A seemingly unremarkable provision in the constitution of the Botswana Scout Association (BSA) handed its Chief Commissioner, Morgan Letsholathebe, legal victory on a silver platter at the Gaborone High Court on Friday morning. In terms of the BSA constitution, the annual council meeting (ACM) must be held once a year at the behest of the National Executive Council (NEC). The latter is mandated to determine the date, time and venue of upcoming Council meetings. In the final analysis, the validity test that Justice Dr. Zein Kebonang applied in his judgement was whether a contentious meeting at the centre of the case met this standard.
In September last year, BSA’s Chief Scout, Dr. Jabulani Muchado, sent out invitations for the 2015 ACM to District Scout Commissioners and Southern Scouts. Days later, he sent off a second letter and mobile text messages postponing the ACM and notifying addressees that the new date would be communicated in due course after the NEC had met. The latter effort came nought and BSA management held what it believed to be a legitimate NEC-sanctioned meeting on November 21 last year. The meeting passed a vote of no-confidence on Letsholathebe. Having been notified of the postponement by Muchado, Letsholathebe didn’t attend the latter meeting.
Despite the resolution taken at the said meeting, Letsholathebe continued his work as Chief Commissioner and communicated with third parties as such. Determined to effect its resolution, BSA sought an interdict restraining Letsholathebe from conducting himself as its Chief Commissioner. Conversely, Letsholathebe questioned the legality of the meeting that suspended him. He contended that the NEC had never met to decide the date, time and place of the next ACM. He also stated that the previous NEC meeting had degenerated into chaos without ever deciding on the date, time and place of the next meeting. In his own affidavit, Muchado confirmed that while it was convened “to take a resolution as to the date, time and proposed agenda of the annual Council meeting”, the chaotic meeting did not achieve that. The court agreed.
“In my view, the ACM would have been validly held if it was convened in terms of [BSA’s] constitution, that is, pursuant to the NEC meeting which would have determined the date and place of the meeting. As stated, there is clearly a dispute of fact as to whether the 21st November 2015 meeting was an NEC-sanctioned meeting as required by the [BSA] constitution. The applicant chose at its own peril not to address this point. In the final analysis, I am not satisfied that the Applicant has established a clear right and accordingly so hold,” Kebonang says in his judgement. Huge sums of money were obviously involved in the case. This being an urgent application each side was suitably lawyered up with Uyapo Ndadi representing BSA and Phenyo Sekape representing Letsholathebe. Kebonang ordered the Association to pay the legal costs.