Monday, September 25, 2023

Standard Bank, union officials served with court order over secret account

In a new twist in the conflict between the Botswana Diamond Workers Union (BDWU) and its Diamond Trading Company Botswana (DTCB) Branch, the former have, through their attorneys, served a court order on Standard Chartered Bank of Botswana (SCB) and two expelled branch officials for allegedly opening a secret account with the Bank.

This followed a notice of motion and application by BDWU through Mosweu and Company Attorneys heard by High Court Justice Michael L. Mothobi on the 29th April, 2013, which was turned into an order in favour of the Union. The motion had sought the court to declare that the decision by Mogae Motshubi and Kabelo Kelepile to open the alleged secret bank account with Standard Chartered Bank was unlawful.

In the same vein, the Union demanded the interdiction of both Motshubi and Kelepile from operating the said account, to which court ruled in the affirmative.

Motshubi was Union’s DTCB Branch Secretary whilst Kelepile was chairperson before they both got expelled on account of alleged indiscipline after discovery of the “secret” account by the National Executive Committee (NEC) of BDWU.

According to the application for interdiction, BDWU also wanted the court to order SCB to release the funds alleged to have been saved with their bank, and to transfer such funds to the Union’s rightful accounts, but the court rather ordered SCB to freeze the account subject to the outcome of an impending determination of right.

Thus, Motshubi and Kelepile were in the same context barred from meddling with the account pending full and final determination of the matter as scheduled for 3rd June, 2013 at the High Court.

It is expected that in the absence of any opposition filed by either of the two officials and or the bank, the court is likely to rule in favour of BDWU that the funds in the alleged account be transferred to the appropriate account and bank.

The particulars of the case are that the two expelled officials have, without the express consent of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the BDWU, more specifically the National Treasurer, diverted subscription monies meant for the Union’s account at Barclays Bank Botswana, to an account of their choosing at a different bank, namely SCB.

“There is no provision in the constitution that either expressly or impliedly empowers any Branch Committee to collect, hold and or retain membership subscription fees or any other money belonging to the Applicant (BDWU) for any reason whatsoever”, submitted Jacob Mpasopi, BDWU Secretary General, in an affidavit filed with the notice of motion and application for a court order.

On justifying their action to the NEC through a letter replying to the query, both attached to the court papers, the two expelled Branch officials had argued that they were acting on the strength of a resolution of the Branch general meeting.

In that context, BDWU submitted such reason could not hold water as it was not consistent with provisions of the Union’s constitution and financial procedures.

Mpasopi contended in the affidavit attached to BDWU application for a court interdiction of the two that given that the Applicant, the Union has no control over the money deposited with SCB as the signatories are Motshubi and Kelepile and not members of the NEC.

“It is more likely that they may abuse or appropriate the said money to themselves by reason of them being in control of and or having access thereto.”

So, to prevent that risk, the only remedy available to the Union, it was argued was the money being removed from the said account to the Union’s proper coffers.

Both Kelepile and Motshubi would not respond to Sunday Standard enquiries on the basis that they would like to jeopardize on-going talks on reconciliation, whilst efforts to solicit SCB comments on the matter were not helpful.

Subject to the defendants options, Justice Mothobi is set to make his final determinations on the matter first week of June.


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