The Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) has sadly noted that the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) recently succeeded in snatching, through the courts, civil servants’ democratic and natural right to vote at political parties’ primary elections.
While the BDP is excited by this ruling, we at UDC see this as a clear testimony of BDP continued onslaught on civil servants. This has become a BDP culture on the public service employees which comes from far. After the 2011 public service strike, the BDP led government fired, without a blink of shame, thousands of employees from service.
As if this was not enough, President Khama described those who participated in the lawful and protected strike as unpatriotic and sadistically left them for the wolves. A systematic purging exercise was undertaken: employees were transferred, demoted, acting appointments cancelled and a general reign of terror was unleashed on the workers.
The BDP led Government continued with the violation of workers’ rights with the harassment of trade union leadership , deregistration of Public Service Bargaining Council and other anti-labour practices and activities. The BDP led government recently closed down the Selibe Phikwe mine, under a cloud of lies, throwing more than 6 000 employees into the streets and leading to more than 30 000 family members and other dependants directly affected.
Instead of negotiating with the teacher trade unions and concluding the conditions of service, the custodians of the examinations have failed to uphold best practices. The examiners who are marking the Junior Certificate Examinations and Botswana General Certificate of Secondary Education are disgruntled and have since downed tools.
The Ministry of Basic Education and Botswana Examinations Council are reportedly not negotiating in good faith. This conduct is putting the children’s education at risk as their final examinations are marked by demoralised and demotivated teachers.
In another recent development, public sector workers went home
The united opposition therefore invite everyone, including public servants to the membership of UDC. We urge and encourage those who have been with the BDP to discard the party that treats them as secondary members and second class citizens.
As previously promised and committed in UDC’s policies and the Social Democratic Programme (SDP), the UDC Government will respect workers’ rights, comply with international labour standards, tremendously improve conditions of service and welfare, uphold social dialogue structures, among others, the Bargaining Council.
There will be continuous engagement with all workers through their representatives and organisations. This is our undertaking, which we are committed to. The recent BDP public statements that they support workers is just an insult to the workers of this country who have created so much wealth for this country but got the worst ever treatment from the BDP led government.
The BDP has failed to improve the conditions of workers for over 50 years and nothing will change them, even after Vice President Masisi takes over. For the country to enjoy prosperity and economic development that will create jobs, the UDC calls upon all workers to remain united, and effect regime change in 2019.
*Justin Hunyepa is UDC Labour Secretary and BNF Publicity Secretary