Longtime serving Member of Parliament, Daniel Kwelagobe has expressed dissatisfaction with the political intolerance periodically extended to the country’s trade unions.
Speaking at a farewell session for parliamentarians on Thursday ahead of the national elections following dissolution of Parliament by the President, Kwelagobe said the Botswana Democratic Party often times lacked tolerance for the labour movement.
“By political tolerance, Madam Speaker, I mean political tolerance to Trade Unions. Their voices and concerns should be respected. At times we have to ask ourselves if it is it necessary to be at loggerheads…causing some frictions with each other,” he said.
“We are partners in development for the country,” Kwelagobe said.
The Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) recently warned politicians aspiring for political office ahead of the national elections to exhibit empathy for the existing “deplorable workers rights” if they were to garner the largest Union votes regardless of party affiliation.
With more than 100 000 members from five major public sector unions, BOFEPUSU is seen as critical in determining the political careers of prospective candidates.
The BOFEPUSU threats to decampaign candidates from both the ruling and opposition parties who disregard the rights and plight of workers in their campaigns is seen as a red alert for some candidates.
The threats were particularly directed at the ruling BDP which BOFEPUSU argued was in control of the public purse and thus deliberately turning a blind eye to the workers’ rights and plights.
But the Union has since changed tack, firing salvos at even their purge and salvos at even opposition candidates whose deliberations and campaigns during the run up to elections would appear unfavorable to the workers conditions and aspirations.
Out-going Speaker of the House, Margaret Nasha offered MP’s a rare opportunity to bid each other farewell and share their experiences and challenges during their tenure as legislators.
Kwelagobe will contest Molepolole South with Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) candidate whose coalition of opposition parties is seen as a threat not only to Molepolole North but the whole area.
The Botswana Congress Party and UDC will contest the looming national elections scheduled for October 24th with the workers’ rights and plights scheduled to be among major campaign issues.