Several doctors, nurses and pharmacists have claimed that the government has not responded to their request for release letters so that they can take job offers outside the country.
They said they have been turned back by SADC countries, which demanded that they produce release letters from the government first. One doctor explained that she received an offer from Namibia, but she has failed to get a work permit because she does not have a release latter. She said the Namibia High Commission asked her to produce a release letter from her employer, which she thinks will be difficult to get.
An official of Botswana Junior Doctors Association, Dr Odirile Bakae has said procedure dictates that no SADC country can hire essential service employees from another without permission from the country that employed the professional.
He said that there should be a letter from the Botswana government - from the Ministry of Health - stating that the essential service worker is not needed in the country that employed him or her and can therefore take up a job abroad. However, the letter may not be needed outside SADC.
Bakae said that there should be another letter of good conduct from the Botswana Health Professionals Council (BHPC) for medical service workers who want to work in other countries. "This letter states how the candidate has been conducting himself or herself professionally and again advises the other council if they should consider that person," he said.
The letter is needed to register with the professionals' council or medical council of the hiring country. Bakae said that though he has not applied for a job outside the country, he knows that many
doctors and nurses have failed to get work in SADC region because the government does not want to release them.
"The government has refused to give them letters because they cannot let them go. So they (essential services workers) cannot go to other countries without letters that states that they are not needed here," he said.
"Secondly, the BHPC has refused to give them letters saying that they are still investigating a matter where the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health has reported that some employees have defied a court order. Until the matter has been fully attended to, there can be no letters for the employees that the ministry brought to the attention of the BHPC," he added.
Bakae said that they are requesting the government to state that it does not want to release the sacked workers to look for jobs elsewhere so that they can pursue other means of getting help on the matter. "They should put it on paper so that we can have something concrete to put before court," he said.
BHPC chairman, Dr Joseph Makhema and the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Dr Kolaatamo Malefho could not be reached for comment as they were said to be attending meetings.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Phandu Sekelemani has dismissed allegations that the Botswana government has told other SADC countries that its sacked essential service workers should not be given jobs. He said these are just attempts to malign the government. "It is lies. I have never heard of any government that would do that to its citizens. We cannot say Batswana should not be given jobs," he said.