Three weeks before Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) hold elections for national office bearers, the president Masego Mogwera, is involved in a dirty scuffle with five regional chairpersons after she slapped them with suspension letters on Monday.
On Friday lawyers representing the suspended chairpersons replied to Mogwera warning her that should she not wothdraw he letter by close of business they will file an urgent application in court on Tuesday (Novermber 20, 2018) to interdict the suspensions. Dismissing Mogwera, they notified her that she does not have the powers she claims to have invoked when she suspended them as she has been suspended by the national executive council herself. "You made a decision upon a matter in which you do not posses the power to decide. National Executive Council suspended you on allegations of unauthorised deductions. Your suspension has not been lifted, and accordingly you lack the capacity to suspend other members," reads part of the response.
The regional chairpersons also accuse Mogwera of claiming to have instituted disciplinary proceedings against them and later passing judgment (suspensions), thus behaving like a judge and a prosecutor in the same cause. Further, they accuse her of violating the laws of natural justice by failing to hear them out first before suspending them.
Mogwera had suspended the five regional chairpersons of the union in what they have dismissed as a strategy to deflate or kill off competition ahead of the elective congress scheduled for Kasane starting December 09, 2018. The congress is expected to attract 500 delegates. The five, who are among the only eligible national executive committee members to contest national office bearers' positions currently held by Mogwera and four others, are Ogaufi Matilda Mathame 2nd Vice President, Regional Chairperson Remmogo -Olefile Monakwe, Tshepo Maribela -BOBS region chairpeson, CAAB Chairperson Tulo Mojasagagwe, Statistics Botswana Chairperson Modise Ramaretlwa and Tebogo Segadika – David Magang Region chairperson.
Sources inside BOPEU have revealed that all the five suspended regional chairpersons have declared interest to contest NEC positions in Kasane. The National Executive Committee is made up of Regional chairpersons and National Office Bearers. National Office Bearers' positions that will be contested at the Kasane elective congress are for President, two Vice President positions, deputy Secretary General and the Treasurer. The Secretary General is a full time position currently held by Topias Marenga. According BOPEU Constitution Article 25.1.2, to be eligible to hold office as a national office bearer, a member shall have served atleast one full term in the Regional Executive committee or any other national statutory structures of the union and also have been a member of the union in good standing for a period of not less than four years.
In the suspension letters delivered on Monday, whose contents are identical, Mogwera accuse the five of allegations of serious misconduct. "I am of the considered view that you have conducted yourself in a manner that is inconsistent with the spirit and dictate of BOPEU constitution. In the exercise of my powers you are hereby suspended pending a decision of by the national executive committee on the matter," wrote Mogwera without giving details of the alleged offences.
During the period of suspension the chairpersons have been ordered not to issue instructions to staff or hold them out as officials of BOPEU or its subsidiaries including a member of any of its boards or access any union offices without written authorisation from Mogwera.