Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) will have to battle against the axis of an invigorated Umbrella for Democratic Change Plus (UDC+) [inclusive of Botswana Congress Party (BCP)] and Botswana Federation of Public Private and Parastatals Sector Unions (BOFEPPPUSU) as the two are in collision and are adamant to unseat the BDP in 2019.
The BDP will for the first time since independence face a single opposition party at the polls and will also have to divert some of its attention to BOFEPUPPUSU which has also resolved to launch war in a bid to “defend workers’ rights in Botswana.” BOFEPPPUSU, a consortium of four public sector unions; National Amalgamated Central, Local & Parastatal Workers' Union (NACLPWU), Botswana Sectors of Educators Trade Union (BOSETU), Botswana Teachers Unions (BTU) and Botswana Land Board & Local Authorities & Health Workers Union (BLLAHWU) at its Special Congress last weekend passed a few resolutions aimed at aiding the removal of BDP from power in 2019.
After deliberations by delegates on the way forward amid an unending frosty relationship with government, the congress resolved among others; that the federation should resort to mass demonstrations as of the beginning of 2017 to make the public and all stakeholders aware of the government’s infringements on workers.
The congress also mandated the leadership of the affiliate unions’ regions and branches to move urgently to resuscitate the regional structures of the federations that would drive regional membership mobilisation and information dissemination. The delegates agreed it was necessary to keep the federation structures vibrant as they prepare for the 2019 general elections. It was suggested that affiliate structures should engage on house-to-house campaigns in order to make the federation’s presence felt. BOFEPPPUSU have a membership base of over 70 000.
BOFEPPPUSU (then BOFEPUSU) had a fallout with the ruling party in 2011, in the same year, the federation staged the historic public sector industrial strike which lasted for more than two months and led to over 800 employees losing their jobs. Ahead of 2014, the federation endorsed UDC, then a coalition of three opposition parties; Botswana National Front (BNF), Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) and Botswana Peoples Party (BPP). It then urged its members to shun the ruling BDP and BCP, which had declined to be part of opposition coalition following collapse of initial talks.
BOFEPPPUSU became famous for its ‘hit list’ in which it released names of politicians running for parliament who are believed not to be pushing for the agenda of the working class. In 2014, a 14 name list was released and six of the 14, being Dumelang Saleshando, Botsalo Ntuane, Mephato Reatile, Olebile Gaborone, Daniel Kwelagobe and Gaotlhaetse Matlhabaphiri lost the general elections.
BOFEPPPUSU is adamant that government wants to destroy the Public Service Bargaining Council (PSBC) also to take away the union’s right to collective bargaining. BOFEPPPUSU has not taken kindly to government’s decision to place a number of cadres in the public service under the essential service category; contrary to International Labour Organisation (ILO) requirements.
BOFEPPPUSU Secretary General Tobokani Rari said it is clear that since the 2011 strike, government has become ‘angry’ and declared war on the labour unions. He said the recent development, under the leadership of President Lt Gen Ian Khama has reversed the gains government made during the leadership of President Quett Masire and Festus Mogae.
Rari mentioned reforms such as ratifying ILO statutes in 1997, pledging to support freedom of association and protection of the right to organise by workers as progressive steps. This was also accompanied by ratifying the right to organise and collective bargaining statute, Rari said. “Parliament also passed Trade Union and Employers Act, which allowed formation of unions and transformation of associations to unions,” Rari noted.
“But under Khama’s leadership we have seen reversal of those gains and the government now wants to take away the right of workers to strike, which is a necessary tool for the workers in the process of bargaining.” BOFEPPUSU congress has endorsed the proposal to challenge the decision to amend the Trade Dispute Act which has been signed into law. The Act lists a number of cadres in the public service in the ‘Essential Service’ category among them Department of Broadcasting, teachers and Veterinary employees. The new Act essentially takes away this cadre’s right to engage on industrial strike.
NEW OPPOSITION PARTY: UDC+ Following a dismal performance in 2014, which threatened the party’s future in governance, BDP is determined to prolong its stay in power. BDP scored a paltry 46.7 percent in popular vote, its worst since independence. BDP also surrendered its strongholds to opposition, a development which saw opposition moving to unprecedented 20 seats in parliament. (MP Bagalatia Arone has since defected to BDP, reducing opposition seats to 18, another seat being vacant following the death of Tlokweng MP Same Bathobakae).
In 2014, 13 of the BDP seats where won with the aid of vote splitting within opposition parties. Such marginal seats include Selebi Phikwe East. Francistown West, Francistown East, Gaborone South, Bobirwa, Lobatse, Thamaga-Kumakwane, Lentsweletau-Mmopane. Cooperation talks, which have eluded opposition parties for a long time now, finally became successful pending resolution on just two constituencies. The development will see BDP facing only one opposition party and having also to deal with the militant BOFEPPPUSU which is expected to throw its weight behind the opposition bloc.
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.