The costs of local trade unionsí running battles with government has reached P10 million since 2011, BOFEPUSU acting Secretary General Ketlhalefile Motshegwa has said.
Addressing visiting delegates of academics from Florida state, United States of America (USA), at the University of Botswana last week, Motshegwa said since the massive 2011 public service strike that lasted for about three months, relations between government and the trade union movement in Botswana has soured, leading to a litany of court cases, as the unions fought back to protect their rights. Motshegwa told the USA delegation that 22 court cases had been lodged against government since 2011.
“The 2011 public service strike exposed the kind of leadership that we have, or that we should not have. We have seen harassment of trade unions, firing of workers and trade union leaders, including myself”.
Motshegwa reiterated to the visiting USA delegation that as Botswana Federation of Parastatal, Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU), they are still convinced today as they were back then during the 2011 public service strike, that the Botswana government is capable of making a 16% salary increase, considering the small population of the country, as well as the size of the public service, which he says at less than 2,000,000 people, is small enough to afford the increment.
He says measured against the strong economy of the country that makes billions annually from diamonds and tourism, such increment should be easily sustainable. Motshegwa also suggested that his government was wasting hundreds of millions annually on unsustainable poverty eradication programmes and Ipelegeng, which are not bearing much fruit.
“Our conviction is that you cannot eradicate
Motshegwa also told the visitors that his organisation aims to protect and deepen workers’ rights, and that BOFEPUSU’s working class agenda is aligned to socialistic ideals. “We have a democratic role in the public service and society; labour relations on its own is labour democracy.
He also said in the purisuit of social justice, BOFEPUSU has the interests of the poor and the oppressed at heart , as well as holding government of the day accountable.
Democratic Institutions Under Siege
BOFEPUSU’s Motshegwa also told the USA delegation that Botswana’s democratic institutions were under siege, with Parliament dominated by the ruling Party MPs who rubber-stamp cabinet’s decisions, and the courts of law were also littered with executive-appointed judges who often lean towards their masters.
“The judiciary also has become weak when it should be the last hope in any democracy,” Motshegwa pointed out.
Motshegwa also blasted the Ombudsman office saying the Act that created it only made a toothless lion that cannot hold anyone to account.
He also said Botswana has institutionalised corruption that has been marked by a media advertising ban in the last three to five years”.