Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Mystery over leaflets suggesting govt’s possible use of force against strikers

Mystery surrounds the source of leaflets suggesting that government is planning to use live rounds to disperse striking public sector workers.

The leaflets, which have been passed to Sunday Standard as mock ups for banners that would allegedly be used by armed Botswana Defence Force (BDF) warning public officers to disperse reads: “Disperse or else we fire.”

The same message is repeated in Setswana.

Another leaflet reads: All persons assembled here are commanded in the name of the PRESIDENT of the REPUBLIC OF BOTSWANA to disperse peacefully and go to their homes or work. Persons who disobey this order will be dispersed by force, which may include RIFLE FIRE. All persons remaining here after this order are liable to arrest and imprisonment.”

The leaflets were allegedly leaked by a local printing company claiming to have been commissioned by government to print huge banners to be used by the BDF to disband the public sector strike.
Botswana Defence Force Commander, Major General Tebogo Masire, dismissed the claims as micheveous saying the situation does not warrant BDF intervention. Masire said save for isolated incidents mostly by school children, the strike has been peaceful and does not call for army intervention.
Masire further told Sunday Standard that the level of alertness at the BDF was normal, “no officer has been stopped from going on leave”.

This comes in the wake of allegations that BDF officers are also threatening to mutiny in demand of a 16 percent salary increment. BDF members were reported to have sprayed graffiti on walls and horses at the barracks stating their demand for a 16 percent salary increase.

Masire, who confirmed that he had heard the rumour before, maintained that there was no threat of mutiny over salary increases at the BDF and that there has been no incident of graffiti at any of the barracks suggesting the demand for a salary increase.

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