Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) interim President, Masego Mogwera has stated that her union will not re-join Botswana Federation of Public Private and Parastatal Sector Union (BOFEPPPUSU) any time soon or until such a time the membership resolves to do so.
Mogwera, who ascended to the top position following the departure of long time serving president, Andrew Motsamai, told a press conference this week that a lot will remain the same under her leadership. ‘The decision to leave BOFEPPPUSU is a 2015 congress resolution,” she said, “Until such a time that the congress makes another resolution to re-join BOFEPPPUSU, BOPEU will not rejoin.”
Motsamai has left the presidency to take up a post in the commercial wing of the union, as Executive Chairman. In the run up to the 2015 Palapye congress, long time soul mates, Motsamai and Mogwera found themselves on opposite sides. It is reported that Mogwera was against the idea of BOPEU de-affiliating from BOFEPPPUSU while Motsamai led the campaign to take BOPEU out of the federation.
At the time the conflict was over BOFEPPUSU’s decision to support a newly formed opposition party, Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) at a disadvantage of other contesting parties, Botswana Congress Party and Botswana Democratic Party. BOFEPPPUSU apparently did so to safe guard its interest by supporting leadership which was pro-federation.
The union played a big role in the formation of the UDC ahead of the 2014 general elections, but after BCP pulled out from the unity negotiations (building up to UDC formation), talks of BOPEU’s intention to pull out from BOFEPPPUSU became rife, Motsamai, in particular is said to have initiated the idea.
However Mogwera allegedly held a different view, hence when the union went for its Palapye congress, there were reports that the federation was throwing its weight behind Mogwera and Sikalame Seitiso, who was then challenging Motsamai for Presidency. Both Seitiso and Mogwera were viewed as supporting the decision to continue being part of the federation.
The differences between Mogwera and Motsamai led to both contesting on opposite camps. The two were able to secure their seats at the congress. Mogwera defeated Motsamai’s ally, Tlotlang Bakoko to win the 1st Deputy President position. Motsamai on the other hand defeated Sikalame Seitiso for the presidency.
Both Mogwera and Seitiso were against BOPEU leaving BOFEPPPUSU but it was Motsamai’s team which garnered enough support for the de-affiliation, but now with Motsamai having left the leadership of the union, it is widely believed that Mogwera’s sympathetic stance on BOFEPPPUSU will set in motion a process which will lead to the union returning to the federation.
Mogwera played a sterling role in the establishment of BOFEPPPUSU and becoming its president for a period of 5 years. It was during Mogwera’s reign that BOFEPPPUSU engaged in the massive 2011 strike in which public servants downed tools for a period of two months. During that era, Motsamai was the federation’s secretary general.
Mogwera has however denied having knowledge of BOFEPPPUSU’s support ahead of the elections. BOFEPPPUSU had also at one point denied its involvement in the BOPEU elections. That notwithstanding, last year at the 2016 BOFEPPPUSU Special Congress held in Tlokweng at Oasis Motel, Labour Secretary, Motshwarakgole hinted to the delegates and leadership that the federation should not keep the door closed for its former affiliate.
Motswarakgole was quoted as saying as the federation engaged in massive mobilisation in preparation for the crucial 2019 general elections, there is a need to extend an olive branch to the union. This was at the time Motsamai was still president of BOPEU.
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 BOFEPPUSU 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 that she would not singlehandedly take a decision to take BOPEU back to BOFEPPPUSU, 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 BOFEPPPUSU qualifying for the bargaining council membership. As things stand, Manual Workers Union is the only union which meets the threshold for bargaining council membership.
BCP INCLUSION IN THE UDC
Mogwera was part of the BOFEPPPUSU team which facilitated for the formation of a united opposition bloc. The idea of a united opposition was based on forming a political movement which will enjoy the backing of the working class and the trade union. However, Mogwera broke ranks with many when she distanced the federation from the hit-list prepared by his colleagues to de-campaign politicians who were viewed as not pro-workers. Among the list was BCP President, Dumelang Saleshando.
According to sources, Mogwera who is allegedly sympathetic to BCP reneged on the earlier promise because BCP withdrew from the coalition following the collapse of the initial talks. With BCP in the coalition, it is believed, BOPEU may loosen up on its decision to de-affiliate from BOFEPPPUSU.
Botswana Police Service (BPS) has indicated concern about the ongoing trend where the general public falls victim to criminals purporting to be police officers.
According to BPS Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, the criminals target individuals at shopping malls and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) where upon approaching the unsuspecting individual the criminals would pretend to have picked a substantial amount of money and they would make a proposal to the victims that the money is counted and shared in an isolated place.
“On the way, as they stop at the isolated place, they would start to count and sharing of the money, a criminal syndicate claiming to be Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officer investigating a case of stolen money will approach them,” said Motube in a statement.
The Commissioner indicated that the fake police officers would instruct the victims to hand over all the cash they have in their possession, including bank cards and Personal Identification Number (PIN), the perpetrators would then proceed to withdraw money from the victim’s bank account.
Motube also revealed that they are also investigating a case in which a 69 year old Motswana woman from Molepolole- who is a victim of the scam- lost over P62 000 last week Friday to the said perpetrators.
“The Criminal syndicate introduced themselves as CID officers investigating a case of robbery where a man accompanying the woman was the suspect.’’
They subsequently went to the woman’s place and took cash amounting to over P12 000 and further swindled amount of P50 000 from the woman’s bank account under the pretext of the further investigations.
In addition, Motube said they are currently investigating the matter and therefore warned the public to be vigilant of such characters and further reminds the public that no police officer would ask for bank cards and PINs during the investigations.
Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leadership walked out of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting this week on account of being targeted by other cooperating partners.
UDC meet for the first time since 2020 after previous futile attempts, but the meeting turned into a circus after other members of the executive pushed for BCP to explain its role in media statements that disparate either UDC and/or contracting parties.
The Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crimes (DCEC), Tymon Katlholo’s spirited fight against the contentious transfers of his management team has forced the Office of the President to rescind the controversial decision. However, some insiders suggest that the reversal of the transfers may have left some interested parties with bruised egos and nursing red wounds.
The transfers were seen by observers as a badly calculated move to emasculate the DCEC which is seen as defiant against certain objectionable objectives by certain law enforcement agencies – who are proven decisionists with very little regard for the law and principle.