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Boko lectures public workers on Human Rights

Publishing Date : 22 May, 2017


The Leader of Opposition, Advocate Duma Boko enlightened the workers on Human Rights and governance at the Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) and the Botswana Federation of Trade Union (BFTU) May Day Commemoration in Selebi Phikwe on Monday.

Delivering the Keynote address, the human rights advocate and former University of Botswana lecturer, told workers that it is critical for the trade union movement to understand concerns about freedom of association and its compatibility with human rights. Boko said workers are allowed to associate as trade unions as they have been established by law and as such they must be accorded due respect by the government.

The Leader of opposition said human rights however pre-exist the being of Government as they accrue to an individual by virtue of being a human being. Explaining the notion of Government in relation to human rights, Boko said Government comes to being to respect and uphold the rights of each human being. He said the formation of Government was necessitated by the need for a formal structure that regulates the ways in which human beings interact with each other and to address the conflict that would otherwise exist and create chaos if human beings were left to their own device.

He explained that human rights are indivisible and therefore the Government cannot guarantee one to the exclusion of the others but they must rather be guaranteed wholesomely. He said these rights are inherent to the individuals and those given the mandate to govern must pass laws that respect and upholds the people’s rights. Boko called for respect between the trade unions and the Government. He challenged both of them to delve deep into the inner recesses of their soul in order to critically examine themselves so that they both may redefine and chat a new path in the way they deal with each other.

“The trade unions deal with government on labour issues, you are regulated by laws that govern the relation between the trade unions and government. You need to interrogate these laws that govern this relations and ask, are these laws just?” he said. Addressing the theme of “Unity and Solidarity: Requisites in Reclaiming Trade Union Social Dialogue Space,” Boko explained that the notion of solidarity stems from the coming together of individuals and groups around certain concepts, values and propositions, in this case as trade unions to assert their collective rights.

He challenged trade unions to come together, unpack their challenges and craft an appropriate response to the challenges by engaging in dialogue. He said leaders of the trade unions played a critical role in ensuring that the hostility amongst the opposition parties was addressed.  “We now want to see your own hostilities addressed honestly, critically and addressed in good faith. Engage with each other respectfully and address the core differences between yourselves and even amongst yourselves,” he said.

He advised the labour movement to never abuse and denigrate each other’s humanity in their differences because it is the humanity in each one of them that they must appeal to in order to resolve their differences. The Leader of Opposition similarly implored Government to submit itself to rigorous and unflattering critical examination so that it can see value in their relationship with the trade unions. He challenged the employer to reassert the fundamental values of respect, good faith and accurate disclosure of information at the negotiation table.

He condemned Government for approaching the trade unions from the point of view that they always demand an increment. He emphasised that wage negotiations must be predicated on respect, good faith and full disclosure of accurate economic information that informs the award of an increment. In that case, Boko argues that Government would have taken the trade unions in its confidence and made a compelling case based on the relevant information that lays bare the true picture of the country’s economic situation.


Members of Parliament for Selebi Phikwe, Nonofo Molefhi of Selebi Phikwe East and Dithapelo Keorapetse of Selebi Phikwe West also gave solidarity messages, both of them encouraging workers across the breadth and dimensions of the country through their trade unions to be united and speak in one voice.



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