By: Thoboloko Ntšonyane

MASERU – The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) and its Public Relations Manager, Tuoe Hantši reach an amicable solution following prolonged court battles challenging the manner in which disciplinary proceedings were conducted.

This move, signaling an improvement of his relations with his employer, resulted in the discontinuity of his scheduled disciplinary proceedings that were once set to take place.

According to the summons seen by Informative Newspaper, Hantši was due to appear for a disciplinary hearing on April 24th and 29th. He was accused of failure to “carry out a reasonable instruction to go to the office of the Director of Elections” when called on May 29, 2023.

In his defense, Hantši said he did not refuse to go but delayed going as he was attending to a client at the Commission’s offices premises. This was disputed by the Director of Elections Advocate Mpaiphele Maqutu during a press conference where he told media that Hantši had responded point blank that he “refuses” to go to his office.

Following his dispute with his employer, Hantši was consequently dismissed by the Commission last year on August 11th.

“Following a disciplinary hearing that was held on August 11th and 28th 2023, where you decided, together with your Legal Representation not to continue, the Chairperson of the disciplinary hearing has found you guilty of Gross Insubordination and recommended that you be dismissed with immediate effect.

“The Commission wishes to inform you that it has considered the recommendation made by the Chairperson and accepts it as it is. Please hand over all the property that is in your possession that belongs to the Independent Electoral Commission,” reads Hantši’s dismissal letter on August 11, 2023.

He challenged his dismissal in the Labour Appeal Court as he argued due process was not followed whereby it was conducted in the absence of his lawyer.

In its recent ruling that effectively reinstated him to work, the court directed that: Commission should start the disciplinary hearing against him denovo (from the beginning) where he will have the representation of his legal representative.

“The 2nd respondent [IEC] is ordered to start the disciplinary hearing de novo [from the beginning], allowing legal representation from commencement to completion of the disciplinary enquiry,” reads the court’s order.

Following this judgment, the Commission issued a statement committing to abide by the judgment. “The Commission will quickly set in motion measures to ensure that a new date of hearing is arrived at as swiftly and as quickly as possible, with a view to comply with the order of the court.”

Hantši was then called to work and the disciplinary proceedings were to take place last week, but he reported that they have reached consensus with his employer, the IEC.

IEC’s Public Relations Manager said in a statement that he had come to the realization: “That the employer’s managerial prerogative to issue instructions to its employees is a principle that is protected by the misconduct known as insubordination. This principle ensures that the operational requirements of the organization are not weakened by insubordination on the part of the employees.”

Hantši continued: “Employees are required to follow lawful and reasonable instructions of their employers at all times. A failure to do so may ultimately result in their dismissal.”