Botswana workers threaten to close border with Zambia

A public sector strike targeting border posts threatens to stop all movement of people and goods into and out of Botswana from April 18 to 29 as State employees press for a salary increment.

The strike will target borders with Zimbabwe, Zambia and South Africa and apart from potentially leaving foreigners stranded inside Botswana, it will also hit the local economy hard.

Trade unionists have conceded that the economy will be negatively affected and have urged the State to thus urgently respond to their demands.

However, Finance Minister Kenneth Mathambo pleaded, ‘We have been taking some money from our foreign reserves which are already dwindling and we cannot continue to do that anymore.

‘We appeal to the employees to give us time as we consider other alternatives.’

Responding to reports that the Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions will target border posts, Botswana Exporters and Manufactures Association secretary-general Loago Raditedu said the economy would suffer.

‘The longer it takes the more the economy will be affected because goods that are coming in and going outside the country will pile at the gates.

‘I cannot quantify now but it obvious that when trucks ferrying finished and raw materials are stuck at the border, the economy will suffer tremendously.’

BOFEPUSU publicity secretary Goretetse Kekgonegile id they would target borders at Ramokgwebana (Zambia, Zimbabwe), Ramatlabama, Tlokweng and Martin’s Drift (South Africa).

Kekgonegile said after the 10-day strike, union leaders would likely opt for a go-slow if their demands are not immediately met.

BOFEPUSU secretary-general Andrew Motsamai said during the 48 hours notice to embark on the industrial action, unions, employers and a mediator would discuss the rules and conduct of the strike, issues of essential services and skeleton staff.

‘Should the employer engage security agents to fire rubber bullets on us, we will be ready,’ Motsamai said.

Source: Southern Times Writer

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