Hooray, but it is not yet Uhuru!

Wednesday afternoon was a day of celebration for five unions affiliated to the Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU).

It was the day when the High Court judge Lot Moroka nullified the decision of Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) director Festinah Bakwena to terminate organisational rights that unions had enjoyed until August 2011 when her controversial decision was to take effect.In doing so, Justice Moroka agreed with the union's argument that the decision to terminate their organisational rights without giving them a hearing had rendered it unfair and unlawful. This small but important victory came two months after BOFEPUSU members suffered two major defeats at the Court of Appeal. In one of the cases, the Judge President of the Appeals Court Ian Kirby literally mopped the floor with Justice Key Dingake's judgment after the latter had ruled that the dismissal of Essential Service Employees (ESEs) for participating in a strike was unfair and reviewable. In the other case, Kirby ruled that the Industrial Court was right to declare as unlawful participation of ESEs in the strike. Devastated, the unions subsequently challenged the partiality of Kirby whom they described as "executive minded." Clearly - and understandably - the workers had lost faith in the judiciary.

Thus Moroka's ruling came as a relief, although it may be premature to celebrate because government could make a beeline to the Court of Appeal where anything goes. At the best of times, the relationship between industry and organised labour is adversarial. But since the advent of the Khama administration in Botswana, the relationship between the government and unionised public servants has become openly antagonistic. Recently, DPSM rebuked union leaders for encouraging their members to support the opposition candidate in a by-election at Letlhakeng West.

Editor's Comment
Your vote matters

This period, running from May 20 to 31 2024, is crucial for those who have not yet registered to vote. This announcement comes in response to a significant shortfall in registered voters following the recent registration period. As it stands, only 62% of the target number of voters registered, leaving a considerable gap.With Botswana's general elections scheduled for October, every eligible citizen needs to register and exercise their...

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