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Mohwasa sues BOPEU for P15m 

SHARE   |   Monday, 11 September 2017   |   By Ditiro Motlhabane 
Mohwasa sues BOPEU for P15m 

As skeletons continue to tumble out of the closet all indications are that it is going to be a long year for "the union of choice" in the courts of law. Controversial transactions entered into by Babereki Investments, an investment arm of BOPEU, has opened floodgates for litigation from service providers and agents who stood to benefit handsomely from the lucrative deals. In one such case, Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) head of Communications, Moeti Mohwasa, has entered the fray in the unfolding saga at BOPEU. Mohwasa, who was acting as a broker in the aborted transaction that would have seen BONA Life acquire 49% shareholding at Babereki Ka Lorato Funeral Services, is suing Babereki Investments (Pty) Ltd demanding P15 million compensation. As part of the deal BONA Life would have extended a P300 million credit facility to the union through Babereki.  The P15 million Mohwasa is demanding is commission that would have accrued to his company if the BONA Life deal did not collapse after the intervention of BOPEU leadership. Facing termination of the lucrative deal, Botswana Life moved fast and sponsored a trip for some National Executive Committee members of BOPEU to Durban in July where they met executives from Sanlam, the South African-based parent company of the local insurance firm. At the time Babereki Board had already accepted and signed the BONA Life offer brought by Mohwasa's company to address financial challenges they are facing, which led to failure to disburse loans to members. Notwithstanding the signature and approval, BOPEU leaders over-ruled Babereki Board upon returning from Durban and reversed the BONA Life decision, bringing the deal to a grinding halt. It is this signature and endorsement which Mohwasa is using as ammunition to force Babereki to pay commission due to him. "Yes, he has slapped us with a P15 million lawsuit for the botched BONA Life deal. He was the middleman and he wants his commission," a source in the union reveals. Beyond confirming having business dealings with Babereki Investment, Mohwasa declined to comment on the BONA Life transaction or the lawsuit. He referred enquiries to Babereki board. Sources close to the transaction said Mohwasa, who had been unsuccessful in securing funding for the union in previous engagements as a broker, had hit gold with BONA Life. His job of persuading BONA Life to come on board was helped by the financial crisis the union had entered into, the hefty interest (12%) charged on loans by Botswana Life and failure by the latter to fulfil the promise to advance P1.2 billion credit facility to BOPEU. 

Botswana Life has so far only extended P50 million to Babereki, which was quickly gobbled up by operational expenses at the union secretariat. With the remainder of the funds not forthcoming and aware of this desperation at BOPEU, Mohwasa managed to convince BONA Life to extend a credit facility in the sum of P300 million. BONA Life will as part of the deal provide insurance services to the 32 000 strong members of BOPEU and acquire 49% shareholding in Babereki Ka Lorato Funeral Services. The current market rate for consultancy and brokerage services, identical to that provided by Mohwasa is 2-5% of the transaction. By the close of business on Friday word doing rounds was that another businessman, Winfred Rasina had also slapped his former employer with a law suit for terminating a consultancy contract with his company, Glam Shouts Communications & Events Management. Until July 2017, Rasina was engaged as a consultant to provide media and communications advisory alongside other errands on behalf of BOPEU and Motsamai. He dismisses the allegation as pure speculation as he has not and is not launching any lawsuit against the union. "I parted with BOPEU amicably after their contract with Glam Shouts ended. I work for Glam Shouts and I only related with BOPEU on the nature of their contract with the company. I am thus naturally so, innocently blank on any other matter being raised," said Rasina, also denying knowledge of removal of any information form BOPU servers, saying it is not possible that he could be in possession of such documents. In yet another lawsuit BOPEU will square off against their former employee Edward Tswaipe at the Industrial court on 25-26 September, over a lawsuit emanating from an alleged unfair dismissal. Then led by Motsamai, BOPEU management fired Tswaipe in a dramatic fashion for misconduct in November 2016 after he was accused of discussing with some leaders about Rasina's engagement and the union database on social media (secret WhatsApp group). Meanwhile sources say retrenchment is looming at Babereki House as the financial crisis starts to hit home, after BOPEU exhausted borrowing options from its subsidiaries. The union owes its subsidiaries funds it borrowed to cover escalating operational costs, despite enjoying a monthly subscription income from general membership of P2.6 million and an additional P1.5 million monthly grant from Babereki Investments.