Interview With Mbakiso Magola : PSI, Botswana

KC JOURNAL NO 4 June 2003

INDYM: Can you start by introducing yourself: you name, your surname and where you come from?

MAGOLA: I am Mbakiso Magola, and I come from Botswana. I am representing Botswana Civil Servants Association.

INDYM: Why are you here?

MAGOLA: I am here basically at the invitation of the PSI – because the Association is affiliated to the PSI. So I have come and learned about this program of NEPAD.

INDYM: Can you tell us about the challenges facing Botswana?

MAGOLA: In our Labour Movement, our Association, presently, we have a problem of unionising. Because, even though the government has signed the ILO Convention, they have not rectified the laws to conform to ILO Conventions. That is basically what we are fighting for. Though that has gone to parliament. But we are not sure when the second reading and things will be done.

That is the burning issue. The other issue is, of course, a global issue of HIV/AIDS. HIV/AIDS has hit our country seriously. And we are assisting the government as workers organisations to see how best we can medicate our people to control HIV/ AIDS infections.

INDYM: What do you think about NEPAD? MAGOLA: Not much. You see, we are here to learn more on NEPAD, to see exactly how NEPAD is affecting our people –how NEPAD will work regionally and on the continent. But, you see, NEPAD might be good. Not everything about NEPAD is bad. But I think that as a region, we have to come up with what is good and leave out what is bad about NEPAD. And, as a result of that, try to formulate a strategy. What is it that we can do to better the lives of our people, and in the region of SADC?

INDYM: What is your view of South Africa’s role in the NEPAD process?

MAGOLA: I don’t have any view on South Africa, because really, South Africa is a different territory. I think they know what they are doing. Botswana knows what she is doing. But you see, Botswana is a developing country. We have to learn from countries like South Africa and even globally, and that’s why there is an issue of globalisation – so that we can learn hand-in-hand with other countries what’s happening in all parts of the world.

Botswana can’t live in isolation. We cannot be on our own. We have to see what it is that is happening in other countries. We will adopt what is good and ignore whatever is not good for our country.

INDYM: What do you think about the experiences of the other people from different countries or organisations linking up with your organisation?

MAGOLA: Basically, for now, it’s not that we are fighting a losing battle or that we are winning the battle. You see, what is important for us is, that we learn. We have to educate each other regionally. You see, it is very important that we interact, that we network. Once we network as workers organisations, as people within the Southern African region, we change views. Then, obviously we can go somewhere. Because education is power, information is power. And the interaction of this nature is exactly what is happening at this school. Basically I think we are going somewhere.

We will not agree when we start. But somewhere, somehow we will be there; we will arrive. That is how the developed countries started. They started simple and that’s it.

INDYM: So do you think that we can see such initiatives in Botswana?

MAGOLA: Basically, yes, because we have already started with the PSI. We have an interaction with the PSI and access to training information and so on. Basically, we see Botswana tomorrow inviting you guys into our country as workers’ organisations to exchange views.

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