Suspended Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) President Masego Mogwera will know her fate as chairperson and member of Board of Babereki Investments (Pty) Ltd Directors next week Thursday.
Mogwera, together with three other Board members; Martin Gabobakwe, Tlhabologo Galekhutle and Otto Itumeleng were recently dismissed from the Board of Babereki Investments (BI). BI is an investment arm of BOPEU. Mogwera and team then took acting president, Olefile Monakwe to court seeking nullification of their removal from the Board. Justice Gaolapelwe Ketlogetwe of Lobatse High Court this week indicated that he would deliver final determination on the matter on the 23rd of May 2019 following the interim interdict order he made last week.
Justice Ketlogetswe last week issued an interim interdict in favour of Mogwera and team and directed that the decision and or communication by Monakwe seeking to dismiss or dis-appoint Mogwera and fellow applicants as members of the Board of Directors, was unlawful and set aside.This week attorney Gabriel Kanjabanga appearing on behalf of Monakwe told the court that Mogwera and team have no authority to have brought the case before court on behalf of BI. He said the applicants admit that at the time of bringing the case to court they were not board directors of BI and cannot act on behalf of BI which is cited as 1st Applicant in the case.
“If they agree that at the material time they were not board members then they cannot purport to be acting on behalf of BI. The resolution they purport to have signed on behalf of the 1st Applicant (BI) is therefore invalid. “The court should find that at the time the resolution was made, they were not competent to be acting for BI. They misled the court to issue an order that they represent BI,” said Kanjabanga adding that BI is not properly before court because Mogwera and co-directors have no authority. He argued that most of the averments are based on BI and not on other Applicants.
Dutch Leburu representing Mogwera and her team argued that his clients acted on behalf of BI because they were unlawfully removed. He said they were competent enough to have made and signed the resolution as per the Companies Act and the Trade Unions and Employers Organisation Act provisions. According to Leburu, BI is properly before court. “The directors should have been removed at a shareholders meeting and not a National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting. “The shareholders meeting is convened by the board but the meeting that fired the directors was not purported to have been called by the board. The Chairperson of BI, that is, Mogwera was to chair the
meeting but there is no evidence that she did chair the meeting,” he said.Kanjabanga argued that there are no facts produced to indicate what harm other Applicants would suffer other than BI if the case is heard through normal cause and not brought through urgency. He said they are only protecting their own personal interests. “Why should the court hold that the case is urgent in relation to them if they failed to prove on what basis they bring the case on urgency?
“They do not have a legal right. There is also an issue of joinder- they failed to join BOPEU in the proceedings since BOPEU is a shareholder,” he told the court arguing that Monakwe took the decision to suspend Mogwera and team on behalf of BOPEU through an instruction from the NEC of BOPEU.
Leburu argued that Mogwera and other directors were not acting to protect their own interests. He said they were protecting the interest of BI and its shareholders. “There is nothing about urgency for personal gain. They do not do that for personal interest but for the company and its creditors. We are therefore entitled to the confirmation of the interim interdict that this court issued,” argued Leburu.
He explained that 80 percent of documentation that has been filed with the court by the Respondents is unnecessary adding that the case of urgency and interdict have been made by his clients and should succeed.According to Kanjabanga there was no need for the Applicants to have been part of the meeting that suspended them. This, Kanjabanga said, is because they are not shareholders of BI. “The majority of the NEC members were there and they took a unanimous decision to remove the Applicants. There was compliance in terms of the law in the removal of the Applicants,” he said.
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.
Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) National Appeals Board (NAB) has reversed a decision by union President Masego Mogwera to suspend National Executive Committee member Motswaledi Monaiwa. Monaiwa and other NEC members were suspended last year following a controversial meeting in July where they suspended President Mogwera and other NEC members.
Mogwera would later suspend the NEC members who participated in the meeting that suspended her. This resulted in court battles between the two camps in the build up to the union’s elective congress in Kasane. NAB sitting last week resolved to set aside Monaiwa’s suspension. “Upon perusal of documents filed on records and respondent having not filed their rebuttal, despite an opportunity having been provided for them to do so, the NAB allows the appeal to succeed.
