The applicants include Jonathan Moletsane, Thabiso Monatsi, Thabang Mokatse, Kopano Makhetla, Manana Ratau, ’Mampepuoa Mofoka and ’Mathinthela Maqalika.
They have cited Phapano, the Minister of Small Business Development, Cooperatives and Marketing along with the Attorney General as respondents in the matter.
They argue that LOIC is an autonomous institution, urging the court to nullify Phapano’s decision to withhold subvention funds to the artisan institution.
They also asked the court to revoke their sacking, saying the respondent who has now joined the Ministry of Communication, Science and Technology had no authority to fire them.
The application was filed before High Court judge, Justice Tšeliso Monaphathi on March 4.
The institution’s problems began when 22 of its staff members lodged a complaint to Phapano about maladministration and bias practice at the tertiary college by the directors.
Phapano consequently took a harsh stance and withheld the institution’s subvention after the applicants told him that he had no authority to dissolve the board without giving its members a fair hearing.
In his submission, Advocate Peete Libe representing the applicants contended that there is no provision in LOIC’s constitution for the respondent to appoint and dismiss any member of the board.
He said Phapano’s decision to suspend the institution’s subvention fund is abuse of his administrative powers.
Libe further showed that the institution has been relying on the subvention fund donated by the small business ministry to pay its employees’ monthly salaries, adding that if the PS ceases to provide the fund, the college is likely to shut down.
He argued that his clients have not demonstrated any signs of lack of accountability, adding that the former PS abused his effective use of administrative powers by terminating the LOIC board without following due process.
For his part, Adv Monaheng Rasekoai who represents the respondents contended that the issue of the subvention is regulated by the government statute, saying that Phapano was a permanent board member of LOIC’s, hence, he had the power to reform and control the institution.
“Who are the people whose mandate have been terminated?” he asked, showing that the applicants’ appointment had been rightly been dissolved.
Rasekoai questioned the legal approach the board used, saying the board members ought to have salvaged their rights by coming to court themselves.
He said the nature of the administrative decision affected them directly as individuals, adding that issue had nothing to do with the institution’s legal imperatives.
He showed that the administrative decision to terminate the board will remain valid until it is set aside by the court.