Thursday, April 22, 2021

Khama charm offensive dividing trade unions

In what is seen as a political strategy to divide unions in the country, Botswana Teachers Union (BTU) last week held a meeting with President Ian Khama where the latter promised the President that they will remain apolitical.

The latest development is contrary to Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) of which BTU is a member. BTU is the second union that has thus far held a meeting with President Khama after Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) announced recently that it met Khama.

BOFEPUSU has made it public that it will continue to support parties that have the interest of workers at heart.

This decision has led to the leadership of BOFEPUSU being on a collision course with government.

The union leadership met Khama last week where they discussed issues not only limited to level of operations for teachers.

Amongst the issues that were discussed was the issue of hours of work for teachers; previously government forced teachers to work even on school holidays just like any other public servants.

It is evident that in the recent meeting with Khama the union raised the issue and they were successful in convincing Khama that teachers shouldn’t be working on school holidays.

This new development was also confirmed by the Minister of Education, Skills and Development (MoESD) Unity Dow on national television last Wednesday. Dow said government has taken a decision to allow teachers not to come to work on school holidays.

The teaching sector unions argued that sometimes teachers are being overworked therefore they need some time to cool off.

At the meeting the issue of the unions being active in politics was also discussed. BTU assured President Khama that as a union they will remain apolitical. The union said their main role is to guard against anything that affects the working conditions of the teachers emphasizing that they are not involved in politics but if there is an issue of national concern they will not shy away to make their position known.

BTU and Khama are expected to meet again this coming Thursday to summarise and conclude on some of the issues that were raised in the previous meeting.

BTU secretary General Ibo Kenosi confirmed their meeting with President Khama.

“We met Khama last week; the President is mandated to run the country, it is important as participants or as stakeholders to pay courtesy visits to the president. ┬áThis is the only platform that we can engage with him and his government on issues that are of concern to the public,” said Kenosi.

Kenosi said their meeting focused more on issues that affect the teaching sector.

“We used the platform to look into what is affecting the nation and how best that can be addressed. We are hoping to meet him again on June 18 to summarise and conclude on what we already dealt with in the previous meeting,” said Kenosi.

Kenosi added that “we got a warm reception by President Khama.”

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