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.
While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.
Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.
Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.
Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.
Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”
“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.
He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.
He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.
According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.
There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.
Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.
“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication. The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.