Disgruntled and suspended members of the Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) national executive committee led by Zibani Philemon were on Friday forced to withdraw their application for an expedited appeal after Court of Appeal (CoA) justice Singh Walia told them that there was no order to appeal against.
The faction, who includes acting president Philemon, first deputy president Ogaufi Masame, treasurer general Mosalagae Tlhako and Motswaledi Monaiwa who are fighting for legitimacy in the office had approached the Court seeking an expedited appeal for a case they lost recently before Lobatse High Court judge Godfrey Nthomiwa. However, they left the courtroom disappointed again after Justice Walia told them that the court a quo did not make any orders to be appealed against.
Walia who was not amused by the Union’s infighting, directed them to go back to the court a quo to seek clarity and interpretation on the judgement. He said that even if he could entertain their application for an expedited appeal, the case would still fall on its face at the Court of Appeal.
While the applicants lawyer Paul Muzimo agreed with the court that indeed the court a quo did not make orders to be appealed against, they requested for the matter to be postponed while they went back to seek clarity on Nthomiwa’s judgement.
However, Walia did not agree to that saying the same matter cannot be at the High Court and Court of Appeal.
“The Court a quo did not make any orders. The judge dismissed the urgency and upheld the points in limine.
We can’t be speculative and work on assumptions. Withdraw this matter and go back to seek interpretation of the judge’s judgement because there is no order to appeal against,” said Walia. Meanwhile, the parties did not agree on who should bear
The applicants argued that although they had to withdraw the matter, it does not mean that they have lost the case. Attorney Muzimo argued that his clients should not be punished for an error that they did not commit and suggested that parties should pay the costs of the suit. “It’s not an error on the part of the appellants but the court a quo. It is an anomaly that doesn’t occur regularly, so parties should pay own costs,” argued Muzimo.
Dutch Leburu who represents the respondents argued that they could not be liable because they did not initiate the suit.
The factions within the union leadership have resulted in a battle that has pitted 1st vice president Ogaufi Masame, Philemon, Tlhako and Monaiwa against national office bearers (NOB) members being union president Masego Mogwera, Tlhabologo Galekhutle (treasurer), Martin Gabobake (1st deputy president), Topias Marenga (general secretary) and Ketlhapelang Karabo (deputy general secretary).
The two factions have traded accusations in the process.
Mogwera and her team have accused Philemon’s side of a coup while on the other hand, Philemon’s committee are accusing Mogwera and her team for helping themselves to the funds that belong to union members without any approval.
They want Mogwera and Marenga to be removed so that investigations could continue while they carry the fort.
Both parties have suspended each other with each side claiming legitimacy of the union leadership.