BOFEPUSU, BOPEU mend relations
BOFEPUSU members singing and dancing at their congress recently
Botswana Federation of Public Servants Union (BOFEPUSU) has averted the imminent departure of want away affiliate, Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) following the latter’s litany of displeasure with the mother union over the elections held over the past weekend.
BOPEU’s acrimonious relationship with mother union, BOFEPUSU reached another level this past week with BOPEU withdrawing total participation in the recent national committee elections because of a number of complaints. BOPEU’s pulling out of the elections raised new fears that the freshly restored working relationship could go sour again as the two unions failed to reach an agreement on a number of key issues.
The BOFEPUSU conference held over the past weekend was hoped to bring the two unions together, with earlier efforts to reconcile them having failed. At the BOPEU convention last year December, the BOFEPUSU Secretary General Tobokani Rari told the delegates that their relationship with BOPEU had been mended and they were now focusing on moving forward. “We would like to apologise to BOFEPUSU and BOPEU members because we did the injustice by exchanging words in a public domain,” said Rari.
Despite the reconciliatory tone by Rari at BOFEPUSU’s convention last year, the conference held over this past weekend has proved that the two unions’ differences are far from over, with BOPEU showing little interest in continuing as an affiliate of BOFEPUSU. BOPEU leadership had at their own convention last year put on the table a suggestion to pull out of BOFEPUSU but the delegates saved the day as they disapproved the move.
The current BOFEPUSU and BOPEU stand-off stems from the events leading up to the 2014 elections during which the two unions started engaging in a bitter exchange of words in the media following the decision by a majority of BOFEPUSU affiliates to endorse the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) ahead of the general elections. BOPEU was of the view that although it was involved, particularly its president Andrew Motsamai in cajoling the opposition parties to form a united formation at the height of the 2011 public servants strike, the leadership was not given a mandate by its membership to endorse any political party.
Weekend Post has it on good authority that the newly elected BOFEPUSU Executive Committee met BOPEU leadership at the latter’s Central District Business (CBD) offices on Wednesday this week in yet another effort to restore the relationship and listen to the affiliate’s concern. However, it turns out that although the two had smoked the peace pipe, the following day (Thursday) BOFEPUSU held another meeting to prepare for the bargaining council negotiations, which members of BOPEU, being Masego Mogwera (past immediate BOFEPUSU president and Sikalesele Seitiso (BOPEU vice president) attended and participated in its proceedings.
It is understood that at the meeting, BOFEPUSU tried to soften up its affiliate with a policy of appeasement in which members of BOPEU would be co-opted in the remaining three positions which were uncontested at the conference held over the weekend. The uncontested positions were to be initially contested by members of BOPEU and remained vacant when they refused to participate in the elections. The positions are of Deputy President, Secretary for Youth, Sports and Culture, Secretary for Occupational health and were to be contested by Sikalesele Seitiso, Kebonyemeodisa Watota and Onkemetse Mokone respectively.
However, BOFEPUSU Deputy Secretary General Ketlhalefile Motshwegwa said there was no need to panic in regard to BOPEU’s status as an affiliate of the BOFEPUSU because there were no fears that BOPEU would de-affiliate. “We have met with the BOPEU leadership and they are part of the team preparing for the bargaining council negotiations,” he said.
“After the handing over of the duties by the outgoing executive committee, the new members of the executive committee will meet and co-opt members to fill the three vacant positions,” Motshegwa added.
Motshegwa went on to deny that there was any agreement reached to only co-opt members of BOPEU into the vacant positions, saying any member form affiliate unions could be co-opted.
BOFEPUSU is made up Botswana Sector of Educators Trade Union (BOSETU), Botswana Land Boards, Local Authorities and Health Workers Union (BLLAHWU), Botswana Teachers Union (BTU) and National Amalgamated, Local and Central Government and Parastatal Workers Union (NALCGPWU), Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) and Manual Workers Union (MWU).
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Local tennis team upbeat ahead of Billie Jean King cup
With almost two weeks until the 2023 Billie Jean King Cup, which will be staged in Kenya from June 12-17, 2023, the Botswana Tennis Association (BTA) ladies’ team coach, Ernest Seleke, is optimistic about reaching greater heights.
Billie Jean King Cup, or the BJK Cup, is a premier international team competition in women’s tennis, launched as the Federation Cup to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the International Tennis Federation (ITF). The BJK Cup is the world’s largest annual women’s international team sports competition in terms of the number of nations that compete.
The finals will feature 12 teams (Botswana, Burundi, Ghana, Kenya, Seychelles, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, Tunisia, Mauritius, Zimbabwe, and the Democratic Republic of Congo) competing in the four round-robin groups of three. The four group winners will qualify for the semifinals, and the 2023 Billie Jean King Cup will be crowned after the completion of the knockout phase.
Closer to home, the BW Tennis team is comprised of Thato Madikwe, Leungo Monnayoo, Chelsea Chakanyuka, and Kelebogile Monnayoo. However, according to Seleke, they have not assembled the team yet as some of the players are still engaged.
