FRANCISTOWN: Former minister of justice, defence and security Ramadeluka Seretse appeared in court to give evidence in a case in which 60 Botswana Defence Force (BDF) nurses have taken the army to court over a dispute about their overtime allowance.
Seretse is cited as the first respondent while the commander of the BDF, Gaolathe Galebotswe is cited as the second respondent.
The nurses through their lawyer, Tshekiso Tshekiso, want the court to resolve whether the Defence Council ever convened, prior to the lodging of the case to deal with issue of BDF nurses overtime allowance.
They also want the court to rule whether the judgement of former judge Moses Chinhengo is determinative of the issues raised in the current application.
Chinhengo had in the past ruled in favour of the respondents. In his ruling, Chinhengo said that the applicants had erred by citing the Department of Public Service Management in the issue while they should have routed their concern through the Defence Council.
Further, the nurses want the court to determine whether Brigadier M. Alidi attended the Defence Council meeting of February 23, 2013.
In addition, the nurses want the court to determine whether the Defence Council ever met and agreed to sanction any of the allowances referred to in the Public Service Management Directive No 18 of 1998.
The issues to be resolved during trial are whether the applicant’s claim has been before the court, whether the rules of natural justice should have been applied before the Defence Council. The court is also asked to make a ruling on whether it can review or reverse its past decision. The applicants also want the court to resolve whether directives by President Ian Khama bind the Defence Council.
“The court should also determine whether the Defence Council is bound to disclose reasons behind its decision of February 23, 2012. If the answer is in the affirmative, the applicants want the court to rule on the legal effect of its failure to do so,” the applicants say in their papers. The applicants also want the court to determine whether it should substitute its decision for that of the Defence Council.
“The applicants want the court to rule whether they are entitled to overtime allowance and whether there is a justifiable legal basis for excluding BDF nurses from enjoying the allowance,” said the applicants in the papers.
The applicants do not dispute that the Presidential Commission made recommendations to the president some of which form the subject matter of their application.
Also, they do not dispute that the president accepted some of the recommendations and directed inter alia that nurses overtime allowance be paid.
In addition, the applicants do not dispute that the President’s directive was communicated through the Public Service Management Directive No 18 of 1998 and the directive on face value does not exclude BDF nurses from enjoying overtime allowance.
Furthermore, the applicants do not dispute that Seretse appeared before the Salaries Review Commissioner and made oral and written submissions before it on behalf of the BDF.
Lastly, the applicants are of the view that they were not afforded an opportunity to appear in person or otherwise before the defence council to motivate their application.
Wananani Sibanda of the Attorney General’s Chambers represented the state. Justice Phadi Solomon postponed the case to May next year.