Tribute to BOFEPUSU, Ngwana olwetse! Robala ka kagiso!

SHARE   |   Saturday, 19 December 2015   |   By Simon Gabathuse
Tribute to BOFEPUSU, Ngwana olwetse! Robala ka kagiso!

Duma Boko should have attended the Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) 2015 elective congress. Not attending the congress has reinforced the claim that Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) - which is an open friend, supporter and sympathiser of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) - is anti-BOPEU. Though this matter has been in the public domain for a while, it was rather subtle and avoidable. It needed a real leader within the UDC to rise above the rest and ensure that peace prevailed between the biggest and richest union in the country being BOPEU and its federation; BOFEPUSU. Everyone has always known that BOFEPUSU needs BOPEU and not the other way round. 

The non-appearance of Duma Boko at the BOPEU congress was the last nail to the BOFEPUSU coffin. He needed to be there, to allay the fears that UDC was just as BOFEPUSU anti-BOPEU. It is possible that in him, Duma Boko, staying true to his character, felt that he did not need to attend the BOPEU congress as BOPEU was not showing any love to BOFEPUSU whilst BOFEPUSU is a UDC lover. It is also possible that he was instructed by BOFEPUSU not to attend so as to spite Andrew Motsamai’s leadership. That surely worked in the favour of Andrew Motsamai as it vindicated him that, contrary that he is anti-BOFEPUSU and UDC, it is both the former and the latter who are actually anti-BOPEU and its president.

The Botswana Teachers Union (BTU) had also taken the war to BOFEPUSU through its Secretary General, Ibo Kenosi who proclaimed to BOPEU members at their elective congress that “contrary to what has been sold by BOFEPUSU, BTU has never been a sweetheart to the Government and/or ruling party”’. Interestingly this was after Justin Hunyepa of the UDC, who had been sent to represent President of the Botswana National Front (BNF), failed to help BOFEPUSU and BOPEU smoke a peace pipe. In his lack of tact, approach and probably operating from instructions he was given to campaign for a candidate favoured by BOFEPUSU, Hunyepa literally attacked not only Motsamai’s leadership but further openly castigated BTU leadership right in front of the BTU Secretary General. Kenosi fell short of explaining that but BOFEPUSU was critical on a death bed.

The BTU speech swayed whatever was left of the swing voters to the favour of Andrew Motsamai.
The anger displayed by BTU openly towards BOFEPUSU at the BOPEU congress coupled with the Motsamai’s team regaining control of BOPEU, defeating in the process a BOFEPUSU favoured candidate is possibly just the beginning. The trade union members are communicating. Botswana Federation of Trade Unions (BFTU) is being vindicated. There is a high possibility that after this resolution by BOPEU to dump BOFEPUSU and re-join BTFU the nation shall watch in awe and amazement the same resolution at the next year’s planned BTU elective congress where BOFEPUSU is expected to try and push out those leaders not in favour of BOFEPUSU. If they lose that one then that shall be the end of BOFEPUSU and that will mean a disastrous future for UDC, which is dependent on the support of BOFEPUSU.

As if the defeat of the BOFEPUSU preferred presidential candidate; Sikalame Seitiso was not enough, BOPEU members further resolved to pull out of BOFEPUSU and head towards Botswana Federation of Trade Unions (BFTU). This essentially means that BOPEU has defeated BOFEPUSU hands down. No one can deny that the withdrawal of almost monthly P28, 000.00 subscriptions by BOPEU in the favour of BFTU is quite a deep wound. Besides, had Duma Boko attended the BOPEU elective congress and delivered the solidarity message as was planned and in the programme, his rhetoric and charm might have swayed the votes against Motsamai. This would have thus been to the favour of the BOFEPUSU preferred candidate in Sikalame Seitiso.

It is against this backdrop that those who advised Duma Boko not to attend the BOPEU elective congress essentially betrayed BOFEPUSU and its sweetheart; the UDC and further denied it control of BOPEU. The ground was further thick and pregnant with anger that Duma Boko should have at least had the respect and decency to give Motsamai a phone call rather than sending the UDC Spokesperson; Moeti Mohwasa to send a text message that Duma Boko will not be attending and that instead Justice Hunyepa will be representing the UDC. That Hunyepa is a former BOFEPUSU officer and now a UDC officer brought out sharpened knives.

BOFEPUSU has been only a brief case institution that thrived mainly on court cases against government. These court cases did not bring anything else monetary to BOFEPUSU except ego and pride for the BOFEPUSU leadership. It has never been clear as to how much BOFEPUSU spends on these court cases but such monies are thought to amount to millions. The BOFEPUSU funds, as argued by both BOPEU and BTU, have not been accounted for since inception. That BOFEPUSU has not been able to audit its books since 2012 yet it has continually called for payment of subscriptions from member unions and even imposed that membership should be increased from P1.00 to P2.00 per member should not be taken for granted.

One can safely concluded that Motsamai has defeated Johnson Motshwarakgole hands down. These two have been known to work together and even co-founded BOFEPUSU until Motsamai began questioning the motives. Public opinion is that the fall-out between Motsamai and Motshwarakgole began when Motsamai questioned the interference of Daniel Kwelagobe in BOFEPUSU matters. 

BOFEPUSU is not necessarily wrong to engage itself politically, but BOFEPUSU missed the point that Batswana do not necessarily allow political divide to compromise that which has brought them together as various groupings such as trade unions in BOPEU and BTU. The pubic fall-out of BOPEU and BOFEPUSU towards the 2014 Botswana General Elections was premised on BOFEPUSU publicly endorsing UDC whilst BOPEU maintained that such was never a BOFEPUSU resolution and hence not a BOFEPUSU position. Naturally so, the UDC silently took a BOFEPUSU side. This was not correct as UDC was now involved in the division of the workers. Duma Boko had begun through allowing UDC to be used for this battle a process to inflict deep and painful wounds that have now taken BOFEPUSU to the grave.