Victorious Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) president Masego Mogwera has confirmed that her attempts to have Olefile Monakwe’s faction escorted out of the Union’s building on Friday were met with resistance, as the losing faction had brought in bouncers.
The move resulted in dramatic scenes of near-violent confrontations.
Mogwera confirmed that she had ordered that the locks to various offices occupied by Monakwe and his cohort be changed immediately after Justice Mercy Garekwe announced her victory. However, the locksmiths sent by the BOPEU president found a resistance team of bouncers deployed to ensure that Mogwera’s team did not gain access to the premises.
Mogwera, who was at the BOPEU offices at the time, told The Monitor the bouncers outnumbered and overpowered her charges resulting in a near-violent confrontation before the locksmiths gave up.
It is not the first time that Mogwera’s team had been sent packing by Monakwe’s bouncers at the door. Around November last year, following a panel of three judges that ruled the decision to suspend Mogwera and secretary-general, Topius Marenga from their BOPEU positions at an April 2019 National Executive (NEC) meeting, was invalid. Marenga was turned away at the door by the bouncers, who had dogs.
Justice Garekwe’s Friday judgement, just like the three judges panel, once again declares that as a result of the unlawful, unconstitutional and invalid resolutions from the April 2019 executive committee meetings where Mogwera and Marenga were suspended, anything else that followed from that including the Palapye congress of November-December 2019 and its resolutions, namely the expulsion of Mogwera, Marenga, and several other NEC members, are accordingly set aside as invalid.
Justice Garekwe said in her judgement that the matter before her was in many ways similar to matters previously decided by the High Court specifically the three judges panel’s judgement and Justice Gaolapelwe Ketlogetswe’s judgement, both of which, Garekwe observed were not appealed by the Monakwe faction. Garekwe observed that having not appealed the judgements of Ketlogetswe and the three judges’ panel ahead of the determination of the case before her, the Monakwe faction put themselves in an unredeemable position since the previous two judgements as well as the case before her, all centred around the validity of the NEC meeting held in April 2019 where Mogwera, Marenga and others were suspended.
Justice Garekwe also remarked that in her view, the judges’ panel should have just included the matter before her in their ruling as they are similar in essence.
Justice Garekwe further warned the Monakwe losing faction of their tendency to register the same matter under different titles over and over. She warned that such attitude only shows that certain parties do not care about the resources drained in the many costly court battles, which the trade union gets to foot the bill.
Garekwe said she would have desired that the litigants bear the costs of the cases in their individual capacity as a punitive measure, but decided not to do so simply because such a direction was not argued for by the parties.
Meanwhile, The Monitor gathers that the Monakwe faction was consulting extensively on Friday about the prospects of an urgent appeal against Justice Garekwe’s judgement. Two of their law firms are understood to have advised against any appeal and abide by the judgement, but the losing faction determinately sought an opinion on the way forward from a third law firm. It would seem Justice Garekwe’s impending judgement had been giving Monakwe sleepless nights long before it was delivered, as on Wednesday he had called an NEC meeting to take resolutions on the way forward in anticipation of Garekwe’s judgement.
However, The Monitor has been reliably informed that after some disagreements at the NEC meeting held at BOPEU premises, legal advice given was that such resolutions would be unlawful.