The Court of Appeal has suspended the implementation of a high court order for government to reinstate dismissed public service employees pending appeal.
Justice Ian Kirby made the decision on Wednesday afternoon in Gaborone after accessing an urgent application by government to stop the implementation of a Lobatse high court order made last week by Justice Dingake.
Dingake had instructed government to re-employ 556 dismissed workers who had taken their unfair dismissal case to court. The workers were fired following a public service strike last year.
The court heard that soon after Dingake’s order, some of the workers reported back to their previous workstations only to be turned back.
The government argued that the situation has a potential to cause chaos and disruption in the public service because some union leaders were demanding for Dingake’s order to be implemented with immediate effect despite the three months time frame given by the court.
State attorney, Parks Tafa contended that the government was compelled to urgently bring the application to court to re-affirm the three-months period, to avoid the eruption of chaos in the public service to the disadvantage of the nation.
“The real issue is the disruption that could take place. So we are saying that in the absence of the order we are not prepared to accept a loose arrangement that my learned friend is bargaining for,” Tafa pointed out.
Tafa was making reference to comments made by the workers lawyer, Advocate Sidney Pilane who was contesting the urgent application.
Pilane suggested that it was okay for the workers to exercise their rights and demand their jobs back as per the order despite the three months grace period set for government to comply with the court order.
Tafa further said the government was also compelled to seek an early hearing of the appeal so that it can be heard within the three-month window period, an argument, which Kirby found convincing and noted in his ruling.
“ I find those arguments convincing and I am satisfied that my original finding on Monday 25th June 2012 that the matter was urgent was the correct one,” Kirby stated.
The worker’s attorney, Sidney Pilane argued that he will not be in a position to argue an expedited appeal during the July session because he needed time to prepare for the case.
Kirby said that the appeal will most probably be heard in January next year.