Tobokani Rari’s founding affidavit reveals more on the ongoing distrust and animosity between public sector trade unions and the Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM).
This animosity will play out in the open next Tuesday as lawyers representing DPSM and unions affiliated to the Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) battle it out in court over the recent decision by DPSM director, Carter Morupisi to revoke the secondment and recalling union’s secretary generals to their place of work.
Public and acrimonious bickering on a number of issues is becoming the order of the day between government and the union federation. The latter has faced adverse and troubling times since its formation especially after rallying its members to take part in a public service strike in 2011. In the most recent case, unions are crying foul. Court papers in possession of the Botswana Guardian indicate that Morupisi took the decision without consulting unions. Rari- who is secretary general of the Botswana Sectors of Educators’ Union wrote in his affidavit that, “the decisions were made without affording the applicants an opportunity to make representations in respect of why the secondments should not be cancelled.”
Morupisi told the Botswana Guardian last week that his decision was based on the fact that unions are involved in politics. In identical letters written to three union secretary generals Morupisi argues that one of the conditions of secondment of public service employees, who are also leaders of their public service unions, is their continued regulation by the provisions of the Public Service Act, 2008, while on secondment. “We have however, of late, noticed some worrisome developments, where these officials have now openly defied such conditions and embarked on uttering partisan political statements. Mr. Tobokani Rari is such officer,” he writes. Other culprits are Ibo Nana Kenosi-General Secretary-Botswana Teachers Union and Ketlhalefile Motshegwa - General Secretary-Botswana Landboard, Local Authorities and Health Workers Union.
The letters form part of the court papers before High Court Judge Lot Moroka. Rari is denying the allegations. “I deny there has been a breach of any conditions of secondment by any of the applicant’ secretary generals.” He further adds in his affidavit that: he and his colleagues have no knowledge of the partisan political statements, which they are alleged to have made. Represented by Mboki Chilisa of Collins Chilisa Consultants unions are arguing that Morupisi’s decisions are a nullity because they are in breach of the rules of natural justice. The union lawyers will plead with Moroka on Tuesday to interdict the DPSM boss’s decisions on the basis that they are in breach of the right to be heard. “Not only are the decisions in breach of the right to be heard, they are inconsistent with the court’s judgment in the review proceedings.” The applicants want the matter to be heard on urgency basis.
They argue that the urgency of the matter is exacerbated by the fact that the office bearers who have been targeted by the decisions are secretary-generals who are the heart beat and fulcrum of “our respective unions in the sense we are administratively responsible for the day to day running of the affairs of the respective applicants.”