A press briefing called to provide a round up for 2015 by BOFEPUSU on Wednesday deteriorated into a verbal assault and a scathing attack on the person of Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) president, Andrew Motsamai. BOFUPUSU leaders took turns bashing Motsamai in a bare-knuckled below the belt attack, which repeatedly revealed confidential information about his salary while still employed as the Secretary General of the federation. Under the constitution of BOFEPUSU, the SG is the Chief Executive Officer. "The rank and file of BOPEU cannot be disassociated from BOFEPUSU. Those who are trying to mislead the people will eventually be exposed because they do not stand for workers’ rights," said Johnson Motshwarakgole, BOFEPUSU’s Labour Secretary.
In response to this, BOPEU through media release said that BOFEPUSU is trying to reverse the BOPEU Congress by engineering divisions within their union. “According to Motshegwa and Motshwarakgole BOFEPUSU intends to include BOPEU in its forthcoming General Council in January 2016, despite our disaffiliation,” reads a BOPEU statement. "After the passing of Gomolemo Motswaledi, a decision was made for workers to nominate a candidate who will represent their voice in parliament. Andrew Motsamai was the obvious candidate and he accepted the challenge. When he was due to sign the acceptance papers, at the door of a meeting with UDC, Motsamai demanded an offer of employment from BOFEPUSU as security in the event that he lost elections. We couldn't make such a decision alone as we had to refer to the Central Committee, but Motsamai refused to budge. Under pressure, we then decided to inform UDC that our candidate will not be able to stand...Hence the nomination of current MP Phenyo Butale,” revealed BOFEPUSU Deputy Secretary General Ketlhalefile Motshegwa.
BOPEU revealed that Motsamai was approached by the UDC while he was outside the country and by the time he arrived, his nomination had already been publicised in the main stream media, before he could complete consultations and said he ultimately chose to decline. Motshwarakgole said that BOPEU members still belong to them and cautioned that those who thought they have bought them at Palapye will regret, in an indirect swipe at Motsamai. He said that as executive secretary of BOFEPUSU, Motsamai failed to produce an audit report. In their response, the public sector union rubbished claims that Motsamai failed to produce audited reports during his tenure as Secretary General. The response, which was penned down by BOPEU Secretary General Tobias Marenga, state that in its formative years BOFEPUSU didn’t have a budget and its activities were heavily subsidised by its affiliates.
“The failure to audit in the formative years (due to insignificant direct transactions) cannot be used to justify a stubborn refusal to audit in 2015,” Marenga insisted. As a parting shot, BOPEU said that going forward they will prefer to do other things than spend time fighting BOFEPUSU’s endless and petty accusations. BOFEPUSU Secretary General Tobokani Rari said that they cannot deny that the departure of BOPEU has hit them hard but they will soldier on. “However, we continue to make great strides and we believe a lot of good happened in 2015. BOFEPUSU is now a labour centre that continues to receive new members from sectors other than the public service, including hotels and telecommunications," said Rari. Rari said in 2016 the federation will roll-out an educational programme for the rank and file so that they can appreciate what trade unions stand for; and so they are not easily swayed or misled. He revealed that they are going to have a retreat in Francistown in January where the financial audited reports for the past years will be presented to the delegates.