In the latest development in the Union-Government saga at the City of Francistown, Botswana Land Boards and Local Authorities Workers Union (BLLAHWU) has written to the Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) director Ruth Maphorisa to instruct the Francistown City Council (FCC) to stop ‘victimising’ its secretary general, Ketlhalefile Motshegwa.
Botswana Land Boards and Local Authorities Workers Union (BLLAHWU) has written to the head of the Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM), Ruth Maphorisa, to stop Francistown City Council (FCC) from ‘victimising’ the union’s secretary general, Ketlhalefile Motshegwa. In the letter, attorney for BLLAHWU, Tshiamo Rantao has told the DPSM boss that: “...our client requests that you intervene to protect the interests of the union and to stop clear and threadbare victimisation of the union representative”.
Motshegwa is supposed to appear before an FCC disciplinary hearing today to answer charges of misconduct. In the letter dated yesterday, Rantao stated that it is surprising and disturbing that the FCC persists with its acts of victimising a union activist when there exists a contractual right entitling him to secondment to serve BLLAHWU.
The lawyer said BLLAHWU is concerned that the FCC continues to act as if there exists no recognition agreement between DPSM as the employer and BLLAHWU. The letter noted that clause 9 of the agreement makes it mandatory for a BLLAHWU representative, in this case Motshegwa to be seconded to the union.
It reminded the DPSM director of the decision of Justice Lot Moroka of the High Court on the secondment of civil servants to work as union officials. The judgment came after DPSM tried to terminate the secondment of trade union secretary generals. “The continued victimisation of Motshegwa by the FCC which you are very much aware of flies in the face of the above-mentioned judgment which emphasised this secondment right of BLLAHWU,” the letter said.
It stated the DPSM director should intervene by stopping the disciplinary proceedings against Motshegwa.
“In the event that you take a different position, kindly, be advised that this letter shall operate as declaration of a dispute as envisaged at clause 12.3.1 of the recognition agreement. We will not hesitate, in future, to approach the courts for nullification and/or setting aside of the disciplinary proceedings in issue and cancellation of secondment with cost orders if you do not intervene.” Recently, the FCC dismissed two by-law officers after charging them with misconduct.
Meanwhile, reports say Motshegwa will attend his disciplinary hearing today to avoid giving the FCC an excuse to punish him. The Botswana Federation of Public Sector Union (BOFEPUSU) secretary general, Tobokani Rari has said that while they know that the disciplinary action is just an academic exercise, they do not want to give the FCC a loophole through non-attendance.
“We know that this just an academic exercise because our belief is that a Kangaroo court whose results are already known has been established. Motshegwa is going to be dismissed. This is not the first incident.
Sometime last year his salary was stopped and we approached the court over the issue and the parties reached an out of court settlement.
His salary was eventually restored,” said Rari. Motshegwa is Rari’s deputy at BOFEPUSU. Rari said it is surprising to hear DPSM officials saying they did not know the whereabouts of Motshegwa when they sat with him at the Public Service Bargaining Council (PBSC) during the salary negotiations.
“This is hypocrisy of the highest order.” Motshegwa was the union chief negotiator during the salary negotiations with the employer which culminated in six percent increment for workers.