Botswana has not been spared the brunt of neoliberal economic policies adopted by governments across the world and the growing influence of monopoly capital, which pose a threat to workers’ rights. In fact, Topias Marenga, the Secretary General of Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) is convinced that their National General Congress (NGC) which gets underway from 10th to 13th December 2018 in Kasane comes at a time when the worker is in a precarious position.
Held under the theme “Restoring the culture of Trade Unionism and Re-affirming the role of Collective Bargaining in advancing workers’ rights in Botswana”, the National General Congress provides an opportunity for the Union to introspect and map a new way forward, he stated.
“Botswana has not been spared the brunt of these policies. Botswana’s constant presence in the List of 25 cases addressed at the ILC for the past 2 or 3 years is indicative of the level of degradation,” said Marenga adding that to speak to this year’s NGC theme, BOPEU has invited Zingiswa Losi, the first Female President of COSATU.
President Dr Mokweetsi Eric Masisi is expected to officially open this congress. “We will host our brothers and sisters in the Trade Union movement from across the world. We expect guests from Ghana, Lesotho, Namibia and Brazil to mention but a few. This stems from the need for solidarity amongst workers’ organisations across the globe. We will continue to champion this call. “Our local brothers and sisters have also been invited.” He indicated that as this will be an elective NGC, on the last day of the NGC delegates will get to elect National Office Bearers (NOB) who will be entrusted with the stewardship of the Union for the next three (3) years. “We call for all who intend to run for office to put the interest of BOPEU at the forefront. We call for decorum and mutual respect. We expect to come out of the NGC united and reinvigorated.”
Marenga said the congress has been budgeted for between P1 million and P3 million. The funds are for accommodation for the delegates, conference, food and other logistics at the congress.“As BOPEU we are committed to being active and meaningful participants in the national economy. The NGC and or our annual general meetings provide us with the grandest opportunity to participate. We chose Kasane because of its capacity to host us and the realisation that we have to support local businesses.
“At the end of the NGC, we estimate that our event would have directly or indirectly benefitted Kasane’s economy to the tune of no less than P1 million. We pride ourselves in this. In recent past we have done the same in Palapye and Francistown. We will continue to seek out other venues that have the capacity to host us and invest in their local economies,” Marenga said.