HAVING served in a number of sub committees within BOSETU(Botswana Secondary Teachers Union), the man who has been vocal in call –in radio programmes has taken a decision to go for BOSETU’s highest position.
Caterpillar Kainangura Hikuama is ready to take from the current President Shandukani Hlabano who has declared that he won’t be seeking another term.
BOSETU will be he holding an elective congress at Majestic Hotel in Palapye on the 24th to 27th August.
The Voice Reporter DANIEL CHIDA had an interview with him.
Q: Welcome Sir. Would you kindly introduce yourself to our readers.
I was born in Motswereng; a cattle post 8 kilometres from Bodibeng Village in the North West District.
I’m a teacher by profession.
I attended my primary school at Bodibeng Primary School and went for my secondary education (both Junior & senior) at Maun Secondary School.
I obtained my teaching qualification from the University of Botswana in 1996.
I will be contesting for the Presidency of BOSETU.
Q: When did you join Ministry of education?
I joined teaching in 1996 as an assistant teacher offering Integrated Science at Tsetsebye Community Junior Secondary School.
In January 1997 I was transferred to Tutume McConnell College as an assistant Biology teacher.
I served in Pandagala, Tsodilo between 2000 and 2004.
In 2005 I was transferred to Batanani Junior Secondary School in Mapoka now as a Senior Teacher Sciences and back to Tsodilo in 2010.
Currently I am Head of Department Pastoral Care at Shakawe Junior Secondary School.
Q: Tell us about your campaign?
Yes I have accepted the nomination to contest for BOSETU Presidency.
I was compelled by the power of love for BOSETU, and my strong desire to see teaching in Botswana become a profession that would be attractive to many.
Q: When did you develop interest in the position?
When you join an organisation you don’t necessarily join to become its leader but when other comrades feel you can be one, you start a bit of self reflection and develop interest if you also feel you can.
That is what happened to me when Cde Shandukani Hlabano our current president announced in our last conference that he is not going to seek another term.
BOSETU members started thinking about who can be next and my name was one of those flouted.
After a lot of consultation with cdes coupled with the love I have for BOSETU I agreed to contest.
Q: What would you bring to BOSETU?
To improve members’ participation in the union affairs and ensure BOSETU is more democratic and a real member controlled union.
BOSETU should not be about its president but about guiding and helping its members to make decisions that will help grow the union and make it more effective.
Q: Where do you think it has been lacking?
There is nothing much to be corrected.
I think what I will be doing is to compliment on what my predecessors have done, since eras change and come with their own dictates, I am more than ready to make the changes necessary to achieve our union goals.
But emphasise should be in member education.
We need to vigorously embark on labour education in order to sharpen our members’ skills and knowledge.
You know an effective member is the one who is informed and knowledgeablen labour issues and trade unionism in general.
I don’t think it’s safe for a union such as BOSETU to host members whose only attracted to the union is freebies and soft loans.
Q: How is the relationship between government and union especially yours?
Compared to the olden days when BOSETU (BOFESETE then) was considered a rebel union of uncultured members, I think it has relatively improved.
It is however not the kind of relationship one would expect in a free democratic republic such as ours.
It is highly regrettable that our government still has less regard for trade unions.
It does not consider trade unions as partners in the socioeconomic development of this country.
Even issues that can be easily resolved over a negotiation table they end up in court of laws, and at a high cost to both government and unions.
Education Regional Directors have pains in dealing with unions and union members.
They don’t trust unions and their members.
The end result is poor service and under development.
Q: A number of Union leaders are said to be of the opposition parties, why?
I think is due to the nature of their duties.
They challenge decisions and unfriendly labour laws made by the ruling party; they engage and differ with cabinet ministers who are mainly from the ruling party.
All these make people think they belong to the opposition parties.
The situation is not helped by the immaturity of our democracy where our people still believe if you are a member of a political party you are not supposed to criticise or differ with its leadership.
Q: Is that not what makes you guys to be always on each other’s necks?
No it is because of government and government officials’ hostility towards unions.
Government officials feel threatened by unions and think unions dilute their authority over workers.
They haven’t yet developed effective systems to engage trade unions and effectively control employees under their supervision.
Q: We hear you are a member of Botswana Congress Party, can you tell us more about that?
I think it is just a suspicion, and at times difficult to convince people otherwise, when paying much attention to gossip and suspicion you end up becoming a gossip monger and irrelevant.
I don’t want to become one. Get me right, I am not saying is wrong for any BOSETU member out of his or her own volition to freely belong to a political party of his or her choice.
Q: Don’t you think party affiliation will bring divisions in the movement?
That is one of the reasons I have avoided to publicly advocate or declare my support to any of the political parties in the country.
I know partisan politics is a highly emotional and divisive vocation if not handled carefully.
Q: Isn’t it time for trade unions to be political?
Trade unionism on its own is a political activity and trade unions by nature are political agents.
These are two sides of the same coin.
Despite I have my views concerning partisan politics and trade unionism.
I think you will agree with me that partisan politics or trade unions alliances with political parties is not part of the principles or ideologies of trade unionism, but part of trade unions tactics to win or gain certain benefits at a given time.
Given our history and experience as a country and our social set up as a nation, I don’t think is both strategic and advisable for us to go partisan at the moment.
BOSETU for example hosts members who belong to different political parties and it will come at a cost to try to align them to a particular party.
For BOSETU to remain united, independent and competent representative organisation of educators it has to be autonomous and free from political parties influence.
I think it is also important to avoid turning trade unions into political parties’ labour desks.
But if by any means BOSETU members through its democratic processes and structures adopt a resolution to align or support a particular party, who am I to refuse?
I will religiously deliver their wishes and interest.
A number of teachers lost their jobs due to teacher –student sexual relationships.
Q: What could be the cause of these forbidden relations?
Indiscipline on the part of the teachers can be one of the causes and in certain situations excitement from ministry officials also constituted to many teachers losing their jobs.
Over and above students indiscipline is also a cause.
Q: As a senior teacher what role did you play in advising both parties?
I address teachers and emphasise the need for them to uphold professional standards.
In my region I have suggested to the ministry officials to start joint programs in addressing teacher’s professional conduct as well as students’ discipline, and I hope they are selling the idea to their superiors.
The introduction of the Teaching Council can come in handy to regulate educators’ professional behaviour and take appropriate measures to address the situation.
Q: Ngamiland schools especially Shakawe recorded the worst results ever what really happened?
That was caused by political intolerance and poor relationships between government and trade unions especially educators unions.
Q: How are you going to improve that?
Promotion of good working relationships between government and educators unions, and I will do within my power to achieve good relations with our Ministry and government officials.
Many challenges in our schools can only be addressed through meaningful social dialogue between unions and government.
Q: How are you going to spend your weekend?
If not engaged in BOSETU business I will be at Phiriatsena cattle post, or socialising with colleagues and friends.
Thanks for your time and wish you good luck.