President of Botswana National Front (BNF) Duma Gideon Boko has coded that the warring trade union foes, Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) and trade union members of Botswana Federation of Public, Private and Parastatal Sectors Union (BOFEPUSU) should smoke the peace pipe.
BOPEU disaffiliated from the union federation under discordant circumstances which were followed by an acidic rivalry that is still ongoing. Apart from BOPEU, BOFEPUSU member unions that have since remained with the mother body include Botswana Teachers Union (BTU), Botswana Sector of Educators Trade Union (BOSETU), Manuals Workers Union and Botswana Land Board & Local Authorities & Health Workers Union (BLLAHWU).
At the recently ended BNF Conference held at Kgalagadi South constituency in Kang, Boko said that the BOFEPUSU, BOPEU rivalry should cease. Boko’s stance also echoed the party resolutions arrived at at the end of the conference. A brief report from the conference stated that “the BNF Central Committee to help BOFEPUSU and BOPEU resolve their current differences. BNF is a mass movement organisation and takes labour issues seriously. It wants to see a united workforce.” The resolutions came from three groups which were known as Commissions which were set up to discuss the reports and speeches and bring resolutions and recommendations at the end.
Therefore in essence the resolution and other recommendations emanated from the Regional Reports; Treasure General; Secretary General and the President’s Reports and speeches. In light of the distinct resolution at the conference, it however did not come as a ‘bolt from the blue’ to many as Boko had extended a comparable gesture earlier, when he defied his party faithfuls and BOPEU rivals, and officiated at the BOPEU commemoration of Workers Day in May earlier this year.
He was at the event received with both coldness and ululations as he delivered a message of solidarity at the gathering which was in Palapye. The unexpected gesture was seen as part of the opposition leader’s continued endeavour to mediate between the two union foes and bring them together again. The relationship between BOFEPUSU and BOPEU took an irreparable knock in the build up to the 2014 General Elections when the former took a position to support the opposition Umbrella for Democratic Change for what they termed “friendly labour laws”.
At the time, their association with the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) had deteriorated to its lowest, punctuated by smugness and arrogance between the labour centre and the ruling party. Following the move, BOPEU later at its congress in 2015 took a resolution to gain autonomy from the federation as they believed the union should focus exclusively on labour issues against the position of BOFEPUSU. BOFEPUSU’s stance was that since labour issues are by nature political, the best way to deal with them was to take the political route.
However, for Boko and his party, BNF, which relied heavily on the support of BOFEPUSU towards the 2014 General Elections, there is desperate need to untie the warring unions. The UDC leader who is also the Gaborone Bonnington North law maker is widely cherished for being the architect of the concord of the main opposition parties BNF, Botswana Peoples Party (BPP) and Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) who stood collectively to compete against the ruling BDP in the 2014 Elections.Following a sterling performance at the elections, with the party pulling 17 constituencies in the bag for the first time, against BCP’s 3, the latter there later resolved to join the UDC and are expected to contest the 2019 General Elections as one unit. Boko’s skills of unifying different groups will be tested again in the BOFEPUSU, BOPEU skirmish.
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.