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BOPEU’s Money, Power, and Control gymnastics

Andrew Motsamai, the Executive chairman of the Babereki Investment, the business wing of the Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) is being roasted by a National Executive Committee that he installed to power in Palapye in 2015.

The BOPEU NEC has slapped its former President with a ten days leave of absence albeit he was already on a ten days off period. It has been suggested that the NEC is still investigating the accusations against the Executive chairman. The BOPEU NEC, led by Masego Mogwera, who was handed power by Motsamai in February this year gets legal advice from Advocate Sidney Pilane who is on retainer basis with the union.

Motsamai, who has led BOPEU for ten years as President is now Executive Chairman and has a five year contract that has only run for about six months, and indications are that the termination terms border solely on elapse of the five year contract and BOPEU chooses not to renew; or Motsamai failure, during his contract, to follow company terms and conditions of employment that warrant termination.

The twist in the whole episode is that the Executive Chairman is being accused of some events that took place before he was employed by Babereki Investments. Most the resolutions were signed in 2015 and 2016. A direct accusation to Motsamai is the recommendation he made to the Board where he advised that FutureOne, a company under Babereki Investments, which sells cellphones and other gadgets be liquidated because it was not profitable. The voluntary winding up resolution was taken on June 28 this year, and it could have been earlier and it not been of the absence of Mogwera and other members who were flying to various destinations abroad in May. Dutch Leburu was procedurally instructed to do the voluntary winding up of FutureOne.

The Board which includes Masego Mogwera, Martin Gabobake, and Tlhabologo Galekhutle among others had agreed with the recommendation and ratified it. But the latest developments point to a fed up group that wants to disown the recommendation. Babereki Investment had injected close to P7 million into the company. A more pronounced complaint in the unfolding farce are accusations that Motsamai as Executive Chairman watched as one of the financial officers illegally benefited from a car scheme designed for one of the subsidiaries, Babereki Ka Lorato.

The company Board, which Motsamai is not a member of, had in 2015 made a resolution to procure cars from Avis Botswana. The said officer had procured a personal car through the same scheme. The Babereki Investment CFO has bought, through the Babereki Ka Lorato scheme a Range Rover from Avis, and in one of the company trial balances it appeared that the car was paid for twice in one month, an anomaly that attracted the attention of the BOPEU NEC. However the CFO is said to have made it clear that he has been paying for the car and he has proof of the payments he is making towards the car. Ironically the Babereki Ka Lorato board is chaired by Martin Gabobake and Motsamai is not even a member of the said board. Gabobake signed the resolution that allowed the purchase of Avis cars.  

Babareki Ka Lorato has been facing cashflow problems for a considerable time and Gabobake’s board had to ask Babereki Investment to make payments on its behalf for the financial year 2016/2017 as part of “inter-company” transactions. This was agreed through a board resolution signed on 06-07-2016 by Martin Gabobake, as board chairperson, Lazarus Molefi and Ernest Molome as Directors. Babereki Ka Lorato was to reimburse Babereki Investment as soon as the cashflow situation allows. All payments made on behalf of Babereki Ka Lorato were to attract an interest of 7.5%. It is understood that this is one of the resolutions that has put Motsamai and the BOPEU NEC at odds with the latter indicating that he was never part of the decision or the board that made the resolution. However Gabobake is fighting on Mogwera’s corner in the bid to remove Motsamai from employment.

The BOPEU NEC is also having second thoughts about a resolution they signed in connection with an investment in Flying Mission Services. Babereki Investments was to invest an amount of P1, 176, 000.00 in Flying Mission Services Pty Ltd, an air charter company. The investment was to be split between share capital and medium term debt, in a manner as the shareholders may determine as most optimal for the business once a due diligence and valuation has been completed. Babereki Investment was to pay P436 000 towards license fees; P600 000 as loan payable in P200 000 installments; and a credit card valued at P140 000. Andrew Motsamai was “authorized to execute all necessary documentation and do anything that may be required to give effect to the resolution.”

With tempers flaring at BOPEU, Motsamai’s exit from the organisation he helped build is a glaring reality. He looks set to separate with his now employers and his contract terms could see him make more money in six months than he has made when he worked for government for over two decades. BOPEU may be compelled to pay him the contract remainder, four years and six months. The value is estimated in the region of P6 million. It is not clear of Motsamai’s termination could dissuade him from participating in BOPEU affairs, a qualified scientist, the former BOPEU president could whirl his way back into civil service and launch a political battle.

