Botswana Congress Party (BCP) parliamentary candidate for Ghanzi South, Brains Kwadipane is embroiled in a labour dispute against his former employer, Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU).
He alleges that BOPEU targeted him and sacked him because he is a BCP supporter while BOPEU leadership supports Umbrella for Democratic Change.
Kwadipane dragged BOPEU to court to answer to charges of unfair dismissal after the union fired him from work as its regional manager in Maun. Kwadipane and BOPEU fell out after he decided to stand for the 2014 general elections as parliamentary candidate for Ghanzi South under the BCP ticket. He confirmed to The Telegraph in an interview that he had a dispute with BOPEU that was before the labour office.
Trade Unions have recently ratcheted their support for UDC. This has not sat down well with BCP which is not a member of opposition alliance.
The case is a stark reminder of political divisions that are most likely to wreck the labour movement ahead of elections.
“I was dismissed by BOPEU before my three months’ probation period elapsed. I have not been given any reason why I was dismissed. That’s my bone of contention,” he said.
Kwadipane reiterated his intention to seek redress from the courts of law should the Department of Labour fail to resolve the dispute.
“I intend to take the matter to court so that they can disclose the reasons why they dismissed me. I want them to be exposed for what they are; leaders who don’t have the interests of workers at heart,” he said.
He further described his dismissal as a result of dirty political gimmicks orchestrated by none other than BOPEU President Andrew Motsamai.
“I know that my sacking was politically motivated and it was orchestrated by Motsamai. I have been informed that he approached a lawyer who is sympathetic to the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) to draft my dismissal letter. I still maintain that my dismissal was politically motivated,” said Kwadipane.
While he conceded that the letter of his dismissal from employment was signed by BOPEU Secretary General, Topias Marenga, Kwadipane reiterated his earlier stance that Motsamai orchestrated everything, saying the Secretary General only rubberstamped Motsamai’s decision. He added that he saw his dismissal coming a long time back because he was never given an opportunity to sign a contract of employment when he was hired.
“I was only given an offer letter without a performance contract detailing the deliverables. The letter terminating my employment was delivered to me a day before my probation period elapsed. Marenga signed the letter to fire me at the insistance of Motsamai,” he said.
Kwadipane accused the BOPEU leadership of double standards, saying they failed to deliver on his mandate of upholding his rights as a worker.
“This is a trade union that claims to advocate for the rights and welfare of employees, but look at what they did to me. A trade union should lead by example and protect its employees’ rights. What they did to me is a clear indication that they are trampling on workers’ rights,” he said.
Kwadipane said his employment was terminated without valid reasons. “When I asked them if they fired me because I’m standing for elections under a BCP ticket they deliberately avoided that and did not proffer any reasons. But the leadership is aware that the reason I was fired is because I’m standing for election as BCP parliamentary candidate for Gantsi South,” he said.
Motsamai and Marenga could not be reached for comments as their mobile phones were off.