Factional wars within the leadership of the union of choice- Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) - is intensifying ahead of December congress billed for Kasane, Botswana Guardian has established.As the union prepares for its elective National General Congress from 10th to 13th December 2018, it has now come in the open that it would be a battle for the leadership of the union between two warring factions which are fighting before courts.
The rivalry between the two started off during a meeting in July this year in Gaborone where there were suspensions and counter suspensions. This resulted in a legal battle that pitted BOPEU as 1st Applicant followed by Ogaufi Masame, Zibani Philemon, Mosalagae Tlhako and Motswaledi Monaiwa against union President Masego Mogwera as 1st Respondent followed y Tlhabologo Galekhutle (Treasurer), Martin Gabobake (1st Deputy President), Topias Marenga (General Secretary) and Ketlhapelang Karabo (Deputy General Secretary).
Philemon and team have since appointed him as acting president of the union assisted by Masame. Philemon and team approached the courts to force Mogwera and team out of office and pleaded with the courts to recognise them as legitimate BOPEU leadership. The matter has been taken up to the appeals court which has indicated that until there are court orders from High Court the appeal cannot be heard. This has left a stalemate between the two factions as there is no court order that has declared which faction is legitimate to lead the union.
Information gathered by this publication is that a National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting led by President Mogwera on Monday this week resolved to bring Philemon and team for disciplinary hearing. It is alleged that Philemon-led team refused to accept the letters calling them to appear before a commission to face the music. According to sources, Philemon’s team argued that there is no order of the court that confirms that suspension as has been pleaded by Mogwera and team before Lobatse High Court.
Last week the two factions dispatched letters to the union structures regarding the congress, causing more confusion among union members. The two letters are identical save for whom the names of delegates and observers should be forwarded to. One letter has been signed by Mogwera while the other by Philemon.
In an interview, Marenga representing Mogwera team, indicated that there should not be any confusion among BOPEU members. Marenga, who is the union General Secretary, stated that until there is an order of the court interdicting them to carry out the duties of the union then members should know that they are the legitimate National Office Bearers of BOPEU.
“We are currently dealing with some internal matters and in due cause we will deal with the matter regarding our comrades and their conduct. In a few weeks to come we would write letters to our structures on the matter and what is expected of them and outstanding matters would be dealt with,” said Marenga.
For his part, Philemon said without any court order issued against them, they are legitimate NOB as per the meeting of July this year. He indicated that before the congress everything would have been dealt with and “members have nothing to worry about because we have everything under control.” Philemon confirmed that they were summoned for disciplinary hearing but declined to discuss the matter further saying they would deal with the matter internally.
He explained that the union structures would be updated on any matter arising and they are still awaiting court orders from Justice Godfrey Nthomiwa regarding their case before they could return to the appeals court. Justice Nthomiwa has dismissed the urgency application that was launched by Philemon and crew. According to sources there could be more court battles with the union before the December congress is held.
Mogwera became BOPEU President after the then President Andrew Motsamai resigned to join Babereki Investment-BOPEU business arm as Executive Chairman. He was later relieved of his duties for allegations of misappropriation of funds.