Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) has reacted angrily to government’s intention to take over the Government Employees Motor Vehicle and Residential Property Guaranteed Advance Scheme (GEMVAS).
At a press briefing in Gaborone Friday, BOFEPUSU secretary general, Tobokani Rari declared that they decided to file an urgent application before court over the government’s decision to “harshly” takeover the scheme.
“The Government is violating the civil rights of its employees. The Government encouraged outsourcing when the scheme was first established and now they were shying away from the same ideas they implemented.
“We don’t believe in privatisation, but we had to settle with the scheme because it empowered workers,” he said. He however indicated that they did not own UNIGEM, but rather their affiliates were the ones who had shares in the company.
Rari also added that when the contract of UNIGEM expired end of May, there was supposed to be an open tender where everyone was invited to submit their bids. He said they were surprised when the Government sent them a letter indicating that they would run GEMVAS.
“Government doesn’t have the capacity to run the scheme. It’s a harsh takeover and we won’t watch helplessly,” Rari said.
Furthermore, Rari said it was in the interest of the nation to file an urgent application before court to challenge the Government’s outrageous decision. Rari said the same government has been waging an economic war on them in an effort to close down trade unions.
He added that the worst part was when the Government tried to poach UNIGEM employees so that they could use them to run the scheme once the contract ends.
Rari said it was a shame that the same government that agreed to privatisation not so long ago is now selfishly taking the scheme back.
“They want to cripple the trade unions because they think companies like UNIGEM are the ones who paid for our legal finances,” he alleged.
Rari also emphasised that they would not let the Government to close down trade unions because that would weaken the civil society.
“They lost cases in the past, but they still continue to deny trade union leaders to switch jobs between unions and civil service,” he added.
He said their lawyers were ready and in the current matter everything would be handled the same way they did in the cases that they won. The scheme was introduced to enable public servants to obtain loans from participating commercial banks for the purpose of purchasing vehicles and residential property. UNIGEM is currently administering and managing the (GEMVAS) on behalf of the government until the end of this month.