Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) will have to battle against the axis of an invigorated Umbrella for Democratic Change Plus (UDC+) [inclusive of Botswana Congress Party (BCP)] and Botswana Federation of Public Private and Parastatals Sector Unions (BOFEPPPUSU) as the two are in collision and are adamant to unseat the BDP in 2019.
The BDP will for the first time since independence face a single opposition party at the polls and will also have to divert some of its attention to BOFEPUPPUSU which has also resolved to launch war in a bid to “defend workers’ rights in Botswana.” BOFEPPPUSU, a consortium of four public sector unions; National Amalgamated Central, Local & Parastatal Workers' Union (NACLPWU), Botswana Sectors of Educators Trade Union (BOSETU), Botswana Teachers Unions (BTU) and Botswana Land Board & Local Authorities & Health Workers Union (BLLAHWU) at its Special Congress last weekend passed a few resolutions aimed at aiding the removal of BDP from power in 2019.
After deliberations by delegates on the way forward amid an unending frosty relationship with government, the congress resolved among others; that the federation should resort to mass demonstrations as of the beginning of 2017 to make the public and all stakeholders aware of the government’s infringements on workers.
The congress also mandated the leadership of the affiliate unions’ regions and branches to move urgently to resuscitate the regional structures of the federations that would drive regional membership mobilisation and information dissemination. The delegates agreed it was necessary to keep the federation structures vibrant as they prepare for the 2019 general elections. It was suggested that affiliate structures should engage on house-to-house campaigns in order to make the federation’s presence felt. BOFEPPPUSU have a membership base of over 70 000.
BOFEPPPUSU (then BOFEPUSU) had a fallout with the ruling party in 2011, in the same year, the federation staged the historic public sector industrial strike which lasted for more than two months and led to over 800 employees losing their jobs. Ahead of 2014, the federation endorsed UDC, then a coalition of three opposition parties; Botswana National Front (BNF), Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) and Botswana Peoples Party (BPP). It then urged its members to shun the ruling BDP and BCP, which had declined to be part of opposition coalition following collapse of initial talks.
BOFEPPPUSU became famous for its ‘hit list’ in which it released names of politicians running for parliament who are believed not to be pushing for the agenda of the working class. In 2014, a 14 name list was released and six of the 14, being Dumelang Saleshando, Botsalo Ntuane, Mephato Reatile, Olebile Gaborone, Daniel Kwelagobe and Gaotlhaetse Matlhabaphiri lost the general elections.
BOFEPPPUSU is adamant that government wants to destroy the Public Service Bargaining Council (PSBC) also to take away the union’s right to collective bargaining. BOFEPPPUSU has not taken kindly to government’s decision to place a number of cadres in the public service under the essential service category; contrary to International Labour Organisation (ILO) requirements.
BOFEPPPUSU Secretary General Tobokani Rari said it is clear that since the 2011 strike, government has become ‘angry’ and declared war on the labour unions. He said the recent development, under the leadership of President Lt Gen Ian Khama has reversed the gains government made during the leadership of President Quett Masire and Festus Mogae.
Rari mentioned reforms such as ratifying ILO statutes in 1997, pledging to support freedom of association and protection of the right to organise by workers as progressive steps. This was also accompanied by ratifying the right to organise and collective bargaining statute, Rari said. “Parliament also passed Trade Union and Employers Act, which allowed formation of unions and transformation of associations to unions,” Rari noted.
“But under Khama’s leadership we have seen reversal of those gains and the government now wants to take away the right of workers to strike, which is a necessary tool for the workers in the process of bargaining.” BOFEPPUSU congress has endorsed the proposal to challenge the decision to amend the Trade Dispute Act which has been signed into law. The Act lists a number of cadres in the public service in the ‘Essential Service’ category among them Department of Broadcasting, teachers and Veterinary employees. The new Act essentially takes away this cadre’s right to engage on industrial strike.
NEW OPPOSITION PARTY: UDC+
Following a dismal performance in 2014, which threatened the party’s future in governance, BDP is determined to prolong its stay in power. BDP scored a paltry 46.7 percent in popular vote, its worst since independence. BDP also surrendered its strongholds to opposition, a development which saw opposition moving to unprecedented 20 seats in parliament. (MP Bagalatia Arone has since defected to BDP, reducing opposition seats to 18, another seat being vacant following the death of Tlokweng MP Same Bathobakae).
In 2014, 13 of the BDP seats where won with the aid of vote splitting within opposition parties. Such marginal seats include Selebi Phikwe East. Francistown West, Francistown East, Gaborone South, Bobirwa, Lobatse, Thamaga-Kumakwane, Lentsweletau-Mmopane. Cooperation talks, which have eluded opposition parties for a long time now, finally became successful pending resolution on just two constituencies. The development will see BDP facing only one opposition party and having also to deal with the militant BOFEPPPUSU which is expected to throw its weight behind the opposition bloc.
Over 2,000 civil servants in the public sector have been interdicted for a variety of reasons, the majority of which are criminal in nature.
