Power Struggle Brewing At Manual Workers Union


An intense power struggle is brewing between long serving CEO, Johnson Motshwarakgole and the National Executive Committee (NEC) over the control of National Amalgamated Local and Central Government and Parastatal Workers Union (NALCGPWU).

Some members of the executive committee are said to be complaining of what they see as maladministration at the Union and decisions made by a section of the NEC led by National Chairperson, Olebile Molamu. On the hand, the veteran trade unionist is being accused of starting a war against some members of the Committee.

It is said Motshwarakgole, who has been a powerful figure at the Union for many years, has been abusing and mismanaging union funds.

According to sources close to the Union, the CEO’s contract was set to end in 2019, but he colluded with some Committee members to have it extended to 2022 without the knowledge of the majority of those in the NEC. “Motshwarakgole should be retiring this year at 65-years-old, but he changed that now and CEOs will retire at 70,” said a source.

The issue is said to have divided the Union’s NEC, with some members who are described as ‘Motshwarakgole’s stooges’ taking his side while another faction wants him out.  Molamu and Treasurer General Manyoloi Christopher Tselaesele are said to be backing Motshwarakgole.  Another person who is said to be on Motshwarakgole’s corner is Human Resources Manager, Samuel Molaodi.  The two have worked together in the administration of the Manual Workers union for close to 30 years and are tight allies.

The situation is rife that some members of the NEC have been summoned to a disciplinary hearing.  Sources have associated last week’s interdiction case against Manual Workers by two members of the NEC, Molemise Teemane and Nicholas Sekwenyane who were cited for disciplinary hearing, as a result of the ongoing power struggle.  It is said that those who question Motshwarakgole’s way of conducting the union business are marked as enemies and subjected to scrutiny. The NEC has 16 members, six of whom are said to be in the CEO’s corner. 

“Motshwarakgole has divided the NEC, and those on his side want to purge their opponents through disciplinary hearings,” said a source. “Members have for a very long time been complaining that the political wing does not control the union, but rather it is controlled by Motshwarakgole who is not a NEC member. He is just an employee, but he is more powerful than his employers.”

It is said that other members of the NEC are already moving around the country mobilising for support to topple Molamu and other allies of Motshwarakgole in the Committee in order to be able to have their way with the CEO. “Motshwarakgole has total disregard for the NEC and considers himself as the owner of the union. He is not supposed to be opposed even if he does things that are not in line with the constitution of the union. The NEC should act as his boss, but he has more power,” said a source.

When reached for comment, Molamu dismissed the allegations of any power struggle. However he said, “I am aware that there are two members of NEC who recently displayed unacceptable behaviour and were cited for disciplinary hearing and could be the ones peddling such allegations”.

He said there are no factions within the Union as his committee is intact and working together. Molamu stated that they have always followed the constitution and Motshwarakgole’s employers are satisfied with his work thus far.

“There must be discipline within the union and if people in leadership positions are lacking that, we should discipline them. We want to build joint structures and Motshwarakgole and other admin staff are the people who should be such work,” said Molamu.

Molamu further dismissed as untrue that Motshwarakgole has extended his contract, adding that the contract has been running before the current NEC was elected. He said the Union has no retirement age. For his part, Motshwarakgole directed all questions to Molaodi who also dismissed the allegations.

“Our union is run by the NEC guided by the constitution. Motshwarakgole and the rest of us are just employees and have no decision making authority over use of funds or anything,” Molaodi said. “We just play an advisory and implementation role for NEC, which makes all the decisions. I am not sure about what your sources are telling you.”

Molaodi could not confirm nor deny if there is mismanagement of funds by administration staff led by Motshwarakgole, but challenged those who had suspicions to call for an audit or investigation, which would give all the answers.

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