The Transport and Community Safety Department in Limpopo has rejected legal advice – from its own premier – to abandon its appeal in the Labour Court because a case was unwinnable and may result in unnecessary costs to the government.
The advice was issued by the office of the premier, which warned the department does not have good prospects of success in court.
Documents seen by News24 show that the matter dates back to 2 August 2017 when the department advertised several posts, including several senior vacancies.
Recommendations were then made for suitable candidates to fill the posts after interviews.
But this was followed by a Cabinet reshuffle, which saw then MEC Nandi Ndalane replaced by Makoma Makhurupetja, who subsequently rejected certain identified candidates and ordered that those posts be re-advertised.
This did not go down well with Maggie Mabusa, who was recommended for the post of director for transformation and service delivery improvement.
Mabusa, who was a deputy director at the time, took the matter to the General Public Services Bargaining Council which, after several months, found MEC Makhurupetja’s decision was irrational, unjustifiable and misleading.
“The reason advanced by the MEC for not appointing the applicant (Mabusa) is misleading as there is an approved organisational structure in operation which guided the advertisement of the post.
“The contention of the applicant that the respondent appointed other officials in terms of the operating organisational structure is not challenged. There was gross miscarriage of justice,” the council found.
The council ordered that Mabusa be appointed and compensated with back pay of R160 715.50, which was the difference between the salaries of the deputy director and director posts, accumulated over eight months.
The department is now appealing the matter in the Labour Court.
In a letter to the department, the head of legal services in the office of the premier, advocate Chris Rammutla, advises that the department doesn’t have strong prospects of success.
“It is suggested that the case be withdrawn from court and the first respondent MS M Mabusa be appointed to the post she has successfully applied for and subsequently confirmed by the bargaining council,” Rammutla writes.
He further advises that the withdrawal of the case would avoid further unnecessary costs.
“Our offices would further negotiate that each party should pay for its own costs,” he wrote.
Department spokesperson Matome Moremi-Taueatsoala confirmed the premier’s office had advised that the appeal be dropped.
He said the decision to continue with the appeal was due to, among others, that the settlement of the case could open floodgates as there were other related cases with similar factors.
“The Labour Court ruling can have major repercussions for the department if all those turned down posts must not be filled with those applicants, especially after the merging of the two departments,” Moremi-Taueatsoala said.
He said the current MEC Mavhungu Lerule-Ramakhanya has been appraised on the vacancy rate, court cases and the merger process.The premier’s spokesperson, Kenny Mathivha, said a legal opinion sought by a particular entity was privileged information.