Saturday, January 22, 2022

“Khama’s continued onslaught against public servants unacceptable”

Dear Editor

The Minister of Labour and Home Affairs, Peter Siele, clearly under the instruction of his master, His Excellency The President Ian Khama, has re-tabled an amendment Bill in parliament that seeks to make teachers, veterinarians, and diamond sorters essential services.

This is just a ploy by Khama to interfere with the right of the aforementioned workers to engage in lawful industrial action. Khama misguidedly thinks that industrial action is an interference with his ‘natural’ right to manage the public service.

The BCPYL views the move by Khama as an attempt to enslave public servants. In our view, declaring teachers, veterinarians and diamond sorters essential services is equivalent to withdrawing the right to strike and therefore practically the same as wage slavery.

A labour force which cannot withdraw its labour freely is either oppressed or enslaved. A free personnel have the right to strike and can exercise this right for collective bargaining. We contend that this is a most fundamental right, the right of every Motswana, of every worker, to associate with others and withdraw his or her labour, to go on strike.

The BCPYL argues that the proposed amendment Bill will add to the already existing unequal bargaining power between labor and capital, particularly because government workers are paid relatively low wages. The extent to which the right to strike is acknowledged by the Khama government demonstrates clearly the degree to which its political philosophy and policies are authoritarian, class-biased and oppressive. Public servants are already enslaved by government as they are forced to work through need. They have to work to survive. They are enslaved to the extent that they are compelled to accept mere survival existence in return for their labour.

The government wants to tightly control public servants. We wish to warn the BDP government that it can change the rules of the game as it wishes but, in the long run, it will pay a heavy political price for changing the landscape. The BCPYL contends that Botswana labour laws must unequivocally permit the organisation of industrial actions and participation in such actions with clear immunities from the tortuous and criminal liability.

The BCPYL declares its support for endeavours by all progressive forces to prevent the proposed draconian law. We urge Members of Parliament to reject the BDP government’s gibberish tendencies.

Dithapelo Keorapetse
Botswana Congress Party Youth League
Vice President
00267 7504 88 33

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