Financial mismanagement, abuse of office and disregard for corporate governance has been alleged at the multi-million pula BLLAHWU Burial Society (BBS) due to lavish lifestyle of executives and controversial spending on luxury acquisitions, The Patriot on Sunday has learnt. The appointment of chairman of the Board of the burial society, Tebogo Edwin Moalosi, to the post of Chief Executive Officer (CEO) on May 02, 2016 has sparked a huge row among members who are questioning the legality of the appointment, and credentials of the holder. Members allege that they never resolved or endorsed the creation of the post and the appointment of Moalosi at any of their Annual General Meetings (AGM). Further, there is no indication of a management committee meeting (Board) where such decision was taken. It has since emerged that to date Moalosi, who is now the CEO also doubles as the chairman of BBS, in stark contravention of good corporate governance. In an interview on Friday Moalosi denied that he has been hired as the CEO of BBS. He said the position he currently holds is that of Chairman of the Management Committee to which he was elected at an Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Kasane in November 2016. When it was put to him that there is information showing that he performs the dual role of Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Moalosi dismissed that as propaganda peddled by his detractors at BLLAHWU. "Such information could be spread by political office bearers of the trade union, but it is not true. I am the chairman of the burial society not CEO," said Moalosi, matter-of-factly.
Dubious appointment, CFO fired
Investigations by The Patriot on Sunday have turned up information showing that Moalosi's appointment letter to the position of CEO was not signed by the Board (management committee) as would happen under normal circumstances. He was hired by his junior in the secretariat, Tshepho Seduku, who was BBS long time finance and administration officer. This effectively means that Moalosi was appointed by a junior as opposed to the Board. Seduku signed the letter offering Moalosi a contract of three years as CEO, earning a starting salary of P43 022.00 per month excluding allowances and other benefits on 25 April 2016. Moalosi, who until 2016 was employed as a technical officer at Gaborone City Council (GCC) on a C1 salary scale, resigned to become the CEO of BBS – a position he is accused of having created and appointed himself to. As CEO Moalosi became a fulltime employee of the burial society and saw his salary increase multiple fold from around a modest P11 000 to a whooping P60 000 currently. Ironically Seduku, who was the finance manager at BBS, was pushed out by Moalosi at the end of September 2017 under controversial circumstances and was immediately replaced. Although he declined to comment saying the matter between him and his former employer is confidential, The Patriot on Sunday has it on good authority that Seduku left BBS because of a fallout with Moalosi. It is alleged that Moalosi has been writing numerous warning letters to Seduku complaining about the latter's performance and gross negligence of duty since December 2016, just six months into office.
Four warning letters in a month
For example from a total eight warning letters written to Seduku by Moalosi and seen by this publication, six were written between May and August 2017, with four of the six authored between 04th and 27th August. For his part Moalosi denied any dismissal insisting that Seduku resigned for reasons only known to him. "We cannot disclose confidential information about our current or former employees. But what I can confirm is that he no longer works for the burial society. We are not privy about his whereabouts or what he is engaged in," said Moalosi. In numerous warning letters Moalosi wrote to Seduku he complained about poor performance, gross negligence of duty and serious misconduct among other charges. Seduku finally tendered resignation on August 31, a day after he received the eighth warning letter, just four days after another on August 24th. Notwithstanding the resignation of the principal officer, Moalosi said BBS remains intact and healthy as ever. He said the meeting of administrators from around the country in Palapye over the weekend was a clear demonstration of a stable organisation. He also indicated that the meeting was going to discuss the possibility of moving the Annual General Meeting scheduled for November to a later date.
