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Molale’s blunder can cost P1.5m

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  • Seipone dismissed by Molale for late coming
  • Decision could cost gov’t over P1.5m

TSHIAMO TABANE

Former deputy Permanent Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Investment, Trade & Industry Ruth Seipone who got fired from public service in 2013, last week approached court of appeal in her effort to sue government for wrongful dismissal.
Seipone’s lawyers, Nametso Makepe and Maswabi Maswabi from Sebego Attorneys appeared before Court of Appeal last week, to appeal a High Court judgment which had ruled that the case had no merit.
The lawyers believe that when he was Permanent Secretary to the President, Eric Molale acted irrationally by dismissing the former Deputy PS with immediate effect after she came late for meetings. Seipone who was appointed under a 3-year contract worked for only one month in her position before she got fired. It has emerged that Molale fired her for coming less than 5 minutes late for three separate meetings, with one of the meetings not scheduled and with Seipone only informed about it at short notice.
Lawyers representing Seipone argued that the decision to dismiss her was made relying on irrelevant considerations and was wrong as misdeeds from her previous contract were invoked to impute negative conclusions for her new 3-year contract. “It was wrong and unlawful for Molale to dismiss the employee from her position as Deputy PS, based on the expired contract of employment. Why did government give her a new contract as Deputy PS and later decide to dismiss her? We suspect that the dismissal was based on egos or emotions,” said Makepe.
Section 41.2 of the Public Service Act (PSA) states that public servants should be dismissed based on reasonable grounds while section 56 of the General Orders governing public service adds that no action should be taken against an employee for inefficiency, unless there are records in his/her personal file showing that inefficiency, with two written warnings for inefficiency. “There was no evidence placed before court or allegations that the appellant had received warnings during the relevant contract of employment,” said Maswabi.
He noted that even under the old contract, Molale cannot produce records showing how much government lost due to Seipone’s late coming for the two meetings and if the Deputy PS was inefficient in her new position- in order to justify his decision to dismiss. “Molale did not properly invoke the provisions of section 41 of PSA, in arriving at the decision to dismiss, as she was also not given reasonable opportunity to improve, after coming late in the meetings. Seipone is suffering an irreparable harm as she was left with a terrible record that she was inefficient in the public service, when the decision to dismiss her was informed or tainted with illegality and based on irrelevant considerations,” the lawyer argued.
O.M Kwape, the lawyer representing government, also conceded that Molale blundered in dismissing Seipone who could demand P1.5 million, which forms part of payment for the remainder part of her contract. He however noted that Seipone cannot be reinstated to the public service as a new Deputy PS had already been appointed.
Ruth Seipone holds an M.A. in Economics from the University of Cape Town, a B.A. and M.A. from the University of Botswana and a Post Graduate Diploma in Financial Management from the University of London.
She briefly worked the Ministry of Trade and Industry and worked for the Bank of Botswana for 16 years. She assumed her as Deputy PS at OP in 2008.
Judgement in this matter is expected to be delivered on the 2nd February 2016 at 9:30 am.

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