In the last few days certain misguided elements aligned to the A-team faction of the Botswana Democratic Party (“BDP”) have issued press statements accusing the leadership of National Amalgamated Local and Central Government and Parastatal Workers’ Union (“NALCGPWU”) of publishing false statements about certain individuals aligned or sympathetic to the A-team faction of the BDP. The statements accused the leadership of NALCGPWU of not enjoying the support of the membership of NALCGPWU and abusing their office. The statements were signed off by Dr. Batlang Serema (“Serema”).
It is ironic that Serema, of all people, should accuse our leadership of abusing their power, when he himself was the beneficiary of an abuse of power by his President. Serema’s contract was illegally renewed by the President of the Party without the authority of the Party’s Central Executive Committee. NALCGPWU does not have officers and service providers whose contracts have been renewed against the will of a governing body appointed by an overwhelming majority of bona fide members. NALCGPWU does not have unaccountable leaders who seek shelter behind immunity when their illegal acts are challenged.
It will be recalled that it was division within the Central Executive Committee, concerning the renewal of Serema’s contract and those of the Party’s legal advisors, Collins Newman & Company, that eventually led to the suspension of Mr. Gomolemo Motswaledi. The democratically elected office bearers of the Central Executive Committee were against the renewal of these contracts.
We would like the public to know that these nonsensical statements that have been signed off by Serema, do not enjoy the express support of the Central Executive Committee of the BDP. They are not supported by a majority of the office bearers who were democratically elected by the delegates in Kanye. They also do not enjoy support of the majority of the people within the BDP, who resoundingly rejected the A-team with our support. We challenge Serema to seek ratification of these statements by the Central Executive Committee.
NALCGPWU, unlike some movements, does not have rogue leaders who issue statements purporting to be on behalf of the movement, against the wishes of a majority of democratically elected office bearers.
The proposition that NALCGPWU has no right to advocate for certain candidates to be voted into Parliament shows a misconception and an alarming ignorance of the proper role of a trade union in a liberal democratic society. The suggestion that a trade union’s role is limited to activities in furtherance of existing trade disputes is illustrative of a neo-conservative brand of democracy that is rotten.
Parliament is the ultimate law-making body in Botswana. The vast majority of the rights, which workers enjoy, are the direct result of legislation passed by Parliament. NALCGPWU, therefore, has not only the right, but the responsibility to advocate for the rejection of candidates with an impoverished understanding of democracy and with a poor understanding of the proper role of a trade union in a plural democratic society.
The accusation that campaigning against certain members and sympathizers of the A-team is malicious, is, with all due respect, plainly pathetic and illustrative of a contempt, disdain and an intolerance of the exercise of the right to freedom of expression. It was this intolerance of free speech that resulted in Motswaledi being suspended and dragged before a biased tribunal for criticizing Collins Newman & Company.
NALCGPWU believes very strongly in the values of free speech. Unlike the President of the BDP, our leaders are committed to having internal, robust intellectual debate on all matters and issues concerning our movement. The decision to campaign against members and sympathizers of the A-team was therefore preceded by very intense and robust debates amongst members of the National Executive Committee. It was following intense debate that it was decided in the interests of our members and the working class in general, that NALCGPWU does everything within the ambit of the law to ensure that enemies of democracy are not elected to Parliament.
Our efforts were received with a lot of enthusiasm across the country, especially members of the BDP who are opposed to the A-team and are concerned about the lack of internal democracy within the BDP and its privatization to suit the needs of a few individuals, most of them unelected sycophants and cronies of the President (“the Third Force”).
The informal coalition between opposition and Baratapathi that filibustered the A-team motion to increase specially elected members of parliament, clearly demonstrates that our efforts are not only in our members interest but the national interest.
We appeal to Mr. Serema to stop wasting BDP funds by causing to be published, at the expense of the BDP, press releases which do not enjoy the support of a majority of democratically elected office bearers of the BDP and party members. Last week the A-team ran an advert in the Daily News, at the expense of the BDP, indicating that Honourable Daniel Kwelagobe (“DK”) was coming to launch Kgomotso Mogami when they knew very well that DK had stated under oath that he is opposed to her candidature because she was autocratically imposed on the Party.
Election results will bear testimony to the fact that she has never enjoyed support of rank and file members, but was imposed by the Third Force on the Party. Batswana have become very discerning and are able to distinguish between a statement that originates from the Third Force and A- team on the one hand and one that originates from the BDP as a party.
Finally, we challenge Mr. Serema and the A-team to a public debate on the proper role of a trade union in a liberal democracy. Such debate could be held on any of the national broadcasters, which have over the last 12 months been turned into the mouthpiece of the A-team and Third Force.