Nine veterinary officers have taken the government to court demanding over P1.7 million as unpaid benefits. The case is before Francistown High Court Judge, Lot Moroka. According to their particulars of claim the plaintiffs, Christopher Mudongo and eight others claim that the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Development(defendant) owes them a total sum of P 1 712 555.30.
The plaintiffs have engaged Francistown based lawyer, Kesegofetse Molosiwa The money entails commuted subsistence allowance in lieu of decent accommodation to permanent and pensionable officers from 1st December to date. They are also demanding that they be paid a refund for monthly rentals paid from their own pockets for accommodation, monthly transport fare to and from their settlements to Francistown. The plaintiffs have approached the court also seeking the following reliefs; an order directing Defendants (Ministry of Agriculture and Food Development) to provide accommodation for free to the plaintiffs, free internet, and transportation once a month at month ends for free to and from their settlements to a town or city.
The plaintiffs are officially based at Tsokatshaa, Zoroga, Manxotae and Sepako. They reside in a category one Remote Area Service Allowance (RASA) as per Public Service Management Directive No.08 of 2014. The directive was effective from 1st April 2014.
This directive provided that Category 1 RASA earning areas be provided with the following; free rent, internet and transport once a month at month end.
According to their particulars of claim the plaintiffs have not received the benefits that are afforded to Category 1 RASA earning areas as they ought to be. They have been paying from their own pockets from 2014 to date. They also have not been provided with transport at month end to provide them access to urban areas which has resulted in them incurring large costs to reach the urban areas and returning to their various posts.
In addition, the Public Service Management Directive Circular Saving gram REF:DP 19/72 VI(121) was realized on the 2nd April 2017 and it reads “It has been noticed that some Ministries were not implementing Public Service Management Directive No.08 of 2014, some category 1 RASA earning areas continued to pay rent,”
In that regard, ministries were directed to start paying rent for all employees who are eligible for the dispensation effective from 1st April 2014 and to refund those who were paying their rentals. Plaintiffs wrote a letter to the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Development on the 20th of January 2016, however the matter was not addressed. They also wrote a letter to the Ombudsman on the 7th of June 2016 and received an acknowledgement from the Ombudsman who told them an investigation was being made and feedback would be given. The plaintiffs received a savingram from the Ombudsman dated 25th July 2016, acknowledging their letter dated 6th July 2016 where they were making enquiries regarding their complaint. The Ombudsman explained that they were awaiting feedback from the office of the Director. However no further communication was made to date.
The Attorney General on behalf of the Public Service Management has served a notice of intention to defend. A final case management conference will be held on the 21 of August 2018.