Thursday, August 6, 2020

Botswana Mine Workers Union faces internal strife

The Botswana Mine Workers Union (BMWU) is on the verge of collapse, with members threatening stopping their subscription fees following the suspension of branches.

Meanwhile, the union’s executive has accused a financial institution of using its financial muscle to divide members.

Internal fights within BMWU are rife as the two branches, both in Orapa and Jwaneng, threaten to suspend their monthly subscription following the suspension of members.

┬áThe fight between the branch committees and the executive emerged when the Orapa branch authorised and then terminated a micro lender’s contract with members arguing that the interest rates were too high.

It is understood that soon after the branch committee terminated the contract, the same contract was awarded to a prominent micro lender, a move that angered the union’s executive.

The Jwaneng branch is reported to have also railed against the move, leading to its executive committee members being served with three month suspension letters.

┬á“It is true that recently we have suspended some of the branch members both in Orapa and Jwaneng but the matter cannot be discussed with the media,” president of BMWU Jack Tlhagale said.

┬á“This is an internal matter that will be resolved internally,” he added.

Tlhagale indicated that he was aware of some branches that are threatening to suspend their subscriptions.

However he admitted that if this happened, the union would possibly collapse.

“Members have agreed to suspend their monthly subscriptions fees and that will force the executive to reverse its unconstitutional decision to suspend the branch chairman and the secretary as well as the committee member,” said Phenyo Tlhapi, a former branch official in Jwaneng.

He said there are about 1 000 members in Jwaneng and their monthly subscriptions amount to around P154 000. The anticipated suspension of subscription would have a negative impact on the union.

 Tlhapi said it was unfortunate that the union was surrounded by very serious allegations currently under investigation by the Criminal Investigation Department.

 He stated that as members, they remain hopeful that the investigations would reveal the rampant mismanagement of funds that define the union.

Another suspended member in Orapa, who asked not to be named, confirmed that members are threatening to suspend their monthly subscriptions in a bid to financially cripple the union and force it to take heed of membership concerns.

He argued that so far their membership in Orapa is around 2 000 and over P200 000 is contributed monthly by members and once that decision is fully supported by members, the union would surely collapse.

The suspended member added that it was time the executive was called to order by members.

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Sunday Standard August 2 – 8

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of August 2 - 8, 2020.