“The appellant’s letter of suspension of 29th July 2018 is hereby declared irregular and is set aside. The appellant is hereby restored to his full union membership rights and regional chairmanship effective 22nd February 2019,” said NAB chairperson Ruth Khupe in her judgement.
The NAB stated in its findings that Monaiwa’s right to fully belong to a union and participate in union activities is jeopardised due to the suspension. It further stated that according tot Article 47.4 of BOPEU Constitution the president has no power to unilaterally suspend a member.
“The president can only suspend a member once there is jurisdictional trigger from NEC to commence disciplinary proceedings against a member. Once there has been such commencement then and only then the president can suspend such a member. “The power to commence disciplinary proceedings against a member is vested on the NEC only, which is when a principle of delegatus protestas would be applicable to the president.
In this instant case, the appellant and other NEC members were suspended consequent to a discussion surrounding the conduct of the president. Therefore, the president was conflicted in this matter,” said Khupe adding that this is contrary to the principle of natural justice.
NAB stated that notably the suspension was done merely two days to the issuance of the state of emergency meeting by the 1st Deputy President. The action of the president according to the NAB is ultra-vires since she acted against the constitutional provision.
According to the background of the matter on the 28th July 2018, the NEC of BOPEU convened a meeting at Cresta Lodge in Gaborone; whereat 19 members of the NEC were present except one
The NEC comprised of 20 members. Consequent to the BOPEU President and Treasurer General being conflicted in issues discussed, they were asked to recuse themselves temporarily from the proceedings. The 1st Deputy President-Bargaining Martin Gabobake chaired the meeting. He later supposedly adjourned the meeting by declaring a state of emergency
Monaiwa is of the view that Gabobake had acted beyond his power and mandate in declaring a state of emergency hence this was unconstitutional. During the meeting, a resolution was passed suspending five (5) National Office Bearers (NOB) being Mogwera, Gabobake, Tlhabologo Galekhutle, Topias Marenga and Kethapeleng Karabo. On the 30th July 2018 Mogwera suspended all NEC members who participated in the meeting that passed the resolution.
President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi met public sector unions Wednesday at the Office of the President to hear their complaints regarding delays to commence salary negotiations for financial year 2019/2020.
At the end of the closed door meeting, Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) President Masego Mogwera told the Press that they had come to seek redress regarding the delay in salary negotiations that were supposed to have resumed in December last year.
“We were not discussing the details of how much salaries would be increased by, but our concern is the delay from the employer.
“The President has however, assured us that negotiations will start before January 28, 2019, so that by April 1, public sector employees receive a salary increment,” Mogwera said. According to Mogwera, the delay might have been because the employer seems not to be ready, something which is surprising because “they are the ones who wrote us a letter on November 21, 2018 that negotiations should begin so that they should atleast conclude by December 24, 2018, but that did not happen.” “On our part, we got ready and prepared rules of engagement, and everything that needed to be done but were just awaiting the final meeting with the employer.”
Olebile Molamu of the National Amalgamated Central, Local and Parastatal Manual Workers’ Union believes that the meeting with the President was productive. “From the look of things, the President seems genuine and committed to the process, stating that there is no reason they cannot trust that he will ensure that the process of negotiation takes place and ultimately the public service receive a salary hike come April 1,” he said.
Acting Director of Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM), Tefo Bogosi said they had set themselves a target that they believed they would meet, but unfortunately that did not happen. He believes that meeting with the President was welcome, because “he was also interested in what has caused the delays.” Bogosi could not explain why there was a delay, save to say this year’s salary negotiations are a bit different because they cover over a period of two years, something they have never dealt with before.
Former President of Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) Andrew Motsamai says he feels for the union members as it is clear the ship is sinking.Motsamai who is currently entangled in a legal dispute with the union has indicated that even his sacking as Babereki Investment Executive Chairman was not business prompted but had everything to do with political wars at the union of choice.
Motsamai had slapped his former employer with a demand letter for payment of more than P2.1 million and interest at the rate of 10 percent. Babereki Investment would later issue a counterclaim for more than P 43 million. Motsamai has so far been paid more than P1, 2 million by his former employer following the termination of his contract last year.
