The Secretary General of the Botswana Sectors of Educators Union, Tobokani Rari, has asked the High Court to set aside the writ of summons served on him by four Union members because it is “irregular and improper.”
The members are Tshetsana Motsatsing, Namwaka Shamukuni, Carthage Kenosi and Matthews Masole who allege that Rari “deliberately” fabricated resolutions of a national congress (the highest decision-making body in the Union) for reasons of personal benefit. The specific charge they make is that Rari removed a clause restricting the Secretary General’s term of office and replaced with one which provides for merely disseminating minutes. They assert that at the 2013 national congress, Rari was directed to put back the clause about term limits but never did so.
The quartet, which is represented by Rockfall Lekgowe Law Group, want the court to declare that the alteration of the clause in question was “fraudulent and therefore unlawful”, that the original provision be restored, that the SG position be declared vacant because Rari, who was re-elected last April, is holding such office unlawfully and that BOSETU should hold fresh elections for the SG position within 21 days of the order being made.
In firing his first salvo, Rari has invoked a High Court rule (Order 61, Rule 8) that he argues the quartet has fallen foul of. The latter states that where one complains of a decision, they must institute review proceedings within four months.
“The amendment of a constitution of a trade union constitutes administrative action, which ought to be challenged by way of review proceedings,” says Rari in his affidavit. “The election of officers of a trade union also constitutes administrative action, which ought to be challenged by way of judicial review.”
Rari goes farther to state that the quartet knew of his allegedly unconstitutional acts for eight years “and yet no legal proceedings were instituted to have the amendments set aside or to have my candidature invalided.” He makes the same argument with regard to the invalidation of his April 2021 election as Secretary General, noting that the quartet’s application came seven months after his election.
The quartet has cited BOSETU’s president, Winston Radikolo, the Union itself as well as the Registrar of Trade Unions, as respondents. The matter is before Justice Chris Gabanagae at the Gaborone High Court and Rari is represented by Collins Chilisa Consultants.