THE engagement of Zimbabwean teaching professionals by the Botswana government has resumed, amid fears of ill-treatment of Zimbabwean professionals by the neighbouring country.
Botswana, currently facing a shortage of qualified trainers in the fields of performing arts, jewellery design, multimedia design, electronics, waste water engineering and heavy plant air conditioning, has in the past turned to Zimbabwe for professional personnel.
The Zimbabwean government has already signed a bilateral agreement with Botswana in the skills exchange programme.
The Higher and Tertiary Education ministry recently invited applicants to take up teaching posts in Botswana’s vocational and technical institutions by the end of this month.
However, analysts fear the Zimbabwean professionals may get a raw deal.
Dumisani Nkomo, a Bulawayo-based civic activist and political analyst, reckoned that Botswana, which in the past has been accused of ill-treating Zimbabwean nationals, should respect the bilateral agreement, adding it was very critical for the two governments to reach a conceptual agreement on the fate of professionals engaged by the latter in the agreement.
“I think it is important for the two governments to look into the finer details of the arrangement and have a conceptual understanding of how these professionals are treated during and when their contracts end,” he said.
“A lot of Zimbabwean professionals have been deported from Botswana after rendering their professional services and it’s high time the Botswana government honours the agreement.
“They should note that the agreement is mutually benefiting both Zimbabwe and Botswana economically and professionally.
“Botswana citizens must not view Zimbabweans as people who come to crowd their resources under such programmes.”
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions Regional chairperson Reason Ngwenya echoed the same sentiments.
“What Botswana has done to our professionals in the past is very unfair and we put the blame on our government which has not articulated our concerns to our neighbour,” he said.
“Botswana has in the past ill-treated our professionals, taking advantage of our poor economy and we find this unjust in the Sadc region.”
He also urged the Zimbabwean government to work hard to protect the rights of Zimbabwean professionals in the neighbouring country, adding it was important for professionals to seek help from independent workers’ unions in those respective countries.
However, renowned academic Lawton Hikwa commended the deal as a way of creating employment to unemployed professionals in Zimbabwe, arguing they must return home at the end of their contracts.
“The bilateral agreement between Zimbabwe and Botswana is an advantage to us because it creates employment for professionals who have not been engaged by the Public Service Commission in the country,” he said.
“After rendering their services, they must come back home because they shall come a time when Botswana would have enough professionals.”
Botswana has in the past intensified efforts to deport Zimbabweans from its territory amid reports of reluctance to renew contracts of Zimbabweans lawfully employed in that country.