There are many and devastating challenges facing workers of Botswana and to be precise for this interview public servants. For a long time, Government has arrogantly and ruthlessly ignored their conditions of service and welfare. That is why in the public servants we have the working poor, that are workers who earn wages way below the cost of living, and they are akin to modern slaves for they work for almost nothing. The difference of these workers and the people who stay at home is that the former have an opportunity of bathing early to go to work, so that is the only difference because in terms of their livelihood they are in the same bracket. The cost of living is high given rising costs of food, petrol, housing, transport and may others which erode the purchasing power of the meager wages of some of the public servants particularly those in bands of A, B, C. This is worse to the extent that some employees are helpless and hopeless, and only waiting for death to rescue them from the miseries of life.
While workers sweat hard in some instances in dangerous situations to create the wealth of this Country, now when it comes to distribution of such wealth they are pushed aside to the periphery and forgotten. The Government is wasting a lot of many through massive institutionalised and officialised corruption, which involves top people in politically and administratively. This competition for self-aggrandisement enriches the few at the expense of national development, which should be including better wages for workers.
To indicate that Government lacks ambition to deal with public service, the most important post of Director of DPSM is vacant, which speaks volumes about Government ‘s priorities when it comes to civil service. I mean how do you intend or expect for productivity and professionalism when the very top office is vacant. The weakest link in Government and labour ‘s relations is DPSM itself for it is populated with people with are clueless on industrial relations and powerless to make decisions in their engagement with Trade Unions. The leadership of President Khama, Molale and Morupisi created this, when the reserved power to them. In order for Government to move forward they need to appoint a competent Director of DPSM, someone who is objective, level headed and highly rooted on issues of industrial relations, willing to listen and engage with Trade Unions. Furthermore, there is need for appointment of fresh crop of Permanent Secretaries, Directors, and council secretaries, District Commissioners. That is because currently there many deadwoods holding such positions and this stalls productivity and professionalism. We have a list of such deadwoods and ready to furnish their names to the authorities, for most of these deadwoods have become corrupt and arrogant as they said they had the protection of “bagolo”. These are beneficiaries of a system of appointment that considered nepotism bootlicking at the expense of merit and competence.
If President Masisi is serious about professionalism and productivity in the public service he need to go on a shopping spree for competent P.S.P, Director of DPSM, permanent Secretaries and other top positions and dismantle the current cartel which has brought regress, instability and hostility in the public service. Furthermore, he need to urgently direct DPSM o engage with Trade Unions for immediate betterment of wages and conditions of service of workers, which remain, with connotations of colonial legacy.
Workers need to stand up, get united in order to fight for better conditions of service and welfare, as the Government and other employers will not give that in a silver platter. The victory of workers will come from their dedicated efforts and not the mercies of Government and employers.
Deputy Secretary General, BOFEPUSU