The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, Lewis Malikongwa has suspended the beleaguered Executive Director of the dissolved Botswana National Youth Council (BNYC), Benjamin Raletsatsi. This comes hardly a month after the ministry dissolved the National Executive Committee and District Youth Councils of BNYC.
Raletsatsi was allegedly suspended for refusing to act on a directive from Malikongwa last month to terminate all contracts of remaining employees of the dissolved BNYC. “He was told that once he has terminated the contracts he should negotiate with them on how they can be compensated,” said the source. Reached for comment, Raletsatsi confirmed receiving a letter of his suspension from the ministry. He was cagey with details saying, “That is all I can say at the moment because I do not want to jeopardise my case.” The Chief Public Relations Officer at the ministry, Thobo Tlhasana confirmed that Raletsatsi has been suspended indefinitely. “I cannot get into details about his suspension at the moment, you will get the reasons in due course,” said Tlhasana. Last month the Lobatse High Court Justice Modiri Letsididi heard an urgent application by former BNYC board members to interdict the Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Thapelo Olopeng from appointing a new board.
State attorney Joseph Akoonyatse argued that the matter was not urgent because the committee that was challenging the dissolution of BNYC had long known about the Presidential directive. “The applicants could have taken action immediately after they heard of the cabinet memo and the presidential directive to dissolve BNYC structures. Firstly it was retrenchment of workers and now the same action has been taken to the board and NEC. They are not explaining how this action would make them suffer,” Akoonyatse said. In his founding affidavit, former BNYC Acting Chairperson Boniface Diso, said BNYC had enjoyed autonomy over the years and contracted with the outside world without the involvement or blessing of the government. “The BNYC has been sued before by its former employees and members, and in one case, the government indicated that BNYC is an autonomous body when an attempt was made to cite the Government of Botswana as a party,” Diso said.
“The court accordingly agreed with the government in that case that indeed the BNYC is an autonomous body capable of suing and being sued and absolved the government from liability.” Earlier last month, properties belonging to the embattled organisation was put under the hammer by Gaborone High Court judge Terrence Rannowane, for failing to comply with a court order in a case in which its former Social Unit Manager had been awarded more than P1 million for unlawful dismissal. It has since emerged that BNYC did not defend the lawsuit after it was served with the papers and did not honour a judgment in favour of Veronica Chube when she approached the court in 2012. This is not the first time that Raletsatsi is suspended from the troubled organisation. He was charged with making unilateral decisions that allegedly threw the BNYC into financial dire straits. He was also accused of improper tendering and restructuring of the organisation. Raletsatsi was subsequently cleared of the charges and returned to work in April 2013.