High court judge Justice Leatile Dambe will on Friday rule whether the case in which a faction of Botswana Mine Workers Union (BMWU) is trying to block the registration of the newly elected committee should be heard on urgency or not.
On Thursday Justice Dambe dismissed arguments brought forward by attorneys of four applicants who had filed an urgent application seeking the court to issue an interim interdict on the registration of the newly committee and their assumption of office. Calling it a ‘bad case’ Dambe questioned why the applicants want the case to be treated as urgent when they had failed to advance sufficient evidence to support their argument. Justice Dambe’s point was received well by defence attorney Moses Kadye, who argued that there was nothing urgent about the case. According to Kadye a similar case had been argued before the courts before and the outcome is common knowledge. “This is not a new occurrence your worship, in fact every time after elections we get this. It is now becoming notorious,” Kadye said.
The applicant’s attorney, Wema Isa, however argued that the matter should be treated as urgent as failure do so would deny he clients their constitutional rights, which are also outlined in the union’s constitution. Justice Dambe however did not take kindly to Isa’s argument warning her not to use the constitution when it is not right.
In the filing notice Marius Kruger-one of the applicants, asked court to interdict the registration of the new committee by the registrar of trade unions pending review proceedings on the validity of their registration. Kruger also requested that the new committee be interdicted from selling and diverting the shares owned by the union pending the finalisation of investigations in to the conduct of the new committee members. He also requested that the committee be interdicted from assuming office pending an inquiry into their eligibility or fitness to hold office due to conduct that brings harm to the union and that they should hand over properties, keys to safes, offices and records currently in their possession to members of the outgoing NEC save for those cited as respondents.
In their responding however, Kadye argued that despite the application, a majority of the respondents whom Kruger attacks are new to their positions in the committee and have nothing to do with the accusations levelled against them. Kadye also argues that all applicants were given an opportunity both before and after elections to object to any of the candidates and none of them did. Kadye further pointed out that attempts by the outgoing NEC to frustrate the registration of the new committe with a view to cling on to power and their refusal to do a handover to the newly elected NEC at a meeting held in Selibe Phikwe recently has the effect of hampering the smooth administration and conduct of the affairs of the union. “Such actions are unconstitutional, unlawful and cannot be condoned,” he said.
The case is not the first as BMWU president Jack Tlhagale is always challenged after every election. In 2011 three members of the BMWU executive, Bob Malele, Joseph Tsimako and Bapamizi Mocheregwa, filed an urgent application seeking an order declaring that Tlhagale and Happy Bashe’s nomination and eventual election into office was unlawful. One of the reasons given by Justice Garekwe when dismissing the matter at the time was that, the applicants’ attempt to portray Tlhagale and Bashe as somewhat of a danger to the running of BMWU was not backed by union members.