Sunday, May 28, 2023

Counting the bodies: BOPEU withdraws monthly subscriptions to BOFEPUSU

As part of a fallout that preceded the October General Elections, the differences in the labour movement continue to play out. This week BOPEU (Botswana Public Employees Union) withdraw its monthly subscription to the federation BOFEPUSU (Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions.”

BOPEU is one of the biggest unions making up BOFEPUSU. In his letter announcing the suspension of monthly subscriptions, the leader of BOPEU, Andrew Motsamai said his organization has for sometime noted with concern attacks on itself by the leadership of BOFEPUSU. The fallout centres on a pre-election decision to endorse UDC.

In the buildup to the elections, a substantial section of BOFEPSU, led by labour secretary, Johnson Motshwarakgole endorsed the Umbrella for Democratic Change. This did not sit well with the others who felt no resolution had been taken to that effect. Among those who were not happy with Motshwarakgole was the President of BOFEPUSU who as it turns out is the deputy to Motsamai at BOPEU. “BOPEU CEC [Central Executive Council] continues to note with concern, that of recent, there has been continuing attacks by some members of BOFEPUSU leadership on BOPEU through the public media.

We view the motive for such attacks as an apparent move to discredit BOPEU and its leadership,” says Motsamai in his letter to BOFEPUSU Secretary General, Tobokani Rari. “While there have been efforts on our part to restrain our members, it is becoming increasingly clear that BOFEPUSU leadership is itching for a confrontation with BOPEU.” The final straw that broke the camel’s back, says Motsamai was when one of BOFEPUSU leaders referred to BOPEU as a “pack of individuals.” Motsamai has demanded a public apology from BOPEU. He further has demanded that the current leadership of BOFEPUSU to renew their mandate.

Sunday Standard can confirm that the executive committee of BOFEPUSU has overstayed its term limit. Insiders say the committee delayed elections until after the national general elections were held after realizing that there was a possibility that the federation members could elect leaders that were hostile to Umbrella for Democratic Change. “We further demand that the current CEC [of BOFEPUSU] speed up the process of legitimizing its mandate, since its term of office has long expired,” says Motsamai.

Talking to Sunday Standard, Motsamai said he hoped that BOPEU would still remain a member of BOFEPUSU. That however would depend more on the attitude of BOFEPUSUI leadership, said Motsamai. He said the differences are a matter of principle and corporate governance. He says the current fallout could very easily have been resolved democratically.

“We have under the circumstances, and taking into cognizance that our position was premised on a resolution of the BOPEU General Council and the blessings of Congress, decided to suspend indefinitely our subscriptions to the Federation. This position is subject to review by BOPERU’s Annual General Convention and/or Congress. In the meantime we demand a public apology from BOFEPUSU regarding the explicit and implied negative remarks against BOPEU.”


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