The youthful militant trade unionist, Ketlhalefile Motshegwa has decided to contest the general elections at Gaborone Bonnigton South where he will face incumbent Ndaba Gaolathe, who is the leader of Alliance for Progressives (AP).
Motshegwa has confirmed that he will tussle for seat under the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) banner. The three horse race features Motshegwa, Gaolathe and Christian Nthuba of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP). Political pundits are of the view that Motshegwa’s candidature is a strategy by the UDC to present itself as party accommodative to workers and trade unions.
Botswana Federation of Public Parastatal and Private Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) played a key role in the formation of the UDC, and the latest move is noted as commitment by UDC to labour movement which have a decisive role in national elections and public policy issues.
Motshegwa, who is BOFEPUSU deputy secretary general, is a seasoned unionist who started his activism in Francistown where he was chairperson of Botswana Land Board and Local Authorities and Health Workers Union (BLLAHWU) Francistown branch and BOFEPUSU regional secretary.
He later rose to become the BLLAHWU secretary general in 2010 to date, and deputy secretary general of BOFEPUSU in 2011 todate. He was treasurer general of African Municipalities And Local Government Unions Network (AMALUN), chairperson of Public Service International (International Trade Union Secretariat) in Botswana. He represented workers and trade unions in various international forums including International Labour conference. Motshegwa was born in Mmadinare where he did his primary school, later went for Tashata Junior School at Tati Siding, Mowana Junior School in Mahalapye and later Selebi Phikwe Senior Secondary School. He did Bachelors of Social Sciences majoring in Political Science and Public Administration at the University of Botswana. He also did Masters in Employment and Industrial Relations from University of Turin, and working towards completing Bachelors of Laws with University of Botswana. During his time in trade unions, he at some point became chief negotiator at the Public Service Bargaining Council.
He has been a formidable and fearless Trade unionist who pursued workers agenda with sacrifice. He has always been a thorn on government to the extent that in 2009 he was nearly imprisoned after addressing a workers rally in Selebi-Phikwe, and a warrant of arrest was issued against him during 2011 Industrial strike.
In 2013 Motshegwa and other two secretary generals took the then Director of Public Service Management, Carter Morupisi to court and won after the director terminated their secondment to union offices. In 2014, government froze his salary on account of his trade unionism but withdrew after court intervention, he was finally dismissed in 2015 following 2014 general elections signalling a period of government crackdown on workers and trade union rights. He has always been a constant and fearless critic of government particularly the leadership styles of both former president Ian Khama and President Mokgweetsi Masisi. Motshegwa says
Some of the issues that he is passionate about are the review of the Constitution and efforts for enhancement of Botswana’s democracy. He is of the view that Botswana’s economic gains must benefit all Batswana, and that in modern times the advocacy should be for the socio-economic, political and psychological independence from those neo-colonial mentality.
“The core focus must be on the workers struggle of the working class and the peasants. The working class or labouring class are the people employed for wages, especially in manual-labour occupations and industrial work. This class has nothing to sell but their labour power and skills and they have a challenge of access to economic resources. That is even worse for the poor who are sorrows, agony and some having lost hope to the extent of wishing death upon themselves daily.”
His other matters of concern are;
• Ensure job security as Government make hints of rapid privatisation of some public services
• That the Ministry of Employment Productivity and Skills Development expedite efforts for establishment of an independent institution of mediation and arbitration, and the Public Service Commission be abolished for it is irrelevant in current labour relations.
• Living wage
• Review polices of social protection to ensure that Batswana are socially included from the envisaged protection.
• That the employer make reasonable provisions for occupational health and safety of employees and establishment of safety committee in the workplace
• State of democracy with assessment of democratic institutions such as arms of government, Independent Electoral Commission, Ombudsman, Directorate of Public Prosecutions for their empowerment and effectiveness
• Bank of Botswana and regime of financial institutions
• The need for amendment of constitution to align it to contemporary trends of Republican politics
• Decentralization of Government functions
• Agriculture and food security
• address of poor and ailing status of sectors of Health and Education
• Ensure quick and adequate land distribution
• Fight against highly escalating institutionalised corruption
• Fight against abject poverty and unemployment particularly among young people
• Political party funding
• Citizen economic empowerment and human centred development towards social justice
• Protection , advancement and deepening workers’ rights and human rights
His constant message for the campaign is that “our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall, that as we pursue dreams, we must learn that our dreams can come true, only if we have the courage to pursue them”.