Friday, July 12, 2024

Knives out for Motshegwa

Internal wars currently engulfing the Botswana Land Board, Local Authorities & Health Workers Union (BLLAHWU) are far from over.

Some members of the Central Executive Committee (CEC) insist they want secretary general Ketlhalefile Motshegwa out. 

After losing an urgent application before Justice Bengbame Sechele, the union’s First Vice President, Nicholas Letso Mothelesi, Second Vice President Boemo Baletang Bato and Treasurer, Baone Christopher Seloka have now approached the High Court again seeking the renewal of Motshegwa’s contract of employment to be set aside. 

The Union’s President, Thatayaone Kesebonye and Motshegwa are cited as Third Respondent and Second Respondent respectively while (BLLAHWU is the First Respondent. 

In their latest application before Justice Itumeleng Segopolo, Mothelesi, Bato and Seloka demand that the union to show cause why its decision or the resolutions of the Central Executive Committee of the 19th June 2020 to renew the contract of employment of Motshegwa for a period of 5 years commencing 1st July 2020 to 30th June 2025 cannot be reviewed, corrected or set aside. 

They are also seeking an order declaring the decision of the Central Executive Committee of the union to renew the contract of employment of Motshegwa for a 5-year period commencing 1st July 2020 to 30th June 2025 ultra vires the powers of the Central Executive Committee and consequently null and void. 

Giving a background of what led to the current internal strife, Mothelesi explained that on 19th June 2020, Kesebonye called a meeting of the CEC specially to discuss the renewal of the contract of employment of Motshegwa. 

Mothelesi further explained that at the said meeting he specifically asked if the CEC has the mandate or power to appoint or renew the contract of the secretary general. 

He said members of the CEC could not agree on the issue, therefore he suggested that the matter be referred to lawyers for a legal opinion. 

“My suggestion was rejected and the matter was referred to a vote and the vote resolved that the appointment or renewal of the contract of the secretary general is within the scope of CEC. The next issue therefore to be determined was whether the contract of the secretary general could be renewed. It was also referred to a vote,” said Mothelesi. 

There were six members of the CEC in attendance including Kesebonye as Chair of the meeting. 

The President of the union, Deputy Secretary General and Secretary for Arts, Sports and Culture voted in favour of the renewal whereas Mothelesi, Bato and Seloka voted against the renewal. 

“The President then said he was invoking Article 25.7(b) which gives him a casting vote in the event of tie. He then voted in favour of the renewal. Therefore, he voted twice on the said issue,” said Mothelesi. 

He added that on or about the 23rd June 2020, Kesebonye signed a contract of employment with Motshegwa in terms of which Motshegwa was appointed to the position of secretary general. 

Of particular interest in the said contact of employment, Mothelesi said, is the fact that Motshegwa was given a fixed term contract of five years. 

The said contract of employment also provides that in the event it is terminated earlier by the Union, it shall be liable to pay Motshegwa the remainder or balance of the contract, according to Mothelesi. 

He said in terms of article 16.2.6 of the Union Constitution, the conditions of employment of the union employee shall be approved by the Governing Council on recommendations of the CEC. 

Mothelesi argued that the CEC does not have the power to elect or appoint the secretary He said article 13.2.2 of the Constitution of the Union is very clear that the CEC office bearers should be elected by the Congress. All members of the Union’s CEC were elected by the Congress except for Motshegwa. 

He said Motshegwa is not a member of the Union by virtue of the fact that he is not an employee in an industry with which the Union is directly concerned. Since Motshegwa is not a member of the Union, he cannot hold an elected position within the Union, Mothelesi further argued.

He said Motshegwa was first elected to the position of secretary general in 2011 and he remained in that office to date. 

“His tenure in office in excess of the two consecutive terms of three years contrary to the Constitution of the Union adding that in terms of the Constitution of the union one can only serve for six years as secretary general,” said Mothelesi. 

He said the President of the Union was conflicted on the matter and failed to disclose his interest when the issue of renewal of the contract of employment of Motshegwa was discussed. 

He said Kesebonye and Motshegwa are partners in a business called Leiso Projects Limited. They hold equal shares in the said company and they are both directors of the said company. 

He said because of the President of the union’s personal relationship with Motshegwa, Kesebonye voted twice to ensure that his business partner secures employment and signed a contract of employment with terms which are more favourable to his partners and prejudicial to the union. 

“He did not have the best interest of the union at heart in signing the contract,” said Mothelesi.

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