Affiliates dump BFTU

Nicholas Mokwena
Wednesday, 12 July 2017
Ghazanki Mhotsha Ghazanki Mhotsha

Botswana Mine Workers Union (BMWU) is said to be on the verge of dumping Botswana Federation of Trade Unions (BFTU).

BMWU is said to have already written a letter to the federation about its decision to leave the federation. Information gathered by this publication indicates that BMWU fell out with the federation after the latter failed to lead in the fight against government during the shut down of BCL mine last year. 

BFTU General Secretary Gadzani Mhotsha confirmed to Botswana Guardian in an interview that his office has received a correspondence from its affiliate. He said they have since communicated with the union leadership through a letter requesting a meeting to understand what prompted the union to withdraw its membership.

“Well it is not good to lose one member or affiliate because it affects your numbers. But this has not deterred us from striving and representing our members in all forums and fighting for their rights”, said Mhotsha. He would not be drawn into believing their lack of persuasion on the government regarding the shutdown of BCL could have triggered the withdrawal. He said the federation is still to meet the union to discuss the matter.

BMWU President Jack Tlhagale would not be drawn into discussing the matter referring questions to general secretary Mbiganyi Ramokate who is the custodian of all Ramokate was not available for comment as his mobile phone was off. BMWU withdrawal comes hardly three months after another BFTU affiliate University of Botswana Academic and Senior Support Staff Union (UBASSU) announced its withdrawal. 

UBASSU President Kaelo Molefhe revealed that they have since joined Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU). Molefhe explained that they have discovered that BFTU of today is no longer active and progressive. The president said during the trying times of BCL mineworkers BFTU was nowhere to be seen.

“During the times when Botswana Mine Workers Union needed the federation the most BFTU did not assist. The federation never stood in solidarity with BCL workers. This was disturbing because BMWU is an affiliate of the federation. We however only noticed the presence of BOFEPUSU who were always present in Selibe-Phikwe”, said Molefhe at the time of the withdrawal in April this year. 

In an interview this week Mhotsha said as the federation they have not received any communication from UBASSU. He said as far as they are concerned UBASSU is still their affiliate. He accused Molefhe of having taken the membership of UBASSU to BOFEPUSU without the knowledge or consent of the union members or executive committee.

“Dr Molefhe is a known activist of one of our opposition parties. He knows our stand as the federation in as far as politics is concerned. He took the union to the other federation, which everyone knows its stance on politics because he is a staunch supporter of one of the parties. We know our detractors to advance their claims that the federation is dying would use this. The federation is however still intact, losing the two affiliates should not be used to gauge our strength viability”, said Mhotsha confidently.

BMWU in January this year decampaigned the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) during a by-election in Palapye allegedly for ignoring interests of the workers. BMWU revealed during a political rally to launch Botswana Congress Party (BCP) council candidate. BCP would later win the council seat through Area Gabathuse who contested the council seat for Boikago-Madiba Ward in Palapye against BDP’s Thabo Dimeku. 

BMWU General Secretary Mbiganyi Ramokate indicated that the decision was taken after government decided to liquidate BCL and Tati Nickel mines last year where close to 6000 employees lost their jobs.

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