Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) has dismissed the State of the Nation Address as “shallow and just mere window dressing.”
Addressing reporters on Monday, the umbrella trade federation said it would wait for others to react before adding to its critique of the President’s address.
BOFEPUSU’s comments came on the heels of disapproval of Khama’s state of the nation address by opposition parties. It was Khama’s major last address ahead of next year’s general elections.
The President’s speech failed to address the enmity between government and trade unions, BOFEPUSU charged.
“We are not satisfied. The President should have indicated in his speech on whether he agrees with us or not. There was no mentioning of trade relations between government and trade unions,” said BOFEPUSU Secretary General Tobokani Rari.
Rari said the democratic space of trade unions appears to be shrinking, but the President overlooked that on his speech. The umbrella trade federation’s Secretary General said Khama did not talk about government’s withdrawal from the Public Bargaining Council.
“He should have touched on the Bargaining Council. It is clear that the Council is not functioning properly,” said Rari.
Rari said it has been clear that the President does not want to work with trade unions and that he loathes them. He said this is why he did not mention the Trade Unions in his long speech.
Rari also lamented what he called the Khama administration’s deprival of the organisational rights of trade unions. He said he was not surprised that issues that affect trade unions were ignored by the President.
For his part BOFEPUSU Deputy Secretary, General Ketlhalefile Motshegwa, reiteratedthat the umbrella union is not just a mere labour desk as it will always have a say on socio-economic and political issues.
Motshegwa cited a previous court battle where government wanted to deregister trade unions saying they are involved in partisan politics. BOFEPUSU won the case.
He said though Khama’s government masquaraded as one tolerant and respectful of human rights, it was shocking that the same government wanted to deregister trade unions, accusing them of participating in partisan politics.
Motshegwa said this showed that Khama was a hypocrite as he wanted to strip away trade unions’ industrial democracy.