Last Thursday BotswanaConfederation of CommerceIndustry and Manpower(BOCCIM) annual generalmeeting did not materialise as itdegenerated into a meeting thatdiscussed issues of bad blood betweenthe BOCCIM Chief ExecutiveOfficer Maria Machailo-Ellisand its president, Alex Monchusi.It is reported that the two havenot been on good terms for thepast six months. Earlier before theAGM, BOCCIM Council held aspecial general meeting that passeda vote of no confi dence on Monchusi,suspending him with immediateeffect but he did not honourthe suspension.
According to a Council memberwho spoke on condition ofanonymity, Monchusi went to hislawyers to query on the Councils’decision. The BOCCIM constitutionseems to be silent as to whopasses a vote of no confi dence, betweenthe general membership andthe Council.A letter dated 25th June fromSerole and Partners who happen tobe Monchusi’s lawyers, directed tothe BOCCIM CEO, states that onthe 24th June the BOCCIM Councilat its special general meetingon the same date unanimously resolvedto relieve Mochusi of hisduties as BOCCIM president withimmediate effect.Monchusi’s lawyers noted thatno substantive reasons were advancedby the CEO or the Councilas to how and why such decisionwas reached.
Serole and Partnerssubmit that the Council has nopower to relieve Monchusi of hisduties; they argue that what theCouncil had convened was a meetingof a splinter group which interms of the law cannot qualify as ameeting of the Council.“Since the said meeting is neithersanctioned by the BOCCIMconstitution nor the law, no lawfulresolution can be passed atthe same. Assuming that you hadthe power to relieve the Presidentof his duties, your resolution willstill be null and void since it waspassed at a meeting unlawfullyconstituted. Your conduct in usingBOCCIM resources and letterheadto advance your personal interestsconstitutes misconduct. Meetingsof splinter groups should not beconvened using BOCCIM resourcesand resolutions passed thereofshould not be communicated inthe BOCCIM letterhead,” the letterstated.
Premised on the above, the lawyersfurther said it is their positionthat the decision/resolution to relieveMonchusi of his duties is nulland void and without legal force.They said it is as if it was nevermade, thereof, he remains to be thePresident of BOCCIM and he willcontinue to perform his duties.The lawyers also indicated that“it is a settled principle of law andfact that before an authority couldtake certain decision against anindividual such individual mustbe heard and/or be called upon topresent their case.”The letter further charged thatany person who will seek to preventMonchusi to perform his dutieswill be acting unlawfully andwill face full thrust of the law. Further,“each one of you is herebynotifi ed that in the event client isforced to approach court, we willpray for costs against each individualat a punitive scale.”Meanwhile, the source has revealedto this reporter that
Monchusi“once wrote to the CEO abooklet of a charge sheet wantingher to step down for under performanceand misconduct, amongstother charges. The CEO on theother hand is complaining that thepresident is abusing and harassingher. She argues that there is noperformance level and she has notbeen appraised. There is no cooperationbetween the president andthe Council. He does not respectthe Council and this affects therunning of the business.”Although Monchusi is believedto have a vision that could takeBOCCIM to greater heights, sourcessay that his problem is that hewants to run it his way. They arguethat some of his decisions are radical.In an interview regarding thematter, Machailo-Ellis could notshare much with this publicationadding that, “we feel these are internalissues and are being dealtwith.
We want to assure our membersthat the issues are being handledinternally.”Other sources pointed out thatMachailo-Ellis is not governed bythe Constitution but by the EmploymentAct, therefore the presidentcannot just fi re her as he pleases.A committee of fi ve people waselected by the general membershipof the council to investigate thematter of the two and the committeeis expected to give its resolutionsat the next AGM in six weekstime. The committee comprises ofamongst others, Neo Moroka, DenisAlexander, Chigedze Chinyepiand Iqbal Ebrahim.Efforts to get a comment fromMonchusi were unsuccessful as hisphone rang unanswered.