Wednesday, May 18, 2022

BLLAHWU burial society meeting abandoned due to tensions

An annual general meeting for Botswana Land Boards, Local Authorities and Health Workers Union (BLLAHWU) burial society held in Palapye on Saturday was abandoned halfway as tensions between the union leadership threatened to deteriorate into an all-out fight.

Sources say soon after Kgosi Claas Motshidisi officially opened the meeting on Saturday morning, an issue was raised from the floor by BLLAHWU president, Goretetse Kekgonegile, asking the AGM to include the election of management committee in the agenda.

Management committee countered that no agenda items could be added from the floor as that would contravene the constitution. They argued that those who did not forward the agenda items for consideration in requisite time (six weeks ahead of the AGM) had waived their right.

As the meeting was divided over the issue, an adjournment was called to allow the Central Executive Committee (CEC), management committee and Regions to caucus and form a position on the way forward.

The Chairman of the burial society, Tebogo Moalosi, confirmed to The Telegraph on Monday that the AGM could not proceed beyond the official opening due to serious divisions and disagreements between some union leaders and management committee. “The CEC conflicting views brought disruptions and confusion to the AGM. We adjourned the meeting as it threatened to turn chaotic. We are disappointed by the conduct of some CEC members for deliberately misleading some members of the society when they knew that what they were saying was not correct,” he said.

Until late in the afternoon, disagreements continued as a divided CEC could neither agree between themselves or with the management committee on the issue of elections.

At some point, the president is said to have threatened that he is the accounting officer for the union and would present his position to the AGM. Kekgonegile and his supporters are said to have produced a form used in the application for a burial society in 2009 showing names of interim leaders, some of whom have since left the society, arguing that their time in office is over.

On the other hand, the management committee said they were only appointed by CEC in 2010 after the burial society was registered.

“How could the management committee have existed before the burial society was formed at the beginning of 2010?” asks Moalosi.

Moalosi said they will consult members to decide when to hold the meeting next. The current management committee was elected on 01 October 2010, to hold office for three years. BLLAWU Burial Society, a company wholly owned by the union, was registered on March 3, 2010 with the Registrar of Societies, with a constitution that governs its affairs and operations.

An attempt to continue the meeting and address what was left of the 120 delegates from 29 of the 30 branches by some CEC members after it was dissolved by the management committee aborted because there was no one to present reports.

The Saturday incident is alleged to be an indicator for deep seated fighting within the union leadership and the management committee of its subsidiary company. Already several court cases have been filed between the parties, while the president at some point threatened to fire some central committee members.

Meanwhile, Kekgonegile recently angered another subsidiary of the union, the Botswana Land Boards and Local Authorities Sports Association (BLLASA), when he unilaterally cancelled their evaluation meeting scheduled for Kasane on November 3 telling the employer that it was “not authorised by the union”.

In a letter to the Director of Public Service Management and Permanent Secretaries in the Ministry of Local Government, Health and Lands and Housing dated October 30, Kekgonegile said only the parent union enjoys organizational rights for transport and release of members but sub structures often use them unauthorized, which is an anomaly.

The Telegraph is reliably informed that plans are at an advanced stage for BLASSA to break away from BLLAHWU to gain autonomy and enjoy support from government. “Continuing under the union is becoming increasingly problematic. We can represent our members best if we operate and deal with the employer independently,” a source in the association leadership said on Monday.

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