Ten regional leaders of the Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) challenging the presidency of Olefile Monakwe have failed at first hurdle after Justice Godfrey Radijeng ruled that their applicationwas not urgent.
With the internal strife at the union continuing, Mothusi Mojela, Mompoloki Comfort, Onalethata Lebotse, Babedi Keboneng, Joseph Kasorere, Dineo Leboro, Nyandera Samuel, Tambona Jopi, Morulaganyi Moalosi and Eunice Rantsudu took the union’s acting president and the union to court on urgent basis. They were challenging the lawfulness of certain decisions purportedly taken by the National Executive Committee (NEC) of BOPEU during a meeting of April 27, 2019 under his chairmanship including his ascendancy to being the union’s acting presidency.
The decisions of the NEC sought to be impugned include the purported dissolution in September 2019 of three regional negative committees of the Union while the decision of Monakwe sought to be impugned is the suspension of the first applicant as a member of the Union. The dissolved regional committees include Francistown, Central and Kgaga considered to be amongst the five biggest in the union, constituting in all about one third of the union membership.
When making a ruling on the matter this week, Gaborone High Court Judge Justice Radijeng dismissed the application with costs stating that it failed the test of urgency.
Justice Radijeng ruled that the applicants failed to justify why the orders they sought qualified to be urgent while they arose or relate to a meeting held on April 27, 2019.
“That there is logical nexus as averred by the Applicants between the meeting of April 27 and its attendant resolutions and the decisions of the September 13, 2019 does not in my view compel for the grant of orders sought relating specifically to the meeting and resolutions,” said Radijeng.
Although the Judge expressed satisfaction that the applicants have presented the said meeting and its resolutions as foundational or background informing the decisions challenged, however, he cited that the basis for the declaration of the meeting and its attendant resolutions as null and void has not been set out to be justified on urgent terms.
He said that the applicants could get satisfactory relief in due course. Radijeng highlighted that all the applicants, save for Mojela, could participate in the union’s activities, in particular the CEC meeting scheduled for December.
Radijeng also said that the court has not had the benefit to assess the prejudice likely arising from an averment by the applicants that the dissolution of the regional executive committees adversely affects the union and its members in terms of the rights of members conferred by the constitution.
The applicants had argued that the decision to dissolve the regional committees was in fact taken by some members of the NEC who did not form a quorum at a meeting, which was not validly convened. They say in the papers that the purported meeting of April 27, 2019 was unlawful hence it could not take decisions to dissolve the committees. “By reason of lack of quorum, the NEC was not properly constituted and it could not act as a body. There is no provision in the constitution entitling the NEC to act as a body in the absence of a quorum, except at a properly reconvened meeting,” they said in their arguments.
They argued that the decision taken by some members of the NEC not constituting a quorum has no validity nor does a notice sent by email by someone other than the general secretary have any validity.
That being, so all business purportedly conducted at such invalid meeting has no legal force or effect.
The dismissal comes just a few weeks before the union hold its Central Executive Congress in December.