Botswana Public Employees Union President Masego Mogwera is again fighting for her survival at the helm as her rivals have returned to serve in the National Executive Committee, Botswana Guardian can reveal.
The rivals have since slapped Mogwera with a suspension pending investigations. The NEC is scheduled to meet today (Friday) to appoint a Commission to investigate her and General Secretary Topias Marenga who has also been suspended. If they are found to have committed an offence, a commission for disciplinary hearing would be appointed. If this happens the tension between Mogwera and her rivals could end in her dismissal from Babereki Investment and from the presidency during a Special General Congress.
She would fall in the same fate as her predecessor Andrew Motsamai who was fired in 2017 by the NEC for abuse of office and possible misappropriation of funds. Last year, Mogwera known to her colleagues in labour sector as the Iron Lady, had to fight for her survival as some members of the union NEC fought for her removal as president-a battle that ended in court.
The rival members later after being in and out of court with Mogwera were brought for disciplinary hearings by the union leadership and suspended. They would later challenge their suspensions which were subsequently set aside.
Beginning of trouble for Mogwera
The members have emerged victorious these past weeks as they were voted chairpersons during various Regional Conventions’ elections. This automatically qualified them as members of the NEC. Some of the key leading members are Ogaufi Masame, Zibani Philemon, Mosalagae Tlhako and Motswaledi Monaiwa. These members were suspended following a controversial meeting held in July last year at Cresta Lodge in Gaborone. The meeting saw the union NEC going neck to neck at the courts of law fighting for the control of the union. This publication has also discovered that out of the 12 regions nine (9) are allegedly aligned with Mogwera’s rivals which is led by Philemon.
The NEC has 20 members as per the constitution of BOPEU and Masego’s rivals are said to be sitting at 12 members in the NEC inclusive of three (3) National Officer Bearers (NOB). Philemon was during the union’s December 2018 Congress tipped to challenge Mogwera for presidency but this could not happen due to his suspension. About four (4) appeals from regional congresses are said to have been raised being Kgaga region (Kgalagadi and Ghantsi areas), Franksmartts region (North east and Chobe), Central region and Botswana Examinations Council region.
Mogwera’s rivals pushed for an emergency meeting to be held last week Friday. According to a letter seen by this publication written by General Secretary Marenga a decision was taken to have the meeting held. The meeting that took place the following day (Saturday) proved that it was now the return of Mogwera’s nightmares. The rival members were said to be itching to leave no stone unturned during the meeting in demanding answers and ensuring Mogwera’s exit happens. At the meeting Mogwera and Marenga were suspended from the union, a decision that Mogwera has since rubbished through a press statement. The rival faction has also issued a counter statement warning stakeholders not to engage with the duo in any business on behalf of the union.
On Tuesday this week both factions were summoned at Police Headquaters in Gaborone after Mogwera requested for intervention for her rivals who have since taken over the union office to be removed. The police are said to have asked both factions to explore internal processes in their standoff. Acting President Olefile Monakwe confirmed that they will be forging ahead with the investigations.
He revealed that their meeting at the police could not have resolved the situation because NEC has taken a decision and only the NEC could resolve the situation. He explained that proper procedure has been followed for the NEC to have arrived at such a decision and it has never been a witch hunt as communicated by Mogwera. Contacted Mogwera said she has nothing against her colleagues and had hoped that what happened last year is a thing of the past as the court and members of BOPEU have demonstrated. According to Mogwera she believed that they have to work together and comply with the union provisions and respect the members who have given them the mandate to serve.
“The two parties were at loggerheads with each other last year due to our interpretation as to what is to happen or be done. “The union members in Kasane in large numbers entrusted me with the organisation and equally they have been entrusted at regional level with the leadership of the organisation. “Our job is to deliver on the mandate because there is a lot to do in terms of labour issues. I have accepted them back into the NEC without any condition and will extend my support for the betterment of our union and members,” said Mogwera. As far as she is concerned, she is still president. Mogwera pointed out that there are procedures in place that have to be followed to remove her as a duly elected president by the Kasane Congress. She explained that even on Monday this week she convened Board of Directors meeting for Babereki Investment. “It was to brief the directors about the situation we find ourselves in.
“Babereki is regulated by NBFIRA and when things are like this, where people just take a resolution to dissolve the Board, we have to give an update to our stakeholders,” said Mogwera.
First Step for Mogwera’s fall
The union leadership acceded to last week’s request after it rejected a similar request last month by another NEC member. Last month one of the NEC members had requested an emergency meeting through a letter dated 22nd March 2019. The NEC member who is the Statistics Botswana Regional Chairperson Modise Ramaretlwa wanted the meeting to discuss the impending court cases, staff involvement in union politics, Union Board Representation, letter of request to meet NEC by Don Gaetsaloe, Special General Congress and suspension of Regional elections.
Last week Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) Chairperson Mosalagae Tlhako requested for an emergency meeting. Tlhako wanted the issues raised by Ramaretlwa in the previous request to be part of the agenda.
He also challenged the contract of employment for General Secretary Marenga and his deputy. “I wrote a letter dated 15th April 2019, which evidently was received and transmitted to yourself by Ms Enametse. In essence, the letter reminded the union leadership that the contract of the General Secretary Topias Marenga and Deputy General Secretary Ketlhapeleng Karabo is expiring end of this year. “Therefore, in accordance with best practices, there is need for the GS and DGS to start serving notice of six (6) months before the expiry of their contracts.
“In addition, that General Secretary should participate in the drafting of the job profile for the General Secretary and his deputy based on his experience,” said Tlhako in a letter dated April 16th 2019. He pointed out that since that letter he has received information that completely alters the character of his letter. “I have been made aware that the offer of employment of the General Secretary effected on the 1st of February 2012 and was for a period of five (5) years, which means it expired on the 28th February 2017 or thereabouts,” stated Tlhako in the letter. He indicated that on the basis of this background he requests for a special NEC meeting and wants the issue to be part of the agenda items.
Tlhako, who had proposed that the meeting be held on Tuesday this week, threatened that should he not get feedback he would assume his request has been rejected and he would be compelled to exert his right as an elected NEC member.
In his response letter of April 17th 2019 Marenga indicated that the agenda item proposed by Tlhako would be discussed at the meeting.