The transfer of BOFEPUSU president Johannes Tshukudu and treasurer general Moses Monnatsie from the teaching professions to different ministries after secondment and sabbatical leave of absence cannot be viewed as victimisation. When you are away from your station for over five years, as is the case with the two, your post is not left vacant; it is filled up so that services may continue to be provided to the nation. The argument of BOFEPUSU is suggesting that the two positions should have never been filled. BOFEPUSU’s argument seems to suggest that the two comrades are relegated to lower duties. The truth of the matter is that comrades have technically been promoted at the expense of those who have been serving the employer for five years without a single movement in promotion yet comrades have been away on salaried duties of BOFEPUSU and BTU respectively. I sat in court listening to the case against the employer by BOFEPUSU and the arguments from the federation were simply rude, infantile and aggressive. They are not infantile but are sadly demeaning to essence of basic reasoning. The case is simply an opportunity for us as BOFEPUSU to finally address issues that they have somehow declared a taboo. Why is it that changing of leadership within BOFEPUSU does not seem to be anything that will happen in our lifetime?
The facts of the matter are clear that having been on secondment and serving the BTU as President and Treasurer General respectively, both gentlemen knew that their secondment will come to an end and it did come to an end. When it came to an end, in their pursuit to serve BOFEPUSU, they further requested for sabbatical leave of absence which the employer gladly provided. They were also very well aware that the sabbatical leave will come to an end. At the end of their sabbatical leave and having gone procedurally back to work, the employer transfers them elsewhere as where they were serving before secondment and before sabbatical leave is saturated. Their posts have been filled up; they have nothing to do at their previous stations. They see this as some form of vindication. Their view should be challenged for future reference. They might want to bring in the names of the Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi and the Permanent Secretary to the President, Carter Morupisi all they want, but deep in their hearts they are fully conscious and aware of wrongly sensationalising facts.
We all have had to be transferred at one point. Some transfers we requested whilst some were simply effected for purposes of operational effectiveness. But we did not cry foul because we don’t have ulterior motives. This brings me to the question - Who has an ulterior motive? BOFEPUSU is a big organisation with many workers affiliating to it through their trade unions. It is bigger than all its current leadership combined. This then nullifies the current scenario where BOFEPUSU has taken the employer to court for some form of reinstatement. What are we communicating to the employer, that we are so weak that two mere transfers will disband BOFEPUSU? This impression that they are creating will not only give the employer ammunition against them but will equally present them as a spent force. In a mass organisation, leaders come and leaders go for various reasons. In this instance leaders are going because their individual contract with their own employer is taking them elsewhere.
Instead of taking the battle of ideas into the enemy territory, trade union leaders are busy positioning themselves so that they are economically well-off at the expense and pretense of leading. This has made these leaders to forget that they should be there for the people and not be fighting personal battles; battles that they have the nerve to present as interests of the workers. BOFEPUSU should realise that the current case is exposing trade unionism; that it does not want to change leaders. That whilst it is busy preaching regime change, within its fold is a different tune. Inside is a tune of small alphas and small omegas who don’t want to pave way for others but who use every given opportunity to personalize developments around the trade unionism world to sound as if it is the turf of workers being infringed upon. I have deviated from such thinking long time back and so I hope many have done the same. This is a voice of the once oppressed, a voice that has liberated itself. A change of guard is needed at BOFEPUSU to ensure that the interests being served are of the workers. You need not look far but use the very reasons that you are advancing for a change of Government at national level - that new ideas are needed, that we need to give others a chance to prove themselves. If the ruling class is using its ruling moment to disadvantage those who want to challenge them, then you are missing the forest in your eye for the log in their eye.
Before BOFEPUSU rattles about the transfers of Tshukudu and Monnatsie, it must first and foremost immediately provide answers to the countless transfers which were done on a basis of personal vendettas against junior officers by senior civil servants across the country for many years now. These things happen every day. BOFEPUSU does not address them. It does not sing and dance on one leg to defend us when we go through these things but it wants to dance on one leg, to use our subscriptions to defend their friends. God knows why their faces are showing nothing but signs of being scared at new faces joining the old guards to take over the reins at BOFEPUSU. Maybe there is something they are not telling us and if they don’t intend telling us, it is only fair that we spring to action to demand answers. My fear is that any protracted delay to allow other equally capable comrades to lead BOFEPUSU will come back to haunt us in the future. We don’t want to find ourselves without this federation simply because we allowed friends to privatise it for their personal gains. It is beginning to show.
Considering that Botswana is a country with high unemployment rates and few work opportunities; the natural thinking will be that the employer would have equally retired the two gentlemen for the benefit of young people walking the streets. But the government has been considerate enough, possibly acting out of fear of being blamed for victimisation. We must appreciate that we are able to enjoy secondment and follow it up by sabbatical leave. But that we want all these to continue only so that we serve unions and not serve the country through public service yet want to be leaders of public service trade unionism is simply not acceptable. I am aware that it is not enough for me to simply condemn these acts of personalising trade unionism. But I am pleading with you fellow workers that we must apply our minds to present circumstances and table a decisive plan of action on how to mitigate any further damage to BOFEPUSU that cripples the ability of our strength to ensure that we uphold, protect and sustain what we stand for as a federation. The longer you comrades continue to be missing in action, the more workers will suffer and this will have perverse effects on the already depressed welfare of the workers and ultimately the economy. The ordinary workers who are not trade union leaders should not allow BOFEPUSU to show inaction whilst our communities suffer without sustained public service simply because comrades don’t want to work for the state yet want to be in trade unions representing interests of public workers.