Botswana Federation of Public Sector Union (BOFEPUSU) has admitted that it will be part of the planned protests against Swaziland’s King Mswati III’s impending chairmanship of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region.
Mswati is expected to take over the SADC chairmanship reins from President Ian Khama whose term expires at the next summit scheduled for Mbabane, Swaziland later this month at a date yet to be confirmed.
And as Mswati prepares to take over the SADC chairmanship of the 16-nation regional bloc, BOFEPUSU alongside other workers’ federations within the region as well as beyond have vowed to be in solidarity with their working counterparts in Swaziland.
Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWSA), Swaziland’s largest workers’ federation has already called on for sanctions against Mswati ahead of the SADC summit. TUCOSWSA is accusing Mswati of wasteful spending by his government.
TUCOSWSA has joined hands with the banned People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) in making their disapproval of Mswati taking over the SADC chairperson by staging protests just before, during and soon after the summit.
“Most of labor movements and governments within the SADC are aware of what is happening in Swaziland,” Mario Masuku, the president of the banned PUDEMO, said in a statement when responding to a questionnaire send to him early this week.
However, Masuku could not be drawn into discussing what kind of protests are they going to be staging. Masuku said divulging their grand plan might prove suicidal arguing “Mswati is a dangerous man who is capable of doing anything stupid even killing.”
BOFEPUSU has admitted that it is going to be part of the protests. Ketlhalefile Motshegwa, the BOFEPUSU Secretary General told this publication in a telephone interview that time for dictators is over.
“He (Mswati) is a dictator,” said Motshegwa in justifying their decision to stand in solidarity with their Swazi counterparts when embarking on anti-Mswati protests before, during and after the forthcoming SADC summit in Mbabane.
According Motshegwa, workers in Swaziland are subjected to first class exploitation while labor activists are not allowed advocate for their members. Motshegwa said Mswati has gone to an extent of banning unionization of workers because of “his dictatorship tendencies.”
He said BOFEPUSU is busy lobbying other labor federations to join the protests. He said Zimbabwean workers, who are under siege themselves, have promised to be part of the protests to be staged in the monarch kingdom of Swaziland.
Nicholas Mabhena of South African based Zimbabwe Communist Movement said: “An injury to one worker is an injury to all. We are in total solidarity with our counterparts in Swaziland hence our decision to be part of the protests later this month.”
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.