The introduction of out-sourcing of some operations in key government Ministries was not a response to the 2011 public sector strike, but a result of the privatization policy that was adopted by government in the year 2000, Assistant Minister of Presidential Affairs, Phillip Makgalemele has revealed.
“We did not wait for the strike. Government considered the move since the passing of the Privatization Policy in 2000 in this Parliament. So there is no correlation between the two as the industrial strike came about in 2011,” said Makgalemele.
He added: “Out-sourcing is a component of the privatization process.”
However, Phenyo Butale, an opposition legislator from the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) posited that the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BFP) introduced out-sourcing as a means of punishing those who participated in the strike, particularly those regarded as essential service personnel. Employees from the Ministries of Health, Minerals, Energy and Water Resources, Infrastructure, Science and Technology, Local Government and Rural Development and Botswana Defense Force (BDF) civilian personnel found themselves at the receiving end in the aftermath of the strike as they were fired from work.
In the end, they had to re-apply for employment, and some of them ended up being left out. A total of 2,264 individuals were eventually re-employed, while others could not be absorbed because some services such as cleaning had been outsourced.
“Services such as cleaning in health facilities were outsourced to avert possible outbreak of diseases due to non-availability of employees who took part in the strike,” said Makgalemele.
He added: “Notwithstanding, there are certain Ministries which re-employed all workers who were dismissed.” He further explained that given the nature of cleaning services, government found that it could do “with or without cleaners,” and opted to out-source cleaning services in health facilities to facilitate smooth running of operations in the essential health sector.
However, Makgalemele was reluctant to be drawn into discussing the pros and cons of privatization.
“Whether privatization is bad or good is a debate for another day,” he said.