*We are not an arm of any political party- Rari
He commands a lot of respect and trust among his comrades at Botswana Sectors of Educators Trade Union (BOSETU).
This is evidenced by the past three elections that saw BOSETU Secretary General, Tobokani Rari, contesting for executive committee positions unopposed.
This happened in 2009 when he was contesting for the National Organising Secretary and twice for Secretary General positions.
Following internal squabbles which of late have become synonimous with political parties and other trade unions, Rari is happy that his organisation managed to hold a peaceful congress last week.
In this political interview with The VoiceStaffer, Daniel Chida, he urges the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) to speedily resolve the internal bickering at Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD).
Q: What do you take of not being challenged by more than 15 000 members every time you contest for a position?
I am very proud of that because it shows that people have utmost trust in me.
When addressing the delegates’ congress during the manifesto night, I appreciated the trust they have in me and that I will not betray them at any point of time or relax because they have put their lives on my shoulders.
I will not be bought or captured, but will remain alive to the mandate they have given me. Overall I am happy that the congress went well.
Q: Why do you say that?
The congress should be presented with the state of the union, asses the report and adopt it and also be presented with audited financials.
You have to explain how funds have been used and then come with resolutions, all that was done.
The campaigns and elections were clean and we came with a strong balanced team.
Q: Towards 2014 elections you made it clear that you supported the UDC, what triggered that?
Our decision to support the UDC was never triggered by any promise for position or money, but again we are happy that it is a member-driven decision.
When you pursue something that you are told by members to do you don’t fear anything because you are pursuing the mandate of the members, there is no capturing there.
Q: We are now approaching 2019, has your position changed?
We are not an arm of any political party nor are we an affiliate of any political party as BOFEPUSU.
What we do is that towards elections we assess the manifestos and commitments of all the parties and see whether they have any agenda that will address the welfare of the workers.
With the BDP we have said it several times that they have committed a lot of atrocities on workers.
They have amended the Trade dispute Act to include all workers to become essential services so that they do not have bargaining power.
They are now amending the Public Service Act; they are taking out a bargaining council which was functional.
They are targeting union leaders by dismissing and transferring them. All those are running contrarily of what we want for our workers.
Q: What is going to happen towards 2019?
We are doing an analysis on how the UDC MPs have been performing and how the UDC has been implementing its manifesto to the workers but taking into consideration that they are not in power.
We will use the outcome to make a decision.
Our system is that we look at parties and individuals.
At BDP we have isolated certain members.
We have tried many times to have Minister for Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration, Eric Molale to address us but he always turns us down.
This time he referred us to his assistant, Thato Kwerepe, but still there was no communication.
We were trying to clear his name as the enemy of the workers but he has failed and missed that golden opportunity.
So he remains part of the people who we regard as our enemies.
Q: Are you going to support UDC in 2019?
Currently there is no decision that has been made for us not to support the UDC, but they have to be serious in terms of uniting the parties in the opposition including the BMD issue. In 2014 we said we will support a united opposition but if they become fragmented then they must as well forget the vote of the workers if the approach 2019 the way they are. They must address the BMD issue urgently because there is no time left.
Q: What is your take on the BMD chaos?
What happened in Bobonong must not be tolerated at all.
We saw the party being hijacked by some few individuals who have been agents of the system and it’s unfortunate that if that is left like that it will set precedence for others to do the same in future.
The UDC must be decisive on the issue and my feeling is that it should not take time to solve that because the other faction is a minority driven while the other one is driven by the masses. We know where the masses are.
Q: Why is there a delay then?
Maybe they are delaying because they want to be extra cautious but it will drag on and on. It is the dragging that some people want.
They have to smell the coffee, you can’t be cautious in every issue even one that does not need caution.
Q: What if they hijack the UDC too?
It is time we open our eyes and be honest to ourselves.