Saturday, June 19, 2021

Judge slams union for using “other people’s money” in personal battles

Lobatse High Court Judge Mercy Garekwe has berated Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) leaders for using union members money to fight personal battles.

When delivering judgement, Garekwe cautioned BOPEU leaders to desist from using members money to fight personal battles.

BOPEU president Masego Mogwera and others had sought court intervention in a dispute about the legitimacy of the proceedings and/ or decisions of the 2nd Respondent’s Special Congress held on the 29th November 2019 to the 2nd December 2019 and/ or the Central Executive Committee held from the 3rd to the 6th December 2019. The litigants wanted the proceedings and decisions to be corrected and/or reviewed and/or declared null and void and/or illegal and/or unlawful.

According to court documents, Mogwera and others had also sought a court order declaring that the meetings breached the BOPEU constitution.

Justice Garekwe did not take kindly at the manner in which some individuals leaders at BOPEU are using other people’s money to fight personal battles.

“I am greatly concerned by the number of cases being registered by the same parties which cases have serious financial implications on the purse of the 2nd Respondent. Put differently, the parties who have time and again been coming to Court at the slightest opportunity do so not at their own expense but the expense of the members of BOPEU. There seem to be a reckless disregard of this very important fact,” said Garekwe.

She said BOPEU leaders tasked with the responsibility to protect and safeguard the interests of the members of the union, ought to do exactly that and not seek to fight personal battles at the expense of the members.

“This vitiating circle and/or cycle need to stop. I am tempted to award costs against individuals who are hiding behind the Union to fight their personal battles and excuse the Union from paying any costs,” said Garekwe.

The judge observed that the Courts are being bombarded with unmeritorious litigation by the same parties and at times seeking similar reliefs but in different proceedings.

Garekwe said she was constrained by the fact that the parties did not have the opportunity even to argue some point before her.

She further observed that the orders given had the effect of simply confirming what other judges had already determined in other cases which are closely linked or associated with the present matter. 

He ordered that all or any decisions at the Special General Congress of the 2nd Respondent, held on the 29th November 2019 to the 2nd December 2019 and/or the Central Executive Committee held from the 3rd to the 6th December 2019 are declared as unlawful and are as such set aside.

The Judge also ordered the second respondent Ketlhapeleng Karabo to pay cost of the law suit.

RELATED STORIES

Read this week's paper