The General Secretary of the Education International (EI) Fred Van Leeuwen, says his organisation intends to engage the International Labour Organisation (ILO) over the Trade Dispute Bill of 2015 which seeks to list teachers as essential workers.
Leeuwen who was speaking at this week’s EI conference in Canada was recorded saying that his organisation would engage ILO with a view of engaging the government of Botswana to abide by the ILO framework definition.
Leeuwen was responding to a report made before the conference by Botswana Teachers and Educators Unions, Botswana Sector of Educators Trade Union (BOSETU) and Botswana Teacher’s Union (BTU). The Unions tabled a report in which they expressed fear that if the bill is passed in its current form, it would take away the employee’s bargaining power by making them all essential workers.
“If the bill will pass in its current form it would make almost all employees essential, taking away their right to withdraw labour. The right to withdraw labour is fundamental for employees as it is the strongest bargaining tool that the employees would have at their disposal to defend themselves against unscrupulous and exploitative employers,” reads part of the report tabled before EI by the Secretary General of BOSETU, Tobokani Rari.
The Unions are especially against sections 46 and 47 of the bill which has listed almost all cadres of the civil service as essential employees. These include services in, Air traffic control, Botswana Vaccine Laboratory, Bank of Botswana, Diamond sorting, cutting and selling, Electricity, Fire, Health, Railway Operations and maintenance, Sewerage, Water, Veterinary, Teaching, Broadcasting, Immigration and Customs and support services included school cleaners and any others that the Minister may want to classify as essential if he or she feels that during the strike, people’s health and life are endangered.
“The bill gives the Minister the power to declare any other cadre not listed in the bill essential service in the event the interruption of such service during the course of a strike endangers the life, safety or health of the whole or part of the population. Though it provides that the Minister could only do that after consultation with the Labour Advisory Board, we now know that the Minister is not bound by the board’s advice and that the consultation is done only for procedural purposes,” further reads part of the presentation.
Rari further stated that the Unions including the Botswana Federation of Public Service Unions (BOFEPUSU) and Botswana Federation of Teacher’s Unions (BFTU) were therefore vehemently against the bill being passed into law as it is bound to leave the worker’s weak , vulnerable and susceptible to abuse and exploitation.
The trade dispute bill was tabled for the first reading before Parliament earlier this Month and is yet to go through the second reading and ultimate discussion for the amendments to be passed into law. Government made the move to change laws following the historic month long country wide strike by members of BOFEPUSU in 2012.
BOFEPUSU is an umbrella Union of five public service unions including BOSETU, BTU, Botswana Landboards, Local Government and Health Workers Union (BLLHWU), Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) and the National Amalgamated Local, Central government and Parastatal Workers Union (NALCGPWU).
Currently Unions are lobbying with stakeholders including Legislators to stop the amendment.
High Commissioner of the Federal Government of Nigeria to Botswana, His Excellency Umar Zainab Salisu, has challenged President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi to move swiftly and lobby Africa’s richest man, Nigerian Billionaire, Aliko Dangote to invest in Botswana.
Speaking during a meeting with President Masisi at Office of President on Thursday Zainab Salisu said Dangote has expressed massive interest in setting up billion dollar industries in Botswana. “We have a lot of investors who wish to come and invest in Botswana , when we look at Botswana we don’t see Botswana itself , but we are lured by its geographic location , being in the centre of Southern Africa presents a good opportunity for strategic penetration into other markets of the region,” said Salisu.
As murder cases and violent incidents involving couples and or lovers continue to be recorded daily, Specially Elected Member of Parliament, Dr Unity Dow has called for more funding of non-governmental organizations and accelerated action from government to come up with laws that could inhibit would-be perpetrators of crimes related to Gender Based Violence (GBV).
Just after Dr Dow had deposited her views on this subject with this reporter, a young man in Molepolole opened fire on a married woman he was having an affair with; and ended her life instantly. While it is this heinous cases that get projected to the public space, the former minister argues that the secrecy culture is keeping other real GBV cases under wraps in many spaces in the country.
The former Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said there is GBV all the time in all kinds of places. “We have become accustomed to stories of rapes, marital rapes, defilement of children, beatings and psychological violence and even killings,” she said.
Gender-based violence is a phenomenon deeply rooted in gender inequality, Dow is worried that there is absolutely no social punishment for perpetrators; they will continue to have the same friends, jobs, wives, homes, as before. Yet another factor, she said, is that there is little or no “justice” for victims of GBV.
The renowned activist said justice for GBV victims is not just the jailing of the perpetrator. “Justice for victims means an agile, victim-friendly, accessible (time, money and procedures) and restorative justice system.”
Asked what could be leading to a spike in Gender Based Violence cases or incidents, she observed that there is no one factor to which this spike can be attributed. “The most obvious factor is stress as a result of economic distress and or poverty. Poverty makes one vulnerable and open to compromises that they would otherwise not make. For perpetrators with anger management issues, economic stress leads to lashing out to those closest to them. Another factor is the disintegration of families and family values,” she opined.
According to Dow, no government anywhere in the world is doing enough, period. “We know the places and spaces where women and girls are unsafe. We know the challenges they face in their attempts to exit those spaces and places.” The former Judge of the High Court said GBV undermines the health, dignity, security and autonomy of its victims, yet it remains shrouded in the culture of silence.
Asked what could be done to arrest GBV cases, Dow said it is critical to involve and fund civil society organizations. She observed that much of the progress done in the area of women’s human rights was during the time when Botswana had strong and funded civil society organizations.
“The funding dried up when Botswana was declared a middle-income country but unfortunately external funding was not replaced by local funding,” she acknowledged.
Further Dow said relevant government institutions must be funded and strengthened.
“Thirdly, create a society in which it is not okay to humiliate, rape, beat or kill women. You create this by responding to GBV the same way we have responded to livestock theft. We need to create agile mechanisms that hear cases quickly and allow for the removal of suspected perpetrators from their homes, work places, boards, committees, etc.”
The former Minister said the much anticipated Inter-Ministerial Task Force on Gender Based Violence will have its work cut out for it. According to Dow, GBV is not just a justice issue, it’s not just a gender issue, but rather an issue that cuts across health, education, labour, economic, housing and politics. “As long as any one believes it is someone else’s problem, we will all have the problem,” she said.
In her view, Dow said every work, educational and other place must have a GBV Policy and/or Code of Conduct. “It is important that we acknowledge that the majority of men are law-abiding. The problem is their silence, in the face of injustice,” she observed.
The State has chosen to ignore intents by kingpins in the P100 billion scandal to sue for a combined P85 million as tables turn against the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) in the matter.
Key players in the matter; the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) and Bank of Botswana (BoB) have eroded the prospects of success following the duo’s institutions’ appearance before parliamentary committees recently.