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No confidence in Air Botswana Executives – Union

The struggling national airline, Air Botswana which is currently undergoing a restructuring process, is facing another bombshell as the staff union threatens the prospects of passing a ‘motion of no confidence’ against the Executive Management Committee.

Through a letter addressed to the company’s General Manager, through her Executive, the Union has submitted grounds of passing the motion which may also affect the board. The Union expressed their displeasure and disappointment at the status of the struggling airline and confirmed having made efforts of engaging with the management with respect to various worrisome conditions but unfortunately their efforts have failed, thus they resorted to petition the Executive.

Air Botswana Employees Union (ABEU), which is an affiliate of Botswana Federation of Trade Unions (BFTU), in the letter listed a number of reasons which led to them resolving to a motion of no confidence against Air Botswana Executive.  Amongst other reason, the union is accusing the management of failed organisational restructuring. They state that in 2016, when the restructuring was proposed, an approved structure promised to have a staff number of 350 employees across Air Botswana.

Additionally, the organisation opted and continued to replace restructured staff by recruiting externally which the Union believe was a more expensive alternative to which they believe contradicts the whole objective. The union also accused the management of failure to implement proposed business systems. They say as a mitigating initiative against staff shortage due to restructuring process, one of the initiatives management proposed was to implement the latest business friendly operating systems, but however not all areas within the organisation have been addressed leading to some staff members being overwhelmed by the workload.

“In some area our members have noted that they have been given the roles and responsibility of restructured staff on top of their initial responsibilities without amending their compensations or reviewing their contracts. This has led to deepening employee dissatisfaction with their working conditions compromised and the overall productivity of some divisions, due to some of these poor working conditions,” the petition stated.

Another reason advanced by the union is the 27% gap disparity. Despite initially approving the Tsa Badiri Report in 2015 and promising to implement the recommendations thereof, management has failed to keep their promise, which led to a court battle between the union ABEU and Air Botswana, which presents a looming obligation against an already struggling Air Botswana, this they believe could have been averted.

ABEU however points out that, management opted for an arrogant and stubborn approach to the handling of the matter which has hurt the relationship between employees and management, and contributed to the growing disgruntlement of employees against their employer. Despite ABEU efforts to engage outside the legal parameters, the General Manager specifically has over four years failed to take the opportunity to build better relationships with her staff or even showing intent to avoid any unnecessary conflicts with staff.

The Re- Fleeting and Re-Branding project is amongst other reasons advanced by the union. As part of government’s effort to rebuild and stabilize Air Botswana, Management announced to staff this initiative and thus giving hope to staff members about their job security.
However, with what seems now customary to Air Botswana that too has been a disaster. The union believe not much was done to involve all necessary stakeholders to ensure a successful implementation of the Re-Fleeting exercise as per expectation from staff.

According to the letter various amateur mistakes were made which in turn proved costly for the organisation, i.e. The trade- in of ATR 42- 500 for the new ATR72- 600 did not yield the intended saving, instead led to Air Botswana losing and paying more for the new aircraft acquisitions, this has been led on by the unilaterally approach to managing the fleet acquisition and planning of introduction into the schedule.

“Re- branding was not satisfactory according to our own observation as well, as ABEU our expectation was that re- branding should have been a staff owned driven exercise, however the contrary occurred. Much of our employees have not bought into this New Air Botswana primary due to being side- lined throughout the process. Despite launching new Aircraft, management has made no effort to engage staff members as part of the process to give them some sense of belonging to Air Botswana” the union stated.  

Lastly the annual cost of living salary adjustment engagements proved futile. The Union expressed their displeasure at the way Air Botswana in the past recent years chose not to address the issue of annual salary increment. The expectation is that, the union said, this is not an unexpected initiative (as it is annual in nature) and therefore management has the responsibility to engage with all concerned stakeholders leading to satisfactory outcomes for all parties. 

The union also submit that they have made efforts to better this relationship but unfortunately has failed to receive cooperation from management. “They opt to often delay increments which mostly are not negotiated with ABEU and year in year out delayed. This has led to many disgruntlements amongst staff who bear cost due to this method chosen by management i.e. Due to late adjustments staff members lose out on pension benefits, and various acting allowances, overtime pay- outs etc, which could have been different had the adjustments been made out on time.