According to reports, some officers have been under interdiction for more than two years because such matters are still being investigated. Information reachingÂ WeekendPostÂ shows that local government, particularly councils, has the highest number of suspended officers.
In its annual report, the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) revealed that councils lead in corrupt activities throughout the country, and dozens of council employees are being investigated for alleged corrupt activities. It is also reported that disciplined forces, including the Botswana Defence Force (BDF), police, and prisons, and the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) have suspended a significant number of officers.
The Ministry of Education and Skills Development has also recorded a good number of teachers who have implicated in love relationships with students, while some are accused of impregnating students both in primary and secondary school. Regional education officers have been tasked to investigate such matters and are believed to be far from completion as some students are dragging their feet in assisting the investigations to be completed.
This year, Mmadinare Senior Secondary reportedly had the highest number of pregnancies, especially among form five students who were later forcibly expelled from school. Responding to this publicationâ€™s queries, Permanent Secretary to the Office of the President Emma Peloetletse said, â€śas you might be aware, I am currently addressing public servants across the length and breadth of our beautiful republic. Due to your detailed enquiry, I am not able to respond within your schedule,â€ť she said.
She said some of the issues raised need verification of facts, some are still under investigation while some are still before the courts of law.
Meanwhile, it is close to six months since the Police Commissioner Keabetwe Makgophe, Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) Tymon Katlholo and the Deputy Director of the DIS Tefo Kgothane were suspended from their official duties on various charges.
Efforts to solicit comment from trade unions were futile at the time of going to press.
Some suspended officers who opted for anonymity claimed that they have close to two years while on suspension. One stated that the investigations that led him to be suspended have not been completed.
â€śIt is heartbreaking that at this time the investigations have not been completed,â€ť he toldÂ WeekendPost, adding that â€śwhen a person is suspended, they get their salary fully without fail until the matter is resolvedâ€ť.
Makgophe, Katlholo and Kgothane are the three most high-ranking government officials that are under interdiction.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and some senior government officials are abuzz with reports that President Mokgweetsi Masisi has requested his Vice President, Slumber Tsogwane not to contest the next general elections in 2024.
The impacts of climate change are increasing in frequency and intensity every year and this is forecast to continue for the foreseeable future. African CEOs in the Global South are finally coming to the party on how to tackle the crisis.
Following the completion of COP27 in Egypt recently, CEOs of Africa DFIs converged in Botswana for the CEO Forum of the Association of African Development Finance Institutions. One of the key themes was on green financing and building partnerships for resource mobilization in financing SDGs in Africa
A report; “Weathering the storm; African Development Banks response to Covid-19” presented shocking findings during the seminar. Among them; African DFI’s have proven to be financially resilient, and they are fast shifting to a green transition and it’s financing.
COO, CEDA, James Moribame highlighted that; “Everyone needs food, shelter and all basic needs in general, but climate change is putting the achievement of this at bay. “It is expensive for businesses to do business, for instance; it is much challenging for the agricultural sector due to climate change, and the risks have gone up. If a famer plants crops, they should be ready for any potential natural disaster which will cost them their hard work.”
According to Moribame, Start-up businesses will forever require help if there is no change.
“There is no doubt that the Russia- Ukraine war disrupted supply chains. SMMEs have felt the most impact as some start-up businesses acquire their materials internationally, therefore as inflation peaks, this means the exchange rate rises which makes commodities expensive and challenging for SMMEs to progress. Basically, the cost of doing business has gone up. Governments are no longer able to support DFI’s.”
Moribame shared remedies to the situation, noting that; “What we need is leadership that will be able to address this. CEOs should ensure companies operate within a framework of responsible lending. They also ought to scout for opportunities that would be attractive to investors, this include investors who are willing to put money into green financing. Botswana is a prime spot for green financing due to the great opportunity that lies in solar projects. ”
Technology has been hailed as the economy of the future and thus needs to be embraced to drive operational efficiency both internally and externally.
Executive Director, bank of Industry Nigeria, Simon Aranou mentioned that for investors to pump money to climate financing in Africa, African states need to be in alignment with global standards.
“Do what meets world standards if you want money from international investors. Have a strong risk management system. Also be a good borrower, if you have a loan, honour the obligation of paying it back because this will ensure countries have a clean financial record which will then pave way for easier lending of money in the future. African states cannot just be demanding for mitigation from rich countries. Financing needs infrastructure to complement it, you cannot be seating on billions of dollars without the necessary support systems to make it work for you. Domestic resource mobilisation is key. Use public money to mobilise private money.” He said.
For his part, the Minster of Minister of Entrepreneurship, Karabo Gare enunciated that, over the past three years, governments across the world have had to readjust their priorities as the world dealt with the effects and impact of the COVID 19 pandemic both to human life and economic prosperity.
“The role of DFIs, during this tough period, which is to support governments through countercyclical measures, including funding of COVID-19 related development projects, has become more important than ever before. However, with the increasingly limited resources from governments, DFIs are now expected to mobilise resources to meet the fiscal gaps and continue to meet their developmental mandates across the various affected sectors of their economies.” Said Gare.