Mmegi Online :: Teacher fired for criticising Khama loses at CoA
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Last Updated
Wednesday 24 May 2017, 14:42 pm.
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Teacher fired for criticising Khama loses at CoA

Goitsemodimo Dintwe, the secondary school teacher fired in 2012 after a poison pen critique of President Ian Khama’s leadership, lost his challenge at the Court of Appeal (CoA) yesterday. The Court ruled, among others, that Freedom of Expression was not absolute.
By Goitsemodimo Kaelo Thu 20 Apr 2017, 18:04 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: Teacher fired for criticising Khama loses at CoA








Dintwe was dismissed from the civil service following an opinion article published by Mmegi, which criticised Khama’s administration after the 2011 ‘Mother of All Strikes’.

In the opinion piece, Dintwe said Khama’s “deficient” administration had “numerous issues” and stated that “the country is going down to the doldrums (sic) and all fingers point to His Excellency the President”.

Following his dismissal, Dintwe launched a challenge at the High Court arguing that his constitutional right to Freedom of Expression had been violated, a case which he subsequently lost. The former teacher then took his challenge to the CoA.

Delivering judgement yesterday, CoA judge Monametsi Gaongalelwe dismissed Dintwe’s case, noting that the Freedom of Expression as guaranteed in the constitution, was not absolute but subject to limitations.

He said the limitations were reasonable in a democratic society in that teachers by virtue of their profession and duties have to be apolitical. “Freedom of Expression as guaranteed in the Constitution, like all other rights, is not absolute. It is subject to limitations.

“In fact, the section itself stipulates limitations and it is pertinent to note that Subsection 2 expressly authorises Parliament to make laws taking away such a right in respect of ‘public officers… or teachers’,” Gaongalelwe said.

He said it was reasonable to demand that teachers be apolitical to avoid a situation where a person in that position influences or sways the minds of children one way or another in the sphere of party politics.

Besides the Freedom of Expression, Dintwe’s appeal had also argued that the disciplinary action was not taken promptly in terms of Section 39(1) of the Public Service Act and that the

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opinion piece in question did not fall within the ambit of Section 3(a) of the same act, which generally bars civil servants from politics.

However, Gaongalelwe said that the article’s aspersion is damaging to the President’s political party more than it is to the President himself.

“The article states that the Central Committee of the BDP is comprised of the President’s cronies. This translates into saying such committee members were not men and women of substance. This may be reasonably regarded as advocating for or against a political party,” he said.

He also dismissed the plea that Dintwe’s rights had been infringed upon by a delayed disciplinary process, saying it was self-evident that the former teacher had delayed the process.

“The process commenced with the letter of July 12, which informed the appellant of the charge and invited him to show cause. He was called upon to reply after 14 days but failed to do so. His failure contributed to the date of hearing being ultimately fixed to November 10 and not before,” he said.

Dintwe’s troubles began after the opinion piece was published on May 11, 2011. The Central Region’s Department of Tertiary Education director, Marcos Maedza came across the newspaper and tasked officers to investigate whether such an author was a teacher in the area.

Having established that indeed Dintwe was a teacher at Radisele Junior Secondary, Maedza on July 12 issued the former teacher with a letter giving him 14 days to show cause why disciplinary proceedings should not be brought against him.

Dintwe only responded on August 2 through his trade union denying he had written the article.

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