On Thursday morning BOPEU Shopstewards in Palapye attending Module 3 of the Shopstewards Programme, observed a minute of silence in honour of Rre Klaas Motshidisi, a stalwart of Labour.
Rre Klaas was the founder and leader of Botswana Trade Union Congress (BTUC), which was a rival to the Botswana Federation of Labour (BFL), led by Gabriel Mmusi. BTUC was aligned to the then radical Botswana People's Party led by Kgalemang Tumediso Motsete, the composer of our national anthem, "Fatshe Leno La Rona". BFL was aligned to the BDP, led by Bangwato chief Seretse Kgama.
With Government support for a joint education programme under the Botswana Trade Union Education Centre, BTUC and BFL merged to form the Botswana Federation of Trade Unions (BFTU) in April 1977, led by Frank Mzizi from the Railway Union.
The Government of Botswana donated four pieces of land to the BTEUC/BFTU, Plot 871 - 874 at African Mall, Gaborone, which BFTU later sold to Botswana Sectors of Educators Trade Union (BOSETU).
In 1977/8, Rre Motshidisi was appointed the Commissioner of Labour, taking over from Rre Peter Mmusi. As a result of the successful formation of BFTU, in June 1978 Botswana was admitted into the membership of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), ratifying two Conventions in the process. Ironically the Government of Botswana was represented at the 1978 ILO Conference by Rre Motshidisi, with Botswana Employers Federation (now BOCCIM) represented by Rre Jerry Gabaake.
The passing on of Rre Motshidisi marks a break with that glorious generation of freedom fighters - those who fought with passion and sacrificed their lives for the common good. They were a rare breed.