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BOFEPUSU, BOPEU are polar opposites-Rari

Publishing Date : 22 May, 2017


Secretary General of Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU), Tobokani Rari has stated that his federation and Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) have irreconcilable ideological stances.

Rari admitted this week that BOFEPUSU has come to accept the fact that it and BOPEU have stark contrasting ideological differences that makes it difficult to reconcile. BOPEU pulled out of BOFEPUSU in the fall of 2015 after its Maun congress voted to leave the federation. “We have come to accept that ideologically we differ with BFTU (Botswana Federation of Trade Unions) and BOPEU. We believe in politics and they say they don’t even though they meet with politicians of a certain party in the dead of night.”

Rari furthered: “we feel we should have a say (in political discourse) and they don’t.” Rari also rubbished lingering expectations of forming a confederation with rival Botswana Federation of Trade Unions (BFTU) saying that it also falls in the same basket with BOPEU as labor movements which shy away from politics. BOFEPUSU’s new resolution to wade into active politics is set to further widen the philosophical gap between the two labour movements. Its special congress resolved over the weekend in Palapye to step up its involvement into active politics.

Rari, who is also a fiery orator, styled BOPEU as a yellow union that is in bed with the employer. BOFEPUSU’s Deputy Secretary General Ketlhalefile Motshegwa said that the newly adopted position of the federation is that unionists who wish to enter the theatre of active politics must be unrestrained to do so. “In fact unions don’t need a resolution to get into politics because we are inherently enjoined. We should not be ba ba buelelwang hela. Tota re a rotloetsa so that we can have people in parliament. That will be profound,” Motshegwa noted.

BOFEPUSU Publicity Secretary Mogomotsi Motshegwa expressed bewilderment at BOPEU’s peer relations with BFTU even though the former is only a trade union while the latter is a federation. “It is the first time we see a union having a Memorandum of Understanding with BFTU.BOFEPUSU is a federation and BOPEU is a union.”

Mogomotsi who is also an older sibling to Ketlhalefile Motshegwa further expressed wonder at BOPEU’s association with BFTU recalling that when it disaffiliated from BOFEPUSU, the number one contention was the lack of  audited financial statements at the federation as well as political party affiliation.” “There are no unions at BFTU. There are no financial statements. They were talking about political affiliation with UDC (Umbrella for Democratic Change) but they can choose to share lawyers with government.”

He also continued firing salvos: “BOPEU’s conduct is historical. They have betrayed the workers .It’s the conduct of people who have lost track of the workers struggle.” He further claimed that BOPEU and government had been sponsoring the breakaway union of BLLAHWU. Furthermore, Motshegwa also made a claim that BOPEU and government are currently backing breakaway unions at Botswana Teachers Union (BTU) and (BOSETU).

However, the federation’s president Johannes Tshukudu was the only one to signal willingness to re-house BOPEU in the midst his own tirades against the Masego Mogwera-led mega-union. “We will always welcome them without reminding them of their mistakes. When they reconsider their stance we will welcome them back. We will do everything to get them back.” stated Tshukudu, before invoking the biblical prodigal son narrative on BOPEU’s exit: “it is happening to them. That is why you see them collaborating with government.” he said. Tshukudu is shaping up as the most moderate of BOFEPUSU top brass as this is not the first time he expressed hope of BOPEU’s return. He invoked the same prodigal son chronicle recently at the federation’s press briefing.



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