Saturday, September 19, 2020

Botswana Diamond workers’ Union faces split

The Botswana Diamond Workers Union (BDWU) faces a crippling split following a decision by its biggest branch, the Diamond Trading Company  Botswana (DTCB) to break away and register own new Union, ahead of the BDWU  national congress due next week.

Reports have revealed that the infighting, which has reached boiling point, has been brewing for some time.

“Initially, when the BDWU was conceived, the idea was to increase the voice of the diamond workers and to establish a bargaining council that would speak on behalf of workers as one unit but that was never to happen,” Kabelo Kelepile, Chairperson of the DTCB, explained.

Kelepile says several┬áattempts by concerned members, especially the DTCB, to align the leadership with the union’s original plan have failed. He says the branch has now resolved to break away and regain their original name of the Botswana Diamond Sorters and Valuators Union (BDVSU), and accept that the initially envisaged vision of acting from a common platform for the whole industry has not been practicable.

To confirm the seriousness of the DTCB Branch’s intentions, Government Gazette of 22 March, 2013 Volume 11 No.14 advertised a Notice of Application to register a Union of exactly the same name as was previously used by the current diamond workers’ union, namely, the Botswana Diamond Sorters and Evaluators Union (BDSVU).

Information reaching The Sunday Standard indicates that efforts by BDWU NEC to heal the rift with the DTCB Branch Committee failed as the Branch insisted that their expelled leaders be first reinstated.

 The expelled Branch officials are Kabelo Kelepile, Chairperson and Mogae Motshubi, Branch Secretary, who, according to the BDWU, were charged with breach of the Constitution and Union Discipline.

BDWU Secretary General, Jacob Mpasopi, argued that Kelepile and Motshubi still have an opportunity to present their case to the Congress which has the final word on any and everything.

“In our view, it would not be proper to connect or speak in the same context about breach of constitution and Discipline on the one hand and prospects of any imminent split in the future,” Mpasopi added.

He added that the BDWU General Council, which took place a month ago, had endorsed disciplinary measures taken against the two Branch officials and to continue to engage the Branch on other issues of concern.

It would appear that the decision by the DTCB branch is not without cause as Kelepile went further to raise a litany of issues which, in his view, qualified the establishment of a distinct platform to address. 

According to Kelepile, startling revelations pointing to abuse of funds that came out of the union’s financial statement was the final straw. It was reported by the National Treasurer via the statement that some branches went up to 9 months without paying their monthly subscriptions.

Meanwhile even though an enquiry has been directed to the BDWU Secretary General to establish the latest developments regarding their standoff, we learn that the Registrar had given Friday 5th April as deadline for objections to registration of the new Union.

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