I find it imperative to comment on the article which appears in page 9-15 of The Botswana Gazette of the 8-14 July 2015 under the subject heading: Is Motshegwa-BLLAHWU appointment illegality, written by Gazette Reporter. This is one of the most disturbing issues in the unions and in the public service. The appointment of comrade Ketlhalefile Motshegwa by Botswana Land Board and Local Authorities & Health Workers Union (BLLAHWU) as its Secretary General on a five (5) year contract, a day after his dismissal from the Public Service by the City of Francistown on the 29th May 2015 is worrisome.
There is no dispute of facts that, Mr Motshegwa was an employee of government and a member of BLLAHWU prior to his dismissal and moreover, he was a member of on the union office bearers, herein referred to as Central Executive Committee (CEC) before the committee’s alleged urgent administrative decision to appoint him as the union’s General Secretary following his dismissal from the public service.
The fundamental questions one may ask are that: who really offered Motshegwa the job? Can he legitimately hold the positions that he was holding prior to his dismissal? And is his appointment as Secretary General substantively and procedurally fair, in accordance with the union Constitution?
Position of general secretary
In answering the question which was asked by Gazette Reporter, my take is that the position of General Secretary is an elective position and as a result, the appointment of comrade Motshegwa is not reflective of the will of BLLAHWU members.
Constitution and union membership
I have to emphasis that, a union constitution provides qualifications for Union Membership, grounds for termination of membership or loss of union benefits and procedure for electing office bearers. In the Public Service, membership is open only to public employees defined in section 2. (1) Of the Interpretation section of the Public Service Act, 2008 and in terms of Article 4.2.1 of the union constitution; the membership of the union shall be open to persons aged 18 years and above, employed in Land Boards, Local Authorities, Health sector and Allied Public sectors.
It must be noted that, public employees who hold union office owe a duty of fidelity to their employers and they could face dismissal for any form of misconduct including; Unauthorized Absence from duty without reasonable explanation and/or failure to perform, if they are prevented by their union activities and allegiances from discharging their functions as employees of government.
For a contract of employment to remain enforce and to legally bind of parties to the contract (employer and employee) depend greatly on the continuing performance by both parties of their obligations. In the case of Motshegwa, his repudiation of the contract as alleged, has given the employer (Francistown City Council) the right to terminate the contract and one may assume that there was clear and unambiguous intention on the part of the employee that his intention was not to go on with his contact of employment, but rather he was interested in being employed by BLLAHWU. There is collaborating evidence to this suspicious deriving from Mmadinare 2015 and Ghanzi 2015 congresses where recommendations were made for appointment which were rejected out-right by the delegates.
In summation, I am convinced that; the appointment of Motshegwa as Secretary General of BLLAHWU is fraudulent, illegal and irregular and it is against the spirit of the union constitution and the workplace Law which disqualified him to be an employee of government. It is now up to BLLAHWU regional structures and the general membership to act on this matter and uphold their own Constitution.
PS: These are personal views and comments of the author and are not of any union, federation or institution with which he may be a member of. For engagement contact me on E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 3996548(w). Oaitse Diane Patle
Editor’s Note: This letter was edited for length.