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Motshegwa back on BPOPF board

GOITSEMODIMO KAELO
Ketlhalefile Motshegwa PIC: MORERI SEJAKGOMO
Renowned unionist, Ketlhalefile Motshegwa has prevailed against Botswana Public Officers Pension Fund (BPOPF) chairperson.

This is after the High Court recently ordered that his contest for political office in the 2019 general elections did not present any conflict of interest concerning the business of the Fund and ordered his reinstatement to the pension fund’s board of trustees.

Motshegwa and his employer, Botswana Land Board, Local Authorities & Health Workers Union (BLLAHWU) had approached Court seeking a review of the decision to remove him as a board trustee of the Fund due to his contest for political office when he stood for the 2019 general elections in the Gaborone Bonnington South constituency.

His decision to contest election was not well received as he was expelled on grounds that he was conflicted and that he had breached the code of conduct of the Fund and that his race for national public political office had the potential to harm the image of the Fund.

Lobatse High Court Judge, Mercy Garekwe recently ruled in Motshegwa’s favour setting aside the decision to remove him from the Fund’s board of trustees.

The Judge said, “the decision was invalid and or unlawful and or unreasonable and is null and void and of no force and effect”. As such, Justice Garekwe compelled the Fund to admit Motshegwa back onto the Board of Trustees of BPOPF with immediate effect.

The Judge also ordered the respondents to pay the costs of the review application.

When giving out her full reasons, Garekwe said it was not only unfair but premature on the part of BPOPF to gauge the issue of conflict of interest, whether actual or perceived, just

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based on the participation of an individual in local elections without more.

In her view, it would make sense to raise the issue had Motshegwa won the elections and not relinquished his positions both at BLLAHWU and BPOPF.

The BPOPF board chairperson had argued that the issue of conflict of interest comes in that there is a likelihood of Motshegwa favouring those who would fund his political campaign. However, the Judge said that could be avoided as the Fund rules allow for recusal of a trustee in the event of conflict of interest.

The Judge said the rules and regulations or the legislation do not prevent Motshegwa from contesting for political office.

Judge Garekwe also found that Motshegwa ought to have been notified of the charge preferred against him by the body that had the jurisdiction to entertain the complaint forwarded by BPOPF board  chairperson. She also said that Motshegwa should have been given a chance to appear or make supplementary submissions to the charge which was preferred against him.

“Such notification was crucial, and ought to have been accompanied with request for the second applicant to make any supplementary submissions if he wished to do so,” she said.

In the end, the Judge came to a conclusion that the board and the risk committee alike took into consideration irrelevant considerations, disregarded relevant considerations and worst still relied on generalised and unexplained considerations to reach the decision to expel Motshegwa.

Motshegwa contested the 2019 general elections in the Gaborone Bonnington South under the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) ticket and lost.



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