The President of the Botswana National Front and UDF, Duma Boko, has urged members of the Botswana Mine Workers Union to form and all come together under a union umbrella, saying only then can they win their battles against their employers and the government.
Giving a keynote address during the commemoration of Workers Day at Seepapitso Secondary School in Kanye, Boko said the words “more members, one union, one federation, and more bargaining power” must simply be replaced with ‘One Union Umbrella’.
Boko said the decisions taken by the employers to right size or down size are done on the grounds that the organizations, or the capitalist system, feel business will not be profitable if they carry the victims of downsizing and right sizing along and pointed out that what is overlooked is that management teams are perpetrators of shortfalls that lead to dwindling of profits.
In the presence of the Debswana Mining Company management as well as senior government officials and some politicians, Boko told excited BMWU members who punctuated his diatribe with shouts of “bua (Speak) Comrade!” and “ Ba bolelele (tell them)!” that they suffered for other people’s faults.
Turning to managements, he said: “Shame on you!” And applauding shouts from the audience rose to tumultuous levels. He cautioned his audience that there is no court case that they would win in the current state of courts of law in the country. He added that there is no way people can expect justice in a system where someone who could not deliver at Attorney General’ Chambers rises though the ranks to become judge at Court of Appeal.
Boko said that if united, the unions have the power to lead change in the country. Even regime change! It is a much better approach of tackling their employer employee troubles than through courts. The fact that somebody once said no Motswana can run the Botswana Meat Commission is indicative of the fact that no Motswana can run a government. That is why Botswana is still governed by 1961 British laws.
He wondered why the Unions cannot take the routes of people who formed organizations like Letshego. Unions should have sources of revenue for self sustenance, given the finance power their opponents execute by engaging smart attorneys against them in legal battles.
His unity sentiments were echoed by several other speakers who spoke after him. Among them was Deputy Secretary General for BOFEPUSU, Ketlhalefile Motshegwa. He said they were contemplating meeting with the Botswana Federation of Trade Unions (BFTU) to find if they could not come up with a confederation of unions as is the case in other countries. He further emphasized the importance of education and training. Consciousness, he said, should be sensitized and for this to come about there must be the will from all involved.