Meanwhile BONA Life was to borrow BOPEU P300 million at a low interest rate and the deal was quashed by the NEC because they were not happy that the deal was brokered by a middle man. BOPEU has currently put a moratorium of member loans because of cash problems. BOPEU currently operates on funds sourced from Babereki Investments. For his part Motsamai maintains a calm response, “it will be sad for the loyal BOPEU members to hear that I could be fighting an organisation that I have known my entire adult life. I have actually denied my family a father, a husband among other roles just because of the love I have for the organisation. I will not be asked to talk about my contractual matters and of course my Babereki Investment roles with the media, I choose to respect my organisation and to see the way forward in the most appropriate process,” he said.

Motsamai said what is important is to know that Babereki Investments is one of the few indigenous entities that should make BOPEU members and Batswana proud. “We should make sure that it continues to be one of the flagship organisations in this country.” The former BOPEU president refused to talk about money, BOPEU politics and control insinuations. “Everything that Babereki Investments has done is in black and white, we have resolutions to all that is necessary, thank you,” he said.

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UDC founder warns against merger

19th October 2020
Ex UDC Convener: Mpotokwane

Lebang Mpotokwane, one of the conveners who presided over the opposition cooperation talks that resulted in the formation of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), has advised against changing the current umbrella model in favour of a merger as proposed by others.

The Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leader, Dumelang Saleshando recently went public to propose that UDC should consider merging of all opposition parties, including Alliance for Progressives (AP) and Botswana Patriotic Front (BNF).

Saleshando has been vehemently opposed by Botswana National Front (BNF), which is in favour of maintaining the current model.  BNF’s position has been favoured by the founding father of UDC, who warned that it will be too early to ditch the current model.

“UDC should be well developed to promote the spirit of togetherness on members and the members should be taught so that the merger is developed gradually. They should approach it cautiously. If they feel they are ready, they can, but it would not be a good idea,” Mpotokwane told WeekendPost this week.

Mpotokwane and Emang Maphanyane are the two men who have since 2003 began a long journey of uniting opposition parties in a bid to dethrone the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BCP) as they felt it needed a strong opposition to avoid complacency.

Tonota born Mpotokwane is however disappointed on how they have been ejected from participating in the last edition of talks ahead of the 2019 general elections in which BCP was brought on board.  However, despite the ejection, Mpotokwane is not resentful to the opposition collective.

He said the vision of opposition unity was to ultimately merge the opposition parties but he believes time has not arrived yet to pursue that path. “The bigger picture was a total merger and we agreed that with three independent parties, members might be against merger eventuality so the current model should be used until a point where they are now together for as long as possible,” he said.

“UDC should gradually perform better in elections and gain confidence. They should not rush the merger. We have been meeting since 2003, but if they rush it might cause endless problems. If they are ready they can anyway,” he advised. For now the constituent parties of the umbrella have been exchanging salvos with others (BCP and BNF).

“There are good reasons for and against merging the parties. Personally, I am in favour of merging the parties (including AP and BPF) into a single formation but I know it’s a complex mission that will have its own challenges,” Saleshando said when he made his position known a week ago.

“Good luck to those advocating for a merger, it will be interesting to observe the tactics they will use to lure the BPF into a merger,” former BNF councillor for Borakalalo Ward and former BNF Youth League Secretary General, Arafat Khan, opined in relation to BCP’s proposed position.

Mpotokwane, who is currently out in the cold from the UDC since he was ejected from the party’s NEC in 2017, said the current bickering and the expected negotiations with other parties need the presence of conveners.

“We did not belong to any party as conveners so we were objective in our submissions. If party propose any progressive idea we will support, if it is not we will not, so I would agree that even now conveners might be key for neutrality to avoid biasness,” he observed. Despite being abandoned, Mpotokwane said he will always be around to assist if at all he is needed.

“If they want help I will be there, I have always been clear about it, but surely I will ask few questions before accepting that role,” he said. UDC is expected to begin cooperation talks with both AP and BPF either this week or next weekend for both upcoming bye-elections (halted by Covid-19) and 2024 general elections and it is revealed that there will be no conveners this time around.

