Botswana Lands Boards Local Authorities and Health Workers Union (BLLAHWU ) is deeply saddened by the tragic accident that claimed the lives of students of Matsha Senior School and injured many.
We pay our sincere condolences to the families who have lost their beloved ones and wish speedy recovery to those who were injured. It is our greatest hope that the hand of God touches them. We find that a void has been carved unto the nation and it is time for all citizens to rise up and unite in the midst of this national catastrophic calamity.
While the nation is in tears , we understand that the Government in its efforts to to abdicate responsibility for the Matsha students tragedy for fear of a political backlash, is now issuing threats of transfers and dismissals to officers based in Kweneng District Council.
Today some workers in Kweneng went to see the students and they were inhumanely denied that opportunity by the Department Of Social Protection. This is not humanity and indeed “ga se Setswana”.
Employees are being sidelined on an assignment that falls within their jurisdiction as people are fetched from far to attend to the situation. Employees are shocked and wonder if this means they cannot be trusted in this assignment that is within their profession and jurisdiction of work .
This is very unprofessional and cunning of the Government.
We are at a time where we need to mourn as a nation, the nation needs the leadership of the country to rise above political tenure security and unite people towards healing and comfort those who lost their children . It is not a time to mitigate political backlash as that is not only selfish but also borders on evil considerations and self preservation. There should be utmost concern about lives lost, healing and counselling of those who survived and the families involved .
While we mourn as a nation, it is important that right questions are asked for accountability at policy level. That is because it is the practice of Government that children are transported in open trucks, as this has been happening in Kweneng and many other parts of the country.
Furthermore councils continue to depend on the Central Government for financing and resourcing. This has been happening despite continuous calls for the practice and system to stop . The issue of hiring of private buses has failed to materialise as Council Authorities have continuously indicated that they don’t have the money because some of the bus owners were said to have made quotations that councils could not afford .
So the issue squarely lies with Government as a policy matter and under resourcing of councils hence the need for decentralisation and financial autonomy of councils.
We reiterate that there is utmost need for the leadership of the country to own up to the tragedy, apologise to the nation, as a matter of urgency and with immediate effect stop usage of open trucks to transport kids but rather buy buses for councils to transport children.
It is not a time for politicians to shift blame to employees due to fear of societal judgement on the political leadership and possibly denting of political careers.
Ketlhalefile M.N Motshegwa