Motsamai has been accused of contravening Section 127 of the Companies Act during the period December 2016 and before by overriding the decisions of Babereki Investment as he allegedly acted without the approval of the Board in respect of various transactions that Babereki Investment engaged into with third parties.
Speaking to Botswana Guardian in response to the just released BOPEU Consolidated Annual Financial Statement for the year ended 30 June 2017 and Babereki Investment Audit Report, Motsamai says the audit report has vindicated him because there was no wrongdoing found on his part. According to him his dismissal was not done for the good of the union but his colleagues had a political agenda.
“Right now there is a huge mess when you go through the BOPEU Consolidated Financials. During my time of more than 10 years as president of the union this was never experienced. “I mean what happened to the close to P1 million? It is only that my colleagues did not share the same vision and strategy for the union and its business arm with me,” he pointed out.
The financials prepared by Ernst and Young Auditors indicate that some of the payments to third parties amounting to P939, 918 were not supported by adequate documentary audit evidence. It has also been revealed in the report that the union investment subsidiaries (the Group) has not consolidated investments in subsidiaries; Babereki Ka Lorato Funeral Services and Future Sustain International that the Group acquired during 2016 because it has not yet been able to determine the fair values of certain subsidiaries’ material assets and liabilities at the acquisition date.
“The investments are therefore accounted for on a cost basis. Under International Financial Reporting Standards, the Group should have consolidated these subsidiaries and accounted for the acquisition based on provisional accounts. Had Babereki Ka Lorato Funeral Services and Future Sustain International been consolidated, many elements in the accompanying consolidated financial statements would have been materially affected.
“The effects on the consolidated financial statements of the failure to consolidate have not been determined. There are no effects on the separate financial statements. The Group’s payment parties amounting to P939,918 which are included in the administrative expenses and donations in the Statement of Comprehensive income as amounts of P86, 124, 341 and P3, 528, 408 respectively were not supported by sufficient appropriate audit evidence to confirm the occurrence and measurement of the recorded expenditure,” the auditors noted.
“There was no system of internal control over such payments on which we could rely for the purpose of our audit. Owing to the lack of accounting records, we were unable to confirm the occurrence and measurement of this expenditure by alternate means. Consequently, we were unable to determine whether any adjustments to these amounts or profit or loss may be necessary,” the auditors stated.
The impairments of the subsidiaries according to the report have now negatively affected the value of both BOPEU and Babereki Investments by close to P50 million. Motsamai wondered how the subsidiaries could be written-off if they have not been audited to determine their performance. He said he never sat in any of the subsidiaries as a board member. “I could not supervise subsidiaries during my time because they had their own board members.
Those boards are the ones that should be supervising their management. I mean how do you write-off a subsidiary like African Wild Lodges and Safari Pty ltd which is making a lot of money in the tourism industry?” he wondered. “BOPEU has three lodges in the Ngami area where they all charge in US Dollars rates from USD 750 per night which translate into P7 500.
The only investment I could say I made bad judgement was Future Sustain International but can you be judged just for one investment gone wrong and people write-off other investments?” asked Motsamai. He revealed that the implication of having the BOPEU audit report qualified is that they have a tough time ahead for any lender or funder to consider them if there is a problem with internal controls.
multi-million Pula lawsuit and counter-claim between embattled Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) and Mamataz Enterprise (Pty) Ltd owned by Ernest Molome is yet to be allocated a judge following the departure of Justice Leatile Dambe.
Justice Dambe is headed to the Court of Appeal and is currently only handling partly heard matters. The new judge who will be allocated the case is expected to set new dates for the case. The case was initially scheduled to be heard this week on Tuesday by Justice Dambe. The union, which is currently dogged by leadership crisis, will through its commercial wing, Babereki Investments (Pty) Ltd face off with Molome and his company Mamataz Enterprises (Pty) Ltd as Babereki wants to recover over P11.6 million from the latter.
The union argues that the P11.6 million was erroneously paid to Molome’s company as commission between September and November 2016. BOPEU – represented by its then Executive Chairman Andrew Motsamai, had in September 2016 entered into an agreement with Mamataz to raise capital for the union’s commercial wing.
