The Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) says President Ian Khama’s State of the Nation Address on Monday failed to address the concerns of the country’s largest labour body.
Yesterday, BOFEPUSU Secretary General, Tobokani Rari said the President had failed to state government’s attitude towards trade unions, including how productivity was to be maintained during the water and power shortages.
“We expected to be briefed about the government stance towards public service unions,” he said.
“During the period under review, government has been on a mission to close up the entitlements and rights of trade unions.”
Rari said government had taken the Trade Dispute Bill to Parliament in order to “take away employees’ fundamental rights such as striking”. Government, he said, had also amended the Public Service Act and “forced” some employees into the essential service category, after losing a court battle.
Rari also said the President should have talked about the water and power crisis in relation to productivity.
“Schools for example release learners early because of the water situation. This shortens the period spent by teachers working and at the end they are unlikely to complete the syllabi.
“The President should have told us of the short and medium term solutions rather than just the long term plans because people have to be producing on a daily basis,” he said.
Rari said the utilities issue was critical and it was disappointing that the President overlooked it.
On the Economic Stimulus Programme (ESP), Rari said Khama had again failed to explain what had necessitated the intervention now and why it appeared to be more of a “political mileage-seeking tool”.
“We expected the President to tell us why there was a need to stimulate the economy now and not during the economic meltdown,” the BOFEPUSU official said.
“We also wanted to know why the ESP seems to be more for the Botswana Democratic Party’s Members of Parliament while it should have come from Parliament and be driven by government officials,” he said.
Rari further said Khama should have taken advantage of the SONA to clear his name on accusations of meddling with the judiciary.
“The President missed a golden opportunity to assure the nation that the Executive is not interfering in the Judiciary. That is a crucial matter that he needed to address the people on,” he said.