Creating CEO post
Thousands of ordinary members of BBS remain in the dark as Moalosi has taken total control of the administration of the burial society and its board (management committee). Allegations are that he has roped in close friends (names withheld) as consultants. A month before Moalosi was appointed CEO by his junior, in fact in the same month he was given an offer letter in April 2016, Management Committee chaired by him had just received a report proposing restructuring from Tsa Pereko Management Services. Tsa Pereko had been engaged to provide a consultancy for a "comprehensive review of society's salary structure and other benefits and make significant changes therein to enhance capacity to attract, motivate and retain highly qualified, experienced and competitive workforce particularly at managerial levels". For the first time since the formation of BBS, the new functional structure proposed by Tsa Pereko identifies the Chairperson as Chief Executive Officer, with the Executive Principal Officer dropped to number three in the hierarchy and now responsible for HR and Administration. The old structure had the society administrator as the executive officer, while the chairman was only recognised as Head of Society. In other startling restructuring proposals that specifically benefit the CEO Tsa Pereko advised BBS to provide one car and one van with fuel for unlimited distance (radius); imprest for local travel at P3 000 for hotel rooms; entertainment allowance of P12 000 per month unaccountable; and P2 000 communication allowance or alternatively contract phone. The chairman of the management committee earns P1 000 per sitting. Although he denies it, sources at BBS confirmed that Moalosi is a full time employee at the secretariat. Even official correspondence and executive decisions of the burial society are authorised by him. To demonstrate this, on January 10, 2017 Moalosi signed a borrowing facility of P362, 219.00 offered by Barclays Bank of Botswana in his capacity as Chairman of the Board of Directors of BBS to confirm a resolution of a meeting held on 12 September 2016 approving the loan. Him and one Tshepo Seduku signed the acceptance of the loan, which was used to purchase a 2016 Toyota Fortuner 2.8 GD-6 from Broadway Toyota at a total cost price of P452 774.05. In his capacity as the CEO Moalosi signed the schedule to the master flexibility agreement with Barclays a month later on 22 February 2017 where he (together with Seduku) also authorised the initial payment of P92 069.00 as deposit for the vehicle. There are allegations that although the vehicle, which costs almost half a million pula was purchased using BBS funds it has never been delivered to either the organisation or before management committee.
Who is BBS?
Originally known as BULGASA Members Funeral Fund, BBS was formed as a funeral scheme under the association which later became Botswana Landboards, Local Authorities and Health Workers Union (BLLAHWU). It was established in 2005 as funeral scheme of the association known as BULGASA and later transformed into a burial society on March 03, 2010, now registered and regulated by Societies Act. Moalosi is adamant that BBS was never a part of the union. He says the BLLAHWU in the name of the burial society is an acronym and not an abbreviation derived from the name of the union. "We do not have any ties with the union. We have never been an arm of the union," he said. BBS has since cut ties with the parent union in an acrimonious legal battle that continues to date. The local authorities’ trade union has since formed a new funeral scheme for its members after losing control of the burial society, a development which BBS is opposing vigorously in court. At stake are the deduction codes for monthly subscriptions, which Government grants recognised trade unions organising within the public service to facilitate such withdrawals from salaries, together with thousands of BLLAHWU members who are likely to dump the unaffiliated BBS. The burial society has already lost the first round at the High Court, which they escalated to the Court of Appeal (CoA) in their relentless pursuit to safeguard membership and protect monthly subscriptions.
On Tuesday the CoA deferred hearing an appeal through which BBS, represented by Advocate Sidney Pilane, is challenging the registration of the new funeral scheme at BLLAHWU. The appeal hearing was deferred to await a high court judgment in a lawsuit where the union is suing BBS and demanding compensation for continued use of the name BLLAHWU, which is registered with the Commissioner of trade unions. In the deferred appeal the burial society argues that the union cannot establish its own funeral scheme to provide the same services (funeral cover) which they are already offering members. This is contrary to a position taken by BBS in the past when they argued before courts that they are not a subsidiary of the union because they are registered separately as a full legal entity under Societies Act (instead of Trade Unions and Employers Organisations Act), and therefore do not have to account to BLLAHWU leadership. Before that change in status, BBS and other subsidiaries of the union paid dividends annually to the defunct BLLAHWU Foundation. The union in turn accessed funds from the foundation to finance their projects for the benefit of the general membership.
Operation kill BLLAHWU
The protracted battle between BBS and BLLAHWU dates back to the time when the then BLLAHWU Funeral Scheme was converted to a burial society. Unknown to delegates who endorsed the transformation at a BLLAHWU congress in Nata on 2010, changing the funeral scheme to a burial society dislodged control from the union with BBS registered as an autonomous legal entity. When such autonomy became apparent, BBS management committee started ignoring instructions from the mother body, which led to numerous lawsuits and countersuits. Due to financial superiority of BBS, the leadership and financial crisis within the union, the society emerged victorious and continued operations as an independent entity, with its own membership, assets and financial reserves. The burial society sponsored and funded the formation of a breakaway union – Botswana Progressive Workers Union – calculated to cripple BLLAHWU.