The Botswana Federation of Public-Private and Parastatal Sector Union known as BOFEPUSU has claimed ignorance of intended mediation between the federation and its former affiliate Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) by the opposition Botswana National Front (BNF).
At its conference held in Kang last month, the BNF resolved to mediate the two warring unions which have led to the country’s working class being polarised for the first in years. “We do not have any problem with the BNF resolution at all; neither do we have any problem with the initiative of mediation. However, the unfortunate thing is that we only hear about this initiative from Press Statements and media addresses,” said BOFEPUSU Secretary General Tobokani Rari.
“We have never been approached by the BNF since their Kang resolution and await such. Our major concern is that we keep hearing about this initiative in the media which is very unfair as this keeps the public thinking that there is something being done while there is nothing.” Rari said the BNF should come clean on this matter or desist from talking about it and create expectations. The relationship between BOFEPUSU and BOPEU took a worse turn in 2015 when the latter at its Palapye Congress resolved to disaffiliate from the federation.
The deterioration in relation was set in motion by BOFEPUSU decision to endorse Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) ahead of 2014 general elections, while BOPEU felt strongly against endorsing any political party. Since then the leadership of the two unions exchanged words in public domain. Recently BOFEPUSU accused BOPEU of convening with government to collapse the country’s bargaining council. BOFEPUSU were of the view that BOPEU was working against the interest of the workers.
While initially it was said, Andrew Motsamai, the former BOPEU president was the man who was standing between BOPEU and BOFEPUSU working together, even after his departure, the new President Masego Mogwera maintained the same policy. Following her ascendance to the presidency Masego told a press conference that a lot will remain the same under her leadership. ‘The decision to leave BOFEPUSU is a 2015 congress resolution,” she said, “Until such a time that the congress makes another resolution to re-join BOFEPUSU, BOPEU will not rejoin.”
MOTSAMAI-MOTSHWARAKGOLE FALL OUT
It has been widely reported that the fall out between veteran unionist and BOFEPPPUSU Labour Secretary, Johnson Motshwaragole, and his protégé Motsamai, led to the departure of BOPEU from the federation. Ever since the fallout BOPEU and BOFEPUSU have been at loggerheads in the battle to outclass each other. The two unions have been involved in squabbles, the latest being the bargaining council membership battle. The court has resulted in BOPEU bowing out of the council owing to its failure to meet the threshold needed to qualify for membership.
Although Mogwera has stated previously that she would not singlehandedly take a decision to take BOPEU back to BOFEPUSU, that BOPEU was no longer part of the bargaining council would haunt her. BOPEU was initially part of BOFEPUSU Acting Jointly Agreement, which allowed it to be part of the bargaining council as a result of Manual Workers Union, an affiliate of BOFEPUSU qualifying for the bargaining council membership. As things stand, Manual Workers Union was the only union which met the threshold for bargaining council membership. BOFEPUSU have since resigned from the Bargaining Council.
On the federation’s part, Rari said they would approach the matter of mediation, if such would happen with an open mind. “I would not want to go into that detail [conditions for reconciliation] as I might prejudice the process if ever it’s there. Issues would be put on the table and we will deal with them with an open mind as they are tabled.” Boko who previously maintained a hard stance against BOPEU has softened up towards the union recently. Boko was invited as guest speaker at BOPEU May Day celebrations.
In 2015, Boko declined invitation from BOPEU speak at its congress held in Palapye. Boko recently dismissed reports that his new relationship with BOPEU stems from the fact that the two parties are involved in business together. Boko admitted that he has been giving BOPEU legal opinion.
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.