On the 31st January 2019, BFTU bid farewell to its President and one of the Veterans of BFTU Comrade Bohithetswe Lentswe due to early retirement. Comrade Lentswe had agreed an early retirement package with his employer, Botswana Power Cooperation, and also indicated that he would also not be a member of his Union BPC Workers Union as at the 31st January. This therefore meant that the General Council as mandated by section 18.10 of the constitution had to co–opt the President for the remainder of the term of the Executive Board. Comrade Martin Gabobake was co-opted as the BFTU President. The presidency of the Federation is as follows; Mr Martin Gabobake – President; Ms Martha Molema 1st Deputy President; Ms Gaebepe Molaodi- 2nd Deputy President.
Update on BCL
The General Council also resolved, after a presentation from Botswana Mine Workers Union, for all BFTU affiliates to stand in solidarity with BCL employees and hold a protest action in solidarity with all Batswana Affected by the closure of the mine. Logistics for the protest will be communicated in due course.
Workers Manifesto and May Day 2019
The Botswana Federations of Trade Unions has noted that Botswana’s economy has been doing relatively well since the time of independence and has even withstood and survived the 2008 economic shocks. Botswana has received accolades from the international community and financial institutions for its multi-party system, functioning democracy, good governance and its relative economic prosperity.
However, the Federation notes with disappointment, that this much talked about economic success story has not translated into prosperity for all. According to the most recent formal sector employment survey report, monthly average earnings for citizens were P6,038 whilst monthly average monthly earnings for non-citizens stood at P18, 265.
The Botswana Multi-Topic Household Survey of 2015/16 (hereinafter BMTHS Report) reveals that Batswana continue to wallow in poverty, and social inequalities and unemployment, in spite of the country’s much talked about economic success story. While at the time of independence Botswana was one of the poorest countries in the world, after 50 years of independence, Botswana is one of the ten (10) most unequal societies in the world.
It is the view of the Federation that Botswana is a rich country of poor citizens. The Federation is therefore worried about this state of poverty in the midst of plenty that is found in Botswana today. As if this is not enough, the Federation has been deeply alarmed by reports of corruption and poor governance that seem to have engulfed the country.
Needless to say it is corruption and poor governance that are at the centre of Botswana current political crisis.
The Federation notes that in a functioning multi-party democracy, every general election presents an opportunity to all stakeholders to ask those seeking their votes to enter public office, what it is that they have for them. It must be remembered that public office holders, that is, Members of Parliament and Local Government authorities, are at the centre of the process of national governance and distribution of national resources. It is therefore important that trade unions take a deliberate effort to ensure that the interests of workers will be addressed and are safeguarded by those who require their votes.
On the 26th October 2018 the General Council of the Federation passed a resolution for the development of the workers manifesto that would be used to inform, guide and ideally influence political parties’ manifestos in the coming 2019 general elections. Although the Federation has no intention to take any political party side, as a stakeholder and a custodian of the interests of its constituents’, the Federation strongly believes that it has a duty to educate and inform its members about pertinent social and economic issues that affect them in order to enable them to ask those running for public office, pertinent questions about the welfare of the workers and as well as desirable solutions.
To this end a working group/ reference committee was set up to work on the development of the manifesto with a consultant. The working group comprises of General Council members, relevant Civil Society Organisations and selected representative(s) from the Global Labour University alumni.
The Federation intends to lay a road map on how political and socio-economic issues that affect workers and their families should be addressed by those who seek public office.
The Federation’s General Council has viewed it as of paramount importance that workers aspirations and expectations be placed before all those who need their votes in order to take up national office. In other words, our members votes are not for free and all those who seek public office should know and fully appreciate that.
To make this well understood and appreciated by those who need our members votes, the workers manifesto that will guide workers as they go to the polls in 2019. The Federation intends to use the manifesto to educate both employers and employees to appreciate that it is in the best interest of both workers and employers to create a conducive working environment that fosters high labour productivity and ensures the dignity of labour by improving conditions work and the standards of living of the workers.
The Manifesto will be officially launched on the 1st May 2019, Workers/Labour Day, in Francistown and across the country. The approved theme for the Day reflects on the demand for a better Botswana, a strong economy that serves the people and stronger Unions for democratic values and democracy.