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BOPEU boardroom wars court-bound

BOPEU president Mogwera
The interim national executive committee (NEC) of Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) late Wednesday filed an urgent application before court to remove suspended president, Masego Mogwera and her team from office.

The BOPEU boardroom war that had resulted in the engagement of the police last Saturday is now fought in court, as the interim committee wants to enforce their legitimacy.

The interim committee comprising acting president Zibani Philemon, first deputy president Ogaufi Masame, treasurer general Mosalagae Tlhako and Motswaledi Monaiwa is seeking the remove the committee that was suspended.

The five office bearers, president Mogwera, general secretary Topias Marenga, first deputy president Martin Gabobake, deputy secretary Kethapeleng Karabo and treasurer general Aba Gabaikhe were on Saturday afternoon suspended from their positions at the BOPEU NEC meeting held at Cresta Lodge.

They were suspended for failure to observe articles 53.1 and 53.2 respectively, which speak of the secondment and remuneration of office bearers (president and treasurer general) as well as sanctioning the implementation of the new BOPEU structure.

However, the suspended officials in turn refused to vacant office while on one hand Mogwera suspended the interim committee and declared a state of emergency. Now, the interim committee through their attorney, Paul Muzimo want their appointment to be declared lawful and enforceable pending investigations of suspended senior members.

Accordingly, amongst other things, the interim committee is seeking the court to declare Mogwera's decision to suspend them and also her declaration of state of emergency null and void.

In a founding affidavit deposed by acting president Philemon, the interim committee says the suspended should stop issuing instructions to BOPEU employees and cease to be signatories.

"An order directing the five to vacant the premises and order authorising a deputy sheriff of the court with assistance of police to escort them should they fail to comply with the court order," he said.

Philemon explained that the reason for seeking such declarations was that the resolution that they seek to enforce was made at the scheduled meeting of the NEC. On that account, he said the process relating to the convening of the said meeting was lawful and not disputed.

While on one hand he argued

that an attempt by Gabobake to adjourn the meeting was unlawful, as such he sought to invoke the provisions of the article which provides that the president may, where necessary and in the interest of the union, and during any other gathering of the union, and in cases of an emergency, declare that a state of emergency exists and may therefore take an action necessary and proper.

"It is my averment that the said article cannot be used to frustrate or avoid a motion which the president does not like and agree with. Also Gabobake is not the president and there was no emergency," he said.

He said in that instance, the meeting had to continue until conclusion of the agenda and the resolution, which were passed by properly, constituted members as binding and ought to be adhered to.

Philemon pointed out that the NEC was vested with the power and authority to carry out the business of the union in accordance with the provisions of the constitution and resolutions from the bodies running the union.

He argued that the NEC suspended the respondents for breach of the constitution in that they allegedly paid themselves salaries whereas the same were not approve in terms of Article 53.2 of the constitution.

"The said suspension is calculated to protect the interest of the union in that the respondents have paid themselves salaries never sanctioned by the union structures," he alleged.

Moreover, Philemon noted that the suspension was necessary, as investigations cannot be conducted properly if the respondents are allowed to remain in office.

All other members of the interim committee have deposed their supporting affidavit of why they want the suspended senior committee members removed from office.

By press time, the respondents had not filed their papers yet. In a brief tele-conversation, Marenga indicated that they were served late and that they were still preparing their papers and that further enquiries should be directed to their attorney Dutch Leburu.




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