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BOPEU defends policy of non-alignment

Andrew MotsamaiThe President of the Botswana Public Employees Union(BOPEU) Andrew MotsamaiThe President of the Botswana Public Employees Union(BOPEU) Andrew Motsamai has revealed that the biggest lesson from COSATU and South Africa is that the practice of trade unions supporting particular political parties has never benefited workers.

"Current MDC factions in Zimbabwe are likely to spill over into ZCTU on whether MDC should or should not boycott the coming municipal by-elections in Harare and Bulawayo. ZCTU itself had been deeply disappointed by ZANU-PF's ESAP(Structural Adjustment programme)," said Motsamai.

He said, "Zambia ZCTU's sponsorship of Frederick Chiluba was a disaster, with Chiluba fast tracking sale of state assets that Kaunda regime had tried to shield from them IMF's SAP. Namibia is also a case in point of suppressed co-option of NUNW into SWAPO, similar to ACFTU into Chinese Communist Party."

Motsamai maintained that BOPEU will continue to question BOFEPUSU as an affiliate for behaving as if it has a mandate from workers to support a particular political party.

"Mandates are taken constitutionally, not in rallies or through radio station phone-ins," said Motsamai.

Motsamai was also at pains to stress that there was nothing unusual about the BOPEU leadership engaging the Office of the President on issues affecting workers

"There is double standard applied here; when our teachers engage the Ministry of Education and Skills Development on levels of operation or supervision of sporting activities outside the Bargaining Council, it is viewed by the media as legitimate interaction. But when BOPEU interacts with Office of the President(OP) it is selling out. BOPEU has to engage OP because its membership cuts across the entire government.," said Motsamai.

He said, "A smart Trade Union cannot avoid an opportunity to engage with the Office of the President. Fortunately our members are able to separate the office from the person or the party."

BOPEU has begun exploring the possibility of working with BFTU in pursuit of a BOPEU 2014 Convention, to further trade union solidarity. It has therefore taken up positions on tripartite forums including the Labour Advisory Board(LAB), High Level Consultative Council(HLCC), Minimum Wages Board, Decent Work Country Programme and the Industrial Court.

It will also continue being a member of BOFEPUSU, which it categorises as a sectoral federation formed for uniting public servants for the purpose of the Bargaining Council.

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