Former Secretary General of Congress of South African Trade Union (COSATU) Zwelinzima Vavi has cautioned workers unions in Botswana to desist aligning themselves with political parties as they will domesticate them and make them weak. Giving a speech at the ongoing Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) congress, Vavi said that Botswana can learn from the mistakes that workers union in South Africa, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe made by aligning themselves with liberation movement. He said all of them have become weak.
Vavi, who has been expelled by COSATU, said that as unionists they have learnt from their mistake that aligning with political parties lead to the death of workers union. “The tragedy of our experience is a union which is more fragmented and weak,” he advised, adding that trade unions must be worker controlled and independent. He said currently all the unions that formed alliance with political parties are either weak or impotent. “Right Now COSATU has just become a labour desk of ANC and has turned the federation into a conveyer belt for the ruling elites,” hit out Vavi.
He called on BOPEU to remain independent, united and militant and be cautions of external forces that might try to hijack the workers’ agenda. Vavi said his experience and others who have been in the trade unionism for long has shown that unions that align with political parties are domesticated by the parties and loses militancy to be sweethearts of the ruling elites. The former COSATU Secretary General applauded BOPEU for not allowing themselves to be used by politicians.