Suspended Treasurer General of the Botswana Landboard, Local Authorities and Health Workers Union (BLLAHWU), Yarobi Motswaiso is expected to fight for her survival this morning before Lobatse High Court judge, Justice Terrence Tafa.
This follows her suspension from her position as Treasurer General two months ago for violating the constitution of the union by committing acts of gross misconduct by Acting President, Disang Mokwape. Motswaiso has citied BLLAHWU as the first respondent while Mokwape is the second respondent.
On 15 January 2015, she received a letter stated that the union intended to institute disciplinary proceedings against her and that she would be furnished with a charge sheet with a date for hearing once investigations relating to her alleged misconduct were completed. In her affidavit, she argues that the acting president does not have powers, in terms of the constitution of the union, to suspend her.
Her lawyer, Obonye Jonas, argues that the decision of the acting president to suspend her is null and void because the constitution does not authorize him to suspend a member of the union for any reason, let alone effect a pre-hearing suspension. “To this end, the applicant averred that the second respondent’s decision to suspend her in this instance has no leg to stand on and therefore null and void and of no legal consequence or effect,” reads the heads of argument.
On the other hand, the respondents argue that the decision to suspend her was taken by the union’s central executive committee (CEC) which is empowered by the constitution of the union to take such a measure against the applicant since it is tasked with the day-to-day administrative functions of the union. Motswaiso rebuts: “No clause of the 1st Respondent’s constitution is cited to back the proposition that the CEC or the 1st Respondent is charged with the responsibility to discharge the union’s day-to-day administrative functions, let alone a provision that says such powers include the power to effect suspensions against members of the union.”
Her heads of argument continue: “There are two reasons for this argument: First, a disciplinary process cannot be classified as a day-to-day administrative function. It is not a day-to-day matter. Day-to-day administrative functions of the union will include procurement and management of stationery, ensuring timeliness in the execution of assignments and mandates, ensuring punctuality on the part of office employees, among others.
“Second, and more critically, a disciplinary matter cannot be classified as a day-to-day administrative function of the union because the constitution of the union does not say so. It deals with discipline as a stand-alone subject under Clause 16. To this end, it is submitted that the respondents’ argument that the CEC’s powers relating to its administrative work include the power to suspend members must fail.”
This is not the first time BLLAWHU is being taken to court. Sam Kedise, who was suspended from his position as President of BLLAHWU, is waiting for judgement after challenging his suspension in court last year.