The Botswana Mine Workers Union (BMWU) has suspended some of its former committee members from the union with immediate effect. The suspended members will be in court today to challenge their suspension on urgent application.
Some of the suspended members include former secretary general Bob Malele, deputy president Joseph Tsimako, deputy secretary Sebataladi Ramoitoi, treasurer Peter Marewa and chairperson (SHE) David Lesejane.
The former secretary general got the shock of his life last week when some employees at BMWU office refused to unlock the office for him, though he was officially supposed to vacate the office end of this month.
A source revealed that the police were called to intervene. Last week, BMWU president Jack Tlhagale said the handing over by the former committee members to the new one was scheduled for the 24th of this month. It is not yet clear why the members were suspended, but unconfirmed reports say they were suspected to have tampered with crucial union information.
“This forced other newly elected members to rush to Selebi-Phikwe town offices since workers were saying some former committee members are tampering with crucial information for the union. The new committee acted swiftly and suspended them. The drama unfolded last Friday,” the source said.
Malele and Tlhagale had never had a good working relationship and this was confirmed by Tlhagale at their recent congress when he said that their former national executive committee was polarised by internal rivalry from day one.
Meanwhile, Malele confirmed that they have been suspended from the union. “We have been charged with array of misconduct. As far as we are concerned the outgoing committee has the right to be in the office for a month. The new committee can take over after they have been legally registered. We don’t have a problem with handing over and that is the reason why at first we suggested the 17th of this month but the president of the union was out of the country,” Malele said.
Malele said they were shocked to find the locks of the offices changed without the consent of the outgoing committee.
“I am currently in the office together with Marewa. We will hand over everything after the new committee has registered,” he said.
He refused to comment on the legal issue, but said, “wait first until the matter is over.”
BMWU president Tlhagale confirmed that some former union members have been suspended but preferred to reserve comment on the matter until the issue has been resolved.
Tension among the two camps; the BMWU president and Malele was apparent during their elective congress last month. Tlhagale’s team won all seats while Malele’s team lost.