The last year has been by far, the most turbulent and difficult in the nation’s history. It has seen the establishment of security agency whose allegiance is not to the Constitution. It has also seen the systematic killing of unarmed civilians. Basic freedoms such as the right to life and the right to freedom of expression, which for a long time we took for granted, have come under great strain. Our cabinet which all Batswana used to be proud of, for its inclusiveness has now become a family affair.
It is of great concern to the Botswana Federation of Public Service Union (‘BOFEPUSU’) that the President continues to choose to surround himself with cronies and sycophants as advisers. Our once independent state media has within a space of 12 months become extremely partisan and unethical in the way they go about reporting news. The last month saw the worst incident of state media abuse in the history of the country with the state media being used to promote the President’s ill-advised defamation suit against the Sunday Standard. Public servants no longer exercise their discretion in the discharge of their duties but work under dictation from Office of the President.
It is most unusual for trade unions or a Federation of trade unions to publicly endorse one political ideology over another during the course of a political campaign, let alone an internal party political battle. The tyranny that has been unleashed on the nation and the above concerns have led to BOFEPUSU taking the unusual step, of taking a position on which political ideology to endorse for the upcoming Kanye Congress.
BOFEPUSU strongly opposes nepotism, to be more specific, it is opposed to the idea that His Excellency the President of Botswana, will pass on the presidency to one of his cousins (either Ndelu Seretse or Kitso Mokaila), who in turn will pass it on to Tshekedi Khama. BOFEPUSU’s position is that one person cannot decide who will succeed as President and rule the country for 20 years thereafter. The idea of automatic succession is the antithesis of democracy and one cannot begin to justify it on the basis that it brings about a smooth internal political transition.
BOFEPUSU believes firmly in the rule of law and constitutionalism and is therefore strongly opposed to the idea that the constitution of a political party can be disregarded for political expediency.
BOFEPUSU is against the establishment of a totalitarian regime and believes that checks and balances are healthy in a democracy. It is undesirable to have Central Committee members constituted exclusively by the President’s cronies and sycophants. This would destroy the much needed checks and balances to the President’s power.
It is on the basis of the foregoing that BOFEPUSU urges delegates who will represent the various constituencies in Kanye to vote into the central committee, persons who are committed to the ideals of democracy, constitutionalism, accountability and human rights. Whoever possesses these ideals deserves to be elected into the Central Committee of the BDP. The Congress may represent the country’s last hope and opportunity to reassert democratic ideals. History will judge us harshly if the wrong choices are made at the Congress.
(* BOFEPUSU is a Federation of public service trade unions. The two biggest trade unions in Botswana being the Botswana Public Employees Union, which represents more 20 000 workers and the National Amalgamated Local and Central Government Workers’ Union which represents more than 32 000 workers are affiliated to it.)