FRANCISTOWN: The Botswana Mine Workers Union (BMWU) has indicated that its decision to back the opposition parties was not taken impulsively and without consultation of the members.
In addition the union secretary general, Moffat Ramokate shot down impressions that the decision to back the opposition parties may divide the union because members have varying political interest.
“Last year we toured 90% of our branches and the majority of them advocated the backing of the opposition parties because they are advocating their (union members) rights,” Ramokate said.
Ramokate said the tour was taken before the BCL group was placed under provisional liquidation in October.
“Prior to the BCL debacle, it was clear that the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) led government was no-longer treating the mining industry with the seriousness it deserves which is why maybe our members wanted us to back the opposition,” he noted.
Ramokate also said during the tour of the branches, members expressed deep worry that the union has adopted a pedestrian role on issues of national concern.
“After the tour as the union executive we resolved to begin transforming into role players on issues of national concern. That is why we recently attended a rally in Palapye. We will be more visible on other issues of national concern not necessarily politics,” Ramokate
Ramokate did not rule out the possibility of funding the opposition or provide it with resources in its bid to muscle out the BDP from power.
Last Saturday in Palapye, Ramokate made an unexpected announcement that the union will start backing the opposition parties.
Since the 2011 public service strike, trade unions most notably the Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) have become key role players on national issues more especially politics. BOFEPUSU has been more vocal against oppressive laws and actions perpetuated by the BDP government.
However the decision to back the opposition backfired as the Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) that has often been seen to be pro the ruling party had reservations about backing the opposition.
BOPEU maintained that the decision as to which party to back should be left to individual members. BOPEU has since pulled out of BOFEPUSU, a move observers said was fuelled by the latter’s alignment with the opposition.
The BDP’s poor performance at the 2014 general elections was attributed to the support the trade unions gave to the opposition parties, particularly the Umbrella for Democratic Change.