The funds raised were to be used for growing the micro lending and asset management businesses of BOPEU, held under the Babereki conglomerate. In the contract signed by Motsamai and Molome the parties agreed that a three (3) per cent facilitation fee of the capital raised shall be paid to Mamataz by Babereki Investments. BOPEU argues that from the targeted P1.2 billion only P50 million was secured but strangely Mamataz was paid about P13 million.
The union maintains that it was robbed P11.604 million because the signed contract stipulated clearly that the 3 percent was to be paid on capital raised. According to the union from the secured P50 million Mamataz was entitled to P1.5 million. According to court papers the P50 million was secured from Botswana Life. According to Babereki the payment of the amount was not based on the contract; was not for any service rendered; was done fraudulently or a result of a conspiracy to defraud Babereki and was made without any entitlement whatsoever by Molome and Mamataz to such funds.
“The payment of P11.6 million was unlawful, alternatively illegal, alternatively fraudulent payment made to Molome and Mamataz with interest at the rate of 10 percent from the date of disbursement to the date of payment and the costs of suit,” argues Babereki. Molome has however denied owing Babereki Investment and has in turn slapped the union with a counterclaim. He argues that the union owes him a balance of about P25 million.
He pointed out that Babereki, instead of paying the entire 3 per cent of the P1.2 billion raised by them (Molome and Mamataz) of which only P50 million was drawn down, which is about P36 million, only paid P11. 604 million leaving a balance of P25 million which is due and owed.
Since the 2011 public sector unions strike, BOFEPUSU has never shied away from participating in the factions or affairs of some opposition political parties. The BOFEPPUSU involvement has created enemies and darlings in opposition activists. The Orange Movement is going through a rough patch as a result of BOFEPPUSU’s interference in the party’s internal strife - a strife that has nothing to do with principle but is all about control of the party.
When the war between Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) and BOFEPPUSU reached the courtroom both parties decided to outsmart each other through legal representation. BOPEU chose Martin Dingake, who happens to be the spokesperson for President of the Botswana Congress Party (BCP), Dumelang Saleshando - a partner in Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC).
This did not go down well with BOFEPPUSU who decided to enquire from BCP leadership why they allowed Dingake to represent BOPEU while it has betrayed the workers’ struggle. But they received a cold shoulder, which fuelled the love-hate relationship between them. When UDC president Duma Boko was invited by BOPEU to their May Day celebrations in Selibe Phikwe, BOFEPPUSU again advised Boko to turn down the offer but he did not listen to the federation. That is when they invited BMD president Ndaba Gaolathe to their celebrations in Serowe.
And ever since that time, BOFEPUSU has protected Gaolathe as it was evident recently when they vowed during a meeting at Letlhabile primary, to take the political fight to whoever undermines Gaolathe. The union’s labour secretary who also doubles as Manual Workers Union’s chief executive, Johnson Motshwarakgole used the platform to hurl obscenities at Gaolathe’s antagonists.
An insider explained that since the 2011 public sector union strike, BOFEPPUSU has always viewed the umbrella project as their own baby. “This is why they fell out with BOPEU in 2014 because BOPEU does not believe in partisan politics.”
However, BOFEPUSU does not view itself as a silent partner in the project, but the captain of the ship in UDC’s pursuit for state power in 2019. Already this hunger for power by the federation’s leadership is threatening to tear the workers’ movement asunder. In fact by involving themselves in opposition party factional wars, BOFEPUSU risks alienating some of its members as well as the opposition party cadres they call allies today.
It is not too late for BOPEU, BFTU and BOFEPUSU to sit down together and resolve their differences and begin to advance the workers’ struggle, says another insider. Members of BOPEU, BFTU and BOFEPUSU are to blame because they have allowed their leaders to hijack their organisations under the false pretence that they are fighting for their welfare, he said.
Politicians and unionists can never work together, since one has to be dominant over the other. This is what union leaders have been failing to understand for a long time. As former Secretary of Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), Zwelinzima Vavi once said; worker control and trade union independence are two sides of the same coin. Workers’ power is based on the ability to forge unity around class-based demands.
