The National Executive Council of the Botswana National Youth Council (BNYC) has dragged Minister of Youth Sports and Culture, Thapelo Olopeng to court challenging his decision to dissolve the youth organisation.
Acting BNYC Chairperson Boniface Disho told The Telegraph on Monday that the BNYC National Executive Committee has decided to approach the courts of law seeking the Ministry’s decision to dissolve BNYC to be set aside.
“The Ministry has no legal right to dissolve BNYC since such power is only vested in the Annual General Assembly (AGA) in terms of section 24.3.1 of the BNYC statutes,” he said.
In a letter addressed to Disho, dated 11 July 2015, Olopeng stated his decision to dissolve the standing organs of BYC with immediate effect. The standing organs include the National Executive Committee, the District Youth Councils, the Ward or Village Youth Council and the General Assembly. He added that the dissolved organs would be replaced by organs created through Presidential Directive Cab 10 (B)/2015 on the restructuring of the BNYC.
“The Secretariat and all staff of the BNYC are not affected by the dissolution and their conditions of service and contracts will be taken over by the Ministry. You and the other board members are therefore directed to immediately return to the Executive Director all BNYC properties in your possession,” said Olopeng.
He also informed Disho that “any resolutions and decisions made by the Annual General Assembly held on 11 July 2015 are set aside and of no consequence.”
The Executive Director of the BNYC was also directed to ensure immediate implementation of Olopeng’s decision. He was also told that he would henceforth be accountable to the Permanent Secretary until a new BNYC Board is appointed.
Disho confirmed that the BNYC convened a Special Annual General Assembly (SAGA) on 11th July 2015 whose purpose was to dissolve the youth organisation. However, the special meeting did not vote to dissolve BNYC as there were other pending issues that needed to be addressed.
“For example, the assets and liabilities of the organisation had not been determined, and it was impossible to determine how the funds of the BNYC would be dealt with after the dissolution,” said Disho.
He added that the BNYC has to honour its contractual obligation to development partners such as the National AIDS Coordinating Agency (NACA) and United National Population Fund (UNFPA) among others.
“The NEC believed it will be irresponsible on their part to leave this issue unresolved especially considering the legal disputes BNYC has had with employees, especially where the Ministry is involved,” said Disho.
He added that all pending legal disputes between BNYC and its former employees are as result of the Ministry’s intervention.
“The NEC is the custodian of BNYC, mandated by the Annual Assembly for a specified period of office,” said Disho. He said the SAGA resolved that the NEC is mandated to negotiate with the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Youth Sports and Culture and any other relevant entity as regards the proper and amicable dissolution of the BNYC, after which the AGA should reconvene to reconsider the issue.
“The Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture instructed the BNYC NEC to convene the Special Assembly as per the provisions of the Statutes and the resolutions taken at the forum are binding to the BNYC NEC. It must be noted that the Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Youth walked out of the Assembly during the deliberations and he announced that any decisions or resolutions by the Assembly will never be recognised by his Ministry,” said Disho.
The decision by the Ministry to dissolve BNYC without the involvement of NEC has heighted speculation that government is preparing to take control of BNYC and appoint youth affiliated to the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP). There are even claims that the BDP ÔÇôled government believes that its popular vote declined below 50 percent because the youth voted opposition parties in large numbers during the last elections.