There was no hiding for Botswana Public Employees Union’s (BOPEU) deposed usurper of power, Olefile Fast Monakwe. The Court of Appeal (CoA) smoked him out as the king ‘troublemaker’, before effectively ordering him and his lieutenants out of the 35,000-member union’s power grip.
CoA’s Justice Isaac Lesetedi in his long-awaited judgement on Friday that dedicated a chunk of his ruling on Monakwe, singling him out as the troublemaker in all of BOPEU’s long-running instabilities of the last three years. Justice Lesetedi’s conclusion on Monakwe, who had been holding himself out as president of BOPEU since the coup of 2018, was reached despite Monakwe playing fast and loose with the truth in the latest appeal where he did his all to hide his interest in the case while motivating it at the same time. But the CoA judge was not fooled.
Justice Lesetedi was amazed, but not confused by his trickery, as Monakwe filed the appeals as BOPEU and at the same time inserting himself in the opposing camp, as a respondent.
Monakwe was the eighth respondent in the matter of the appeal purportedly brought by BOPEU with Rash Sedimo, purporting to be the secretary-general, deposing an affidavit, but also, like Monakwe, nowhere to be seen as a mover of the application.
As a respondent, the eighth respondent on the same adversary camp as the likes of Topias Marenga, Masego Mogwera, Kethapeleng Karabo, and several others, Monakwe deviated from the rest of the respondents, as he launched attacks against other respondents, despite being with them at the same time. Monakwe’s tricks, however, badly exposed BOPEU, the mover of the application at the appeals court. With no one legally representing the union, it bewildered the court of appeal, as Justice Lesetedi wondered how a legal body like BOPEU can be said to have brought an application without representation: consequently causing BOPEU to act as on its own, yet not being human, the union wouldn’t drag itself to the court.
Monakwe may have attempted to play legal gymnastics, but they instead accelerated his demise as Justice Lesetedi soon found out. Justice Lesetedi then announced that the sum of Monakwe’s legal tricks had rendered him a loser in that he had not filed any opposing papers, except opting to be passive.
He noted that Monakwe supplied a supporting affidavit to Sedimo, who also was a shadowy figure in the case, opting to depose an affidavit for BOPEU, without being an applicant or a respondent in the matter, and without filing anything beyond the affidavit.
In Lesetedi’s judgement, effectively neither Monakwe nor Sedimo had appealed the judgement of Justice Mercy Garekwe, which they purported to be appearing before the CoA. Justice Lesetedi observed, “This is surprising on the part of Monakwe, who signed the resolution authorising the launching of this application.
He is associating himself with the passing of a resolution authorising a suit in which he is himself cited as an adversary. The irony of the propriety or effectiveness of it is not too far to note.”
It is not only on that preliminary point that Justice Lesetedi dismissed Monakwe and Sedimo, but the
Not amused by Monakwe’s shenanigans and his conduct towards court judgements, Justice Lesetedi decided to be stern against him and ordered the deposed leader in his individual capacity to foot the bill of the court matters at punitive scale, estimated to be anywhere between a minimum of half a million and upwards of P1.2 million.
Interestingly, Justice Lesetedi traces Monakwe’s troublemaking antics from three years ago as a leader of a faction that contested BOPEU elections where he managed to make it as the first deputy president while his nemesis, Mogwera, emerged as the president.
Like the recent CoA action where Monakwe aimed to be the chief benefactor while moving in the shadows, Justice Lesetedi in his latest judgement saw through Monakwe yet again, lurking at April 27, 2019, NEC meeting where Mogwera and Marenga were toppled, resulting in Monakwe benefiting as the acting president. Lesetedi succinctly said, “The dispute over the leadership came to a head at April 27, 2019, meeting where Monakwe and his group, in a putsch (rebellion), took over control of the NEC, suspended the president and her lieutenants pending some disciplinary action, and had himself and his group appointed into effective leadership of the union.”
He went further to associate Monakwe with the later attempt to remove Mogwera and other directors from the much lucrative BOPEU commercial wing, Babereki Investments, the fight which Justice Lesetedi noted that it rages on to date in one form or another. Lesetedi further noted that Monakwe embarked on a strategy to seize control of the various BOPEU structures, resulting in opposition from some of them that took him head-on, resulting in more litigations against him by various functionaries of the union.
“These were well-coordinated frontiers of the main battle between the factional leaders of the union leadership.” Justice Lesetedi also found Monakwe’s shadow lurking at the Palapye congress of 2019, which was held despite a litany of litigations against his actions. Justice Lesetedi observed: “There (Palapye congress) Monakwe was victorious in being elected the substantive president of BOPEU and his team elected into control of the NEC.
At that congress and immediately following that NEC, Mogwera and some of her supporters were expelled from BOPEU.” Lesetedi observed that Monakwe, hiding behind BOPEU, would launch interdicts against Mogwera and Marenga to stop calling themselves president and secretary-general of BOPEU. The interdict collapsed on its face.