Court orders DPSM to review its directives

Justice Tafa
Justice Tafa

The High Court has ordered the Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) to review its 2013 and 2016 directives after failing to recognise workers under the Ministry of Agriculture.

Justice Abednego Tafa also ordered the DPSM to pay the ministry workers remote area service allowances dating as far as back as April 1, 2013. That was after the Ministry omitted the officers from the directive No 2 of 2013 and refused to add them in the No 3 of 2016 despite the employees’ pleas for a review.

Workers from a ranch in Makalamabedi village had taken DPSM to court for continuously omitting them from its directives of the said allowances despite living far from normal services.

In a recent judgement Justice Tafa ordered the Director of the Public Service Management to review the two directives to include the Lesego Ranch workers who had been subjected to substantial financial prejudice due to the refusal to pay them the allowances as part of their monthly incentives enjoyed by similarly circumstanced employees of the ministry.

“The decision to exclude the employees from the category of remote area service allowance purportedly because it is less than 150km from supply centres is irrational and unlawful and therefore stands to be corrected. It is therefore set aside,” he said.

The judge explained that the employees had amply demonstrated through concrete examples that a great number of settlements and/or veterinary camps that lie well below the 150km from supply had been classified as remote and their dwellers paid those allowances.

He also noted that in the relevant directive of 2013 he had not come across a stipulation that for an area to be classified as a remote it had to be at least 150km from the nearest supply centre.

“As stated in the deponent’s uncontroverted evidence the ranch falls in a remote area. There are no shops, no educational facilities, no banking facilities, postal or health facilities and also that the supply centres are respectively 69 and 68 kilometres away,” he said.

Judge Tafa said despite this, when the employees sought explanations from their superiors as to why they were not being paid the allowance, they were told it was intended for employees who resided 150km from supply centres.

He pointed out that the explanation from the superiors could not be correct because according to the employees’ evidence none of the areas they cited as attracting remote area allowances are 150km or more from the supply centres.

Meanwhile in a counter application filed by DPSM seeking a reversal of the court’s earlier orders, Judge Tafa said it would be incompetent of the court to try and reverse its earlier decision that the application was barred from being heard.

“As the saying goes, ‘as we make our bed’, so must we lie on it”. There must be finality to litigation. Piecemeal litigation is to be discouraged,” he said.

Justice Tafa further said it was disingenuous for the public service management to now seek to controvert the averments made by the employees.

He explained that the management had abandoned its application of recession and that they had made an election not to dispute the factual averments by the employees.

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