The Botswana Federation of Public Unions (BOFEPUSU) is accusing Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi of being involved in recent string of events in which the government waged what they term ‘prejudicial and unlawful’ acts against Trade unions. In a letter dated the 10th April 2016 addressed to the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Secretary General Botsalo Ntuane, and signed by BOFEPUSU Deputy Secretary General Ketlhalefile Motshegwa, the federation expressed their displeasure over what they say is “Government's and Botswana Democratic Party leadership's interference with internal affairs of Unions and harassment of Union leaders”. At the centre of the uproar is the decision by the Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) decision to transfer President of BOFEPUSU Johannes Tshukudu from his work as a lecturer at Tlokweng College of Education to Ministry of Transport as Chief Administration Officer and Treasurer General Moses Monnaatsie from his work as teacher to the Ministry of Youth, Sports & Culture.
BOFEPUSU’s stance in the matter is that the two actions were done without consultation and the posts the two have been transferred to, are not in line with their training and professions. “This is clear Government interference on Trade Union affairs, clear violation of Trade Unions & Employers Organisations Act and curtailment of trade union rights,” BOFEPUSU argued. BOFEPUSU put it forth that they “understand that in these deeds scheming against destruction of trade unions, the Vice President is alleged to be involved and so is Permanent Secretary to the President”. “We would like the party to come out and make clarification on the alleged involvement of the Party Chairman and Vice President and as well as the Permanent Secretary to the President in these actions against Labour movement and Trade Union. We are saying these as we view these developments as pointing to an anti-Trade Unions stance by the party and Government,” the letter read. Although Ntuane acknowledged that his office received the correspondence from BOFEPUSU, he refused to give in to BOFEPUSU’s assertions that the BDP was meddling in its affairs.
“I haven’t had a look at the letter. But even then how can the BDP be accused of harassment? I never participated in any meeting with DPSM to discuss transfers of the individuals in question, nor has Central Committee ever discussed the transfers. I am at loss, therefore, how a finger can be pointed at the party. We are the wrong address for the BOFEPUSU letter,” Ntuane said. According to Ntuane, DPSM - which is in charge of deployment in the civil service - should be the one to respond to the union’s grievances. When asked what their take is pertaining the fact that their party chairman is fingered directly by the federation, Ntuane had this to say: “Since when have Vice Presidents of Botswana sat in transfer committees?
They don’t; allegations without proof are just allegations and must be dismissed as such”. The federation has since filed an urgent application to interdict Tshukudu’s transfer over what they say are ‘prejudicial and unlawful acts with ill-motive’. BOFEPUSU however also state that they are aware of a clear cut plan by government to target federation leadership, citing that the Federation Secretary General Tobokani Rari is said to be next on line on the ‘victimisation and vilification’ process that government is waging against trade unions. “It is a fact that under your Government the Deputy Secretary of the Federation Ketlhalefile Motshegwa was dismissed from work while he was seconded to the Union BLLAHWU and this was to the full knowledge of Director of Directorate on Public Service Management,” said BOFEPUSU.