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Butterfly’s January salary chopped, gets P0.00 net pay

Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DIS) agent Welheminah Maswabi code named ‘Butterfly’, has this week through her attorney, Uyapo Ndadi wrote to Director General of the DIS and Attorney General, a statutory notice of intention to sue in terms of Section 4 of the State Proceedings Act.

According to the notice ‘Butterfly’ is seeking a court order declaring that; the decision of the Director General of the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DIS) contained in a letter dated the 25th November 2019 and the 9th December 2019 stopping her Fixed Overtime Allowance be reviewed, set aside and be declared a nullity because it is unlawful;

Furthermore, that the decision of the Director General still contained in the aforesaid letters, stating that Maswabi should not leave her duty station, without prior authorisation is unlawful, and ultra vires the Constitution of Botswana as it interferes with Maswabi’s right to privacy and also imposes a new term in the contract of employment devoid of her consent.

Butterfly also wants an order that the act to withhold half of her salary and other emoluments on the 14th January 2020 leaving her with a net pay of P0. 00 is unlawful, irrational and unconscionable, consequently embarrassing her financially. Again she wants the decision of the Directorate General or any officer acting under him be corrected or set aside and that her full benefits be paid out forthwith and henceforth.

According to Attorney Uyapo Ndadi, her client was not consulted about the variation of her benefits and the variation is certainly without her consent, which renders the decision unlawful. “The allowances, including overtime allowance, are fixed and not dependent on whether Maswabi has worked or not”.

Ndadi wrote that Section 35 (3) of the Public Service Act provides that an employee’s salary shall not be withheld during the period of his or her suspension. Section 16 (2) of the Employment Act provides that it is the duty of the employer to provide work to the employee and if he fails to provide work the employee shall be paid wages at the same rate as if the employee had performed a full day’s work, whether the employee is or is not released from the workplace. Section 79 (1) of the Employment Act provides that deductions that are not authorized by the employee are prohibited except those provided by the law.

Uyapo Ndadi submits that what also emerges from Maswabi’s advice slip shows that the employer has not paid the Income Tax on the half salary paid, which is also unlawful as it is contrary to the Income Tax and Employment Act. “The claimant is for no unlawful reason being financially embarrassed and her credit worthiness compromised because she would not be able to service her monthly stop orders for loans and other commitments. The claimant hereby intends to institute the proceedings seeking the above orders after the expiry of the statutory notice and will however on an urgent basis seek an interim order compelling full payments in the meanwhile”.

For the avoidance of doubt, Maswabi, if the government does not pay her full salary and benefits by Friday, 24th January 2020 (yesterday), will have no choice but to approach court for a remedy.  In a letter dated 25th November 2019, bearing DIS Director General, Brigadier Peter Magosi’s signature, the third paragraph reads, “During the period of interdiction, you shall continue to draw your full salary and all benefits attached thereto except overtime allowance. You are further advised that during the period of interdiction your conduct shall remain subject to Intelligence and Security Services Act and other policy documents governing your employment with the Directorate of Intelligence and Security.

During the period of interdiction, you shall not leave your duty station without prior authorisation. Upon receipt of this letter of interdiction, you are ordered to surrender to your immediate supervisor your identity card and any firearm and ammunition that have been issued to you”. On the 29th November 2019, Maswabi wrote back to Magosi acknowledging receipt of the interdiction letter, however she raised several issues amongst them; questioning the legal basis of stopping her fixed allowance.

According to Maswabi, in law, no such adverse decision is acceptable and Magosi’s decision is consequently unlawful and thus she is affording him the opportunity to reverse it. “My overtime allowance enjoys the same protection in law as my scarce skill allowance,” she said.  Welheminah Maswabi also dismissed Magosi’s submissions that she has in her possession a firearm and ammunition. “I advise that I am not in possession of any” she affirmed.

