Two months after BNF (Botswana National Front) President Otsweletse Moupo attracted public wrath for attacking Botswana’s first president Seretse Khama, Moupo’s prot├®g├®, Elmon Tafa, has echoed his principal’s stance.
Tafa says a myth has been created that Seretse Khama was a holy man when, in fact, he had many shortcomings. He says it is time the myth is dismantled.
Speaking at a rally organized by the BNF to show solidarity for the dismissed 181 BCL workers, Tafa said the government has shamelessly adopted a culture of glorifying Seretse every year when the nation moves to celebrate independence anniversary.
He said even people who knew Seretse’s shortcomings are prepared to gloss over such shortcomings and join the chorus that portrays the late president as an angel.
“We talk about Seretse like he was an Angel, yet we know he allowed for a raid in 1975 that killed innocent workers who were in a strike at Selebi Phikwe,” charged Tafa in reference to Khama’s intervention to break a dead lock in a labour dispute at Selibe Phikwe.
Tafa hit hard at the BDP government for what he said is a tendency to dismiss or often take workers to court when they are on a strike yet failing to do the same about employers when they do the same.
He pointed out that some companies, like Hyundai and many others, closed down and relocated to South Africa leaving many unpaid employees behind.
Government has done nothing to assist such workers, he said.
This, he said, is a sign that government is biased towards employers.
He said under the present rules there shall never be a “lawful” strike in Botswana because the country’s laws are deliberately tilted in favour of the employers.
“Why is it that there is a Trade and Dispute Act and yet all Botswana strikes are said to be unlawful?” an angry Tafa asked.
He accused the BDP government of collaborating with big business to destroy the country’s labour movement.
Another tactic, he said, is for big businesses to replace union leaders with its handpicked stooges who will only serve the interest of the employers.
Tafa called on Botswana’s unions to forge alliances with progressive parties such as the BNF and other such organizations to help push the worker’s agenda forward.
“We must forge strategic alliances to fight the BDP government and its exploitative employers. We have a lot of unemployment and with high unemployment rates the employers here can fire and hire willy-nilly. Don’t dissolve your unions. Retain your autonomy and join parties like the BNF which have the interest of the workers at heart,” he said.