BOFEPUSU to fight for united opposition
Botswana Federation of Public, Private, Parastatal Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU)’s Deputy Secretary General, Ketlhalefile Motshegwa is a known figure in trade unions and political circles having been a leading voice against the oppression of workers by the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).
In an interview at his office with The Voice’s Daniel Chida, Motshegwa speaks of how the Federation intend to fight to have all opposition parties united.
He revealed they will address their members at the June Congress and then opposition parties individually with an effort to ensure a united opposition going into the 2019 general elections.
Trade unions had a tough time under former President, Ian Khama – what is your take on his successor, Mokgweetsi Masisi?
There is nothing much to celebrate. He is a President under pressure and under siege – firstly from the ruling party because he wants to control it but there is this shadow from Khama wanting to grip to control and protect all the corrupt practises that he did with his friends.
He must prove to us that indeed he has the powers! However, currently there is a possibility of riot from party members who are being sidelined as people are not rewarded on merit.
The Director of DPSM (Directorate of Public Service Management) position has not been filled and a junior legal advisor is acting for three months. This shows that the administration is not decisive and serious.
That position is critical because it brings stability within the civil service.
We will address his administration for social dialogue; we cannot allow a situation where people are parachuted from nowhere to come and lead because it kills the moral in the civil service!
So in summary, what exactly are you saying?
I can say that the nepotism which was there under Khama’s term will continue under Masisi.
The fundamentals remain intact, the system remains intact and you can see that even the Director of DIS and DIS itself has not been changed.
It is the system that has failed to help Batswana. He and Khama are responsible for what is happening now because as VP you are in charge of projects’ implementation.
I don’t know how he will change it – maybe by some magic!
What do you intend to do?
We will not abandon the mission to bring the opposition together for a healthy democracy.
We will address them to better understand the challenges and what is happening before we do the mediation.
Our parties have a leadership challenge and we have to teach them about that. People are more concerned about leading than delivering services; it is the reason we have so many fights within the opposition.
People idolise political leaders instead of holding them accountable – you find people saying, “ke ka Ndaba, ke eme tsii le Boko, Go Masisi.”
If you look carefully, people losing trust in opposition parties don’t join the BDP but instead stay away from politics.
How are you going to rectify this?
Our aim is to have all parties working together rather than fighting for constituencies.
In the long run they will have to disband all the parties and form one strong opposition.
If they are confident about taking over power why should they have different parties?
It shouldn’t be about preserving the history of the party and its brand but serving the people. People don’t eat brands!
You had a well-documented sour relationship with former Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration, Eric Molale.Now the position is filled by Nonofo Molefhi, how do you see things going?
Molefhi as a person is well cultured and approachable. However, meetings with him will not protect the workers’ rights but rather the behaviour or the direction taken by the President.
It is important there be change in the whole system rather than having Molefhi alone.
Do you fund opposition parties?
Political funding is critical for democracy because people now fund parties in return for something and that is how governments are captured.
But as Labours we cannot sit back, we have to come forward and help. We ‘fund’ with ideas and building of structures instead of being more about financial assistance.
Not that we are afraid because government is threatening to audit our books, but because the court cases we had drained our books of more than P8 million!
2019 is around the corner – are you going to channel the same energy into politics that you did in 2014?
Dynamics have changed and favour change of power now more than they did before.
We will make it a point that we are more visible than we were in 2014.
Opposition leaders should do away with positioning themselves for positions once power has been attained and rather focus on getting the power.
How is your relationship with Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU)?
BOPEU is living in denial because when they left us they accused us of being involved in politics but we have seen them inviting politicians to their gatherings and we wonder how we are different? We still want better relations so that workers can benefit.