In a letter dated 9th December 2019, responding to Maswabi’s issues Magosi said, payment of overtime is governed by the Conditions of Service (“Conditions”) of the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (“Directorate”). In particular Section 8.2 of the Conditions state that Officers of the Directorate are required to work excess hours and they would earn a fixed overtime allowance. If at any time any employee is continuously not working the overtime, they will cease to earn the allowance.

“It follows then that since you have been relieved from the exercise of powers and carrying out duties as an Officer of the Directorate you will not be required to work overtime and thus not eligible to earn it. I cannot over emphasize the need to abide by the provisions of the Security and Intelligence Act as well as all policy documents governing your employment with the Directorate. If for any reason you have not followed the contents of your letter of interdiction I urge you to do so immediately,” wrote Magosi.

In another letter dated 4th February 2019, confirming Welheminah Maswabi’s confirmation of employment to her bank (FNBB), it states that she earns P 276 780.00 per annum and her allowances are fixed. Welheminah Maswabi’s advisory slip dated 13 December 2019, attached as part of court documents, shows that her basic salary amounts to P 23, 236. 00, Overtime Allowance P 5, 047. 00, Scarce Skill Allowance P8, 832. 80, Special Duty Allowance P 146. 33 and plain clothes allowance P195, 15 and her monthly total earnings was P39, 457. 22.

After total deductions of P17, 089. 42 her net salary was P 22, 357.85. Another salary advice dated 14th January 2020 shows that Maswabi’s basic salary after her salary was slashed by half was P 12, 618. 00 and after total deductions her net salary was P0. 00.

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Major public services shake-up looms

24th January 2022
Emmah

Public Servants should brace themselves for some changes as the government is in an overdrive mode to overhaul the public sector. The government has also set the tone for the looming changes as it has added the public sector to its looming list of major and sweeping reforms.

This is contained in a savingram from the Permanent Secretary to the President (PSP) Emmah Peloetletse’s office showing how the government intends to “take stock” of all reforms in the public sector through the establishment of an inventory.  Peloetletse’s savingram addressed to various ministries and the Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) reveals that the government is working around the clock to implement some changes in the Public Service.

The savingram reminded Permanent Secretaries of various ministries and DPSM that the public sector reforms unit (PSRU) at the Office of the President is mandated with Coordinating Reforms across the Public Service.  “This essentially entails providing the strategic guidance and facilitation in the implementation of reforms across the Public Service. In this endeavour the Unit has in the past with Technical Assistance from European Union developed a template for documenting Reforms in the Public Service and documented ten (10) major reforms across the Public Service,” reads the savingram in part. It added that “The Unit has lately rolled out the Change Management Framework in an effort to facilitate effective and efficient management of change in the Public Service.”

According to the savingram, it has been noted that for a variety of reasons the use of the template for documenting reforms has not been universally used across the Botswana Public Service.  It further states that to facilitate the documentation of the reforms it is essential that an inventory of the various reforms across the Public Service (Central Government, Local Government and State Owned Entities) is established.

“By this correspondent we are seeking your assistance in populating the attached template to provide basic information on the various reforms. The PSRU will, through the various Coordination of focal Persons facilitate the full documentation of the reforms once the inventory is established,” the savingram further stated. The copy of the template among others calls on the focal persons to fill out them form under several headings; they include title of reform, start date, reform objectives, reform components, reform components, progress status.

The savingram echoes President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s announcement last year during his state of the nation address that as a nation Botswana has set itself a lofty goal of becoming a high income country by 2036 and has come up with a list of reforms among them digitisation of government infrastructure. He said the path to achieving this goal dictates that, Botswana takes deliberate steps that will transform its institutions; the way Batswana think and the way they act.

“It is with this in mind, that I presented a Reset Agenda in May 2021, with the following priorities: Save Botswana‘s population from COVID-19, by implementing a series of life saving measures that include a successful and timely vaccination programme, Adherence to COVID-19 health protocols remains key and align Botswana Government’s machinery to the Presidential Agenda, to ensure that the national transformation agenda will be embodied in the public service of the day,” said Masisi. He added that, “this will come with significant Government reforms in all public institutions. We need greater agility and responsiveness like never before in the delivery of public services.”

