Although as society we do appreciate that it is unusual for a labour movement such as BOFEPUSU, or any federation to interfere in and influence an outcome of leadership elections, I find it not in the best interest of BOFEPUSU to ignore BOPEU elections envisaged for November 2015.
It is imperative to bring to the attention of the federation leadership, the special plea of BOPEU members whom I believe are suffering under the current regime of comrade Andrew Motsamai who behaves like a monster or dictator.
Those in the leadership of BOFEPUSU must be mindful of the fact that; the Federation was formed by amongst others, comrades Motsamai, Johnson Motshwarakgole and many other visionary unionists on the principles of good governance and the rule of law. The aforementioned are fundamental principles and cornerstones of democracy, which the BOPEU president is no longer upholding and seems to disrespect.
Motsamai stumbling block to unity
It has become evident that, comrade Motsamai is a stumbling block to unity, though there is undisputed fact that he has done wonderful things in the past during his reign as president of BCSA and that of BOPEU. It is time that he leaves office peacefully, or will be removed by force if he doesn’t volunteer (Aa tsamae leina lebe seromo).
BOPEU has lost direction, hence the need to focus on strategic leadership that cares for all and listens to its membership. Members of the union are searching for strategic and visionary leaders who are conversant with and have the grasp of the pressing issues of macro and micro economic conditions.
I therefore urge the leadership of BOFEPUSU and all right-minded citizens and in particular, union members across the spectrum to save BOPEU members from their on-going oppression and slavery by supporting strategic and right minded leaders, amongst them comrade Sikalame City Seitiso, Masego Mogwera, Ogaufhi Kgosidintsi Masame and other team members by all means and with financial resources to peacefully remove comrade Motsamai and his bootlickers from office.
We all have to admit and be mindful of the fact that unionisation in the public service is a new phenomenon and as a result, trade unions will only achieve their strategic objectives of being sufficient representatives of workers through unity or working together as a United Front (UF).
BOFEPUSU is indispensable
Undoubtedly, BOFEPUSU remains an indispensable federation within the public service, capable of protecting workers’ rights and their employment conditions.
I am aware that BOFEPUSU family does not only exist entirely on members of the affiliated trade unions, rather, it has other influential friends who can fly to the sky, many of whom are entirely outside the labour movements who have social ideology policies.
It will therefore be in the best interest of BOPEU members and in the interest of the working class for the federation leadership to engage its influential friends in this noble and strategic exercise to oust comrade Motsamai and save the souls of our fellow comrades.
Use of coercive power
The president of the union finds it safer for him to exercise his predominant and coercive powers to sideline his opponents through non-procedural disciplinary actions and/or by marginalising his current deputies in decision- making process. He is in actual fact, against collective bargaining of employees though in labour relations a union cannot exist as an island independent of its members as unity is power.
The existing rivalry between BOPEU and BOFEPUSU, fragmentation and divisions amongst the labour movement in Botswana and in particular, the public service, is a result of a union leader who is behaving like Adolf Hitler and who had become intolerable to different opinions or ideas.
Call for regime change
The president of BOPEU has become so disrespectful even to his two deputies to the extent that during the 2015/2016 salary negotiations he engaged in bitter exchange of words before me with his deputy president comrade Seitiso, wherein he even threatened to recall him from the bargaining council or force him to resign from his position.
I am of the opinion that BOFEPUSU is weakened by internal divisions within BOPEU. A climate of hostility and constant confrontation between BOPEU and BOFEPUSU is a clear indication of unpreparedness of comrade Motsamai to lead this general union beyond 2015.
Bureaucracy and capitalism
BOPEU is currently operating through a bureaucratic system, a system where power and decision-making is centralised in the president. Power relationship is built on hierarchy rather than on ownership of capital. This kind of bureaucratic and capitalist system has impacted negatively on ordinary members who have been turned into destitute and live in abject poverty. The rational for decision-making within the union is not economic in the sense of equitable distribution of wealth to members who are the creators of the union’s economic growth.
It is therefore my humble belief that the plight and discontent of BOPEU members and their call for the removal of its president come November 2015 will not fall on deaf ears.
It is union members’ wish that the coming into office of comrade Seitiso as the new president of BOPEU will become a reality and turn the union into the right direction; there will be equitable distribution of wealth to members and not drilling of boreholes for retired members.
Unfortunately, the aforementioned is the strategy of the president and a package in his campaigning material with his team. Maloko gaa batle matamo/didiba. They need equity shares.
OAITSE DIANE PATLE*
*Oaitse Diane Patle - a reformist unionist based in Gaborone. Email: [email protected]