The Secretary General of the Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU), Topias Marenga has implored members of his unions to be vigilant against untruths being peddled against the union and its relationship with government.
He pointed out that despite the anti-BOPEU campaign, his union continues to attract hundreds of members from the rival Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU), whose secretary general Tobokani Rari has made it clear that “the two are very parallel” in approach. “Our recruitment drive is paying off with multitudes of members joining our union,” he said.
According to Marenga, they as BOPEU are very careful not to mislead their members into believing that they are immune from the dictates of the Public Service Act. “We are encouraging our members to be very responsible employees. We will not be reckless and call on them to make party political statements, this is exactly part of the reasons why we divorced BOFEPUSU.”
The Secretary General is concerned that the partisan agenda has made trade unions to be enemies. He stressed that BOPEU will remain a non-partisan union whose main focus shall be the welfare of its members, and the large picture of fighting for the rights of workers in Botswana.
The BOPEU secretary general said the union leadership is touring the country to address members following a spate of court cases which were necessitated by the dysfunctional status of the Public Service Bargaining Council and their disagreements with BOFEPUSU. “We have over 36 000 members, you can imagine that they all want proper information in regard their conditions of service. Our intention is to follow them to their regions and tell them the truth. We have been to a number of places including Gaborone, Maun, Francistown, Palapye, Selibe Phikwe, Kanye, Tsabong, and many others,” he said.
Marenga said BOPEU members are happy with the way leadership is handling matters. He said they intend to continue their recruitment by harvesting the multitudes of frustrated BOFEPUSU members. Asked about the status of the PSBC following the decision by BOFEPUSU to withdraw, Marenga flatly refused to discuss BOFEPUSU matters, but rather chose a careful response: “we still have faith that the PSBC could be functional if all parties, that is the employer party and the union party respect one another.”
He further said as BOPEU they are still convinced that the constitution of the PSBC must be amended to allow all unions to bargain. He admitted that the current threshold as stipulated in the constitution leaves out a lot of trade unions from the bargaining process, “which is unfair”.
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.