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BDP attaches Boko’s property

19th October 2020

The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) moved through its lawyers to attach the property of Umbrella for Democratic (UDC) President Duma Boko and other former parliamentary contestants who failed in their court bid to overturn the 2019 general elections in 14 constituencies.

WeekendPost has established that this week, Deputy Sheriffs were commissioned by Bogopa Manewe Tobedza and Company who represented the BDP, to attach the properties of UDC elections contents in a bid to recover costs.  High Court has issued a writ of execution against all petitioners, a process that has set in motion the cost recovery measures.

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COVID-19 exposes decay in the education system

19th October 2020
Education Systm

Botswana Sectors of Teachers Union (BOSETU) says COVID-19 as a pandemic has negatively affected the education sector by deeply disrupting the education system. The intermittent lockdowns have resulted in the halting of teaching and learning in schools.

The union indicated that the education system was caught napping and badly exposed when it came to the use of Information System (IT), technological platforms and issues of digitalisation.

“COVID-19 exposed glaring inefficiencies and deficiencies when it came to the use of ITC in schools. In view of the foregoing, we challenge government as BOSETU to invest in school ITC, technology and digitalization,” says BOSETU President Kinston Radikolo during a press conference on Tuesday.

As a consequence, the union is calling on government to prioritise education in her budgeting to provide technological infrastructure and equipment including provision of tablets to students and teachers.

“Government should invest vigorously in internet connectivity in schools and teacher’s residences if the concept of flexi-hours and virtual learning were to be achieved and have desired results,” Radikolo said.

Radikolo told journalists that COVID-19 is likely to negatively affect final year results saying that the students would sit for the final examinations having not covered enough ground in terms of curriculum coverage.

“This is so because there wasn’t any catch up plan that was put in place to recover the lost time by students. We warn that this year’s final examination results would dwindle,” he said.

The Union, which is an affiliate of Botswana Federation of Public, Private and Parastatal Union (BOFEPUSU), also indicated that COVID-19’s presence as a pandemic has complicated the role of a teacher in a school environment, saying a teacher’s role has not only transcended beyond just facilitating teaching and learning, but rather, a teacher in this COVID-19 era, is also called upon to enforce the COVID-19 preventative protocols in the school environment.

“This is an additional role in the duty of a teacher that needs to be recognized by the employers. Teachers by virtue of working in a congested school environment have become highly exposed and vulnerable to COVID-19, hence the reason why BOSETU would like teachers to be regarded as the frontline workers with respect to COVID-19,” says Radikolo.

BOSETU noted that the pandemic has in large scales found its way into most of the school environments, as in thus far more than 50 schools have been affected by COVID-19. The Union says this is quite a worrying phenomenon.

“As we indicated before when we queried that schools were not ready for re-opening, it has now come to pass that our fears were not far-fetched. This goes out to tell that there is deficiency in our schools when it comes to putting in place preventative protocols. In our schools, hygiene is compromised by mere absence of sanitizers, few hand-washing stations, absence of social distancing in classes,” the Union leader said.

Furthermore, Radikolo stressed that the shifting system drastically increased the workload for teachers especially in secondary schools. He says teachers in these schools experience very high loads to an extent that some of them end up teaching up to sixty four periods per week, adding that this has not only fatigued teachers, but has also negatively affected their performance and the quality of teaching.

In what the Union sees as failure to uphold and honour collective agreements by government, owing to the shift system introduced at primary schools, government is still in some instances refusing to honour an agreement with the Unions to hire more teachers to take up the extra classes.

“BOSETU notes with disgruntlement the use of pre-school teachers to teach in the mainstream schools with due regard for their specific areas of training and their job descriptions. This in our view is a variation of the terms of employment of the said teachers,” says Radikolo.

The Union has called on government to forthwith remedy this situation and hire more teachers to alleviate this otherwise unhealthy situation. BOSETU also expressed concerns of some school administrators who continuously run institutions with iron fists and in a totalitarian way.

“We have a few such hot spot schools which the Union has brought to attention the Ministry officials such as Maoka JSS, Artesia JSS, and Dukwi JSS. We are worried that the Ministry becomes sluggish in taking action against such errant school administration. In instances where action is taken, such school administrators are transferred and rotated around schools.”

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