In a move that is clearly meant to gain as much political mileage as possible from the ongoing public sector strike, the opposition Botswana Congress Party (BCP) has rallied its councillors and Members of Parliament to embark on a nationwide campaign and hold kgotla meetings to brief constituents about the strike.
BCP Secretary General, Kesitegile Gobotswang, on Monday released a memo to the party’s elected representatives, urging them to “urgently hold kgotla meetings to share information on the crisis and its impact on service provision specific to areas, wards and constituencies”.
“The meetings could also give communities a platform to give testimonies on how they have been directly affected,” said Gobotswang.
He urged them to tell the public that government is refusing to award public servants any salary increase, and that the public sector strike is legal.
“Tell them that the unions say they have gone on strike to force the employer to return to the negotiating table. There is no doubt that the strike has had a big impact on services. Schools, Hospitals and clinics are the worst affected. Remind them that it is not clear when the strike will end since it is an indefinite strike,” said Gobotswang.
In the past, BCP released a statement endorsing the public sector strike.
“BCP fully supports and encourages the strike because public servants have legitimate reasons.
Prices for the basic necessities of life have sky rocketed. There is rampant corruption and government continues to misuse public funds. The unions are reasonable because what they are requesting is not a salary increase but an inflationary adjustment to cushion them against the rising in cost of living,” said BCP.
Gobotswang’s call to arms comes in the wake of government’s accusation that the strike is politically motivated as it was instigated and masterminded by opposition parties.
But the opposition denied the allegation, saying it is only meant to divide workers and dissuade them from their course.
“The BDP government uses opposition parties as scapegoats and blames them for whatever goes wrong in this country. BCP wishes to clearly state that members of the union belong to different political parties including BDP. The statement is meant to divide workers so that those who are members of the BDP may pull-out with the hope that they are not seen as supporting opposition agendas. The truth is that this is a worker’s agenda,” said the BCP at the time.