Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU), President Masego Mogwera’s led National Office Bearers (NOB) have been accused of possibly embezzling huge funds from the union.
The legal battle has pitted BOPEU as 1st Applicant followed by Ogaufi Masame, Zibani Philemon, Mosalagae Tlhako and Motswaledi Monaiwa against NOB members being union President Masego Mogwera as 1st Respondent followed by Tlhabologo Galekhutle (Treasurer), Martin Gabobake (1st Deputy President), Topias Marenga (General Secretary) and Ketlhapelang Karabo (Deputy General Secretary).
Following a heated National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting last month at Cresta Lodge in Gaborone, Mogwera and team were suspended pending investigation while Philemon was subsequently appointed acting president.
Mogwera’s team retaliated by declaring a state of emergency and suspended Philemon and crew. NOB members are also part of the NEC.
On the 1st August 2018, Applicants approached the Court on urgency mainly to: declare as lawful the meeting of the National Executive Committee (“NEC”) held on Saturday 28 July 2018 (the “Meeting”) at which Respondents were suspended pending investigation and possible disciplinary action; restrain the Respondents from holding themselves as rightful governing officials of BOPEU and evicting them out of the premises of BOPEU as well as setting aside the declaration of state of emergency made by Gabobake and setting aside the suspension of Masame, Philemon, Tlhako, Monaiwa by Mogwera. Lobatse High Court is today (Friday) scheduled to make a ruling on the urgency of the matter before merits of the case could be argued.
According to the head of arguments filed before court seen by this publication, Philemon and team reveal that they discovered during the meeting that the 2nd to 5th Respondents were earning salaries from BOPEU without the approval of the National General Council (NGC) or Central Executive Committee (CEC), this being in violation of Article 53.2 of the BOPEU Constitution.
“Consequently in the NEC’s view there was a need to look into a case of possible embezzlement or misappropriation of huge funds of the Union. This kind of breach of the Constitution of the Union amounts to serious misconduct under Article 48.1.2 of the Constitution of the Union. The NEC at the meeting found it necessary and in the interest of the Union to suspend these Respondents pending an investigation and possible disciplinary action as provided for under Article 47.4 of the Constitution of the Union.
In terms of Article 53.1 of the Constitution of the Union, remuneration of seconded office bearers will be determined by the NGC or CEC as a recommendation from the Finance Committee. The Respondents maintain that their remuneration was approved,” read the court papers.
Regarding the alleged chaos of the last month meeting, the Applicants' contention is that discussions were very cordial during the meeting. It is argued that an audio recording reflects that the meeting was an orderly meeting. They posited that what is admitted is that there were divergent views from the Respondents and the Applicants.
“The Respondents have an original copy of the recording, it is for them to challenge the veracity and/or authenticity of the recording and its transcription by Applicants. This recording is a relevant piece of evidence of what transpired at the meeting especially in so far as it relates to the demeanour of the meeting. The allegations of chaos or rowdiness during the meeting have not been particularised. The Respondents make general averments without explaining the disorder.”