Presidential and Public Affairs minister, Mokgweetsi Masisi had to cancel his meeting at the last minute, scheduled for 5pm at the Gaborone Civic Centre. The striking workers had arrived a few minutes earlier protesting in song that, “it’s better to be ruled by Mugabe (Robert).” Carrying tree branches and knobkerries they settled down in the hall waiting for the minister who never showed up.
One hoisted a placard that read, “it’s a war and we are winning”. After realising that Masisi would not come the disgruntled workers filed out and blocked the Independence Avenue singing and dancing. There was an immediate traffic jam, as cars were not allowed to use the road. The striking workers were less bothered by a Botswana Police helicopter which hovered over their heads as they continued with their song and dance for a full hour. They then made a procession to the traffic circle next to Princess Marina hospital.
“We are going to block the movement of ambulances,” said one. Another declared, “This is the real strike now.” Masisi cancelled the meeting, as on Tuesday he was whisked away by members of the security services after a kgotla meeting he addressed turned chaotic. The meeting, held at Gaborone West Community hall, in the Gaborone West South constituency, became uncontrollable immediately after the minister announced to the packed hall that negotiations between government and trade unions hit a snag again on Tuesday afternoon.
The hall was filled with public service employees who are on strike. A deadlock, which is now becoming synonymous with government’s engagement of trade unions, also emerged at the Tuesday meeting as the minister was not allowed to talk.
Immediately he tried to say something workers would break into song and dance. The minister finally gave up and just sat there watching the civil servants dancing. At times he would smile at songs ridiculing him – accusing him of being a bootlicker. It was an impasse between the minister and the workers with no one prepared to leave the hall. The minister finally left the meeting under heavy police escort.
Meanwhile, earlier on Wednesday health minister Dr. John Seakgosing and his assistant, Gaotlhaetse Matlhabaphiri had to run for dear life when they could not face the big crowd that had gathered at the Mogoditshane Kgotla. Eyewitnesses narrated that the two cabinet members were heading to the main kgotla from their official vehicles when suddenly the crowd erupted into a big roar.
Seakgosing and his assistant did not ask, “What is that?” but turned on their heels heading back to their cars before speeding back to Gaborone.
The only small obstacle on their way back to their vehicles was a patch of water coming from a leaking pipe but Seakgosing this time around did not mind getting dirty and ran through the water. When the Botswana Guardian team arrived at the Mogoditshane Kgotla, people were taking pictures of the minister’s footmarks as he ran through the water. “This is a souvenir,” declared one taking pictures with his cell phone. The crowd lingered around the kgotla for quite some time and were dispersed by the Mogoditshane kgosi, who told them that the ministers who were supposed to address them have left.
Still on Wednesday, Minister Kitso Mokaila had to abandon his meeting in Tlokweng as it turned unmanageable. Mokaila could not just bear the accusations and counter-accusations labelled against him at the meeting. Reports from Gantsi also indicate that civil servants walked out on a meeting addressed by the Minister of Agriculture, Christian De Graaf. Other disturbances were reported in Mochudi where students marched to the main kgotla in protest. Botswana Guardian