The Secretary General of the Botswana Mine Workers Union, Jack Tlhagale, has confirmed that they have written to Chief Justice Julian Nganunu complaining that he was delaying in finalizing a case in which some of their former members were jailed for contempt of Court.
The members, who are former office holders of the Executive Committee of BMWU, were sentenced to six months imprisonment for contempt of Court after the High Court had ruled that they should surrender all the Union’s property to the newly elected Executive Committee but they declined to carry out the order. The current Executive Committee claims that the old committee owes them, among other things, close to half a million pula as money from contributions of its members.
But after serving only five months of their six months jail terms, Nganunu, who had sentenced them to imprisonment, released them from jail without giving reasons. He said at the time that he would give his reasons later but has up to now not done so.
Asked how this is affecting their work in the Union , Tlhagale said that the fact that the Chief Justice had not explained the reasons behind the early release puts them in a difficult position because they do not understand why they were released without having complied with the court order to hand over all the Union’s property.
”As we talk, the union is still owed the money that we complained and went to court about,” said Tlhagale. “Besides that, there is a car at Ngami Toyota in Maun that they had bought for a raffle but we can not claim it as the matter between the new and old Executive Committees is still before the Court.”
All this, he said, puts them in an awkward position as they do not have answers to questions they are being asked by their members in regard to the matter. The old executive had apparently refused to hand over the property to the newly elected executive committee on grounds that those heading it, Tlhagale and his Chairman, Chimidza Chimidzani, could not lead the Union because they had been dismissed from their work at Debswana for having allegedly encouraged mine workers to go on an illegal strike .The New Executive, however, won the case as the court ruled that they could still lead the union even if they were not employed by any mining house.
The former executive members of the union have since been expelled from the Union.
Attempts to get a comment from the Master and Registrar of the High Court, Godfrey Nthomiwa, to whom the letter was sent, were futile.