Mmegi Online :: BDP strengthens relations with public sector trade unions
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Last Updated
Friday 15 December 2017, 17:56 pm.
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BDP strengthens relations with public sector trade unions

FRANCISTOWN: In the wake of frosty relations between the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and public sector trade unions, the former has taken a giant leap forward to mend the costly relationship.
By Ryder Gabathuse Wed 06 Dec 2017, 17:20 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: BDP strengthens relations with public sector trade unions








For a long time, public sector trade unions under the ambit of BOFEPUSU and the ruling party and its government have purely been sworn enemies.

The President Ian Khama-led government and the ruling BDP have hardly taken the public workers seriously to the extent that the government literally took unilateral decisions leaving the public workers aggrieved in most cases.

Over the years, the public sector trade unions found themselves fighting legal battles with the government in the courts of law to advance their rights, which they felt, were being trampled upon.

The workers had to fight for the government to delist some of their sections from the essential services cadre, which leave them without the critical right to strike albeit, without success.

There was also other taxing court battles that related to the issues of the Public Service Bargaining Council (PSBC) where important issues like salary increment and other workers’ related conditions of service are discussed.

Realising the rigidity and inconsiderate nature of the ruling party, public sector trade unions took a stance to give financial and moral support to the opposition parties under the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) in the last elections.

The public sector trade unions, although they did not have consensus on opposition support, there were individual BDP MPs who were targeted as enemies of the workers to ensure that they lose.

One of the targeted BDP elders is Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration Minister Eric Molale. His efforts to contest a by-election at Goodhope-Mabule backfired as BOFEPUSU stood up and gave UDC financial support to ensure that Molale, dubbed the workers enemy number one failed in his bid for election.

This is not a new phenomenon as previously some of the targeted BDP politicians included Jacob Nkate, Neo Moroka, Kavis Kario and the late Duncan Mlazie amongst others.

In a bid to win the hearts and minds of the public sector workers, the BDP has started flighting advertisements in the local newspapers appreciating them (trade unions) for what they have done over the years.

‘The Botswana Democratic Party President and general membership wishes you a successful executive congress as you build workers’ powers through lobbying and advocacy for the second generation of human rights,” reads one of the adverts in part which bears the logos of both the BDP and BOPEU (Botswana Public Employees Union).

In the same local newspaper, another advert reads: “The Botswana Democratic Party President and general membership wishes you a pleasurable day as you celebrate 80 years of

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achievements in labour, advocacy and protection”. This is in reference to Botswana Teachers Union (BTU).

Explaining the newfound love with the public workers trade unionists, BDP chairperson for the communication and international relations sub committee, Fish Pabalinga acknowledged that the relationship that the BDP had with trade unions was manipulated.

He was adamant that it’s the unions, which are having a change of heart and not the BDP. On many occasions, Pabalinga noted that it was easy for people to postulate that BDP has frosty relations with the workers.

“We have always flighted adverts of this nature before but no one wanted to take heed of our genuine call to work closely with the workers of this country as the ruing party,” he said and added that on the side of the BDP theirs was done and ensured that there is value in a relationship.

He pointed out that one of the worrying developments for the trade unions is that the opposition parties are breaking up than getting united.

“So, they look at us as the only party that can make sense for them to join hands with us because we are attractive.”

BOFEPUSU deputy secretary general, Ketlhalefile Motshegwa has told a local newspaper in an interview recently that they are pinning their hopes on the incoming administration of Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi next year April 1 when he ascends to presidency.

He even observed that, “…Masisi was going to inherit a rotten and arrogant civil service”.

BTU president, Johannes Tshukudu whose union was wished well by the BDP on its 80th anniversary denied any level of friendship with the BDP rather he feels that the party is desperately wanting some form of a working relationship after many years.

“No level of friendship with the BDP, we just saw the adverts in the newspapers. Whilst we are shocked, anyone can congratulate you for the achievements,” said Tshukudu emphasising that the BDP should have written to them instead.

Topias Marenga, BOPEU secretary general observed that the BDP is a political party and they see BOPEU members as potential voters and they will go to any length to woo voters to their side.

“In any case, you don’t choose people to congratulate you for any achievements and I will advice you not to read too much in that gesture as they see us as a potential constituency to rely on.”

He simply dismissed the BDP gesture as part of their campaign strategy to get closer to the workers.

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