On Monday, the labour movement in Botswana learned with shock and sadness the demise of one of their own, the maverick Ibo Nana Kenosi, due to Covid-19 complications.
A heavy dark curtain fell on the labor movement especially at Botswana Teachers Union where he was loved by many due to his selfless spirit.
Kenosi has been one of the most powerful labour union leaders as the Secretary-general of Botswana Teachers Union (BTU) for almost nine years.
During his time as the chief scribe of BTU, he was treated with admiration by the working class with deferential regard by the country’s political leadership, both within the ruling party and the opposition who craved for his goodwill.
A strategist that he was, Kenosi resigned as BTU Secretary-General before the elective congress in 2016, a move that he knew will come with rewards for him.
Speculations started to be thrown around that the combatant unionist who is not afraid to speak his mind even if is against collective agreement might have been pushed.
Those close to BTU politics have revealed that the mighty Kenosi ship started to sink after the government slapped BTU President Johannes Tshukudu and Treasure Monthosi Monnatsie with a deployment letter.
Not the one afraid to do the unthinkable, his fingerprints were all over the transfers of Tshukudu and Monnatsie, but he maintained his innocence.
This was made strong by his close relationship with the then Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi, and there was feeling that he used his friendship to push out his nemesis.
BOFEPUSU took over the case after BTU refused to foot the bill for the application, which raised eyebrows that the transfer might have been motivated from within.
Botswana Federation of Public Sector Union (BOFEPUSU) filed an urgent application seeking an interim interdict staying a decision of the Director of Public Service Management (DPSM) to transfer Tshukudu and his Treasurer General Monnatsie from their current work station to the Ministry of Transport and Communications and Ministry of Youth Sports and Culture respectively.
While many within BTU and BOFEPUSU accused the maverick BTU chief scribe of working with the government to kick out Tshukudu and Monnaatsie from union politics, the plain-spoken, steel-willed Kenosi maintained his innocence.
After his resignation as BTU SG, the oldest teachers union deployed him to GetBucks as an executive.
Former BTU President Tshukudu regarded Kenosi as the most hardworking young leader that he has encountered.
The rabble-rouser that he was, Kenosi, then announced that he is joining active politics as a member of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP). He then launched a massive campaign in Shashe Constituency, sending shivers to the incumbent Fidelis Molao. Though he didn’t do the campaign in the BDP colors, many knew that he wanted to contest the 2019 general elections under the BDP ticket. His campaign was led by his close friend and labour activist Uyapo Malinga.
He will later retreat and endorsed Molao, who has already resigned to his political fate.
A rough reign 2010-2016
After being elected as the secretary-general in 2010 at Goodhope elective congress, where he toppled Kgasa, Kenosi was slapped with suspension after allegations that he sabotaged some members of the NEC.
He would later be reinstated after reconciliation with fellow NEC members.
Ahead of the 2013 congress in Francistown, Kenosi was again in the limelight when he was accused of using his position to benefit from the business deal that BTU entered into.
After some investigations which involved the Directorate of Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC), the militant BTU leader was cleared of wrongdoing.
He was also accused of using the new constitution, which has not been endorsed by the registrar of union.
This led to the congress being canceled and subsequently held in Mmadinare, where he triumphed.
Transformation of BTU
Since he took over as the secretary-general, BTU has shown tremendous growth in its membership and investment.
In their 2014 financial report, the union posted a healthy financial statement that grew by 13%, way above the Botswana inflationary movement.
BTU’s non-current assets, including properties, have increased from P45 079 320 in 2013 to P49 949 165 in 2014, representing an increase of nine percent.
Botswana’s oldest union saw their current asserts increasing from P1 042 908 to 2 825 887. This was attributed to improvement in the cash resources of the union, whose cash resources were 94 percent of the total group cash in the bank.
One of the assets that have contributed to the increase in profit for the teacher union is the Planet Lodge in Francistown, whose purchase nearly split the 78-year-old union in 2012 with allegations of corruption in the transaction bandied about.
Before the 2012 elective congress, he was alleged that he pocketed over P10 million when the lodge was bought and didn’t consult the board.
During his time as the Secretary-General, BTU has invested in five companies, More Power Investments (Pty) Ltd, in which they have 90% shareholding. Honest Investment (Pty) Ltd (91%), Botusafe (Pty) Ltd (25%), Unichem (Pty) Ltd (25%), and Botswana Federation of Trade Union, where they also hold 25% shareholding.