Writing in 1963, Jean Meynaud and Anisse Satah-Bey described the idea of principled non-alignment as a widespread position among African unions at the time. The Kenyan labour leader, Tom Mboya was a leading proponent of this idea.
Advocates of this position warned that when unions choose to affiliate to parties, unions would in fact have less freedom of action and their natural function - the defence of the workers’ professional interests - could not be fulfilled, the workers would then be at the mercy of the government.
This is what is going to happen to workers in Botswana because their struggle has been sold out by their leaders because they have allowed partisan politics to divert their mandate.
In their book titled COSATU in Crisis, Dr Ben Scully argues that attempts to create union aligned parties for example in Zambia, Zimbabwe and Nigeria have failed as have attempts to align with opposition parties for example in Senegal in the 1990s.
Where unions have adopted a stance of explicit autonomy such as in present day Senegal, Zambia and Ghana, they have largely been unable to overcome neoliberal policy initiatives of states and they have often experienced a weakening of their institutional base and overall public stature.
BOFEPUSU is advised to stay away from BMD factional wars because this will not help the workers and could lead to the public viewing them as opportunists and power hungry. Most workers especially in the public service have decried lack of financial literacy, an area which unions could embark on especially given that they have multiple financial schemes
Trade unions are now fighting each other for what is seen by many as egos for power control especially in the public service. As the unions continue in their bitter war, the ordinary member who pays monthly subscription is the hardest hit. BMD should be left alone to solve their internal factional wars.
The President of Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU), Masego Mogwera has said that contrary to finance minister Kenneth Matambo’s assertions, job creation is indeed the responsibility of government.
In his 2017/18 budget presentation this week Monday, Finance and Economic Development minister Matambo said, “with regard to employment creation, it is important to clarify that the principal role of Government is not to create jobs directly, but to provide a conducive macroeconomic environment to facilitate the development of the private sector.” Mogwera said BOPEU vehemently rejects this proposition and characterises it as an abdication of state responsibility.
She told members of the Press that the latest stance by government on job creation violates the principle of decent work which pursues employment creation as one of its priority areas.
Last year when presenting the budget for 2016/17, the Minister conceded that unemployment, especially among the youth, is one of the development challenges facing this country and to address this, “government has resolved to, among others, use its spending power to boost economic growth and create jobs in the country.” Matambo said at the time that in addition to seeking value for money in spending government budget, efforts will be made to “ensure that such expenditure, whether under recurrent or development budget, contributes to job creation in the country”.
He added, “Some of the economic activities with potential for creating employment opportunities, which government will be undertaking during 2016/17 include; infrastructure backlog eradication, road networks and maintenance, wildlife and tourism initiatives, continued implementation of EDD initiatives, creation of Special Economic Zones, as well as regulatory reforms and improving efficiency.”
Mogwera said as BOPEU they concur that government should create a conducive environment for the private sector to create employment. “However we are of the view that Government has a direct responsibility in job creation without necessarily ballooning the wage bill by identifying strategic sectors such as tourism and mining with a potential for employment creation,” she said adding that the government should retract the statement and reconsider its position.
“The 2017/18 budget speech statement on the role of government in job creation and the 2016/17 budget speech employment creation strategies are a big contradiction,” she said.
The recent firing of Edward Tswaipe, by Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) as Head of Department, Education and Capacity Building, is said to be a plan that the leadership of the Union has been hatching for a long time.
While the union attributes Tswaipe’s dismissal to ‘Serious Misconduct’, BG News is reliably informed that the pair has been navigating a thorny relationship and that the union’s leadership has always sought an excuse to get rid of Tswaipe. The fallout between Tswaipe and his employer is that, he was always questioning some of the decisions taken by the union leadership particularly on staff recruitment and promotion. “When we went for union elections last year, Tswaipe was one of the people who were behind the campaign for union president, Andrew Motsamai to be re-elected. This was done because we wanted to prevent Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) to take control of the union and interfere in our affairs,” said the source.
