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'We are not bought' – BNF 

SHARE   |   Monday, 08 May 2017   |   By Staff Writer
'We are not bought' – BNF 

The opposition Botswana National Front (BNF) has denied that recent calls by the party calling for reconciliation are influenced by financial support recently extended to the party by some trade unions. Allegations have been flying thick and fast that BNF is developing a cosy relationship with Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) after its President Duma Boko honoured a May Day invitation by the former. It was at the event that Boko called for reconcilitation between public sector trade unions, who have been engaged in legal tussles for many years. Boko's sentiments were later shared by other Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) members who asked trade union leaders to bury the hatchet. On Friday BNF Publicity Secretary and UDC Labour Secretary, Justin Hunyepa, denied that the appearance of Boko at a BOPEU event and renewed calls for trade unions to reconciled was triggered by financial support extended to them by the latter. He said his party is friends with all trade unions regardless of their differences.  There has been growing speculation that BOPEU recently extended financial support to the party in the region of P200 000. "We have not changed our positions with regards to reconciliation of trade unions. All public sector trade unions spearheaded the formation of UDC and we are concerned that they are disintegrating. We have been lobbying the warring trade unions to unite and make peace to speak with one voice for the workers, and to guard against divide and rule tactics of the employer," said Hunyepa, who is the former Executive Secretary of Botswana Sectors of Educators Trade Union (BOSETU). 

He denied that BOPEU has given them any funds, adding that they have been appealing to different organisations including trade unions for support. Although he confirmed that they have received some financial support and in kind from different quarters including the private sector, he denied that it was anything close to the alleged amount. He refused to disclose their sources of funding. BOPEU spokesperson Topias Marenga could not be reached after numerous attempts. BNF together with other opposition parties formed the coalition UDC following a push from all public sector trade unions then affiliated to Botswana Federation of Public Sector Trade Unions (BOFEPUSU). The trade unions had made it clear during the 2011 public sector strike that they will only support a united opposition, which promotes policies that support workers interests. At the time Masego Mogwera and Andrew Motsamai were President and Secretary General of BOFEPUSU respectively. The marriage between the trade unions broke down when Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) pulled out of the federation, citing disagreement over some decisions made by the leadership to support UDC and failure to present audited financials. The remaining BOFEPUSU members continued the relationship with UDC.