BOPEU’s Kweneng regional chairman toppled

SHARE   |   Tuesday, 03 October 2017   |   By Staff Writer
Mogwera Mogwera

The leadership of Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) is allegedly ridding the embattled trade union of allies of deposed former president Andrew Motsamai, The Patriot on Sunday has learnt. The latest culprit is BOPEU Regional Committee chairman for Kweneng, Emmanuel Tlale, who was recently toppled in absentia by his committee through a vote of no confidence. His fate was sealed at a meeting he did not attend after seeking a postponement due to other engagements. Tlale's major undoing, sources say, was challenging the dismissal of Motsamai, asking too many questions as to why the Chief Executive Officer of Babereki, Edith Motshegare, could not be held accountable for the financial crisis in the company. By so doing, he broke ranks with colleagues who insisted that Motsamai, who was the Executive Chairman of Babereki, was the culprit and should be shown the door. Although he was initially expected to serve a one-month notice, another Motsamai ally the Chief Finance Officer (CFO) at Babereki Investments, Victor Leoketsa, parted ways with the company recently. He did not serve notice. Sources within the trade union said Leoketsa has joined More Power Investments, an investment arm of Botswana Teachers Union (BTU) led by former Secretary General Ibo Kenosi. Meanwhile IT officer, Motty Obuseng, remains suspended awaiting further direction from Secretary General Topius Marenga. Sources also say the next target in line for purging is a marketing executive at Babereki. The ongoing purge started with the termination of a contract entered into between BOPEU and Glam Shouts Communication & Events Management, a company owned by Winfred Rasina – who worked closely with Motsamai. BOPEU insiders also claim that the two Range Rovers and the Toyota Hilux D4D, purchased for Babereki directors (one of them Leoketsa), have been transferred to Ernest Molome's company from the funeral parlour business, Babereki Ka Lorato Funeral Services. Babereki had fallen into arrears for monthly instalments for the three vehicles, which caught the attention of the board of directors who before then were clueless about the debt.

Internal issues 

Facing financial challenges and struggling to make the threshold for the bargaining council, BOPEU embarked on a controversial project to wean their members off dual membership. With a membership estimated at 32 000, BOPEU fell short by about 1 500 when the verification process revealed that about 6 500 members were on dual membership particularly with BOSETU and BONU. An attempt to force those holding dual membership to relinquish that of other unions, with a promise of better benefits, backfired when those affected by the decision demanded their dues from the riches they had helped BOPEU amass over the years. It was abandoned! Motsamai hated dissent and purged dissenting voices within the organisation he had a strangle hold on. A number trade union members fell victim to Motsamai's uncompromising leadership for comments they made either in the mainstream or social media. These include Oaitse Patle, Monyena and an employee of Babereki, Edward Tswaipe. The latter is suing Babereki for unfair dismissal in a case heard at the Industrial court on September 25. He was fired in November 2016 for questioning the engagement and powers given to Glam Shouts Communication & Events Management. Motsamai has also been accused by BOPEU members of making the position of Secretary General in the union a fulltime job without the sanction of congress, the supreme decision making body. Further, he used his powers as president to employ the incumbent, Topius Marenga, on a contract that extends beyond elective congresses. In that way, the Secretary General position could no longer be contested and delegates have no say in the appointment.