“At the moment, we are depending on the players and their respective coaches in terms of training. However, I will meet up with Botswana-based players in the coming week, while the United States of America (USA) based player Madikwe will probably meet us in Kenya. Furthermore, Ekua Youri and Naledi Raguin, who are based in Spain and France respectively, will not be joining us as they will be writing their examinations,” said Seleke.
Seleke further highlighted the significance of this competition and how competitive it is. “It is a massive platform for our players to showcase their talent in tennis, and it is very competitive as countries target to get promoted to the world categories where they get to face big nations such as Spain, France, USA, and Italy. Though we are going to this tournament as underdogs because it is our second time participating, I’m confident that the girls will put in a good showing and emerge with results despite the odds,” highlighted Seleke.
Quizzed about their debut performance at the BJK Cup, he said, “I think our performance was fair considering the fact that we were newbies. We came third in our group after losing to North Macedonia and South Africa. We went on to beat Uganda, then Kenya in the playoffs. Unfortunately, we couldn’t play Burundi due to heavy rainfall and settled for the position 9/10,” he said.
For her part, team representative Leungo Monnayoo said they are working hard as they aim to do well at the tourney. “The preparations for the tourney have long begun because we practice each and every day. We want to do well, hence we need to be motivated. Furthermore, I believe in my team as we have set ourselves a big target of coming home with the trophy,” she said.
Pep Stores donates sanitary towels to Popagano JSS
The Guidance and Counseling unit at Popagano Junior Secondary School received a donation of 790 sanitary towels from Pep stores on Thursday.
When presenting the donation, Mareledi Thebeng, the Dinokaneng Area Manager, highlighted their belief in giving back to the community, as their existence depends on the communities they serve. Thebeng pointed out that research indicates one in four girls miss school every day due to the lack of basic necessities like sanitary towels. Therefore, as a company, they strive to assist in alleviating this situation. She expressed hope that this donation would help ensure uninterrupted learning for girls.
Upon receiving the donation on behalf of the students, Charity Sambire, the President of the Student Representative Council, expressed her gratitude. Sambire specifically thanked Pep Store for their generous gift, speaking on behalf of the students, especially the girl child.
She conveyed their sincere appreciation for Pep Store’s compassion and quoted the adage, “Blessed is the hand that gives.” Sambire expressed the students’ hope for Pep Stores’ prosperity, enabling them to continue supporting the students. As a gesture of gratitude, the students pledged to excel academically.
During her speech, Motlalepula Madome, the Senior Teacher in Guidance and Counseling, highlighted that many students at the school come from disadvantaged backgrounds where parents struggle to provide basic necessities. Consequently, some students miss school when they experience menstruation due to this lack.
Madome emphasized the significance of the donation in preventing the girl child from missing lessons and its potential to improve the school’s overall results. She expressed the school’s gratitude and expressed a desire for continued support from Pep Stores.
Popagano Junior Secondary School, situated in the Okavango District, holds the second position academically in the North West region. Despite its location, the school has been dedicated to achieving excellence since 2017
Botswana misses out critical PAP committee meeting
The Pan African Parliament (PAP) committee on gender, family, youth and people with disability in its sitting considered, adopted and recommended to the plenary session the preliminary report on the framework for the model law on gender equality.
According to the last week’s media release from PAP which is sitting with its various committees until June 2nd, the committee is following up the PAP initiative to draw up a model law on gender equality to enable national governments to harmonize, modernize and standardize their legislations to address local needs is set to be discussed in Plenary.
However, what is concerning is the fact that Botswana which is a member state missed the deliberations. Kgosi Mosadi Seboko who sat in the committee representing Botswana has since been ejected by parliament and this is a huge blow for a nation that is still battling equity and gender balance.
“Although PAP has no legislative powers it makes model laws for member states to adopt. PAP also develops protocols to be ratified by countries. The input of countries at Committee state is extremely critical. It now means the voice of Botswana is missing the discussions leading up to development of protocols or model laws,” said one of Botswana’s representative at PAP Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang who is attending the current session.
While Botswana is missing, the committee meeting took place on the sidelines of the Sixth PAP second ordinary Session being held under the African Union Theme of the Year for 2023, “The Year of AfCFTA: Accelerating the Implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area” in Midrand, South Africa and will run up to 2 June 2023. Chairperson of the Committee, Hon Mariam Dao-Gabala expressed satisfaction with preliminary processes undertaken so far towards the formulation of the Model Law,” a release from the PAP website reads.
“The law should be suitable to all countries whatever the predominant culture or religion is. The aim is to give an opportunity to women to participate in the economic, political and social development of the continent. Women are not well positioned and face a lot of obstacles. We are introducing the idea of equity in the Law because we cannot talk about equality without equity,” said Hon Mariam Dao-Gabala in the press statement.
The release has stated that among issues to be covered by the Model Law is the migratory movements of women. The Committee proffered that this has to be addressed at the continental level to ensure that migrant women enjoy all their rights and live with dignity in their destination country. The members of the Gender Committee undertook consultations to consolidate the contributions of the various stakeholders that will be the logical framework format for the Model Law.