The Botswana Federation of Trade Unions is poised for major organizational realignments that, if not properly managed, could result in factional rifts.
Old affiliates of BFTU are suspicious of newcomers’ conduct.
The situation has not been helped by newcomers’ decision to launch their campaigns using the media without following the laid down procedures.
So far, indications are that there could also be rifts between the public sector affiliates and those from the private sector.
In fact, a war of words has already erupted after some new affiliates started a media campaign for key BFTU executive positions ahead of the federation’s congress in March.
Old affiliates have not been impressed.
They say this is uncharacteristic of the BFTU.
BTU wants their President, Japhta Radibe, for the BFTU presidency, while the Mine Workers Union wants their point man, Secretary General Jack Tlhagale, for the top job at BFTU.
Commenting on these new developments, BFTU Administrative Secretary, Stevie Mandevu, slammed affiliate unions for embarking on a media campaign for BFTU executive positions without the endorsement of the federations’ secretariat.
Mandevu did not mince his words when he said that the affiliate unions were out of order and in breach of the BFTU constitution.
Mandevu told The Sunday Standard that as the BFTU secretariat, they were surprised by the media campaigns as they had not given any of their affiliates the go ahead with the campaigns.
“Before any affiliate union can make nominations, there are some requirements that have to be met and it is surprising that some affiliates are already campaigning in the media without having consulted us,” he said.
Mandevu added that the affiliates are in breach of the BFTU constitution and it was inexcusable since they were given the constitution when they affiliated.
But BFTU’s affiliates from the private sector did not share Mandevu’s diplomacy. Many of them did not mince their words as they unanimously lambasted the BTU and other affiliates from the civil service for what they termed an arrogant display of contempt and disregard for BFTU standing orders and disrespect towards other affiliates.
“They must not think that they can just come in and trample on us. We stuck by BFTU long before they came in,” said one.
Botswana Meat Commission Workers Union’s Victor Phologolo told The Sunday Standard that they were surprised by the campaigns in the media.
A leading trade unionist at Botswana Diamond Valuing Company called for calm.
He said that the issue would be amicably resolved at the delegates’ congress in Palapye at which the Secretariat would give the go ahead for affiliates to forward their nominees for publication to other affiliates.
Meanwhile, BOSETU’s Publicity Secretary, Justin Hunyepa, told The Sunday Standard that they had not endorsed any of their members to campaign for any position in the BFTU executive. He said that the BOSETU executive decided that they were still grappling with the challenges that come with their newly acquired union status.
“We have decided that we will go to the congress as observers,” said Hunyepa.
He, however, didn’t rule out the possibility of BOSETU fielding a candidate at the March congress.
It will all depend on the reception that BOSETU will get at the delegates conference on February 25, said Hunyepa.