The proposed amendments of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) Act bars its employees from joining trade unions.
Once passed into law by parliament, the new DCEC Act will proscribe employees from associating with any trade Union.
Any DCEC employee who joins a union risks being disciplined or summarily dismissed for wanton misconduct.
“An officer of the Directorate shall not become a member of a trade union, or any body or association affiliated to a trade union, or any body or association the object of which or one of which is to control or influence conditions of employment in any trade or profession…” states Section 5C, which is part of a series of amendments proposed by the Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, Mokgweetsi Masisi.
This particular section is a source of annoyance for the Botswana Public Sector Employees Union (BOPEU) a constituency for a number of DCEC employees.
BOPEU contend that this particular addendum is unconstitutional and is in conflict with Section 56 of the Trade Unions and Employers Organisation Act, which makes it illegal for a pre-condition that an employee shall not join a trade union before being hired.
Once the law is passed, employees will not be allowed to join Unions and those currently aligned to the Botswana Public Sector Union (BOPEU) will have to forfeit their membership or quit their jobs.
Nonetheless, government says that there is nothing unusual about the proposed amendment because it is in the public interest to keep DCEC employees away from Unions.
In an interview with The Telegraph, Minister Masisi defended the move by stating that allowing DCEC employees to unionise poses a security threat.
“They are a security organ perhaps not in the conventional sense…what they are charged with has security implications and in this case economic security…it would not be in the public interest for them to go on strike or behave like organized labour,” said Masisi.
He said government has decided to cluster DCEC employees in the same category as the army personnel, the police and prisons workers who are also not allowed to unionise.
“I as minister will look after their interests,” he added.
Masisi said that DCEC employees are going to be delisted from the rest of public service pay structure and will be paid under a different pay structure altogether.
However, in a separate interview, BOPEU President Andrew Motsamai argued that allowing DCEC employees to unionise would not jeopadise national security.
“They are not soldiers. Their job is to investigate corruption and since inception they have never been a national security threat,” said Motsamai.
Motsamai said that the proposed law carries more than meets the eye and added that the political leadership is trying to conceal corrupt practices by the ruling elite.
“They are running scared and do not want to disclose their assets,” he stated.
Motsamai also accused parliament of coming up with bad laws. He said the Union leadership will meet in the upcoming week to discuss the proposed amendment.
“The Union has not taken a position but we will meet and appraise ourselves and from there plot our next course of action,” said Motsamai.