In an extraordinary political error, the Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration Eric Molale chickened out from addressing members of Botswana Sector of Educators Trade Union (BOSETU) at their elective congress while the Minister of Basic Education Dr Unity Dow braved the storm and scored massive political points. According to BOSETU Secretary General Tobokani Rari, they invited Molale to officiate at the elective congress but he didn’t bother to respond to their invitation. On the other hand, the former High Court Judge, Dr Unity Dow entered the hornets’ nest and weathered the storm as provocative songs were directed at her and her officials – she remained calm throughout. When she was called to the podium to address the teachers, it was clear from the mentioning of her name by the Director of Ceremonies that she was entering a lion’s den. But the soft-spoken Minister of Basic Education fixated her eyes on the speech. She regained her composure and showed her combative character when he punched holes on the speech delivered earlier by the then BOSETU President Kwenasebele Modukanele, something that attracted the booing from the delegates. She was heckled, harangued and hectored for most part of her speech, but the former High Court stilled her nerves. She turned down attempts by the emcee to protect her, insisting that the audience will turn around. At the centre of her differences with BOSETU delegates was the use of the words which the BOSETU President Kwenasebele Modukanele used in describing the status of dilapidation of schools’ properties.
Dow argued that instead Modukanele saying ‘most’ schools were dilapidated he should have said ‘many’, as most meant that more than 50%. “Heela mmaa weee re matichara re itse sekgoa! (Hey we are teachers and know English),” but she stood her ground amid booing. Dow, who was not being agitated by the booing, also dismissed Modukanele’s claim that schools’ grounds have been turned into warzone as students terrorise teachers and other students. Dow indicated that though there were some wayward students it was not as bad as Modukanele portrayed it. “If you can go around schools in Palapye the most visible violence will be teachers holding sticks and beating students,” she amidst loud murmurings from the delegates. Many thought that she won’t last long at the congress as it was clear she was the most unwanted guest at the congress. To the surprise of many including BOSETU and BOFEPUSU leaders, Dow sat in all the proceedings while other officials including Assistant Minister of Higher Education Fidelis Molao had to leave earlier. Hard to please labour movement veteran Johnson Motshwarakgole was moved by the behaviour of Dow that he spent the better part of his speech heaping praises on her. “I don’t wish to be in her position and don’t think I could have survived this hostile environment but she has managed to do that and we must respect her for that,” said Motshwarakgole.
Motshwarakgole, who is also the Labour Secretary for BOFEPUSU, said as union members they should start campaigning against Molale and since they have been allowed to vote in primary elections they must mobilise their members in Goodhope/Mabule. He said that Molale has shown that he is the enemy of the labour movement. BOSETU Secretary General Rari, also heaped praises on Dow, saying that she has never missed an opportunity to address union members since she became a cabinet minister. “She does not only attend, but sits in BOSETU congresses the whole day, listening to the proceedings and teachers’ issues. This is behaviour is contrary to some government Ministers who shun union congresses and could not sit for more than an hour in such forums. Minister Dow in this vein needs to be applauded. She has a rare character of her own,” wrote Rari on his social media pages.