Ultimatum for Rapapa as outgoing principals plan suit


. . . contest decision to replace them


MASERU – More than a hundred teachers who have been acting as school principals for 16 years in different schools around the country are threatening to sue Education and Training Minister Professor Ntoi Rapapa over his ministry’s decision to replace them. The ministry has already hired 417 principals and is set to hire an additional 800 in the coming financial year but teachers who have acted as principals want to be confirmed as substantive holders of the posts instead of being replaced by new recruits.

Rapapa is on record as having said the posts will be advertised for all those who qualify to apply and that people will be considered on merit.  “Just because teachers have been acting for long does not necessarily mean they will automatically be appointed,” he said. Rapapa also said there was no way the 417 appointments already made can be cancelled since these were made on merit.

The disgruntled teachers last week wrote to Minister Rapapa informing him that they will sue him if he does not consider them for the principals’ posts within 15 days of receipt of their letter. “We therefore insist and urge that clients be employed to the positions otherwise they will sue you to the detriment of public purse and resources within 15 days of your receipt of this letter,” the memo states.

The teachers’ lawyer, Advocate Fusi Sehapi, says Minister Rapapa’s argument that there is no provision in the law regulating the affairs of teachers providing for legitimate expectation to be automatically employed after acting for too long is misdirected.

“It is not uncommon that there is no written provision in the teachers’ statutes and regulations contemplating teachers’ legitimate expectation to be permanently and pensionably employed once they have acted for so many years. The reason is that the law governing legitimate expectation is non-statutory but unwritten common law,” Sehapi said.

The lawyer is also dismissing Rapapa’s contention that the teachers never acted for many continuous years but that their acting periods were intermittent, lasting for a year then renewed.  “You are wrong, humbly for alleging that the teachers never acted for so many continuous years.”

Advocate Sehapi added: “The reality is that after every new renewal, acting principals did not start fresh work from scratch but continued from their last piece of work with accumulated experience and knowhow, thereby building an ascending strong tower of continuous, uninterrupted and non-fragmented work going much beyond one year’s legitimate acting period.”

He contends that section 18 of the Constitution, subsections (4) and (5) permit fair discrimination and argues that his clients have acted unfairly long and therefore need to be accorded preferential compensatory treatment vis a vis any other teachers.

This he says should be done to correct the wrongs and injustices against the said teachers.

“Clearly, teachers who have acted for long cannot be equated to any other teachers since they suffered more employment rigourous stripes and as a result are more qualified and experienced than those who never acted in the positions before. Further, the acting merits and experience are not different to those expected from those liable to be permanently employed to those positions,” he said.

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