• Injury to one is an Injury to all say striking doctors
  • Solidarity campaign to close hospitals

RALLYING CRY: Doctor Bakae addressing a rally outside Princess Marina Hospital

In a defiant show of solidarity with fired colleagues, doctors and nurses who had yet to join the on-going public service strike have supported a campaign to shut down hospitals across the country.

At least 300 hospital staff downed tools at Marina Hospital in Gaborone on Wednesday amid emotional cries of “an injury to one is an injury to all’ by picketing doctors and nurses currently awaiting dismissal letters. The solidarity strategy meant to bring a stubborn employer to heel by crippling as many government institutions as possible follows an announcement that over 40 doctors and nurses who defied a court order to go back to work last week have been fired.

By late afternoon on Wednesday, reports were pouring in that the Mahalapye General  Hospital was almost non-functional as almost all the doctors and nurses had downed tools to protest the sacking of three nurses at the hospital, the only ones at the time of going to press said to have received dismissal  letters for taking part in the strike.

“All the doctors and nurses at Mahalapye downed tools at 10am and joined the strike to show solidarity, while 90% of our colleagues at Nyangabgwe hospital have done the same. By Friday we expect all the major hospitals across the country to be shut down as there will be no doctors and nurses to provide a service. We will leave them with no choice but to shut down same way the teachers gave them no choice but to close schools indefinitely,” said a defiant picketing doctor, Odirile Bakae, 34, from Princess Marina.

Making a passionate case for joining the strike, Doctor Bakae told his colleagues that they had waged a war they could not afford to lose, and in any war there were bound to be casualties. “This is a war we are determined to win.  It is a war we won’t lose. The government wants to oppress us and if we don’t rise above that oppression today, we will never be able to do so in the future,” he said.

Bakae went on to urge  those who were not initially part of the strike to show bravery and solidarity by supporting those who  had put their necks on the block for a 16% salary hike and better working conditions, which  government workers across  the country have been demanding.

Bakae added: “We sacrificed our jobs and our salaries for all and we have now come too far to let government divide and conquer us . We can’t go back now. We are in too deep. It won’t make sense for us to spend so many days on strike and then walk away empty handed at the end of it all. We will win!” He said in a rousing speech that ended with a tumultuous applause from his audience.

THREATENED: Doctors campaign to shut down Princess Marina Hospital

Asked if they were not going against the agreed upon strike rules by picketing, Bakae said the agreement not to picket ended after the agreed upon 14 days.” Besides, Government was the first to break the rules by employing temporary staff within 14 days, although it was agreed that wouldn’t happen”, the aggrieved doctor argued.

Among the burning issues that doctors are not happy with are salaries, which they say at P9 400 for an entry level is too small given the amount of time they spend on training and on the job, especially if they compare themselves to their South African counterparts whom they said were paid at least R 28 000 at the same level. “We work ridiculous shifts of up to 36 hours per shift with no overtime pay. And these are issues we have raised several times before with no avail. This time around we are not backing down,” Bakae argued.

Meanwhile the Union and Government failed to agree on the increment on Wednesday as the Union declined to accept the 3% offered in fresh negotiations. The Government has maintained that the economy was still recovering and therefore they could not afford the 16% demand, while the union (BOFEPUSU) on the other hand gave Government until the end of yesterday (Thursday)  to readjust the offer or face a call for President Khama to step down.

Speaking on Wednesday BOFEPUSU Publicity Secretary, Goretetse Kekgonegile said:  “If Government continues to be stubborn we will be left with no choice but to demand for Khama to step down. This has now become a political problem and therefore calls for a political solution.”

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Dt

Ya! o ko ditswalwe re tle re bone gore malope a ga goromente gore ba ta ya kae cz golo fa we are not in a game our parents are strugglin a lot bt bone ba ja! sente

Chris M

Dr Bakae, you have just tainted your CV, mate! No one in the health profession would stomach the idea of employing anyone like you! You are stuck in Botswana as they are desperate. Doctors will fight for their rights but never, ever turn their back on their patients even if a gun is pointed to their heads. They certainly wont do it for money. Consider yourself damaged goods! You will never be able to convince any employer in the world that you will not use any other excuse to leave patients to die in the future. This is unheard of… Read more »

eagle

These so-called doctors and nurses must read about the legends of this medical profession ;FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE in particular, they helped sick people freely without expecting a pay. they must learn to sacrifies at one point in life. They behave as if they get nothing at all at the end of the month. THIS IS ABUSE OF the profession.

They say bad company corrupts Mr Bakae, you could have gone to the strike alone and left others working, right now you just ruined their careers. Not even the pre-school peole can behave as you do guys. Galo kgatlhe.

At times you just need to face your facts straight away.

xhee

Eish waitse nna ke boriwa ke attitude ya Batswana they like comparing Botswana le South Africa kante ga le bone gore SA is a developed country and Botswana is still developing,why don’t u just ask what u want nd stop that attitude nna e a mbora bathong. SA has more than 50 million people and Botswana is less than 2 million,it is like comparing the srength of an elephant to of an ant.Aoo!!! Batswana lo ikamogela leng.

spinach

Gatwe ene motho yo ke doctor?

Elocroc

Truth be told, ga go na ngaka e e simololang ka P9400. They start at above P12000 BASIC SALARY,+ 40% SCARCE SKILL ALLOWANCE + 15% OVERTIME ALLOWANCE + 10% PRIVATE PRACTICE ALLOWANCE. You do the math, you may find that they come close to what the msazi docs are getting, bearing in mind the high tax of SA.

both

ha ha..@Elocroc looks like u nt familiar with the salary ya bongaka, esp ka ur basic salary staff, the allowances u got them right but u nid to correct the basic salary. otherwise there’s nothing wrong with what Dr. bakae is doing n it’s wrong to suggest he’s tainting his CV…u can only taint it if u involved in a breach of oath as a Dr….and so far they haven’t. The +ve thing to come out of this is that there’s gonna be a serious talk about the benefits tsa batho ba essential services now that they hv been recognised… Read more »

Elocroc

@both… telling people half truths will eventually backfire, doctors start at D4 salary scale and that can not be P9400. People (including you) will realise that they have not been told the truth and will loose trust and confidence in bo Dr Bakae’s claims of being underpaid.

