The continuing mismanagement (misuse and abuse) of national resources by the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) government has led to the meagre 6% salary increment for the public sector employees. This meagre increment has far reaching consequences to the other employers, like the private sector, who always catch up on the ripple effect of public salary increments. It is sad because there has been a spate of serious cases of corruption allegations where billions of pula of national resources have been lost. A number of national projects like the Morupule B; Palapye Glass Project; National stadium, Serowe and Francistown Stadiums; Sir Seretse Khama International Airport; North South water project pipeline; Construction of secondary schools; President Ian Khama’s pet projects; Ghost students in tertiary institutions; etc. All these corruption ridden projects and activities gobbled up billions of pula and now the workers are suffering. Due to corruption, the projects costs were either inflated or had cost overruns and now government claims that there is no money to pay workers.
Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) and government party have to be applauded for having managed to bring the usually controversial public sector salary negotiations to a logical conclusion without the usual tussle. It is regrettable that salary negotiations have always been marred by bad faith on the government party, resulting in workers losing. The Umbrella for Democratic change (UDC) supports the toiling public sector workers and wanted them awarded a fairly reasonable salary increment, not the paltry 6%. Their salaries have suffered a serious knock from previous erosions in the past 5 years or so. Years of inflation with no salary adjustments have seriously eroded the purchasing power of Batswana workers. As government has not increased the salaries of public sector workers for years now, the private sector has also not increased too. Batswana workers are now only paid to meet the needs of the employer only. The workers are paid salaries that enable them only to go to work, back home and to work the next day! The workers are now enslaved to their masters and cannot afford to pay for other basic necessities like food, toiletry, water, electricity, rent, etc. And the poor workers cannot quit as there is no choice for them, except to remove the BDP from power and usher in a worker friendly government under UDC. This therefore is not surprising that today we see Batswana workers generally wearing sad, unhappy, gloomy, sombre and ugly faces as they are forever worried by the poor state of their living and working conditions. The current government continues to fail to reward public sector employees for their dedication and productivity in the economy. This is despite the fact that the economy with its growth rate of 5% and surplus budget of 1.2 billion pula will be in a position to afford at least 10% salary increment. Workers must rise and demand their stake in the economy and stop a practice whereby their welfare is pushed to the periphery when economic priorities are designed. A new government is badly needed to inspire a new lease of life on the workers and economy. BOFEPUSU and Botswana Federation of Trade Unions (BFTU) should therefore rise and instil change for workers interests. They should continue to pile political pressure on the government and other employers, until the working and living condition of workers in Botswana improves. The UDC & BOFEPUSU collaboration has bore some results and the workers should continue to rally their support to foster the bilateral relationship. BOFEPUSU should therefore remain steadfast in its political position and its relationship with UDC jealously guarded. This steadfastness will herald the real emancipation of workers in 2019 when they remove the BDP government and usher in UDC. Otherwise workers will forever languish in poverty and unmanageable budgets while the country is rich and its proceeds being enjoyed by the BDP and their close associates only. It is on record that the majority of Batswana and the workforce, as recently demonstrated at the poll, want UDC. All workers should therefore unite and remove the 50 years in power BDP.
Cde Justin Hunyepa
UDC Labour Secretary