The Lobatse High Court will on August 10th decide whether or not the sacking of former Deputy CEO of Public Enterprise Evaluation Authority (PEEPA), Coleen Tiny Neo Diswai, last year was lawful.
The disgruntled Diswai has been in and out of courts seeking relief following her unceremonious dismissal from work last year after the PEEPA Board decided that her contract was illegal.
According to court documents, Diswai was first employed by PEEPA in August 2010 on a five-year contract as Deputy CEO.
When the contract was about to elapse, it was renewed for a further period of two years effective August 13, 2015.
While the second contract was still in force, Diswai was given another five year contract signed by PEEPA’s Human Resource Committee Chairperson, Professor Happy Siphambe, which was to effect in January 2017.
It was this third contract that put Diswai on the firing line as three months into its enforcement, her appointment was rendered illegal.
PEEPA, through their lawyers argued that Diswai’s new appointment was null and void and that it was not a resolution of the Board and that Prof. Siphambe had no authority to appoint her.
After nullifying the offer, PEEPA instead gave Diswai a new offer in June that was authorised by the Board.
She was expected to have accepted the offer by August 28th, 2017, but she declined as she insisted that PEEPA was already committed by the earlier disputed offer.
After her employment was terminated on March 8th, Diswai decided to take PEEPA to task through an urgent application filed before Justice Radijeng.
When the urgent application failed, Diswai filed a new application before Justice Godfrey Nthomiwa seeking to have the nullified contract validated and for PEEPA to bear the costs of her application.
This week (Thursday) all legal jargon was decoded before Justice Godfrey Nthomiwa at the Lobatse High Court as Diswai’s attorney, Tumisang Dow, and PEEPA lawyers from Thabiso Tafila Attorneys, struggled to swing the judge’s favour their way.
Dow submitted that the disputed offer was signed by Prof. Siphambe the HR Committee Chairperson as it has been the practice and that his client had no reason to doubt that such offer was duly authorized by the Board as the appointing authority. “”To advocate for her case she relied on the offer of August 2010 which was signed by the then HR Committee Chairperson. She also relied on the August 2015 offer which was signed by the current HR Committee Chairperson,” he said.
PEEPA lawyers however argued that by virtue of her senior position, Diswai should have known that internal requirements regarding her appointment had not been complied with. “The position of the respondent is that the applicant was not employed by the respondent and consequently she was ‘a ghost employee’ for a period of over two years,” they submitted.