- National congress discontinued
- Harassments reported at congress
- CEC voted out on motion of no confidence Interim President
Botswana Nurses Union (BONU) National Annual Congress failed to take off this past week after bitter quarrels between the Central Executive Committee (CEC) and some of the union members ensued in what seemed like a power struggle between the two parties.
According to a statement from the Unions President Tebogo Tshenyego, the National General Congress was cancelled last week following several disruptive events which the CEC decided to reign on.
The BONU Constitution prescribes for the CEC to present reports by the Secretary General and Treasurer General. It is these two reports that will inform delegates on the performance of the incumbent CEC and help them to make informed decisions when electing a new leadership to carry the Union forward. Sadly, the Secretary General and the Treasurer General were unable to present these very important reports to Congress, as they were interrupted by a select group of delegates that reportedly displayed unruly behavior and interrupted proceedings, he wrote.
He said trouble started when suspended members of the CEC approached the courts in December 2015, alleging that the National General Congress was not called within the stipulated time and presented other matters which were intended to prohibit the CEC from carrying out its mandate.
…BONU filed in defense that they were still within the time frame of 15 months as stipulated in the Employers and Trade Unions Organization Act. The case was ruled in favor of the Union in all three counts, hence the emphasis to hold the Congress by March. He said before the Congress, the CEC called for manifestos to facilitate identification and vetting of potential candidates, as per their Constitution. Seven people were then vetted out on various grounds ranging from financial standing, disciplinary record and non-compliance: Three out of the vetted ones then approached the Lobatse High Court on Friday 18th March challenging the CECs decision and arguing that it should be set aside. The High Court dismissed their application with costs and upheld the decision of the CEC. The Court decision implied that all the vetted candidates were legitimately sidelined and could not be allowed to disrupt or influence the outcome of the set elections, he said.
According to Tshenyego, the group was later joined by one other member who contravened the Constitution by calling for the entire CEC to be recalled. He deliberately confined himself to Article 20.1 and omitted to pay attention to the entire descriptive and guiding Articles which confine members to recalling only within their local structures. He sits in a branch committee in Tsabong and is very alien to the CEC structure. In calling for the CEC to be recalled he was in contravention of Article 20.6 of the Constitution and punching way above his weight, he said.
He said the delegates were then fed with falsified and mischievously carved information that was meant to distort the integrity of the CEC in side meetings and informal gatherings which were not brought to the attention of the governing structure, the CEC. …Over and above their mischievous misinformation, they resorted to rowdiness, riot-like behavior, disorderliness and incitement of delegates, eventually rendering the proceedings of Congress ungovernable. They rose up to speak without being recognized and even went to the extent of physically snatching microphones from delegates who were on the floor. They stormed the podium and compromised the safety of members of the CEC, fellow delegates and invited guests. In consideration of the progressively deteriorating situation, the CEC discontinued Congress with immediate effect. The CECs powers to discontinue Congress are entrenched in Article 12.2.1 as read with Article 12.2.18 (sic) of the Constitution. He said despite the discontinuance of the congress, they continue to defy the authority of the CEC and threaten the stability of the Union.
We are aware that the above mentioned ringleaders are perpetually convening illegal gatherings under the name of BONU and coercing members to further inflict damage and incite unrest within the Union. We wish to remind them that they are at risk of being in contempt of the Court Order and also call on our members to ignore any decisions taken at these unconstitutional gatherings.
Meanwhile, reports reaching The Botswana Gazette say that there is a new Interim CEC which has Obonolo Rahube as President. According to Rahube, the Interim CEC was elected from the general members who had attended the National General Congress (NGC) after the former CEC demonstrated their incompetence by walking away of the NGC gathering. ….It is in their quoted text that Tshenyego and Ruth Mokgethi, former CEC members, replaced or misunderstood the word Recall (Removing of an office bearer(s)) on Article 9.2.4 cited above and Article 20 of the BONU Constitution to expect and derail members to give the incumbent executive a fresh mandate.
He said they have served all members of what he terms the former CEC, through the office of the Secretary General as concerned officers, with a Notice of Recall on the 18th March 2016, …the only act the former CEC could engage which remains their unlawful defense was to discontinue the NGC. It is then that later after the former President of the union and his team had unconstitutionally and derogatively decided to discontinue the NGC the union members found it befitting to vote for a motion of no confidence against the former CEC in their absentia, which had no counter vote but was supported by the seating 270 delegates, he claimed.
Rahube said in the past election, manifestos were attended by the BONU Independent Election Committee for the purposes of fairness. This time around however, the CEC found it fit to vet election candidates more especially of the higher portfolios where the CEC ringleaders were conflicted as they stood. This vetting was meant to acquire an automatic fresh mandate for the incumbent executive, a quorum of the existent CEC members tailored to be unopposed. A typical system of rigging votes practiced in countries that lack democratic principles.
Rahube also clarified that their court application in the case referred to by Tshenyego was dismissed because it was not deemed to be an urgent matter, and was not dismissed on merits as implied.