Former National Coordinator for the embattled Botswana National Youth Council (BNYC), Goitse Mpolokang has spoken out about a filthy mess at the organisation which has led to government seeking to dissolve the organisation.
He placed at the centre of the controversy, the contentious security organ, the Directorate of Intelligence Security Services (DISS), the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, and the ruling Botswana Democratic Party in an untidy state of affairs at the organisation which is now facing extinction, unless the High Court intervenes.
Mpolokang spoke to this publication in an exclusive interview following the victorious High Court ruling against his former employer who unlawfully dismissed him from work in 2012. The former National Coordinator had been at logger heads with the BNYC and its board after resisting attempts of maladministration in the organisation. “The board wanted to use BNYC to advance personal and political gains for the ruling party,” he said. “I resisted that because I wanted things to be done correctly.”
He told this publication that when it became clear that there were people like him in the organisation who wanted to object to the status quo, in favour of good governance, plans were orchestrated to toss them out. “Because of my stand as somebody who wanted things to be done in a proper manner, I was perceived as an obstacle,” he added. “They even thought I was influencing the other structures of the BNYC.”
In 2012, reports became rife in the media that Mpolokang had been involved in elections’ improper conduct. Mpolokang was accused of taking sides at the election of executive committee members.
BNYC then announced the organisation was undergoing a restructuring exercise in which assurance was made that despite the exercise, no employee was going to lose his job. However, following the restructuring exercise Mpolokang and four others were told that their employment was terminated since the posts which they previously held were phased out.
In the letter dated 2nd February 2012, the former National Coordinator was told that his contract will be terminated within 30 days, a decision he challenged at the Department of Labour and won. BNYC was charged P500 for contravening the employment law.
Mpolokang was then restored to the organisation in a new post as Events Officer, reporting directly to the Executive Director. The Department of Labour also ruled that no employee of BNYC should be dismissed from work for that year’s financial year on the basis of restructuring or financial constraints.
A few months later, BNYC attempted another restructuring exercise that was halted by an urgent application before the Industrial Court by Mpolokang and other affected employees. A settlement agreement was reached in which BNYC undertook not to proceed with the retrenchment exercise.
However, subsequent to the Industrial Court order of the 15th of August 2012, BNYC employees individually received on the 26th of September 2012 letters terminating their contracts of employment with immediate effect. On that fateful day, Mpolokang remembers that BNYC Acting Executive Director, Tiny Tamasiga-Gontse who was in-charge of the organisation in place of then suspended Benjamin Raletsatsi ordered them to vacate immediately, the premises along with their personal possessions.
When they objected to being treated unfairly, and appealed for more time to remove their personal stuff from computers, DIS stormed in and confiscated computers. Mpolokang with four others were then thrown out of the premises. “We were surprised because we were being treated like criminals, yet we were employees and court had ruled in our favour,” recalled Mpolokang.
On the day the quartet was dismissed, the then Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture was to address a staff meeting at BNYC head office. “Because they did not want us to be part of the meeting, we were swiftly called at lunch time and informed about our dismissal from work,” stated Mpolokang. “We were then ordered to leave the premises immediately and removed by the DIS without any further engagement with management.”
Mpolokang and Tipati Gutcha who challenged their dismissal emerged victorious when High Court Judge Dr Zein Kebonang ruled in their favour last week. Judge Kebonang said that BNYC’s position that they were entitled to terminate the employees’ contracts at will and for no reason at all, was in his view untenable. “Just cause requires that there must be a fair and honest cause or reasons for terminating an employment contract,” he stated. “In my view, the termination of one’s employment at will, without any basis, lacks good faith and amount to a less favourable treatment.”
Judge Kebonang also ordered that BNYC pays the applicants the balance of their contracts as damages. “This is what they would have contractually been entitled to receive but for the termination and I accordingly so order,” ruled Kebonang.
