MASERU – National Security Services (NSS) Director General, Pheello Ralenkoane, has been ordered to reinstate an officer he is accusing of misconduct.
Ralenkoane last Friday suspended agency’s Intelligence Officer based in Qacha’s Nek, Teboho Masimong, for suing the institution. Particularly, his attachment of an NSS internal radio message which forms part of his papers submitted to court.
Ralenkaone said when Masimong used the NSS internal radio message forms without approval he breached the oath of secrecy and thereby committed misconduct.
“Kindly take notice that acting with the approval of the Minister of Defence and National Security, you are hereby suspended with immediate effect in terms of Section 22 (1) (b) and (ii) of the National Security Services Act No 11 of 1998 on full pay,” reads Ralenkoane’s suspension letter to Masimong in part.
The letter further states “the reason for the suspension is to allow completion of investigations concerning your alleged serious misconduct of attaching unto your court papers in CIV/APN/79/21, NSS internal radio message forms containing privileged lists of personnel names promoted to different ranks and their duty stations, without approval states and in breach of your oath of secrecy.”
However, High Court judge, Justice Tšeliso Monapathi, ordered Masimong’s reinstatement pending finalization of his application to have the suspension nullified. Masimong was forced to approach the court for intervention after he was served with the suspension letter.
The legal scuffle between the two parties started with the promotion of thirteen security agents who were elevated earlier this month. Masimong contends that the promotions were not only unfair but also unlawful and has asked the court to intervene. He has asked the court to declare them unlawful and subsequently set aside.
Masimong says the promotions were not merit-based and were done on unjust preferential treatment and nepotism grounds with some being done contrary to dictates of the law. He alleges that the Ralenkoane failed to implement the existing promotion practice in effecting the promotions.
“When the promotions of the fifth to seventeenth respondents were effected, the considerations mentioned in annexure 2 and paragraphs 5.2 were not adhered to.”
The considerations include that a vacancy shall be declared with the number of available vacancies in each rank, that the position be advertised by the law for all staff members to know; that applications be analyzed against the job requirements or job specifications by management team and thereby leading to approval of shortlisted candidates. According to Masimong, the said practices did not happen when Ralenkoane promoted the 13 officers.
He says compliance with the practices would have been in line to achieving equal opportunity in line with the constitution, particularly Section 30 (c) of the constitution. The section speaks to just and favourable conditions of work and states that Lesotho shall adopt policies aimed at securing just and favorable conditions of work and in particular policies directed to achieving equal opportunity for men and women to be promoted in their employment to an appropriate higher level, subject to no considerations other than those ‘of seniority and competence.
In his court papers, Masimong told the court that two of the promoted officers have not attended the basic intelligence course which is mandatory for the ranks they have been appointed to.
“Moses Mjezu and Motlatsi Nku have joined the service in the year 2018 and as of date, they have not attended basic intelligence course which is mandatory for one to assume ranks that appear under Schedule 1 of the National Security Service Act of1998,” he said.
He further states that pair was given a rank of Senior Intelligence Officer but are now parachuted to the seventh senior rank of Principal Intelligence Officer above six ranks with less than three years of service.
Their promotion he argues that they are not only arbitrary but are discriminatory contrary to the law.
“I have more than ten years in the service and I was never given an opportunity to compete that rank, had promotions been open and transparent and done according to law, I would have been able to submit my application but non observance of the law by the second and first respondent prevented me from competing and to be promoted to a higher level,” Masimong argues.
He further states, “I aver that the first to fourth respondents conduct of promoting fifth to seventeenth respondents deviated the law and best employment practice, I aver that the conduct aforesaid was mala fide, capricious, discriminatory and grossly irregular as it was not open for the benefit of class, which I am part of.”
By so doing, the complainant argues that he was deprived an opportunity to be considered for promotions because the vacant positions were not advertised for all members to apply, rather, members were picked whimsically without due consideration to other members.
“I aver that if promotions were advertised, I could have been able to make application for promotion, I am advised by my attorney of record and I verily belief the same advice to be true and correct that fairness in employment practices and labour relations requires that the state be even-handed and transparent not only to those whom it employs but so too those whom may wish to apply for employment and promotion at state institutions.”
“I aver that this matter deserves urgent attention of the court as it is likely to affect the day to day running of National Security Service and the dictates of justice and fairness says that respondents need to know their positions soon as possible before they adjust their means of life style according to new ranks and salary level they have attained.”