Monday, July 15, 2024

Of BOFEPUSU and the Umbrella

Workers in Botswana have been apathetic for a long time. Many of them have not voted in the past general elections. There are encouraging signs though that workers are beginning to realize the importance of politics in their lives and the life of the country. During the strike, many workers discovered first hand, the brutality of the BDP Government. They have seen how power is abused by the rulers of this country. Workers have seen how unresponsive this government can be. Many workers watched helplessly as a vengeful government crucified health workers and other so called essential service workers. The workers watched as teachers were converted to essential services workers.

The debates around essential services in Parliament showed that you can only trust the BDP at your own peril. Many workers are now seeking revenge on the BDP. They wish to do so through the ballot in 2014. In their bid to punish the BDP, BOFEPUSU in particular has immersed itself into opposition politics. They are trying to save the umbrella which on the surface is a noble undertaking but which is littered with so many land mines. BOFEPUSU leadership is even threatening those who opt out of the umbrella with some form of punishment. It is also alleged that they are also making promises of funding the parties. BOFEPUSU leadership must be careful how they conduct their affairs as they could polarize not only their membership but they can also help sow seeds of animosity within the opposition. They can polarize their membership in the sense that many of their members are aligned to political parties and their membership obligations require loyalty to their own parties.

If few BOFEPUSU leaders are seen to be taking sides with particular opposition parties as they seem to be slanting towards the BMD, they are likely to alienate huge sections of their membership. BOFEPUSU leadership must also be sure that they have a mandate from their members before they can pronounce on certain positions. It is irresponsible for BOFEPUSU leaders to insinuate funding of political parties before they obtain mandate from their congresses. BOFEPUSU members must also be wary of certain members of their leadership who seem to be controlled from BMD. If the federation is not careful, they may find themselves supporting agendas that may later oppress them. Why is it that leaders of BOFEPUSU are talking about plotting against the BDP whilst at the same time, they are hobnobbing with them. What were Motswarakgole and MmaMogwera doing at BDP victory celebration in Kweneng. It is a contradiction for the leadership of BOFEPUSU to say they want to oust the BDP and at the same time celebrate their victories against the opposition.

BOFEPUSU leadership must also note that in as much as they talk about opposition Unity, they also have a duty to unite workers. BOFEPUSU leadership must work to unite BOFEPUSU with BFTU. We cannot have two workers federation in this small country. Many of us know that some leaders who now want unity in the opposition ranks have contributed in no small measure in dividing the workers of this country. Workers should not allow individuals to hijack their struggles and serve parochial interests in their name. Many workers would want to vote in the next elections and they will vote candidates who have shown commitment to their course throughout time. They will not just vote anyone because they are sitting under the umbrella. It also defies logic that BOFEPUSU is prescriptive in its interventions. It is telling parties what to do. It is about time Motshwarakgole realizes that he cannot know it all. The men and women who form BOFEPUSU should not allow the sort of unilateralism that is destroying the BDP to set in their ranks. They should prevail over self-serving agendas of a handful of leaders at BOFEPUSU. They should not be dragged into opening to many war fronts; one with the ruling party; the other with some opposition parties; and yet the other with BFTU. When so many war fronts are opened, focus is lost and the risk of losing all the battles is high. BOFEPUSU is a powerful force for change but it must conduct its affairs with principle and decorum. It must respect its membership, other workers (BFTU) and all progressive political formations.

Gift Keaitse
Francistown

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