May Day flop

Have we become such a reactionary country and our government so Thatcherite that we should fail to observe Workers Day?

The confusion that passes for explanation of why, at least in Gaborone, this year's commemoration of May Day was virtually a flop points to an unacceptable acquiescence by organised labour in the face of the growth of right-wing forces on Government Enclave.  Led by an admittedly bibliophobic head, the anti-union agenda of the government illustrated itself most sharply when President Ian Khama went on a wing-footed tour of rural Botswana soon after civil servants had taken to the streets to demand better pay and improved working conditions during that winter of discontent in 2011. 

He targeted the Kgotla - that all-important public arena that can easily become a feudal forum - with one aim in view: to sow division between rural Botswana that is too trusting of authority and urban Botswana that takes nothing at face value.  The message was simple: 'they' are overbearing because they have jobs and you do not; the ungrateful lot, they want more money when you do not have two coins to rub together!  But rural Botswana, the massive base of Domkrag support, was not completely fooled this time around.  Not when its children were also taking to the streets because their teachers were not coming to class and the children's parents who work for the local council were also on strike.  The President's trick was taken straight out of the apartheid manual that had improved on the guidebook of colonialists: divide and rule.  This was a trick perfected by racial supremacists on South Africa's gold and diamond mines in order to discourage development of organised labour.  Devoid of any altruism, the so-called migrant labour system was a trick to keep unions from becoming a force to contend with at the bargaining table by tapping into the rural labour reserves of BLS countries and beyond whenever there was agitation inside SA.  The major players were the same then as today - Anglo-American Corporation and De Beers were always at the forefront.  Indeed, it was civil servants who went on strike in 2011.  But they were employees of a government whose head has been defined by SA's conservative press as liberal, meaning right-wing, by other considerations.  Afterall, President Khama has almost described himself as antithetic to the interests of unions, and therefore workers.  His hand in the controversial Public Health Act as recently revised is hardly hidden.  It is a hand that, according to the new and unhealthy law, can be brought to lean heavily on workers who fall sick.

Editor's Comment
Has life become worthless?

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