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Covid-19 Task Force meddled in tenders-report

24th January 2022
Dr. Kereng Masupu

The Presidential COVID-19 Task Force reportedly meddled in the awarding of tenders for COVID-19, a new Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report has revealed.

The Committee expressed concern that it has noted that there are two centres for covid procurement being the Ministry of Health and the Covid Task team in the Office of the President. The report says the Committee questioned the Accounting Officer on why the COVID 19 task team is usurping the powers of the Ministry of Health by engaging in covid procurement when the Ministry of Health is the one which has the experience and mandate of dealing with the pandemic. The report says clarification was also sought on why direct appointment is the preferred method for covid procurement.

“In her response the Accounting Officer stated that the task team was mainly engaged in the procuring of quarantine facilities and was assisting the Ministry of Health due to the heavy workload brought about by the COVID 19 pandemic,” the report says. The report says the Accounting Officer further stated that direct procurement was used because COVID 19 was treated as an emergency and that procurement was mainly from companies that have been traditionally used by the Ministry of Health.

“This however, is not the case as there has been report of new companies being awarded COVID -19 contracts. The use of direct procurement method should only be used in exceptional cases as it’s a non-competitive method which increases the risk of inflated pricing and close relations with particular suppliers to the detriment of others,” the report says.

It says since most covid procurement fell under emergency, there is need for openness and transparency regarding the procurement.  The PAC recommended that in order to ensure transparency and accountability all COVID 19 related procurement should be periodically published in the PPADB website giving full details of the companies receiving procurement contracts and the beneficial owners of the companies.

It says with the passage of time the impact of covid is no longer unexpected so direct awards should gradually be abandoned as the medium and long-term needs of the pandemic can now be predicted. “Judgement should be used even during direct awards to ensure that prices are not higher than the market prices,” the report says.

In a related matter, the report says the Central Medical Stores (CMS) was unable to cater for the required quantities of medical supplies with order fulfilments of about 35% resulting in shortages and insufficient drugs to Athlone Hospital and the surrounding clinics.
“In his submission the Accounting Officer had indicated that CMS was unable to supply the exact quantities required by the hospital and surrounding clinics due to the fact that supplies from CMS have to be rationed in order to cover other facilities around the country,” says the report.

The committee expressed concern about the inadequate supply of drugs to government facilities which puts the lives of patients at risk due to non- availability of essential supplies. It recommended that the Ministry identifies and prioritise measures that need to be taken to ensure that there is adequate supply of essential medicines which are needed in the public health system.

Meanwhile the report says the Ministry of Health and Wellness coordinates the operations and functions of some institutions which receive government subventions and secondment of staff from the government. These institutions include 10 NGO’s, two mission Hospitals, three mission clinics and two schools of Nursing.

It says in its endeavour to enhance efficiency and effectiveness of government support to NGOs the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development developed some Policy Guidelines for Financial Support to Non- Governmental Organisations.  According to the PAC report, the guidelines were meant to ensure that there is consistency, accountability and transparency in administering public funding to NGOs. However, the Ministry of Health did not comply with the very important guidelines.

“The main areas of non-compliance were the following: (i) There was no Evaluation Committee to vet proposals from NGOs, in some instances NGOs had formed part of the evaluation forum when their requests were being considered,” the report says.  It says there was continued funding of NGOs even when they failed to submit narrative and financial progress reports; and (iv) Continued funding of NGOs that failed to submit audited financial statements and management letters as required. The Committee expressed concern at the lapses in the administration of grants by the Ministry despite the large sums of public money awarded to these NGOs.

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BDF killings of Namibians: Court unable to rule on missing gun

24th January 2022
BDF

The Kasane Regional Magistrate Court refused this week to rule on whether three Namibians and their Zambian cousin shot dead by members of the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) were in possession of a rifle or not prior to their deaths.

