended that “based on the committee’s findings and decisions, the committee recommends that the recommendations of the Ombudsman be regarded as null and void”.
The committee said it met with Thahane on November 19 2009 for him to advise the committee “on why he did not comply with the Ombudsman’s recommendations”.
“In his response, the Hon Minister stated clearly that Miss Sebabatso Masitha did not meet the required pass mark which was 50 percent upwards, in order to qualify for the job.
“She got 49 percent (when the pass mark was 50 percent) and refused to attend retraining to upgrade her marks. . . As a result she could not sign a contract because she was not qualified for the job,” said the committee.
On the issue of the alleged sexual harassment, the committee said a retired judge was appointed to investigate the allegations “and found there (was) no evidence to prove this allegation which leaves the defendant innocent”.
“Looking to all the evidence furnished to the committee by all the stakeholders, the committee decided that the Ombudsman’s recommendations do not apply,” the committee said.
The committee said the agreement was that the trainees would sign contracts after passing a test.
“But Miss Masitha failed to meet the 50 percent pass mark because she got 49 percent. She also refused to attend the retraining to upgrade her marks in order to qualify for the job.
“Due to her low marks she was not eligible to sign a contract; therefore this implies that there was no contract between the complainant and the Bureau of Statistics.”

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