Sunday, July 3, 2022

BFTU in crisis as its president resigns

The Botswana Federation of Trade Unions (BFTU) is on the edge of a cliff as its President quit his position at short notice, citing administrative and gross financial irregularities in the federation, which he said had become an impediment to the core business of the workers’ national centre.

Faced with a leadership congress that must evaluate progress and the outcomes of years of engaging government and employers, the federation could find itself seized with serious credibility issues over governance, with potential for divisions.

Chief among the reasons stated by Allan Keitseng for his decision to leave office was the Executive Board’s (EB) refusal to have the federation’s finances subjected to a forensic audit, and the Secretary General’s interference in the National Treasurer’s duties.

Keitseng also pointed to lack of support from the EB and vilification when trying to question administrative and financial mismanagement.

“These in particular were cases that involved the Secretary General and the Treasurer,” submitted the former BFTU President through a letter he addressed to the BFTU leadership which was scheduled to meet on Saturday 27 May 2013.

According to the letter, the Secretary General, Gadzani Mhotsha, was in the practice of interfering grossly in the Treasurer’s duties and flouting financial procedures with impunity. Reference is made to instances where he preferred to be the one acting as the custodian of the BFTU’s financial reports during EB meetings.

So much that he would even in the presence of members of the General Council, attempt to defend financial irregularities. Examples of some of the irregularities defended by Mhotsha included instances where monies were purportedly received by Mhotsha with the authorization and or signing of payments made by both himself as the Secretary General and the National Treasurer.

Yet, when approached by Keitseng as the BFTU President to explain some of the transactions, the Treasurer has for the most part claimed ignorance despite having appended her signature.

This came across as absurd, according to Keitseng, as there was subsequently nothing done by the Treasurer to rectify the anomalies.

The worst of such scenarios was when some money went into the BFTU account allegedly without the Treasurer knowing. Later it turned out that the money was intended as salary payments and Housing allowances as well as other unexplained monies for Mhotsha’s comfort to the shock of the President who, as far he was aware, the BFTU SG was not eligible for any payments.

What compounds matters is the fact that the EB remains in the dark regarding their President’s decision and exact reasons for vacating the high office.

Elliot Modise, member of the EB, responded to Sunday Standard enquiry thus, “Although we learn the President has resigned, we initially got a letter stating that his reasons for leaving office were personal, later it emerged there was yet another letter enumerating a host of new reasons.”

That makes it difficult for one to speculate on anything, according to Modise, until the Board is told what really is going on.

Against that background, Modise intimated that the EB was scheduled to meet over the weekend to receive a formal brief, adding that an invitation had been extended to Keitseng for firsthand account of his version of events.

Efforts to get Mhotsha’s side of the story were not successful. A response to our emailed enquiry is awaited.

It was after failed concerted efforts to bring both Mhotsha and his Treasurer colleague to order that Keitseng found out he would be better off distancing himself, from what he described as acts that amounted to corruption and mismanagement of BFTU Affiliates’ funds.

“I cannot stand by and watch individual interests served by gross manipulation and disregard of the constitution with impunity,” read the BFTU’s number one, on his resolve to quit.

As if that was not enough, Keitseng lamented in his resignation letter that the EB chose to look the other way when called to decisively act on the situation.

He declined to comment but commented that reference can only be made to the letter in Sunday Standard’s possession, whose authenticity he confirmed, as the matter remained an internal one.

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