FRANCISTOWN: The Botswana Federation of Public Private and Parastatal Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) has reacted furiously to President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s remarks against the workers when addressing the nation on Friday evening.
In his speech, Masisi made serious allegations to the effect that the public service has over the years been unproductive as well as being corrupt, a trend that has resulted in some development projects not being effectively implemented. Masisi’s remarks against civil servants also drew an angry response from members of the public.
Masisi said in his address, “We have to measure our own labours as an elected leadership, to enact laws that empower and provide a roadmap of delivery to the anxious electorate.
When we do that, when we reflect, we discover that there is a direct correlation between the quality of the public service texture of the high economic growth rates of post-independence to the 1990s and the degradation of the public service of the post-1990s with the much lower growth rates of the economy in the last 30 years.”
He added, “We find evidence of a political leadership that for the last 30 years, has increasingly fallen into the clutches of an underperforming public service that has grown more robust in obstruction than in productivity. We find an evolving culture of a democratically elected but increasingly pliable political leadership of the last three decades, held to ransom by groups of abrasive technocrats in low-productivity mode, albeit with rising incidences of corruption.”
BOFEPUSU secretary-general, Tobokonai Rari yesterday said apart from being absurd the remarks show that the Masisi regime is anti-workers. Rari pointed out that the President’s remarks were a pronouncement of self-failure on his part.
“From the outset, we need to put it on record that we as a federation (BOFEPUSU), are seriously disappointed, dismayed and actually angered by the utterances made by the President with respect to the public service. Our view is that the President has made a wild veiled attack on the public service without empirical justification,” Rari said in a written response to The Monitor questions .
He added that it was unfortunate that Masisi made the statements without having first engaged the trade unions organising the public service.
“This runs contrary to the principle that the President has been talking about, the principle of consultation and open, honest engagements.
President Masisi has been at the helm of the public service as a Minister of Presidential Affairs during the past immediate BDP government, so for HE to indicate that the public service has been degenerating for many years is a pronouncement of self-failure on his part.”
Rari further noted that the view of the federation is that there is a performance management system in place which monitors the performance of each public servant, so, any public servant who underperforms would be identified through the system and assisted accordingly hence there is no need for Masisi to make such ‘unsupported’ judgement on the public service. When Masisi took over as President in 2018 he warmed up to the workers. He even increased the salaries of civil servants. However, many believe that since the 2019 General Elections Masisi has shown little zeal to address the plight of the workers.
Some pundits have even attributed the poor performance of some public servants to poor conditions of service.