In seven days, as from yesterday (Monday), Andrew Motsamai will discover whether he will retain his position as Executive Chairman of Babereki Investments (Pty) Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU).
This past Saturday, the BOPEU National Executive Committee (NEC) leadership convened a special meeting in Gaborone where Babereki Investments, the union’s commercial arm, was placed under scrutiny. The highlight of the meeting was supposed to be a resolution for BOPEU to affiliate with Botswana Federation of Teachers Union (BFTU) but the decision was overshadowed by the NEC’s resolution to expel veteran unionist Andrew Motsamai from his position as the Executive Chairman of Babereki Investments. So resolute was the NEC that they allegedly vowed to pay out Motsamai’s remaining contract, said to be over P2 million, just to part ways with him.
Long before Motsamai’s looming dismissal, a dress rehearsal had already been conducted, with the expulsion of Winfred Rasina whose association with the union was terminated at the end of July. According to sources within BOPEU’s echelons of power, Rasina was hired by Motsamai with a specific mandate to do publicity work for the union during the time when BOPEU terminated its affiliation with BOFEPUSU.
Rasina was however expelled on suspicion that he was the source of information leaked to the media that BOPEU provided financial assistance to some sections of the opposition political parties. ‘‘Rasina was hired by Motsamai as a spin doctor for his (Motsamai’s) trade union wars, so when his mandate became redundant he started leaking information to you guys and that is why we decided to fire him,’’ a member of the BOPEU NEC divulged.
Rasina confirmed that indeed he was expelled from BOPEU on suspicion he was in cahoots with journalists.
WHY BOPEU WANTS MOTSAMAI OUT
BOPEU President Masego Mogwera came to the Saturday meeting, held at the union’s head office in the CBD, armed with a presentation on the performance of Babereki Investments which after deliberation, sealed Motsamai’s fate, audio recordings of the meeting availed to this publication, reveal.
The report was critical but even before it was tabled signs were already there; Motsamai was a marked man. Some members are said to have questioned why Motsamai’s designation was referred to as Executive Chairman instead of Executive Director, a position they say was agreed to before his appointment earlier this year, on 28 February.
The NEC members were informed that since Motsamai took over the reins at Babereki Investments, the union has allegedly not received the monthly subversion payment that the union expects from Babereki Investments.
Compounding matters further, the meeting was apparently informed that Motsamai had refused to address any additional financial issue during a board meeting he had convened, other than those related to the tabled proposal from Bona Life Insurance, a local insurance company. Bona Life had proposed to loan Babereki Investments P300 Million in exchange of BOPEU’s 36 000 subscribing members.
The board is said to have become apprehensive of engaging Bona Life Insurance because they had only recently terminated the services of another insurance company, Hollard, to join Botswana Life.
According to reports, the board expressed their concern over flip-flopping between insurance companies and demanded to know if there was a middleman who stood to benefit from the Bona Life deal. The concern arose due to BOPEU’s termination of Hollard’s services and the engagement of Botswana Life, when a middleman (name withheld) whose company was already doing business with BOPEU came out P12 million richer as payment for his commission.
After the board turned down the Bona Life Insurance deal at their meeting this past Tuesday, it is alleged that an influential and high-ranking member of opposition (name withheld) approached BOPEU President Masego Mogwera to register his displeasure and frustration at the move since he was the middleman and was destined to get 15 percent (P45 Million) in commission payment.
Speaking to the board, Mogwera detailed the dwindling fortunes of Babereki Investments under Motsamai’s stewardship. She alleged that BOPEU is struggling to service loans and how their loan book is in total disarray and that subsidiary companies under Babereki Investment are facing liquidation due to alleged maladministration and lack of financial prudence.
Flying Mission, a subsidiary company of Babereki Investments is facing possible liquidation despite the union having spent millions on two aircrafts that had been grounded and then injecting a further P8 million into the embattled company. Future Sustain International, another subsidiary company of BOPEU, has already been registered at the High Court for liquidation.
Yet another company, Babereki ka Lorato Funeral Services, which operates funeral services and mortuaries, is faced with alleged maladministration and is in a financial quagmire. Babereki Investments is said to have pumped more than P6 million into acquiring 51 percent shares of Babereki ka Lorato. Also, the board was told that Babereki Ka Lorato Funeral Services had acquired 10 vehicles from Avis but only 7 of them are paid for by the company while the other 3, belonging to Directors, are paid from Babereki Investment coffers.
Babereki Investments is alleged to have already paid P300 000, 00 towards the 3 cars; a Range Rover, a latest model Hilux double cab and another Range Rover. Over and above all these benefits, the Directors are said to be receiving a monthly P3 000,00 transport allowance. Directors of Babereki KaLorato were not available to comment.
NEC members were further informed on business transactions between BOPEU and some political leaders.
It has been revealed that leader of the Botswana National Front (BNF) Duma Boko was paid P90 000,00 as legal fees for issuing opinion on the PSBC court ruling. . During the campaign for Tlokweng bye-election held in May this year, BNF received P200 000 as a donation from BOPEU, a transaction which Boko has since confirmed to this publication stating that it was received by members of the UDC executive.
Another politician, Arafat Khan, who is BNF councillor in Molepolole is supplying BOPEU with stationery and a BOPEU procurement officer is said to have been directed to source other suppliers effective January next year to ensure a fair playing field. Khan did not respond to inquiries by this publication after he promised to do so in a phone call.
In the previous edition of this publication BOPEU President Mogwera indicated that they had given tenders to Khan based purely on entrepreneurship consideration and not because of his political affiliations.
Although she was chairing the meeting, Mogwera claimed ignorance of any discussion regarding Motsamai or Babereki Investments during the Saturday meeting when contacted by The Botswana Gazette on Monday. This publication can however confirm that the meeting was made up of 21 NEC members who included regional chairmen.
Reached for comment on Monday, Motsamai said he was not aware of any intention by BOPEU or Babereki Investments to remove him from their employ. ‘‘I can confirm to you that I turned up to work as usual this morning, and I will be knocking off as usual, and no position has changed with regards to my contract with BOPEU’s company Babereki,’’ Motsamai wrote in his response to our inquiry.