The BDP government is fighting with terror
The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) has unleashed a relentless, fierce and ruthless warfare tactics against trade unions and other civil society organisations (CSO) in the country. There is no doubt that the party machinery is on a total onslaught against trade unions, political parties and other civil society movements.
Its plan is to render trade unions dysfunctional, divided and completely destroyed. It has and will continue to dismiss, harass and transfer under frivolous circumstances trade unionists, and even sow seeds of division amongst them. Trade unionists are a BDP government target, and it is trade unions that can protect themselves. Trade unions and opposition political parties should come closer and united to fight a common enemy. The BDP will not surrender, as it has got immense resources at its disposal and will further mobilise tax payers’ resources to lodge a desperate offensive against its own people.
On the other hand, opposition parties and trade unions are blessed with the people who understand the desperate and hopeless state of the ruling party better and are yearning for change. The opposition parties members will be approached in different ways, and those with weak ideological foundations and principles, will sell their souls to the BDP. Trade unions will be infiltrated by BDP agents who will be wearing big smiles while hiding sharp pointed knives to stab the unsuspecting comrades on the back. Some trade union activists have been sacked by government workplace kangaroo courts, others transferred under mysterious circumstances, attempts were foiled to deregister BOFEPUSU and take away deduction code from BOFEPUSU affiliates, the list is endless. The way things are moving, activists should watch their backs all the time as anything can happen to them, even the worst imagination. For now, the die is cast as the BDP is aware that it will lose power in 2019. And now it is attacking anything that seems to be on its way with reckless abandon. The BDP is in a dangerous mood. The problems besieging our fast collapsing economy as well as the terror unleashed on activists are a result of this mood.
Despite the gentle and legal approaches by the trade unions and CSOs to organise peaceful demonstrations several times, the BDP government continues to frustrate the peace loving citizens and actually testing their patience. It is now clear that they even instruct the police to refuse to issue peaceful demonstrations permits. Their plan is to always provoke the trade unions and other CSOs so that they go to court and drain them financially. The government does not care even if it loses the cases as it is the ordinary struggling Motswana tax payer who is going to foot the cost of the losses anyway.
The BDP government strategy is to push these organisations to court till they are bankrupt, divided, fearful and God forbid, tired.
There is a possibility of the next peaceful demonstrations being conducted without the so called police permits. The recent harassment and refusal of a permit for the Botswana Mine Workers Union (BMWU) was unpatriotic and unnecessary. The poor workers wanted to hand a petition to the Vice President to express their well documented numerous heart breaking mine deaths and injuries, poor safety and health standards, corruption and mismanagement, etc at the mines. The BMWU had to go to court at an exorbitant cost to be allowed to conduct a harmless march. The #IshallNotForget campaign team also had to go to court for a peaceful demonstration permit. The BOSETU members were on June 9 recently refused with a harmless peaceful march permit in Masunga when they had an open day. And the denial was one of many! The June 16 Youth in Tutume recently had to defy the law by just having their peaceful march after police were instructed to refuse with a march permit. BOFEPUSU was several times refused peaceful demonstrations march permits. The list is endless, and the BDP led government is still going to refuse with issuance of such.
This is a recipe for the defiance campaigns because people cannot be denied their freedoms forever. With the increasing intolerance of trade unions and CSOs by the ruling party, more intensified evil and sinister activities should be expected from the ruling government. It is not surprising that people now live in perpetual fear for their lives, businesses and so on. Government tenders and jobs are now an exclusive reserve for the BDP activists. Government tenders and tax payers’ resources are used to destabilise the opposition and destroy trade unions. The government is now fighting its own people as the reality of losing power in 2019 now sinks in. Unfortunately, no matter what the BDP does, the BDP days are now numbered and 2019 is its expiry period. Agents, and those individuals and organisations aiding the BDP government in whatever way to destroy its people, trade unions, opposition parties and other social democratic movements should refrain and stop their acts as time will come for them to be individually accountable. Forewarned is forearmed.
The government should also be aware that if it continues with its maladministration and poor governance, it will not be long before Batswana engage in defiance campaigns against the repressive laws. More than five times the Trade Dispute Act was rejected in parliament and courts of law as government attempts to make teachers and other cadres essential. It has been demonstrated that the amendment will have far reaching consequences on the teachers’ freedoms and rights, especially the bargaining right. The opening of the Winter Parliament session on 4 July saw the BDP MPs ushering in the controversial amendment bill yet again. Should this bill pass through, this is a recipe for defiance campaigns from the affected cadres. Meanwhile, the solution to the proposed amendment bill is simple. Improve teachers’ and other workers’ working and living conditions. And some of the BDP MPs supporting the amendment bill know very well that they will not be standing for the re-elections in 2019 general elections, hence destroying the future of those BDP MPs who will be standing.
There are other several pieces of legislation and policies that may lead to defiance campaigns around the country. These include Botswana Constitution; the amendment of Trade Disputes Act; amendment to BEC Act; amendment to Public Service Act; Traffic Act; Liquor Act; Fishing ban on Lake Ngami; etc. Batswana have already demonstrated that some of these laws have grossly unfair and unjust provisions and do not deserve respect.
The BDP government should respect its people and concentrate on creating jobs for the youth, fight poverty which has led to deaths, fight corruption which is bleeding our economy, fight nepotism, etc. Currently the government is not doing anything to protect the collapsing economy as she is busy fighting with trade unions and trying frantically to destabilise the opposition.
The BDP should treat its people well so that it loses with dignity and may get sympathy in future. Harassing its own people will not help.
The Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) once more call for unity of all organisations, including trade unions, Churches, business community, student movements and youth organisations, all progressive social democratic movements, etc to unite and stand firm in protecting the resources and true values of this country. The UDC remains our national hope. Let’s nurture the umbrella formation and protect it for total freedom and emancipation in 2019.
UDC Labour Secretary