The Botswana Land Boards and Local Authorities Union (BLLAHWU) is set to lose a handful of its foot soldiers after they decided to form a rival union – Botswana Progressive Workers Union.
Internal wrangling within the union which came as a result of disagreements over the operationalisation of the union had left a number of union members, especially those in some positions of leadership frustrated.
Motelebane Shepherd Motelebane, a disgruntled BLLAHHWU member who recently resigned together with many others has issued a statement to the effect that on the 25th of June 2016, a number of “concerned BLLAHWU members from across the country met in Palapye and took a resolution to register a new trade union to be called Botswana Progressive Workers Union. On the 5th of July 2016 the Registrar of Trade Unions and Employer Organisations gave us authority to use the name, as a result we have begun the process of registering a union.”
According to Motelebane the Botswana Progressive Workers Union guiding principles are the Restoration of Workers control; struggle to win bread and butter issues for members; achievement of worker education; unity of the working class; and embracement of the working class ideology.
He further writes that the union slogan shall be “Power to the Workers”. Motelebane says their slogan is necessitated by the current situation in the labour movement where unions are controlled by employees instead of workers through their Worker Leaders. “We feel strongly that control of the Union should lie with its members.”
He says they intend to call a press conference soon after the union is registered to explain fully why they formed the Botswana Progressive Workers Union and how they intend to effectively represent their members in order to improve their working conditions. “Improvement of working conditions is going to be the driving force of the Union’s activities,” he said.
The war within BLLAHWU heightened following the dismissal of elected president of the union, Samuel Kedise which was followed by the appointment of Ketlhalefile Motshegwa as Secretary General of the union on a five year term. Kedise was replaced by Disang Mokwape who currently is acting president of the Union.
Some concerned members challenged Motshegwa’s appointment and pointed out that it was illegal. However the union leadership stood firm and demonstrated solidarity with Motshegwa who was dismissed by the Francistown City Council. Those who are forming the Botswana Progressive Workers Union are of the view that the members of BLLAWHU do not have any control over the union because employees of the union are in charge and not paying members.
The new union is expected to campaign for members from the same pool as BLLAHWU. It is set to target Land Boards workers, Council and health workers and expand to other sectors because its name is not restrictive of who joins as a member. BLLAHWU had its hay days during the reigns of Pelotshweu Baeng and later Goretetse Kekgonegile.
The breakaway union is led by interim leadership of Motelebane Motelebane, assisted by Ishmael William and Jimmy Mokgalo as first and second Vice Presidents respectively. The SG will be Kedumetse Karata, assisted by Jeff Lucas, while Organising Secretary shall be Gerald Mahumba, and Kagiso Keitumetse, will be Secretary for Sports and the Treasurer shall be with Sisco Motsaathebe.
The Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP)’s decision to reject and appeal the High Court’s verdict on a case involving High Court Judge, Dr Zein Kebonang has frustrated the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and Judge Kebonang’s back to work discussions.
JSC and Kebonang have been in constant discussions over the latter’s return to work following a ruling by a High Court panel of judges clearing him of any wrong doing in the National Petroleum Fund criminal case filed by the DPP. However the finalization of the matter has been hanged on whether the DPP will appeal the matter or not – the prosecution body has since appealed.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) top brass has declined a request by Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) to negotiate the legal fees occasioned by 2019 general elections petition in which the latter disputed in court the outcome of the elections.
This publication is made aware that UDC Vice President Dumelang Saleshando was left with an egg on his face after the BDP big wigs, comprising of party Chairman Slumber Tsogwane and Secretary General Mpho Balopi rejected his plea.
“He was told that this is a legal matter and therefore their (UDC) lawyer should engage ours (BDP) for negotiations because it is way far from our jurisdiction,” BDP Head of Communications, Kagelelo Kentse, told this publication.
This spelt doom for the main opposition party and Saleshando who seems not to have confidence and that the UDC lawyers have the dexterity to negotiate these kind of matters. It is not clear whether Saleshando requested UDC lawyer Boingotlo Toteng to sit at the table with Bogopa Manewe, Tobedza and Co, who are representing the BDP to strike a deal as per the BDP top echelons suggested.
“From my understanding, the matter is dealt with politically as the two parties are negotiating how to resolve it, but by far nothing has come to me on the matter. So I believe they are still substantively engaging each other,” Toteng said briefly in an interview on Thursday.
UDC petitioners saddled with costs after mounting an unprecedented legal suit before the court to try and overturn BDP’s October 2019 victory. The participants in the legal matter involves 15 parliamentary candidates’ and nine councillors. The UDC petitioned the court and contested the outcome of the elections citing “irregularities in some of the constituencies”.
In a brief ruling in January 2020, Judge President Ian Kirby on behalf of a five-member panel said: “We have no jurisdiction to entertain these appeals. These appeals must be struck out each with costs including costs of counsel”. This was a second blow to the UDC in about a month after their 2019 appeals were dismissed by the High Court a day before Christmas Day.
This week BDP attorneys decided to attach UDC petitioners’ property in a bid to settle the debts. UDC President Duma Boko is among those that will see their property being attached with 14 of his party members. “We have attached some and we are on course. So far, Dr. Mpho Pheko (who contested Gaborone Central) and that of Dr, Micus Chimbombi (who contested Kgalagadi South) will have their assets being sold on the 5th of February 2021,” BDP attorney Basimane Bogopa said.
Asked whether they met with UDC lawyers to try solve the matter, Bogopa said no and added. “Remember we are trying to raise the client’s funds, so after these two others will follow. Right now we are just prioritising those from Court of Appeal, as soon as the high court is done with taxation we will attach.”
Saleshando, when contacted about the outcomes of the meeting with the BDP, told WeekendPost that: “It would not be proper and procedural for me to tell you about the meeting outcomes before I share with UDC National Executive Committee (NEC), so I will have to brief them first.”
UDC NEC will meet on the 20th of next month to deal with a number of thorny issues including settling the legal fees. Negotiations with other opposition parties- Alliance for Progressives and Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) are also on the agenda.
Currently, UDC has raised P44 238 of the P565 000 needed to cover bills from the Court of Appeal (CoA). This is the amount in a UDC trust account which is paltry funds equating 7.8 per cent of the overall required money. In the past despite the petitioners maintaining that there was promise to assist them to settle legal fees, UDC Spokesperson, Moeti Mohwasa then said the party has never agreed in no way to help them.
“We have just been put in debt by someone,” one of the petitioners told this publication in the past. “President’s (Duma Boko) message was clear at the beginning that money has been sourced somewhere to help with the whole process but now we are here there is nothing and we are just running around trying to make ends meet and pay,” added the petitioner in an interview UDC NEC has in December last year directed all the 57 constituencies to each raise a minimum of P10, 000. The funds will be used to settle debts that are currently engulfing the petitioners with Sheriffs, who are already hovering around ready to attach their assets.
The petitioners, despite the party intervention, have every right to worry. “This is so because ‘the deadline for this initiative (P10, 000 per constituency) is the end of the first quarter of this year (2021),” a period in which the sheriffs would have long auctioned the properties.
President of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Duma Boko’s alliance with former President Lt Gen Ian Khama continues to unsettle some quarters within the opposition collective, who believe the duo, if not managed, will once again result in an unsuccessful bid for government in 2024.
While Khama has denied that he has undeclared preference to have Boko remaining as leader of UDC, many believe that the two have a common programme, while other opposition leaders remain on the side-lines.