The fight at BOPEU


President of the Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) Masego Mogwera, together with her lieutenants Tlhabologo Galekhutle (Treasuer General), Martin Gabobake (1st Vice president) , Topias Marenga (Secretary General) and Ketlhapelang Karabo (Deputy Secretary General) yesterday (Monday) filed their answering affidavits in a case that has divided the BOPEU leadership into two warring factions.
The answering affidavit has been deposed by Martin Gabobake to counter the claims made by another faction from the BOPEU National Executive Committee made up of Ogaufi Matilda Masame, Zibane Philemon, Mosalagae Tlhako and Motswaledi Monaiwa.
Mogwera and her team have borrowed from a judgment delivered by High Court Judge Nthomiwa Nthomiwa when he dismissed the rival team’s urgent application on 17 August. In the judgment, Justice Nthomiwa had ruled that Philemon and his team lack the locus standi to sue or approach court for redress on behalf of BOPEU because they have been suspended from BOPEU.
Gabobake contends in the affidavit that Zibane Philemon, Mosalagae Tlhako and Motswaledi Monaiwa are not registered office bearers of the BOPEU in terms of the Trade Union and Employers Organizations Act. ‘‘In law they cannot act for and on behalf of Botswana Public Employees Union and/or purport to act for and on behalf of Botswana Public Employees Union in a litigation of this nature or at all’’, he wrote in the Court papers seen by this publication. Gabobake noted that all the four appellants’ lack locus standi to contend for an expedited hearing on a claim for the relief relating to substantive rights in favour of BOPEU. He also wants BOPEU to be removed as party to the proceedings brought against Mogwera and her team.
‘’It is denied that Botswana Public Employees Union is an Appellant in these proceedings. No resolution of Botswana Public Employees Union NEC as recognised by the Registrar of Trade Union has been filed.’’, Gabobake indicated.
In his ruling Justice Nthomiwa had pronounced, ‘‘because of their suspension, they cannot bring proceedings on behalf of BOPEU in so far as the changes made in the composition of the NEC is in violation of the legal framework governing Trade Unions. It is on that basis that they lack the necessary locus standi to bring the current proceedings for and on behalf of BOPEU purporting to act in the capacities as identified in the purported resolution’’.
In their submissions, Philemon’s team had claimed to have relied on a resolution of the NEC to suspend Mogwera and Galekhutlo in their absence after they were asked to recuse themselves from the NEC meeting. Narrating the events of the day that the whole leadership fracas started at a meeting that was held at Cresta Hotel, Gabokake indicated that immediately after the President (Mogwera) and the Treasurer General (Galekhutle) recused themselves from the meeting, Zibani Philemon raised his hand and proposed their suspension.
‘‘I was taken aback as there was no debate that led to the proposal. He insisted that the President, Treasurer General have breached article 53.1 and 53.2 of the constitution of BOPEU. As I tried to stop him to clarify issues, the he continued to speak and the 5th Appellant, Motswaledi Monaiwa shouted ‘I second the motion’. I tried to advice the house to cool down at this stage as everybody was speaking uncoordinated. The meeting was clearly getting out of control as some people started moving out as the atmosphere was getting ugly at every passing second’’, Gabokake narrates in his affidavit.
He indicated that at one stage Philemon stood up and spoke, interrupting Kenneth Matheakgomo from making his contribution. ‘’Two members of the committee stood up and this clearly demonstrated that things had gotten out of control. I therefore exercised my rights as the acting president and invoked Article30.1 of the constitution to declare a state of emergency’’, Gabokake wrote.
He continued, ‘’I there and then left and went outside and was followed by other members of the National Executive Committee (NEC). I am advised by my attorneys of record and verily believe that on a proper construction of Article30.1, if I form a view as I did in the circumstances of this case that an emergency existed; I am entitled to invoke the said Article30.1. I do confirm that this was done and in pursuance of the BOPEU constitution’’
Mogwera and her team are represented by Monthe Marumo & Co Attorney while Philemon and his team are represented by Paul & Partner Attorneys.