Plans are afoot in the Botswana Land Boards Local Authorities and Health Workers Union (BLLAHWU) corridors to mobilise the general public against the government’s decision to privatise services; as well as advocacy for distribution of land in the country.
Youth gatherings, full council meetings and workers gatherings are going to be addressed by the Union leadership and membership; with the assistance of foreign invitees who have experienced the wrath of the International Monitory Fund (IMF) economic advices in countries like Zambia. Pamphlets are to be printed for the sole purpose of educating Batswana on negativities of privatization. They need education in order to voice out their grievances effectively.
The Union’s Secretary General, Ketlhalefile Motshegwa, revealed in an interview that the Union resolved to take such actions at its Governing Council held on the 7th and 8th September, 2012 at Mahalapye.
The soft spoken but well-expressed Motshegwa said such resolutions were informed by the union’s fundamental working class ideology and the union’s dedicated approach to consolidate its role in the socio economic and political sphere of the country.
“The view of the union is that privatization is exploitative and brings about costly standards of living upon the society. Moreover, when the government engages in privatization of key utilities and services, it amounts to abdication of responsibilities by the same government and it is also betrayal of the social contract that the government has with the people,” said Motshegwa.
He explained that when the government of a developing country like Botswana takes power, it contracts itself with taking the society it leads through thick and thin. When economic imbalances occur, the government should ensure its masses’ social security. Privatizing basic utilities is the opposite of this.
Speaking of nationalistic approach, Motshegwa said Botswana should be for Batswana and parastatals like Air Botswana should be the pride of Batswana. So privatizing it so that a private company owns it is depriving Batswana the pride they deserve.
“There is no guarantee that Batswana are going to be able to buy shares in this privatization. It is the foreigners who have money, not Batswana. This will ultimately see foreigners having accumulated more wealth than the country, the unfortunate consequence of which might be them holding the country at ransom,” he said.
He added that with privatization, the already acute shortage of employment is aggravated. While the proletariats, who are actually wealth makers, need secure jobs to survive, the bourgeoisie class is only looking at profits, with little or no interest in the work force or its dependents.
“We are really perplexed by the situation where the government is so failing to maintain a population of 1.9 million people in a diamond producing developing country that it opts to further impoverish them by leaving them at the mercy of the wealthy few through privatization, creating such a vast gap between the poor and the rich in the process,” he lamented. Poverty eradication, he said, is a dream that will never be accomplished under these circumstances.
“This is the time for the workers to assert their role in demanding better share in the economy as they are the generators of wealth and should not just watch helplessly when it is distributed by the few greedy ones.”
Considerate of the fact that Land board officers are sometimes caught partaking in malpractices that result in uneven distribution of land, Motshegwa said they have advised their members against the malpractices. Instead, they (members) should advice of the best ways to end the corruption.
“We made the issue on land distribution because Botswana is sitting on a time bomb which when it erupts there will be civil infests, given the history of conflicts of land in various countries. Botswana still has the opportunity to correct such ills; where an individual possesses more than six hundred plots,” warned Motshegwa.
He bemoaned the fact that plans are underway to legalize auctioning of land. This he said will result in Batswana being just Batswana who are tenants to foreigners. Batswana do not have money to buy land, but poverty will drive them to sell land and end up with nothing.
Legislation that would bar selling of land while those with no means of developing their plots are aided with such things as fencing material or at least two rooms can be better land management approach. Those people with many plots, he said, possess these for selling. This should be barred. There is need for land audit that will see to it that land is evenly distributed.
“Otherwise we are not far from what happened in Zimbabwe. In fact, Zimbabwe and South Africa should be examples from which we learn as a country. South Africa’s approach of ‘waiting by’ has also failed. We believe land is heritage that should be handed to the coming generation. Should auctioning of land be legalized here, we are not going to have anything to hand to coming generations,” he said.
Motshegwa said they are disappointed by the opposition parliamentarians who are evidently obsessed with fights over power. Burning issues like these should be given maximum attention and this is abysmally lacking on the side of the opposition politicians.
“I think the time is now that politicians are weighed according to the way they respond to burning issues like these. Political parties should come up clear on these privatization and land distribution issues. We are going to address full council meetings, youth gatherings, workers and social gatherings to ensure people understand what is happening. We are going to issue informative pamphlets so that people are equipped with knowledge in order to take the government to task and make it accountable for its actions,” said Motshegwa.
He said they are going to invite activists from other countries that know and have experienced the evil brought about by the International Monitory Fund. According to him, the IMF officials shun nationalistic approach that will see such nation’s unity producing quality products. They know that once privatization is here market will be there for their corporate businesses.