It is said the tension between Tswaipe and his employer started this year when he questioned decisions on staff recruitment and promotions and the delay to open the labour college at the African Mall. “The president was always asking him why he is delaying the official launch of the school. Motsamai (Andrew) felt Tswaipe is trying to steal the limelight from him,” said an insider who did not want to be named. Initially the school was supposed to have been launched last year in September but was postponed to this year as they were still waiting for accreditation from Botswana Qualifications Authority (BQA). The Vice President, Mokgweetsi Masisi was supposed to launch it. Motsamai refused to comment when approached saying he could not discuss employer and employee issues with the media. He denied that they have fired Tswaipe saying his disciplinary hearing is still ongoing.
When trouble started for Tswaipe two months ago, he rushed to court on an urgent application to interdict the disciplinary hearing against him. But Industrial court Judge, Vigil Vergeer, dismissed his application saying Tswaipe failed to demonstrate the urgency and also failed to show a clear right in the case. “Comrade Tswaipe is not a yes man and he has on several occasions declined to take orders from the union leadership. He was questioning high expenditure of the union leadership,” said the source. In his defence Tswaipe argued that a Secretary General couldn’t institute a disciplinary hearing because he is a specified employee and that the authority lies with the National Executive Committee (NEC). But the court dismissed his arguments saying he is not a specified employee.
It is said Tswaipe in a Facebook page called, “Strategy Room” revealed some confidential information about the union.
“I was always told gore Molale, Carter, etc gaba ganediwe. I differed with them openly, until I left the public service. I even wrote articles in press. I was not fired. I resigned voluntarily. At Kasane retreat I was told gore Motsamai ga a rate go buiwa ka issue ya PR, but I did and even banged the table that BOPEU MUST have a PR function. After he stormed out of the room one colleague said I must apologize because I was new to BOPEU. I said I will not apologize. I’m fighting to say eventually it was adopted into new strategic plan,” reads part of the snippets Tswaipe wrote on the Facebook page.
He also writes, “Nna it hurts me since coming to BOPEU. You use your capacity very sub-optimally. I once said to my colleague Disho that at TAWU we knew that big unions cannot use their resources optimally and we used to capitalize and move quicker. She laughed at me scornfully because she said oh TAWU with less than 1000 members. But we had position papers reaching OP. One of them is being implemented on the split of MOESD, O&M, which was the authoritative policy position of Govt then. Eventually we shaped Govt policy in our direction. That is how advocacy works. We also shaped the takeover of Brigades, challenge BTEP and decided what happens to staff leaving Lobatse College when it was closing down. We stopped sale of Tlokweng Brigade to a South African private university. BOPEU could be running this country if it used that approach. If a small union like TAWU could do so many things.”
The union is believed to be eyeing some people to replace Tswaipe as head of labour college. But the fear among the union leadership is that they have to find someone who will be a game changer because Tswaipe was the right candidate for the job. “I don’t think it will be possible for us to find someone like comrade Tswaipe. The guy has done a lot for the college and it was going to bring a lot of fortune for the union,” said the insider. The decision to set up the college was taken at a congress in 2012. “The delay to launch the college leadership is thought to be a failure on Tswaipe’s part,” said the source.
Botswana Guardian understands that the following are being eyed to replace Tswaipe.
Ogaufi Masame: Currently the second Deputy President at the union and lecturer at Gaborone Technical College. The problem with her being appointed is that her husband is currently the Human Resource Manager at Babereki Investments. “Leadership is having a tough time to appoint her because of this,” said a source.
Ibo Kenosi: Former Secretary at Botswana Teachers Union (BTU) and a close friend to the union leader, Motsamai. It is alleged he is the best person to protect the interest of Motsamai. He has Diploma in Primary Education.
Tshiamo Salona: He has Degree in Adult Education and has worked in the department for quite some time. His knowledge of trade unionism is not extensive enough. He was one of the persons interviewed for the post previously before it was given to Tswaipe.
The union President, Motsamai refused to comment on Tswaipe’s replacement saying as far as he knows the veteran unionist is still their employee. “We do not have a candidate at the moment because his hearing is still ongoing,” said Motsamai. Tswaipe was not available for comment as his mobile phone rang unanswered.
However sources say he is planning to appeal his dismissal.