Fireworks are expected at the Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) national congress 2018, which gets underway in Kasane today (Sunday), where a new leadership will be elected by the close of business on Thursday.
BOPEU President, Masego Mogwera ‘s leadership has come under serious threat, after her detractors inside the national executive who are allies of the deposed former president Andrew Motsamai got a major boost on Friday morning. Just two days before Kasane congress Mogwera suffered a major setback on Friday when the high court nullified her recent decision to suspend five regional chairpersons. A total of 16 BOPEU members were recently suspended by Mogwera, a majority of them in the union leadership, safe for two. She accused them of serious misconduct and labelled them coup plotters. But those in the know said Mogwera's drastic decision was a strategy that was calculated to destroy her opponents ahead of the Kasane congress after she discovered that they were planning to challenge her team in leadership positions. Three of five regional chairpersons had dragged Mogwera to court through an urgent application filed on November 21, 2018 to interdict the suspensions.
Giving a temporary order that lifted the suspensions Justice Michael Leburu ruled that in issuing suspension letters Mogwera acted unilaterally before NEC decided. The president can only suspend once there is a jurisdictional trigger from the national executive committee to commence disciplinary proceedings against a member. The power to commence disciplinary proceedings against a member is vested on the national executive committee.”
The judge accepted that Mogwera cannot be a judge in her own case by suspending other national executive members for passing a motion of no confidence against her. He concurred that in accordance with the laws of natural justice Mogwera was conflicted in the matter and therefore cannot take action against the applicants without offending the laws of natural justice. Judge Leburu also found the resolution passed by national office bearers to institute legal proceedings against some members of the national executive committee, whom Mogwera had earlier suspended unilaterally for passing a motion of no confidence against her at a meeting of 28 July 2018, defective.
In her identical letters Mogwera claimed to have instituted disciplinary proceedings against the members she single handedly suspended thus passing judgment on them. "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.
The five suspended NEC members 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.
The leadership of BOPEU has never found peace since Motsamai was fired from the position of Executive Chairman of Babereki Investments –the business arm of the union, in September 2017. The latest developments are the last straw that has destroyed any kind of relationship between Mogwera and other executive committee members. An elated Ogaufi Masame –BOPEU 2nd Vice President, who is among the group that was suspended by Mogwera, told The Patriot on Sunday that they will be going to congress to remove Mogwera from the presidency. “Except for two, all the 16 members who were recently suspended are in the leadership of the union. We are now going to congress. Yes, we are going to contest leadership positions. Her attempt to block us has been nullified by court,” she said. .
Delegates attending the Kasane congress will hold elections for national office bearers being the President, two Vice Presidents, deputy Secretary General and the Treasurer. The Secretary General position is a full time appointment currently held by Topias Marenga. As part of national executive committee the five regional chairpersons, who until Friday were on suspension, are eligible to hold office as national office bearers. They have declared interest to contest positions in the elective congress in Kasane. The National Executive Committee is made up of Regional chairpersons and National Office Bearers.