The Botswana Confederation of Commerce, Industry and Manpower is an organization that has lost its way.
Initially created as an employers federation presumably to lobby government against the then growing influence of trade unions, BOCCIM, as it has now since morphed, was supposed to advise government on behalf of business and, at least according to their slogan, to also be the voice of business.
To be fair to them, in the early years, that mandate was achieved up to a point, even though it has to be pointed out that whatever was achieved was mainly on account of surrendering independence to government and playing an insultingly subservient role, especially to the ministry responsible for commerce and trade.
They would have all of us believe otherwise, but in its latest incarnation BOCCIM, is a quasi-political organ of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party.
In that regard, it is our firm view that BOCCIM has failed in its mandate. It has failed its members, failed the country and is no longer worth what it says it stands for.
Our view stems from the current drama playing itself at BOCCIM.
While BOCCIM was supposed to be a partner to government it has allowed itself to be a lackey.
More importantly, we also are of the view that the recent events at BOCCIM have rendered the organization irredeemable.
Because the organization has allowed itself to be a hideout for BDP business interests, surreptitiously pushing the agenda of both the ruling party and government,┬á it goes without saying that those business people who have no inclination to politics or are averse to BDP politics can no longer look up to BOCCIM to speak for them.
And there are thousands of such business people across the country.
Accordingly, we call on such business people to break away from BOCCIM (if they still are members) and form a separate business organization that will engage government without the baggage, encumbrances and compromises as currently carried by BOCCIM.
Other than that, there is enough scope for a business organization separate from BOCCIM, recent events are enough a distraction to warrant consideration of such an organisation given the current economic dynamics.
Very clearly, BOCCIM is caught up in a time warp of more than twenty years ago, where it was easy to deceive people on account that there were very few discerning people outside the structures of the BDP.
It cannot be a coincidence that all of BOCCIM’s high priests ÔÇô both past and present – have also been high priests of the ruling party and government: Richard Mannathoko, George Kgoroba, Neo Moroka, Modiri Mbaakanyi and Alex Monchusi, to name but a few. This is over and above the composition of the BOCCIM council which, over the years, could easily be mistaken for a central committee of the BDP.
In that regard BOCCIM has shorn itself of all traditional pretentions of political neutrality.
As a business organization that portends to talk for free market economics, BOCCIM should be talking about the dangers of the country’s shrinking economy, the devastating power outages, the crippling tax regime and a hopeless failure by BDP government to diversify that economy, much less privatise the state enterprises.
From its behavior, BOCCIM is not concerned by growing joblessness and ever declining business confidence.
While the country is very clearly sliding on a path to an economic intensive care unit, BOCCIM, which, from its behaviour, doubles as one of the wings of the ruling party is currently fast asleep, ostensibly oblivious of the fact that the train is headed for a crash.┬á
Because he is one of their own, BOCCIM hierarchy, dominated by his acolytes and red-eyed admirers┬á – is least concerned by President Ian Khama’s bad behavior to always seize every opportunity to attack trade unions, opposition parties and the media as a strategy to hide his glaring failures and shortcomings.
Instead BOCCIM operatives, many of whom are serving in various Khama handpicked BDP committees and sub-committees, are obsessed with themselves as they inevitably fight an extension of their party wars through an organization that likes to deceive people as being apolitical and politically neutral.