BNYC committee takes Olopeng, Khama to court

Thapelo Olopeng
Thapelo Olopeng

The national executive committee (NEC) of the Botswana National Youth Council (BNYC) has dragged President Ian Khama and minister Thapelo Olopeng to court over the dissolution of the council.

Lobatse High Court will, today, hear an urgent application against Khama and the minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Olopeng, BNYC and its executive director Benjamin Raletsatsi.

The committee wants the court to set aside the recent decision by the minister and the President to dissolve NEC. 

In their court papers filed last night, the committee argues that the decision was in violation of their rights as enunciated.  “We are also concerned that there is a huge and sizeable estate that the BNYC manages that if left for whatever period unmanaged or without clear decision making structures might be adversely affected moreso that no provision has been made for its management in the minister’s decision to dissolve the council,” court papers read.  The council further states that the effect of dissolution of the committee could affect the employment contracts of all employees of the BNYC. Furthermore, states the court papers, delay in resolving the issue relating to the existence of their employer would escalate claims that the employees might have regarding unlawful termination of their contracts.  The committee says the decision by minister Olopeng was arbitrary, malicious and was aimed at undermining the special general assembly, yet it is a body that is known and recognised by the ministry.  The NEC said the decision by the minister was unlawful to the extent that it violated the BNYC statutes and that the decision by the President to create new structures of the BNYC was unlawful as he is not by the statutes empowered to do so.  BNYC was established in 1974 through a Presidential Directive CAB 9/74. It has 33 district youth councils and 50 affiliates (youth NGOs).

Meanwhile, in their papers, the applicants argue that they were not properly informed about the decision to dissolve BNYC. The applicants state that they held a Special General Assembly on July 11th, the day the BNYC was dissolved without their knowledge.

"In essence the SGA was opposed to the dissolution of BNYC without having received any empowering information to make the decision of whether or not the BNYC should be dissolved and the implications of the dissolution," the court papers say.

The applicants argued that they were entitled to receive this information before they engaged in voting as they represent all young people in Botswana.

"To our surprise and shock, we heard on Radio Botswana and Botswana Television on the day of 11 July, 2015, that is the night of SGA, that the BNYC structures are dissolved and our resolutions of the day mean nothing as they have been set aside".

BNYC mandate was to monitor and access all youth focused non-government organisations (NGOs) to lobby and advocate for youth inclusion in socio economic-development.

Editor's Comment
What about employees in private sector?

How can this be achieved when there already is little care about the working conditions of those within the private sector employ?For a long time, private sector employees have been neglected by their employers, not because they cannot do better to care for them, but because they take advantage of government's laxity when it comes to protecting and advocating for public sector employees, giving the cue to employers within the private sector...

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