Botswana Federation of Public Union (BOFEPUSU) is still in shock over its affiliate Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU)’s decision to withdraw its subscription without advancing concrete reasons for leaving.
BOPEU has over the last two weeks discontinued engagement with BOFEPUSU on several matters including disinvesting from UNIGEM (Pty) Ltd, a company which was owned by among others the 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) which are all members of the BOFEPUSU.
However Andrew Motsamai, BOPEU President contend that the decision to disinvest from UNIGEM was purely a ‘business decision’ and has nothing to do with its relationship with its mother union.
BOFEPUSU Secretary General Tobokani Rari says they have received a letter from BOPEU informing them that the union leadership have reached a resolution to stop their monthly subscription to BOFEPUSU because its leadership attacked BOPEU in the media. “We are not aware of any instances where BOFEPUSU leadership attacked BOPEU through the media,” said Rari on the sidelines of former Speaker of the National Assembly Dr Margret Nasha press conference on Thursday.
Rari said BOFEPUSU is of the view that, if BOPEU was aggrieved by the conduct of BOFEPUSU leadership it would have been beneficial if they raised such grievances rather than taking a drastic decision to leave. Rari, who is also the Secretary General for BOSETU told this publication that he will not say whether BOPEU decision to leave was constitutional or not as that could only, be revealed by BOPEU leadership itself.
Reports reaching Weekend Post indicate that Motsamai has over the past few months acted under duress from members of BOPEU Executive Committee who are said to be unhappy with BOFEPUSU’s decision to publicly declare their support for the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) ahead of the recent elections. Although Motsamai is perceived to be pro-UDC, some of his colleagues in committee have different political opinions.
At the beginning of 2012 following the collapse of Umbrella 1, Motsamai led a delegation which sought to revive the talks. BOFEPUSU leadership maintained that because of its role in the formation of UDC, it was compelling for the Federation to support the UDC ahead of the 2014 general elections. However, BOPEU developed a divergent view. When the decision to endorse UDC was taken by the leadership of BOFEPUSU, it is reported that BOPEU representatives walked away from the meeting in protest.
Masego Mogwera, who is the Deputy President of BOPEU, had made it known just before of general elections that BOPEU will not support or fund any party. Mogwera who is seen as sympathetic to the ruling BDP is also the President of BOFEPUSU. Mogwera was instrumental in the ending of the 2011 industrial action in which public employees were protesting over 16% percent salary increment.
In August this year following the death of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Secretary General Gomolemo Motswaledi, BOFEPUSU convinced UDC leadership to field Motsamai as Motswaledi’s replacement in Gaborone Central constituency. Motsamai withdrew following a stern resistance from BOPEU leadership over his candidature.
When contacted for comment BOPEU Secretary General, Topius Marenga swiftly dismissed reports that the union is on the verge of withdrawing from BOFEPUSU as an affiliate. He even noted that reports that BOPEU has stopped its monthly subscriptions are rubbish, “The formation of BOFEPUSU was led by BOPEU with a clear mandate and I can confirm that at no point has BOPEU reached any resolution to withdraw its affiliation status,” said Marenga.
Marenga said BOPEU understands the gravity of the aftermath of the 2011 strike in which a significant number of their members lost their jobs. Marenga also denied reports that the union was divided over the endorsement of UDC ahead of the October polls noting that the union is committed to fight the cause which it started 2011. Marenga revealed that they are still bound by that resolution, what we differ with BOFEPUSU on is the approach of endorsing UDC.
“We are committed to moono but we did not want an explicit declaration that we support UDC. We want to be careful because we are public servants,” he said.
Following BOFEPUSU’s declaration that it will support UDC, Mogwera issued a press statement distancing the union from the position. Rari also issued a counter statement reminding Mogwera of the resolution taken by the union in her absence.
BOFEPUSU vigorously campaigned for UDC and a few weeks ahead of general elections, the Federation released a list of a number of incumbent MPs not to be voted by the workers.
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.