With its CEO suspended, and council members baying for the blood of its president, the Botswana Confederation of Commerce Industry and Manpower (BOCCIM) second annual general meeting in two months slated for 7th August is overshadowed by one question: Can the country’s chamber of commerce survive this meltdown?
The scenario is not as deft as it seems. On Thursday BOCCIM President Alex Monchusi suspended his CEO Maria Machailo ÔÇô Ellis for the second time in five weeks. After reeling off a list of charges, Monchusi ordered that Machailo-Ellis vacate her office with immediate effect.
The move however appears largely a symbolic sign of the times as it has failed to get the backing of the council which is believed to be responsible for Machailo-Ellis’ contract. Council members have instead asked Machailo-Ellis to defy the suspension by the president. Insiders, however, state that Monchusi is determined to enforce the suspension and will be calling Botswana Police Service officers to drag Machailo-Ellis out of BOCCIM premises.
The decision by BOCCIM president to suspend his CEO has predictably infuriated council members who are now demanding his removal ahead of the August 7th AGM. In one of the seething e-mail exchanges between council members on Friday 26th July, one of the private sector leaders, Gobusamang Keebine wrote to other council members charging that, “ as matters are the President clearly has no regard for either rules nor does he have for Council; he has now decided to run BOCCIM as his fiefdom and we Council are having our names and reputation tarnished as private sector leaders; Council MUST regroup and really take this man to task as this is totally unwarranted and saying to our stakeholders that we are all bunch of clowns. Vice presidents please regroup Council and let us face Alex head-on.”
Keebine was adding his voice to the din of e-mail messages from Council members commenting on an earlier message from Machailo-Ellis posted on Thursday 25th July that, “I have just been served with a letter of suspension by the BOCCIM president Mr Alex Monchusi. My understanding of the rules and Constitution is that my engagement and responsibility is the decision and responsibility of council. Further, I have not heard any hearing regarding the matter I am purported to be suspended for. I doubt if this is in line with the Botswana labour laws.”
One of the council members advised Machailo Ellis to defy the suspension saying, “Maria you are perfectly correct, and do not accept the tendered letter because if you do then you’ll be ratifying the mistakes. A special committee is dealing with the current situation, we await their report. Please run the office as usual following the resolution of the 24th AGM. I personally sense a fatigued management style and the situation needs urgent HR medication.
A question mark also hangs over the August 7th AGM as directed by the AGM of 26th June 2013 which had to be put off to avoid a possible fist fight between members. In an e- mail message sent to council members by BOCCIM president on the morning of July 25th, shortly before he suspended his CEO, Monchusi states that, “The secretariat has failed to send out notices convening a BOCCIM AGM within 6 weeks of the AGM of the 26th June 2013 as instructed. The secretariat has also failed to send out notices for nominations for election of office bearers and the ballots to members to satisfy the 30 day notice period required by the constitution.
“We are now out of time as regards satisfying the requirements or instructions of the AGM of 26th June 2013. This now means that some decisive action needs to be taken to ensure that the instructions of the 26th June 2013 AGM are implemented.
Among the actions that will now need to be taken is that constitutionally, since the instructions of the 26th June 2013 AGM have now effectively expired in that it is now no longer possible to call the meeting before end of 6 weeks, and at the same time satisfy the requirement for the 30 day notice period for nominations, the only way now to effect the implementation of those resolutions but still operate within the constitution, is through the president invoking article 18,2 of the Constitution, and calling a Special General Meeting of members to specifically deal with those June 26th 2013 instructions as the Agenda of such a Special General Meeting.
Obviously the president will have to do this through the secretariat. I will keep Council informed of progress by direct communication or through secretariat.” As things stand, the decision making process at BOCCIM has been paralyzed and minutes of important council meetings are being contested.
This week, the minutes of the May 24th special council meeting was another flashpoint in the BOCCIM marathon internal jostling. BOCCIM president last Sunday, July 21st, wrote to Council members complaining: “Folks I have had time to peruse what is contained in these minutes that were for some reason also copied to me. I am shocked that people are carrying on this manner even after the AGM had condemned their actions. But more importantly that having perused the minutes out of interest I am further shocked that there are clearly a lot of blatant untruths in the minutes and the reporting that was apparently made at this illegal meeting. Clearly things were made up in an effort to discredit me and build a case for my removal as president. These are criminal fabrications where even government is being implicated. I will certainly be considering my options, among others, the authors of such reports as this cannot go unaddressed. These fabrications were clearly intended to fraudulently try to build a case against me, and had little to do with the interest of the organization or its members. I am further surprised that the minutes seem incomplete, almost as if people are still thinking about what the right things to say about the BOCCIM CEO is!! This to me is quite amazing.”