Lerumo Mogobe, the Gaborone attorney who successfully represented the Botswana Mine Workers Union (BMWU) in a case in which 24 of its former members were held in contempt of Court for failing to hand over BMWU asserts of the current National Executive, has confirmed that he had received fresh instructions to approach the Court again.
Mogobe said that he had just received a letter giving him instructions to act on the matter. He said that he would soon meet the Union members for verbal instructions before launching the case.
The former BMWU members were, late last year, jailed for contempt of Court but were released early this year on condition that they carried out Court orders.
The General Secretary of the BMWU, Jack Tlhagale, recently confirmed that the concerned members had not complied with Court orders issued at the time of their release.
”As far as we are concerned, they have not complied because they have not paid back the money the Court had ordered them to pay,” said Tlhagale. “They have not handed over audited accounts and have generally not communicated with us on these matters.”
Tlhagale went on to say that, with such a situation, they had no alternative but go back to Court to seek its advice, adding that they had, all along, been waiting for the concerned members hoping that they would comply. But, he said, it was clear that they did not want to comply, leaving them with no alternative but to go back to Court.
When ordering that the trade unionists be released from jail, Chief Justice Julian Nganunu set conditions that had to be met in order for the unionists to avoid going back to jail.
In the past, one of the concerned members was quoted as saying that they were working around the clock to meet the court deadline, saying that they were determined to meet it.
The concerned members were, at one time, in the National Executive of the union while others headed union branches.
Then they lost elections to the current National Executive and refused to hand over union business and assets to the newly elected National Executive on grounds that the leaders of the National Executive, namely Tlhagale and his Chairman, Chimbiza Chimbidzani, could not lead the union because they had ceased to be employees of any mining house.
The two had, earlier on, been sacked by Debswana for having allegedly encouraged employees of the company to go on strike which led to 461 employees being sacked.
The matter went to Court where it was ruled that Tlhagale and Chimbidzani could still hold positions in the union even though they had been sacked from employment.
That having been settled, the issue of handing over all asserts of the union to the newly elected National Executive resulted in the current stalemate.