The never ending factional wars at Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) have claimed the scalp of the president of the Botswana Federation of Trade Unions (BFTU), Martin Gabobake.
The move also forced the BFTU to convene an emergency general meeting for next week Thursday in Gaborone to ventilate on the conundrum.
In a first of its kind the BFTU has seen its popularly elected president recalled from his position by BOPEU, where he is a member.
At the time of his election as BFTU president some three years ago, Gabobake was BOPEU’s first deputy president, a position he lost to Olefile Monakwe at Kasane congress.
The BFTU on Thursday this week sent letters to its affiliates informing them that it has received a communication from BOPEU recalling Gabokake; no further reasons were advanced for the decision.
Howeve, a BFTU press release says Gabobake had refused to bend to the BOPEU demands, citing constitutional protection, and the fact that while he is a member of BOPEU, he was not seconded by BOPEU to BFTU, but was popularly voted at BFTU congress.
Gabobake also argued that the BFTU constitution does not have a recall clause to entertain incidents such as this.
The BFTU’s membership has widened to include parastatals and dominates the BFTU board, making it vulnerable to political shenanigans happening at BOPEU.
Observers say it was always a matter of time before the instability at BOPEU engulfed the BFTU, where the BOPEU makeup of the board is forced by circumstances to take sides.
When BOPEU joined BFTU after it left Botswana Federation of Public Private Parastatals Unions (BOFEPUSU) few years ago; it was seen as the cash cow of the then heavily broke BFTU.
BOPEU breathed new life, literally with its cash power. When it formerly joined the BFTU, all the then existing BFTU positions were swept by BOPEU.
BFTU needs BOPEU funds once more to organise May Day events as well as preparing for the elective congress. Whoever controls the purse at BOPEU currently, is important for BFTU’s continued financial survival.
However, with BOPEU in bitter factional wars involving elected president Masego Mogwera and the faction that toppled her led by Monakwe, the factional wars targeting Mogwera’s sidekick at BFTU have finally arrived at the door of the federation.
Confronted with the letter of demand from the funders (Monakwe faction), BFTU had to act before they could think, as they gave in and recalled the president, before proceeding to call an emergency general meeting of the BFTU council to deliberate on the matter of the BFTU president’s recall.
Yesterday Gabobake told Mmegi that he had explained the position of the BFTU constitution on the matter, that leaders are elected as per BFTU constitution and not according to the whims of individual trade unions.
Gabobake also added that he was busy consulting his lawyers on the way forward, and that a position would be shared soon.