The Advisory and Arbitration Council under the Registrar of Societies has declared the election of the current Botswana Musicians Union (BOMU) Executive Committee invalid and therefore nullified.
The Council, made up of eight members with Festina Bakwena as Chairperson delivered a unanimous ruling yesterday (Monday) declaring that the election of BOMU Executive Committee which elected Pagson Ntsie as President in 2017 was done at an Annual General Assembly (AGM) that was not properly constituted as per Article 8.4.1. Bakwena’s Committee also noted in their judgement that the 2017 AGM did not form a quorum.
The arbitration follows a complaint lodged by local artist Phemelo Fresh Lesokwane who had queried that the AGM that elected Ntsie’s Committee was not held in accordance with the constitution. He argued that the AGM must be held by the second week of July or second week of August but the AGM in question was held in September, violating Article 8.4.1 of the constitution. Lesokwane queried that no financial report was presented at the AGM as per Article 8.7.7 and that the Committee had failed to file Annual Returns with the Registrar of Societies in accordance with the Societies Act.
The 13-page judgement reveals that leading to the 2017 AGM, it was widely announced and recorded that Pagson Ntsie had been suspended from BOMU, through a letter to the Registrar of Societies. ‘‘However, there is no record of a letter repealing his suspension and reinstating him in his previous position as an Honorary member of BOMU and as Secretary General’’, the arbitration Council wrote in their ruling. Lesokwane and those who supported his queries, among them popular music promoter Seabelo Modibe and musician Otsile Ramorwa argued that Ntsie’s participation in the AGM and eventual election to the position of president was not within the confines of the constitution.
The Advisory and Arbitration Council submitted in their ruling that BOMU showed consistent non-compliance with the Registrar of Societies’ order to submit Annual Returns. ‘‘Despite being registered in 2000, records show that the society only submitted annual returns in 2005 and 2007. No submissions were made the following two years. Further, BOMU did not file any annual returns between 2010 and 2014 and a reminder from the Registrar to submit the Annual Returns was sent to them in March, 2014’’, Bakwena’s committee submitted in their ruling.
The arbitration council noted that according to the records on the file for BOMU at the Registrar of Companies, Ntsie was suspended by then President of BOMU Michael Mmusi and that there was no other record rescinding his suspension. ‘‘This leaves the eligibility of Mr Ntsie to be voted into a substantive office of President questionable’’, the judgment reads in part.
In the end, the Advisory and Arbitration Council agreed with Lesokwane and nullified the current BOMU Executive Committee. The Council ruled that an interim Committee be set up chaired by the Patron (Taolo Moshaga) and assisted by three members from the Respondent’s side and three from the Applicant side to facilitate for the next elections at a properly constituted AGM by second week of July or second week of August 2019. Bakwena informed Ntsie and his committee of their right to appeal to the judgement at the High Court within 30 days. Speaking in an interview after receiving the verdict, Lesokwane said he was happy to have been finally vindicated. ‘‘I was doing this for the good of BOMU and to safeguard the interests of local artists because it was very clear things were not being done properly at BOMU’’, the elated Lesokwane said. For his part, Ntsie told this publication that they are still to meet as the ousted Committee to map the way forward with the possibility of escalating the matter to the High Court.