The Botswana Teachers Union (BTU) has qualified the President’s state of the nation address as vague and lacking critical issues, which the State President was expected to appraise the nation on.
“The Speech was broad and comprehensive, touching on most of the usual important matters, it failed to adequately relay any meaningful strong message of reassurance to the people,” said Mcedisi Solomon, BTU Treasurer.
“The overall tone of the State of the Nation Address was rather diplomatic, carrying a noticeable reconciliatory air,” said Solomon.
According to the BTU, burning issues that have griped the country over the past year were not addressed, saying these include employment conditions, public salaries, the effects of the economic recession, clashes with Bogosi and the Unions, international relations, escalating corruption, which have all sparked intense debate and led to much disgruntlement in some instances.
Solomon said the state of the nation address ought to have given the nation surety, not leaving people guessing on the current misfortune between the government of the day and Bakgatla.
“Such frictions have the potential to trigger tribalism in our country. Besides, it has the potential to fuel civil wars. It remains crucial for the nation to be assured of its fate in the wake of the aforementioned,” he said.
Further, Solomon made reference to the 2010 examination impasse saying the nation is justified to want to know what really transpired since damage was largely suffered mostly by learners. He said it is worthwhile for the nation to be appraised on facts surrounding the national examinations that were marred by controversy at the expense of the learner.
“The President’s address on Education was somewhat disappointing, especially given developments in the Public teaching sector,” he said.
In addition, the rough relations suffered by the government as the employer with trade unions have been cited by BTU as not being well articulated in the address. The union attributed the enactment of legislation which is labour unfriendly to the sour relations between government and trade unions.
“We don’t want legislation that alienates union members from their rights, immunities and privileges; let’s engage in social dialogue to resolve the sour relations,” said Solomon.
He criticised the President’s reference to Ipelegeng and Poverty eradication programmes as a way of eradicating poverty in the country. The Ipelegeng program seeks to provide temporary work for the unemployed, while the Poverty Eradication program promotes self sustenance through backyard garden projects.
“Government should spend taxpayer money on long-term job creation, education, and skills transfer, and not temporary jobs,” said Solomon.
He added that it is difficult to justify how backyard projects will lead to meaningful and sustainable long term income generation for families where there is no breadwinner, especially given the persistent escalation in non-discretionary costs like food, transport, electricity and education.
“We expected more focus on mapping a way forward as to how the leadership intends to address burning issues timeously and effectively,” he said.