Ruling in favour of the BDF members, Regional Magistrate Taboka Mopipi who presided over the inquest said, “It is acknowledged that no rifle has been produced before court to confirm that indeed the deceased were armed and or that there was indeed a gun shot.”  She said the evidence before the court is that search for the rifle(s) that allegedly triggered the gunfire exchange was done by both Namibia and Botswana SCUBA divers and nothing was found. She said when the said search was done, an area of search was demarcated around the scene area which was partly searched due to water animals such as hippos that launched an attack at the area during the search.

“The search was therefore never concluded. This therefore leaves a gap. To that end, the area not extensively searched, the court cannot make a finding whether the rifle in issue was there or not. This is a very crucial piece of evidence,” added Mopipi. She said the joint search did not conclude the exercise and I cannot properly make a finding of fact adding that that the rifle was there as the BDF allege can therefore not be ruled out.

The deceased are Martin Munilweye Nchindo, Ernest Nchindo, Tommy Sinvula Nchindo and Sivula Munyeme. The four deceased persons died on the night of the 5th November 2020, in the waters of the Chobe River (Southern Channel) near Sedudu/Kasikili Island in Botswana. Mopipi said the incident took place at night, in a gloomy atmosphere and that as at the time, movement in that particular area was restricted and or not permitted.

She said it was the evidence of some of the witnesses that the injuries as observed on the four deceased reflected that they were brutally assaulted and or beaten either before or after being shot. “Their evidence gained support from Witness 34, Dr. Bithoma Thotho Amis who observed post mortem on behalf of the families of the deceased and Government of Namibia. This witness however conceded during cross-examination that the injuries as observed have been caused by other contacts and or impacts such as falling and hitting the hard surface of a wooden canoe,” said Mopipi.

She emphasized that inquest proceedings have very serious consequences and therefore, whatever evidence brought before court must be produced by persons of right qualifications particularly the post mortem report which the court has to rely upon.
“The qualification of the expert is crucial in determining the credibility of the report. Upon assessment of both experts, I am inclined to adopt the reports from Witness 18, who is a qualified pathologist. A closer look at the other report indicates that the author, Witness 34 is not a qualified pathologist and it is meddled by issues outside an expert opinion,” she said.

Mopipi said reports compiled by a consultant Forensic Pathologist Dr. Kaone Panzirah-Mabaka show the causes of death as follows; Sivula Munyeme, gunshot injury to the chest and extremities, Martin Nchindo, gunshot wound to the abdomen and pelvis, Ernest Nchindo, multiple gunshot injuries to the chest and extremities and Tommy Nchindo, gunshot wound to the chest and abdomen.

“Medical evidence therefore prove conclusively that the four deceased persons died due to gunshots injuries. It is undisputed that the injuries were inflicted by seven (7) members of the Botswana Defence Force; Lieutenant Moreri Kenneth Mphela, Sergeant Ndingisano Nfazo, Sergeant Puisano Pistor Kgokong, Private Mbikiso Tafila, Private Emmanuel Moganetsi Majuta, Private Barulaganyi Rannosang and Private Oromilwe Motlhabi,” said Mopipi.

Mopipi found that there was a gunshot from the direction of the men to the direction of the BDF section.  “The BDF members retaliated and returned fire. This was done in accordance with Standard Operation Procedures (SOPs) within the BDF. According to the SOPs, in case a soldier is being fired at, they fire back and do not have to wait for a command,” she said. She added that “The gunfire exchange was brief and after it ceased, they used a torch to light where the men were and established that all the four men were motionless, two in one canoe, one in the other and the other man lying on the edge of the river on the Island.”

She said, “The evidence of the witnesses is that, when they followed the intel, the intent was to conduct an investigation. There was clearly no intent on their part to shoot the deceased, they did that as an act of retaliation.”

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