FRANCISTOWN: The Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) spokesperson, Moeti Mohwasa says the struggles of employees in Botswana-both in the public and private sector-concerns the UDC very much.
Speaking to Mmegi on the eve of the commemoration of the 2011 public workers strike that paralysed various government operations, Mohwasa said the UDC has also learnt lessons from that historic strike.
Mohwasa said: “The 2011 public workers strike is historic in a myriad of ways. It brought together all public sector unions in the fight for better working conditions. Though the results were not immediately realised, the strike laid a solid foundation and affirmed the power of the working class.”
Narrating the history of the formation of BOFEPUSU, the UDC mouth piece said the Botswana Federation of Public, Private and Parastatal Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) was formerly formed in 2008 and registered in 2009 by two largest public sector unions, Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) and The Botswana National Amalgamated Central, Local and Parastatal Manual Workers’ Union (often referred to as The Manual Workers).
He added that the said unions were later joined by Botswana Teachers Union (BTU), Botswana Landboards, Local Authorities and Health Workers Union (BLLHWU) and Botswana Sectors of Educators Trade Union (BOSETU) after the Thaba - Thula retreat which was held in the North West province in South Africa.
Mohwasa said BTU, BLLHWU, BOSETU together with the Manual Workers’ Union were previously members of BFTU.
BOFEPUSU, Mohwasa explained, faced registration challenges until a court put aside their de-registration.
“It is worth noting that there was so much bad blood between the two federations, BOFEPUSU and BFTU. As the UDC we are
He added: “It was in 2014 General Elections, were it not to vote splitting, the UDC would have taken over power. BOFEPUSU impressed upon us the importance of working together as the opposition, reiterating Dr Kenneth Koma’s well known dream of a united opposition.” Like BOFEPUSU, the UDC also faced registration difficulties and legal challenges. BOFEPUSU’s model of cooperation was a compass that gave us direction when we engaged on where we wanted to take the Umbrella to, Mohwasa went on to say.
“The contribution of BOFEPUSU in conscientising the public workers is very much acknowledged. The close working relationship that now exists between BOFEPUSU and BFTU is commendable and a lesson for the opposition in Botswana.”
He added: “There is need to focus more on what draws us together than what divides us. As comrade Karl Marx said, you have nothing to lose but your chains. This is the message that is important to both us and BOFEPUSU.”
Though our adversaries argue that we operate on two different terrains, the truth is our struggles are intertwined, he said.
“Workers’ struggle goes beyond the shop floor issues and our revolution will be incomplete if it does not liberate and empower the workers,” he added.