Monday, April 19, 2021

Japan considers evacuating citizens as public service strike rages on

Japan is considering evacuating its citizens from Botswana amid fears that the ongoing public sector strike may escalate into a blood bath.

The Japanese embassy in Gaborone has communicated their discomfort at the deteriorating conditions in Botswana as a result of the strike action.

Information passed to Sunday Standard indicates that a Japanese envoy held meetings with trade unions for a first hand assessment of the situation in Botswana.

The meeting has been confirmed by Secretary General of Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions, Andrew Motsamai.

“They were concerned about the safety of their nationals and wanted an update on security,” Motsamai told Sunday Standard.

“They were interested in knowing whether they should pull their citizens out of the country in light of the ongoing public sector strike,” said Motsamai.

Japan has several business interests in Botswana and one of its franchise companies includes Mitsubishi.

They are also financing the multi-billion Pula Bridge linking Botswana to Zambia and Zimbabwe over the Zambezi and Chobe rivers.

Sunday Standard information indicates that the Japanese authorities have also held a meeting with two former ministers, at which they also expressed their worries about the safety of their investments as well as that of their nationals.

Motsamai, who attended the meeting with BOFEPUSU’ president, Masego Mogwera, said that his organization assured the Japanese representative that the situation was under control.

Ever since the strike broke 33 days ago, there has been a number of disturbing incidents ranging from students protests, firing of rubber bullets and tear gas grenades, looting and damage of private property in Molepolole, Ramotswa, Ghanzi and Selebi-Phikwe. A number of people, mostly students, have been arrested for alleged criminal activities related to the strike.
“We, however, could not guarantee that the situation will continue to be under control as the strike continues,” said Motsamai.

At the time of going to press, Government spokesperson, Jeff Ramsay, was not available to verify the claim that the Japanese have been seeking a meeting with Government to get an update on the ongoing public sector strike.

However, in a separate interview, acting minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Mokgweetsi Masisi said that he was not aware that the Japanese had made contact to discuss the issue with government.

“Am not aware, if it is so, if we are talking about safety of personnel and property then it is an issue for the Defence, Justice and Security,” he said, adding that such a concern would, however, have to be routed through the ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“I have not seen any attempt nor can I say there has been any…unless they were stating intent to reach us,” said Masisi.

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