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Has the new party (AP) divided BOFEPUSU?

Publishing Date : 21 February, 2018


The newly formed Alliance for Progressives (AP) may divide the leadership of Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) as recent developments may force re-alignment in labour politics.

Leading figures of BOFEPUSU Johnson Motshwarakgole, who is the Labour Secretary and Tobokani Rari, the Secretary General attended the announcement of party new formation on Wednesday this week. The duo among others has declared their support for Ndaba Gaolathe during the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) factional battles that led to the split in the party.

BOFEPUSU is made up of the Botswana Sector of Educators Trade Union (BOSETU), Botswana Land Boards, Local Authorities and Health Workers Union (BLLAHWU), Botswana Teachers Union (BTU) and National Amalgamated, Local and Central Government and Parastatal Workers Union (NALCGPWU) as well as other unions in private sector, making it the biggest and the most influential labour movement in Botswana.

This week, Gaolathe led group bolted out of the UDC coalition and announced the formation of a new political party. The formation of a new party has been a matter of speculation since the bloody and violent Matshekge Congress in Bobonong, which produced parallel National Executive Committees (NEC) for BMD, both claiming legitimacy.  Allegedly, this has however created a rift in the BOFEPUSU leadership because the federation was given a mandate to support a united opposition at its last year’s July Congress.

In the recent past, Rari had also hinted at the possibility of re-arrangement of furniture, a statement deduced to mean changing of political alignment ahead of 2019 general elections. The need to “re-arrange furniture” may compel the federation to go back to the membership to seek a new mandate. This week, the Deputy Secretary General of BOFEPUSU, Ketlhalefile Motshegwa down played the recent developments in an interview with one of the local Radio Stations, insisting that the federation will support ‘a united opposition” as per congress resolution.

A leading member of BOFEPUSU who is also President of Botswana Land Boards, Local Authorities and Health Workers Union (BLLAHWU), Thatayoane Mokhurutshe has indicated his support for UDC president in the wake of the formation of a new party - AP. This publication also understands that Mokhurutshe is of the view that the Goalathe group bolted earlier rather than wait for the mediation process.

Mokhurutshe told this publication that the “4th of May BOFEPUSU Congress reiterated its support for UDC and such would only change if there is another resolution.” He however stated that people are reading a lot from personal preferences of individuals to the position of BOFEPUSU. BOFEPUSU secretary general, Rari said there is no division in the BOFEPUSU leadership with regard to choosing between AP and UDC.

“There is nothing that has changed regarding the well-known BOFEPUSU political standard. Of course we acknowledge the latest development in the political space of the country,” he said. “These are circumstances that we are closely watching and we would like to take a back seat and watch as things unfold. It’s too early for us to be mingling; we may at a later stage step into the fray in a conciliatory tone.”  At the memorial of Gomolemo Motswaledi, the late president of BMD, Motshwarakgole called for the formation of a ‘new movement’ as the only way resolve the problems facing BMD and by extension the UDC. Speaking indirectly, Motshwarakgole said they should not create ‘a dictator’ like the BDP has done with President Lt Gen Ian Khama.

Reports are growing thick and fast to the effect that there is a huge fall-out between BOFEPUSU leadership and UDC leader Duma Boko. Insiders reveal that the fall-out has been a result of a belief by BOFEPUSU that the UDC does not value the former’s contribution to the UDC since formation. Weekend Post has found out that BOFEPUSU is of the view that the UDC leader has acted in bad faith by ‘sidelining’ opposition cooperation convenors in the talks that led to the arrival of Botswana Congress Party (BCP). BOFEPUSU’s position is also shared by Botswana Peoples Party (BPP) as well as BNF Vice President, Rev Prince Dibeela.

However, reliable sources indicated that Boko has shown his resentment towards BOFEPUSU for wanting to exert control in UDC affairs. According to reports, the source of the rift between BOFEPUSU and UDC came in the wake of the arrival of Botswana Congress Party (BCP) and a later the resolution adopted by the Botswana National Front (BNF) to mediate between BOPEU and BOFEPUSU following an acrimonious relationship which has been playing out in public domain since 2015.

The deterioration in relations was set in motion by BOFEPUSU’s decision to endorse UDC ahead of 2014 general elections, while BOPEU was strongly against endorsing any political party. Since then the leadership of the two unions has exchanged words in public domain. Recently BOFEPUSU accused BOPEU of conniving with government to collapse the country’s bargaining council. BOFEPUSU were of the view that BOPEU was working against the interest of the workers.



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