UCCSA Slams Botswana Government Strike Response
The United Congregational Church of Southern Africa (UCCSA) has called on political leaders to treat Botswana’s current public sector strike as a national crisis. In a 24 May statement the church accused the government of treating the crisis as “business as usual” and using it as a platform on which to manipulate party politics.
“As the UCCSA we call upon you as our elected representative armed with a vote of confidence through your having been elected to cause those you lead with, that is the cabinet and the President of this country, to treat the obtaining situation as a national crises,” the church said in a statement signed by Synod Chairman Rev Dumi Mmualefe and Kenneth Tlhabiwa. “We are concerned that as our leaders you seem to treat this as ‘business as usual’ and even more disturbing are statements and insinuations that all is well and normal even when the reverse is all true.”
Tensions have reached boiling point during the six-week-long strike in which close to 100,000 public servants, including about 1,500 considered essential workers, have boycotted their posts while government and unions tussle over salaries. Patients and schoolchildren are emerging as the biggest victims, All Africa reported. Schools have closed, and hospitals and clinics are barely functioning despite warnings to medical practitioners from the Botswana Health Professions Council that they must go back to work or risk being deregistered.
The UCCSA has voiced its concerns that the rights of the electorate are being usurped by the political parties. They have also lamented the bad state in which students find themselves due to collapse of the sector, as witnessed during last year’s examinations and the recent closure of government schools. But they are supporting health and education workers’ demands for a 16 per cent salary increase.
“This is no time to play party politics, it is a time of crises, a kairos moment that demands collective positive response. Unfortunately we have witnessed our leaders play politics especially with lives of our children, the future of this, our beloved nation,” the church said. The church also condemned government abuse of state media to mislead the nation.
“We wish to remind the government that public media is run with public taxes. It is the duty of the government to ensure public property is used for the interest of the whole public. People all over Botswana, especially those in rural areas where only Radio Botswana and BTV can reach deserved to know there is a looming crisis so that like everybody else, they could take necessary precautions.”