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M7 million deal for PS’



MASERU – IN a spectacular climb-down, the government has agreed to a settlement deal with the 16 principal secretaries it has been fighting in court over the past four months.
thepost can reveal that the deal was sealed on Tuesday following hours of negotiations between Labour Minister Richard Ramoeletsi and the principal secretaries.

The settlement, which allows the government to appoint new principal secretaries, comes after months of a bruising legal battle punctuated by twists and turns.

The principal secretaries rushed to the High Court after the government announced that it was terminating their contracts as part of a restructuring programme.

The principal secretaries were put on administrative leave pending their termination. The government had also said the principal secretaries were free to reapply for the positions, a move that could have been meant to placate them after the termination.

In initial negotiations, the parties appeared to be on the verge of an amicable separation but the talks collapsed after the government allegedly reneged on its earlier promises.

What followed was a court battle that promised to drag on for months with each party refusing to budge.

The principal secretaries argued that their dismissal was unfair and malicious while the government countered that they were using the courts to hang on to their jobs. The impasse however ended on Tuesday.

Under the deal, the termination dates of all the contracts will be May 31, which is the last day the government will pay their full salaries.

The principal secretaries will reserve 30 percent of their salaries for the duration stipulated in their contracts. The government also agreed to continue contributions to their pensions and pay their utilities for the duration of their contracts. The utilities which include water, electricity, housing and airtime amount to about M8 500 per month.

They will also receive a notice of three months and cash in lieu of their leave days. The principal secretaries will surrender government vehicles and other properties that were part of their benefits.

They will also drop their court case and any other claim against the government.

The contracts of eight principal secretaries were scheduled to end in August, five in May 2024 and four in 2025.

It appears to be a win-win deal for the parties. The principal secretaries get to walk away with something that might give them a soft landing while the government gets to start afresh with its own appointees.

In total, the government is expected to spend nearly M7 million for the principal secretaries to walk away.

That is a total of M2 256 000 for the three months’ notice for the 16. Some M2 658 000 will go towards utilities. The salaries will cost the government about M2 538 000. Their pension contributions and leave days are not known. Advocate Christopher Lephuthing, who represented 10 of the principal secretaries, confirmed that there were “some talks” but refused to give further details for fear of jeopardising the deal.

So did Advocate Sello Tšabeha, who represented the other six.

Malimpho Majoro

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