- President has no power to suspend a member – judgement
- President was also conflicted
Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU)’s National Appeal’s Board (NAB) has lifted the suspension of nine (9) members who were suspended from the union by President Masego Mogwera last year. Mogwera suspended over 10 members, a majority of which served in leadership positions. She accused them of misconduct and further claiming that they wanted to oust her administration.
However, according to the NAB judgement in a case between Motswaledi Monaiwa vs BOPEU and Masego Mogwera (one of the nine cases brought before the NAB) which was delivered on 22nd February, the suspension letter dated 29th July 2018 that banned the member from all Union activities has been declared irregular and set aside.
“On 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 comprises of 20 members. Consequent to the BOEPU President and Treasurer General being conflicted in issues discussed, they were asked to recuse themselves temporarily from the proceedings,” reads the judgement.
“The 1st Deputy President – Bargaining, Mr Martin Gaobakwe chaired the meeting. He later supposedly adjourned meeting by declaring state of emergency. The appellant is of the view that the 1st Deputy President had acted beyond his power and mandate in declaring a state of emergency hence this was unconstitutional. The meeting therefore proceeded in his absence.
During the meeting a resolution was passed to suspending five (50 National Office Bearers (NOB) being Masego Mogwera, Martin Gaobakwe, Tlhabologo Galekhutle, Topias Marenga and Kethapeleng Karabo. On 30th July 2018, the appellant received a suspension letter written by the President Masego Mogwera. It is obvious all the NEC members who voted in favour of the above named resolution were selectively suspended.”
The judgement further states that the President had no powers to undertake such measures according to the BOPEU constitution. “The appellant’s right to fully belong to a Union and participate in Union activities is jeopardized due to suspension. According to Article 47.4 of the BOPEU constitution, the President can only suspend a member once there is jurisdictional trigger from the NEC to commence disciplinary proceedings against a member. Once there has been such commencement then and only then can the President suspend such a member.”
It also pointed out that the power to commence disciplinary proceedings against a member is vested only upon the NEC.
“In this instant case, the NEC members were suspended consequent to a discussion surrounding the conduct of the President. Therefore the President was conflicted in this matter. This is contrary to the principle of natural justice particularly memo judex in causa sua.”
Furthermore the NAB revealed that the suspensions were done merely 2 days in issuance of the state of emergency by the 1st Deputy President. “The action of the President is ultra – vires since she acted against the constitutional provision as per Article 30.3.1. One would think she would have observed 7 days cooling period before the NEC reconvene and possibly deal with the matter. There the NAB allows the appellant’s appeal to succeed, The appellant’s suspension letter dated 29th July 2018 is hereby declared irregular and set aside, The appellant is hereby restored to his full union membership rights and his regional chairmanship effective 22nd February 2019.”
Ogaufi Matilda Mathame, former 2nd Vice President, also confirmed that the other eight (8) members, who took their matter to the NAB, have been restored to their full union membership. She said although they were denied the right to stand in last year’s union elections, they are however satisfied with the outcome of their case.
Names of some of the other members that were unlawfully suspended are Regional Chairperson Remmogo -Olefile Monakwe, Tshepo Maribela -BOBS region chairpeson, CAAB Chairperson Tulo Mojasagagwe, Statistics Botswana Chairperson Modise Ramaretlwa and Tebogo Segadika – David Magang Region chairperson.