The Botswana Government has been accused by trade unionists in that country of supporting Swaziland’s violation of workers’ rights.
Botswana Federation of Trade Unions (BFTU) said members were shocked when Botswana supported Swaziland, a fellow member of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) at the recent International Labour Conference (ILO) in Geneva, Switzerland.
Mmegi newspaper in Botswana reported on Wednesday (15 June 2016) that BFTU president Bohithetswe Lentswe said that the government of Swaziland appeared before the committee of application of standards for violation of right to organise and collective bargaining and right to freedom of association and protection of the right to organise.
Lentswe said that Botswana speaking on behalf of SADC as the chair of the regional bloc said that there is no need for any intervention from the ILO as it noted progress in addressing the issues by both governments.
In the Swaziland case, Lentswe said that it was noted that it was the seventh consecutive time the case was discussed in the conference committee and the kingdom had been examined 14 times, but Botswana government again said that the Swaziland government was progressing to implement the convention.
In Swaziland political parties are banned and King Mswati III rules as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. King Mswati will take over the chair of SADC in August 2016.
Lentswe added, “The Botswana government noted with satisfaction the significant progress made by the convention as amendments have been tabled in Swaziland parliament to create a conducive environment for effective social dialogue while saying this was evidenced by the registration of federations of trade unions. Botswana expressed confidence that SADC would address the issues.”
Lentswe said that this was wrong coming from SADC chair. He said as the World of Work actors, they strongly believe in social dialogue and condemn the decision of Botswana to condone “bad-boy behaviour”.
Lentswe said that the situation in Swaziland was bad and needed ILO intervention as the government continued to violate the fundamental right of freedom of association and protection of the right to organise. He further said that they were happy that the conference heeded their plea for intervention to send a commission to assess the situation in the kingdom.
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