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Botswana : Statement on the Court of Appeal

D 8 avril 2013     H 05:02     A Botswana National Front     C 0 messages

The Botswana National Front (BNF) has noted with disappointment the decision of the Court of Appeal on the expulsion of essential workers who went on strike two years ago. We are however not shocked by the decision of the Court. The whole nation is slowly but surely falling into despair as the Institutions that they believe should protect them are continuing to fail them. The decision by the Court of Appeal in a judgement delivered yesterday overturned the High Court decision which agreed with the workers that they should have been given a hearing before being expelled. In simple terms the High Court said the natural justice principle of Audi Alter-um Part-em was not adhered to.

As the BNF we believe that there is need to reform our Judicial system. However the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) can not do this because he does not seem to be interested in promoting the civic rights and justice for all. He has not shown any interest in meaningfully engaging with the Unions to improve the welfare of workers. His utterances indicate that he hates organised labour.

Regardless of how the courts are made up, their decisions are restricted within the contour lines of the statutes which are drafted by the ruling class. In Botswana where we have a ruling party that plays a comprador role for capital, this is to be expected. There is even another dimension to this. People are losing confidence in our Judicial system because they believe it is there to protect the interests of the state. They argue that they way the Court of Appeal judges are appointed is not above board and its judgements are therefore bound to be pro-state. As they say justice should nor only be done but seen to be done.

Surely if you appoint a family friend, in a way that sets tongues wagging, to head such a powerful institution and the judgements that come out of there are questionable, then the credibility of such an institution is under threat. Courts by themselves should be respected and taken seriously. The appointment of its officials should enhance their credibility such that their judgements even where people differ with them should not be doubtful.

In a country where you have the Head of the Executive appointing the Judges without due regard to the recommendations of the Judicial Service Commission, and a Legislature that is not independent but presided over by the Executive, there is bound to be injustice. The laws of these country basically serve to protect capital at the expense of workers. Our justice system, like other bourgeoisie institutions is there to deceive the workers. As Marx said, " The executive of the modern state is nothing but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie". Lenin adds, "the state is an instrument of class conflict and class rule". We should admit that the state is not an objective, fair, balanced and impartial institution about the class contradictions that exist in society.

Lenin argues that just as the bourgeoisie has used the state as an instrument for reaching its aims, the workers, after the seizure of political power, will also exploit the state apparatus as a tool in its interests. Georg Lukacs in his essay, "legality and illegality of History and Class Consciousness (1971) and in the chapter ; "The state as a weapon" on his study of Lenin (1972), argues that " a class will become the ruling class only if it is capable of taking and maintaining power and willing to do so".

As 2014, the "year of changes" approaches, the workers should get themselves ready to bring in a government which will serve their interests. The BNF as part of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), believes that workers should ensure that they register in large numbers in the coming elections to vote the ruling BDP out of power. They can not continue to live like beggars when they are the producers of the country’s wealth. As Lukacs said, they should show willingness to bring about change. The ruling BDP government’s interests are diametrically opposed to theirs. The sooner they realise this the better.

In this case against workers, the government engaged one of the best advocates to represent it because it did not want to take any chances. It wanted to punish the workers and ensure that they emerge out of the 2011 strike which was termed the mother of all strikes bleeding and badly bruised. This they believe will ensure that they never resort to strike action. which is their right, in the future.

In another case (The Nchindo case) where state land was alleged to have been obtained corruptly, they just used in house lawyers at the Directorate of Public Prosecutions. Not that the lawyers there are not good, but they have certain limitations. A lot of powerful people stood to lose if the case had gone the government’s way as the land would have been returned to the state. In the end the Court of Appeal did not find in favour of the State.

If the Courts in "their wisdom" continue to fail to protect the people against the powerful executive headed by Lieutenant General, Seretse Khama, then the people will resort to other means which might prove too costly. One day the workers will run out of patience. This should not be interpreted as beating the drums of "war" but a word of advise as we do not believe in lawlessness. But if the laws are there to protect the few, then there will be a crisis ! This has led to a situation where some believe the State loses if it really wants to.

The decision by the Court of Appeal to have the Unions pay the costs will set the Unions backwards by a few millions and might make some of the uncommitted workers lose confidence in Unionism. It will have a chilling effect on the Unions and could discourage them from seeking "justice" in the future. This is what the enemy wants. Cdes should instead mobilise other workers and ensure that they use their numbers to punish the BDP government. You have lost the legal battle but you should win the electoral war come general elections next year. The starting point Cdes is the Letlhakeng Bye-election. Use it to ensure that the UDC which is represented by the BNF wins big. All the workers registered in the Constituency should vote for the UDC. Those who are not registered should encourage their friends and relatives to do the same. Lets show the BDP government that the workers are angry. An injury to one is an injury to all !

Cde Moeti Mohwasa
BNF Information and Publicity Secretary