Saturday, May 8, 2021

Court battle beckons for GU factions as negotiations collapse

Gaborone United (GU)’s warring factions seem destined to reach the courts of laws. This follows the collapse of negotiations between the two factions, the teams recently elected Executive Committee and what is now known as the Concerned Group. GU’s problems came about in the aftermath of the divisive elective Annual General Meeting (AGM) that was held at the University of Botswana (UB) on the 11th of July this year. Following the AGM, some sections of the team’s support base questioned the constitutionality of the teams’ newly elected committee. The concerned supporters then wrote a letter to the Registrar of Societies asking for intervention as they felt the team’s constitution was not followed when the team elected its Executive Committee.

With the Registrar advising both warring parties to sit down and find solutions, the team’s Committee of Elders then stepped in to try find an ‘in-house solution’ to the crisis. Despite mediation attempts by the team’s Committee of Elders, both sides are said to have failed to find a common ground. Things came to a head this past Thursday as the team’s current Executive Committee, led by Rapula Okaile, wrote the team’s Committee of Elders a letter to officially inform them ‘they have pulled the curtain on crisis talks.’ The news of the collapse of the crisis resolution talks was confirmed by both factions. Speaking in an interview, Okaile, who is the Chairman of GU’s Executive Committee, confirmed that his committee has terminated any crisis resolution talks as they felt it was an exercise in futility. “We tried to sit down with the concerned group to find an amicable solution but we failed to find a middle ground. In their eyes, the only solution to the problem was for us to step down from the Executive Committee, something which we do not agree to. We believe we are a legitimately voted committee as from the team’s last elective AGM and if we agree to step down, we will be reneging on our responsibility to the majority of the GU supporters who voted us into office,” Okaile explained.

The GU Chairperson said as it stands, the current committee will not abdicate office, unless if ordered by ‘a competent authority.’ Asked whether this competent authority will be the Registrar of Societies or the Courts of Law, Okaile said ‘only the court of law will be a competent authority.’ “The Registrar can only try to mediate but has no authority to remove us from office. The only competent authority in this case will be the law and if the courts decide we should leave office, we will comply,” Okaile said. With the Okaile led committee showing no intent to compromise, the concerned group has also established that they will not back off and will pursue their grievance until they find solution. According to Molatedi Diole, who is member of the concerned group they will even approach the courts of law if the situation does not change. “We are aware that the Registrar has no authority to order the current committee to step down and as such we will take the legal route to rectify the situation we find ourselves in right now. As the concerned group, we feel that the current committee is not legitimate as constitution was not followed when they were voted into office. The reason we would actively approach the courts for remedy is that we feel the current matter is a legal one and can therefore not be resolved by petitions as it concerns the team’s constitution,” Diole explained.

He said up until the Okaile led committee pulled a switch on the crisis talks, they as the concerned group of supporters had tried all they could to ensure an amicable solution is reached. “Both the current committee and us have, with the help of committee of elders, held several meetings to try resolve the current problems. Both the two parties even agreed that each of us go and consult our followers to propose that an interim committee be formed to lead the team towards its next AGM. however, when the time came for us to meet again to thrash out the terms of references for the interim committee and to suggest names of the interim committee office bearers, the current committee reneged and stopped attending meetings until they finally cancelled out,” Diole said. With the crisis talks having reached a stalemate, both warring sides will now be waiting on the Registrar of Societies to have a say before the next step is taken. However, with both the Committee making it clear they will not be ordered by the Registrar to step down and the concerned group determined to go the legal route, both sides are of the view that a court battle is impending. 

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