Rarefri

@Chris M. I want to applaud you for this true and eloquent piece of advice. I don’t really know what has gone wrong with this profession in these latter years. The priorities of the modern medical fraternity are upside down. People go to medical school first to get their fancy degree and after the degree, they look for money. Not even just looking for it, but at all cost. At the bottom of the pile is the care and concern for the patient. The modern day doctors are more of accountants with the stetoscope than doctors who should be going… Read more »

sparrow

you know what- all of you are either ignorant or you do not have a family member or friend in the ministry of health! the is no doctor who starts at a D4 scale so the ignorant twit who claims that should go get his facts straight! i am a doctor myself and have worked for MOH for a while- i started at c1 basic! and that is the case for any junior doctor. at the moment i am in private; i left becuase i wanted more money and there is no shame in that! and i must say i… Read more »

sparrow

@elocroc; i don’t know who your maths teacher was but i would disown you if i were them! overtime allowance is not the same as CALL allowance. i bet you have no idea what a call is in a govt hospital! well, i’ll gladly enlighten you: you come to work with everybody else at 0730hrs. you may or may not go for tea break or lunch (OVERTIME ALLOWANCE COVERS FOR THIS) at 1630 when everyone else knocks off you stay behind and admit patients to your particular ward. if you’re lucky you’ll get an hour or so of rest before… Read more »

Chris M

Exactly right, Rarefri! A real shame, isn’t it?

Sparrow, don’t assume a lot about people condemning these doctors. They know what they are talking about and, guess what, they are right! Never go into the medical profession for money or prestige! The love of people and the profession along with abiding by its ethos and standards supersede everything for those who go into it for the right reasons. This is not about winning an argument. We can let you do that easily! It’s about what is right! These guys shame this noble profession!

Elocroc

lol…@”i don’t know who your maths teacher was.” Well, i don’t think it takes a brilliant math student to know that medical doctors in government payroll currently start at D4-fact. You are in a profit-making organisation, so its not suprising you earn twice what you earned in government, i bet you still not happy. For our TB infested chests, as a doctor, you must have been taught universal precautions, thats why u probably can not give stats on account of occupational infections caused to doctors in botswana. All i mearly did in my comment was to get the facts right,… Read more »

sparrow

Go and find out what universal precautions are available for men and women of this noble profession before you judge them. are you aware that there are times when a simple pair of gloves is not available in these noble institutions??? i’m just saying; don’t be so quick to judge these guys. walk a mile in their shoes first then you can judge objectively. it’s just a shame that you believe the same people who claimed that 99.9% of their staff was at work when in fact things were taking a turn for the worst in these institutions. the R28… Read more »

eagle

Sparrow ,I , EAGLE NONYANE YA MAWAPI CONDEMNS YOU WITH ALL POSSIBLE TERMS.You have put your personal ,selfish needs well ahead of the profession its self.you neither have passion for this profession nor love, mere love for fellow people. EAGLE hear suggest you stop associating with medicine take BRICK LAYING OR PLUMBING period!!!!!!
-I rest the case-

Rarefri

I for one am disgusted at the attitude of some of the doctors. I am still stunned that Dr. Bakae is happy and proud that the hospitals are shut down. Just that thought alone wants me to wish the employer would do worse to the striking doctors than just dismissal. I am starting to see why many self respecting people in Botswana would rather sell all they have in order to seek medical treatment from private hospitals. If the caliber of doctors we have in our hospitals are like this man on the front page, I wouldn’t want him or… Read more »

sparrow

@rerefri: it’s called the hippocratic oath- clearly you were never taught medical history. It’s interesting you should mention china: are you aware that these same people who are from these hardships are treated when they get here? again; i’ll enlighten you; the government provides accommodation for them, they are transported daily to and from work including during the lunch hour; these and more are provided ahead of their own Batswana doctors! when expatriates come to Botswana holding the same qualification as the next motswana; a red carpet is rolled out for them- they are accommodated in a 5 star hotel… Read more »

sparrow

@eagle: my patients are very happy- my bosses are very happy and even i am quite content with the service i provide. you cannot serve people with a heavy and bitter spirit. when you are rewarded well for the work you do it tremendously motivates you to give it your all; these guys have been sacrificing a lot- they deserve to be paid more.

Rarefri

@ Editor
Please let my comment through.

Cox

Doctors and teachers, ditsala, ba thusa gore thankgolo e nne teng. gore gotwe go badile neelang ba ba kgonang ba busa lefatshe le. Keep praying for this country to remain in PEACE. Go nganga le bone ke matsapa fela. THEY ARE AFTER A WIN. So, only God knows why and who will win and how. The government is doing good and is trying hard to make ends meet. I pray that God intervene amen.

ghost

Guys why le sa leke a new plan intsead of being proud of dipatela gore di tswalwe. Re a go thuswa jang. a se se raya gore rona balwetse ba re tshwereng ka tlhale rea go swa jaanong, ka gore ga re na madi a diprivate.

ZELOLA

mmmhhh!gatwe ke ngaka imagine ke togetse molwetse ntha ya madi ele ruri lo pelo ditshetha shame!!!! in the name of jesus he who ever let a patient to die shall be forgiven for they didnt know what they were doing AMEN