Mpolokang revealed that the latest events at BNYC are as a result of greediness from the ruling party and their associates. “It is clear that BDP wants to use BNYC as a training ground for its cadres,” he said. “They want each and every structure of the BNYC to be controlled by BDP faithfuls.”
The former BNYC National Coordinator also opined that BNYC was used for looting and excessive corruption for the few individuals, therefore undermining its core mandate as a youth advocating organisation. “They felt it was infiltrated by the members of the opposition, hence they want to destroy it,” he added. “I think it is best youth form a new organisation which will affiliate with other international organisations.”
Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration, Kabo Morwaeng together with Permanent Secretary to the President (PSP) Elias Magosi, this week refused to name and shame the worst performing Ministries and to disclose the best performing Ministries since beginning of 12th parliament including the main reasons for underperformance.
Of late there have been a litany of complaints from both ends of the aisle with cabinet members accused of providing parliament with unsatisfactory responses to the questions posed. In fact for some Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) backbenchers a meeting with the ministers and party leadership is overdue to address their complaints. Jwaneng-Mabutsane MP, Mephato Reatile is also not happy with ministers’ performance.
Bokamoso Private Hospital is battling a P10 million legal suit for a botched fibroids operation which resulted in a woman losing an entire womb and her prospects of bearing children left at zero.
The same suit has also befallen the Attorney General of Botswana who is representing the Ministry of Health and Wellness for their contributory negligence of having the unlawful removal of a patient, Goitsemang Magetse’s womb.
According to the court papers, Magetse says that sometimes in November 2019, she was diagnosed with fibroids at Marina Hospital where upon she was referred to Bokamoso Private Hospital to schedule an appointment for an operation to remove the fibroids, which she did.
Magetse continues that at the instance of one Dr Li Wang, the surgeon who performed the operation, and unknown to her, an operation to remove her whole womb was conducted instead. According to Magetse, it was only through a Marina Hospital regular check-up that she got to learn that her whole womb has been removed.
“At the while she was under the belief that only her fibroids have been removed. By doing so, the hospital has subjected itself to some serious delictual liability in that it performed a serious and life changing operation on patient who was under the belief that she was doing a completely different operation altogether. It thus came as a shock when our client learnt that her womb had been removed, without her consent,” said Magetse’s legal representatives, Kanjabanga and Associates in their summons.
The letter further says, “this is an infringement of our client‘s rights and this infringement has dire consequences on her to the extent that she can never bear children again”. ‘It is our instruction therefore, to claim as we hereby do, damages in the sum of BWP 10,000,000 (ten million Pula) for unlawful removal of client’s womb,” reads Kanjabanga Attorneys’ papers. The defendants are yet to respond to the plaintiff’s papers.
What are fibroids?
Fibroids are tumors made of smooth muscle cells and fibrous connective tissue. They develop in the uterus. It is estimated that 70 to 80 percent of women will develop fibroids in their lifetime — however, not everyone will develop symptoms or require treatment.
The most important characteristic of fibroids is that they’re almost always benign, or noncancerous. That said, some fibroids begin as cancer — but benign fibroids can’t become cancer. Cancerous fibroids are very rare. Because of this fact, it’s reasonable for women without symptoms to opt for observation rather than treatment.
Studies show that fibroids grow at different rates, even when a woman has more than one. They can range from the size of a pea to (occasionally) the size of a watermelon. Even if fibroids grow that large, we offer timely and effective treatment to provide relief.
The Alliance for Progressives (AP) President Ndaba Gaolathe has said that despite major accolades that Botswana continues to receive internationally with regard to the state of economy, the prospects for the future are imperilled.
Delivering his party Annual Policy Statement on Thursday, Gaolathe indicated that Botswana is in a state of do or die, and that the country’s economy is on a sick bed. With a major concern for poverty, Gaolathe pointed out that almost half of Botswana’s people are ravaged by or are about to sink into poverty. “Our young people have lost the fire to dream about what they could become,” he said.