December 16, 2004

World Bank/IMF agreements pressure government to privatise, says association

Botswana Unified Local Government Service Association (BULGSA) has charged that Botswana is under pressure to privatise its public enterprises because of agreements with the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF). BULGSA secretary general Motelebane claimed it was an open secret that a number of public enterprises in Botswana are generally performing well as President Festus Mogae indicated in his State of the Nation Address. He charged that the position of BULGSA on privatisation is that it is profit-driven and against all principles of social justice, adding that the association is in the process of collecting more relevant information to further consolidate its anti-privatisation position.
Motelebane said: "It is not in our knowledge whether Botswana has signed World Trade Organisation General Agreements on Trade Services (GATS) or not. However, it is clear that Botswana is privatising because of the notion that the private sector is more effective and efficient than the public sector. Usually countries privatise their public enterprises because of the belief that privatisation will make them more efficient and improve the economy of the country," he said. Motelebane charged that the agreement those countries entered into with the World Bank and the IMF forced them to privatise their public enterprises, including utilities such as water. He said that in some third world countries, privatisation happens because the countries signed the GATS, which insists on the handing over of public enterprises to the private sector. Hence he feared that when public enterprises were privatised, whether through commercialisation, out contracting/outsourcing or simply 100 per cent privatisation, the plight of the workers was left in jeopardy with many of them losing employment. Motelebane pointed out that the association perceived its unionisation as the key to effective representation of members through the process of collective bargaining. He said that some of the achievements attained to score that goal include holding workshops on unionisation, adoption of working class ideology and finalisation of the Botswana Local Authorities Workers' Union (BLAWU). (Mmegi/The Reporter, Gaborone)

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