The Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) will anytime from now call a congress ahead of the October polls at which it will draw a list of Parliamentary candidates who should not be elected by its members in this year’s general elections.
According to reports, the congress is likely to take place within the next few weeks following the conclusion of the ongoing radio debates which have been taking place at different constituencies by the National radio stations, Radio Botswana and Duma FM. BOFEPUSU president, Johannes Tshukudu confirmed this in an interview this week. “As the federation leadership we are about to meet to decide on which political party to support come October 23rd as well as related issues like hit-lists of any politician against the workers. This will happen anytime from today. I may not be sure due to tight schedules of union leaders but very soon.”
In the past elections BOFEPUSU made it clear that their dreaded axe was specially designed for the ruling party and wanted most of its candidates to lose the elections. The consequences of the hit list were devastating for the ruling party as eight out of 13 targeted members lost elections starting with the primaries. Botswana Congress Party President, Dumelang Saleshando was the only opposition member who was targeted, and as fate would have it he went on to lose to Dr Phenyo Butale, then of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC).
For now the union is still assessing and it is highly likely that more of the opposition members could be included in the hit list. BOFEPUSU in 2014 emphasized its support for UDC, a party which was formed at the height of a three-month long national public service strike in April 2011. BOFEPUSU then agreed to work with the party as a revolutionary force against the BDP regime with at aim to help UDC to power. In turn the UDC promised to respect worker’s rights at all times.
However this time the union is still not sure as to which party to throw their support behind. “2019 polls will be different from those of 2014. Political parties have increased and political guards have changed with some political parties. All these are some of the issues that need to be considered in deciding which party to support,” Tshukudu told this publication.
The government’s failure to resuscitate the Public Service Bargaining Council (PSBC) as well as a court case in which the Director of Public Service Management (DPSM) was seeking to de-recognize trade unions among factors that shows that there is need for government to do more in order to win the hearts of the workers. Failure to implement the PEMANDU report recommendations is another area that might put the BDP and its candidates on the cliff as trade unions believe those suggestions by the consultants should have been implemented by now.
PEMANDU has recommended 20 percent increment for public servants on grade A and B; 10 percent for grade C and D; and 15 percent for grade E and F. It further states that in the absence of increments to civil servants on higher notches, of grades E and F, “we recommend the following: 15 percent for grades A and B; 10 percent for grades C and D.”
At their congress last year BOFEPUSU members mandated the leadership to review its relationship with the UDC and produce a report. Trade unionists met at a retreat in Mmathubudikwane late last year but could not complete the report. The report was expected to be completed sometimes in March but it is not yet out.
BOFEPUSU is an umbrella union for five civil service unions, comprising of; Botswana Land Boards, Local Authorities and Health Workers union (BLLHWU), Botswana Sector of Educators Trade Union (BOSETU), Botswana Teacher’s Union (BTU), National Amalgamated Local, Central Government and Parastatal Workers Union (NALCGPWU) and Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU).
According to Johnson Motshwarakgole in the past elections the five unions with a membership of over 70 000 government employees agreed to oust Khama’s leadership through the Thaba Thula convention of 2011 when Khama and his Ministers failed to reasonably address the worker’s concerns.
“When workers demanded salary increment in 2011 and went on a strike, Khama did not care at all and said that even if we were to strike for five years, he did not care. Individual unions used to have bargaining structures. For instance NALCGPWU, had what was called the National joint industrial class coordinating committee, but such structures have long been replaced by the national bargaining Council which the President and his official do not respect anymore,” Motshwarakgole said then.
BFTU RELEASES WORKERS MANIFESTO
On the other hand Botswana Federation of Trade Union (BFTU) is maintaining their 2014 stance of being non-partisan. The union has nonetheless released a 22 paged manifesto in which they address issues of unemployment, labour migration, public safety education and human resource development. BFTU says any candidate or political party relishing their vote will have to address how he will tackle points they have in the manifesto.
While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.
Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.
Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.
Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.
Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”
“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.
He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.
He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.
According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.
There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.
Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.
“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication. The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.