Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and security agents are reportedly working on grand plans to infiltrate public service unions affiliated to the Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) ahead of the 2013 general elections.
Public Service unions, namely Botswana Land Boards and Local Authorities and Health Workers Union (BLLAHWU), National Amalgamated Local and Central Government and Parastatal Workers Union (NALCGPWU), Botswana Teachers Union (BTU), Botswana Sectors of Educators Trade Union BOSETU & Botswana Public Service Union BOPEU representing more than 90 000 persons employed by the Government, have since declared that they will engage actively in the coming 2014 general elections after what they called brutality towards their members.
It is understood that the BDP believes that BOFEPUSU is posing a serious threat ahead of the general elections billed for October 2014.
This follows the federation’s continued pronouncements that it will support opposition parties or any party that has the interest of its workers at heart.
Insiders claim that a meeting was recently held in Makgadikgadi by the BDP heavyweights where by a grand plan was hatched to infiltrate and manipulate the trade unions. Information reaching The Telegraph indicates that some members of at least two trade unions affiliated to BOFEPUSU have been approached and promised that their debts would be cleared should they assist in toppling the current union leaders who call for the support of opposition at their (unions) upcoming congresses.
“As we speak some members of trade unions have been identified. They will be used to topple some of the current union leaders. The grand plan is to divide members of BOFEPUSU by discrediting them and painting them negatively to their members,” said an insider.
Another strategy, according to the insider would be to try and convince union members that the current leaders are wasting their money in legal matters before the court. Some of the union members who belong to the central committee are also said to be ‘spies’ who share the minutes of the meetings with security agents.
“They have been promised that if the strategy works, then they will have their debts and loans taken care of,” claimed the source.
Speaking in an interview on Monday, BOFEPUSU Labour Secretary Johnson Motshwarakgole warned union members to guard against such a development.
“It will be unfortunate if that kind of a plan is executed because historically it has never worked before. Trade unions are not political parties; if some members of the leadership were to sell its soul to those promising them money then a new breed will emerge which will restore the unions’ role and mandate,” he said.
Motshwarakgole warned that the claims that the BDP or the government was working on manipulating trade unions should not be taken lightly saying there are already signs that something is wrong within the labour movement.
Speaking in riddles, Motshwarakgole revealed that “yes there are signs. When there is a change of season, one can easily tell that.”
Motshwarakgole said the best way to resolve the sour relationship between the government and unions is for the latter to come to a table and address issues affecting the workers, among them fairness in salary negotiations.
Contacted for comment, BDP Chairman, Guma Moyo said he was not aware of any plans by his party to manipulate and infiltrate trade unions. On reports that they view trade union as a serious threat than the opposition parties Moyo said that any opponent in a contest should be viewed as a threat.
“Any political party or opponent standing for an election is a threat. We cannot underestimate the strength of any opponent,” he said. Moyo also acknowledged that “whether there is BDP or no BDP unions will always be there.”