Contacted for comment Tuelo Pius Tshepe who served as the Union’s Chairperson until he was retrenched this week, said they have been engaging with both the General Manager and the Executive Management Committee since May this year. “In one of their responses, the committee wrote to us that we keep being disrespectful and using unpalatable words”, said Tshepe.

The former Union Chairperson said the Executive Management Committee is incompetent, including the board. He also blamed the Committee which is made up of company Directors, saying they seat with the General Manager as members of the ExCo thus they cannot advise her.

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Over 2 000 civil servants interdicted

6th December 2022

Over 2,000 civil servants in the public sector have been interdicted for a variety of reasons, the majority of which are criminal in nature.

According to reports, some officers have been under interdiction for more than two years because such matters are still being investigated. Information reaching WeekendPost shows that local government, particularly councils, has the highest number of suspended officers.

In its annual report, the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) revealed that councils lead in corrupt activities throughout the country, and dozens of council employees are being investigated for alleged corrupt activities. It is also reported that disciplined forces, including the Botswana Defence Force (BDF), police, and prisons, and the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) have suspended a significant number of officers.

The Ministry of Education and Skills Development has also recorded a good number of teachers who have implicated in love relationships with students, while some are accused of impregnating students both in primary and secondary school. Regional education officers have been tasked to investigate such matters and are believed to be far from completion as some students are dragging their feet in assisting the investigations to be completed.

This year, Mmadinare Senior Secondary reportedly had the highest number of pregnancies, especially among form five students who were later forcibly expelled from school. Responding to this publication’s queries, Permanent Secretary to the Office of the President Emma Peloetletse said, “as you might be aware, I am currently addressing public servants across the length and breadth of our beautiful republic. Due to your detailed enquiry, I am not able to respond within your schedule,” she said.

She said some of the issues raised need verification of facts, some are still under investigation while some are still before the courts of law.

Meanwhile, it is close to six months since the Police Commissioner Keabetwe Makgophe, Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) Tymon Katlholo and the Deputy Director of the DIS Tefo Kgothane were suspended from their official duties on various charges.

Efforts to solicit comment from trade unions were futile at the time of going to press.

Some suspended officers who opted for anonymity claimed that they have close to two years while on suspension. One stated that the investigations that led him to be suspended have not been completed.

“It is heartbreaking that at this time the investigations have not been completed,” he told WeekendPost, adding that “when a person is suspended, they get their salary fully without fail until the matter is resolved”.

Makgophe, Katlholo and Kgothane are the three most high-ranking government officials that are under interdiction.

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Masisi to dump Tsogwane?

28th November 2022

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and some senior government officials are abuzz with reports that President Mokgweetsi Masisi has requested his Vice President, Slumber Tsogwane not to contest the next general elections in 2024.

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African DFIs gear to combat climate change

25th November 2022

The impacts of climate change are increasing in frequency and intensity every year and this is forecast to continue for the foreseeable future. African CEOs in the Global South are finally coming to the party on how to tackle the crisis.

Following the completion of COP27 in Egypt recently, CEOs of Africa DFIs converged in Botswana for the CEO Forum of the Association of African Development Finance Institutions. One of the key themes was on green financing and building partnerships for resource mobilization in financing SDGs in Africa

A report; “Weathering the storm; African Development Banks response to Covid-19” presented shocking findings during the seminar. Among them; African DFI’s have proven to be financially resilient, and they are fast shifting to a green transition and it’s financing.

COO, CEDA, James Moribame highlighted that; “Everyone needs food, shelter and all basic needs in general, but climate change is putting the achievement of this at bay. “It is expensive for businesses to do business, for instance; it is much challenging for the agricultural sector due to climate change, and the risks have gone up. If a famer plants crops, they should be ready for any potential natural disaster which will cost them their hard work.”

According to Moribame, Start-up businesses will forever require help if there is no change.

“There is no doubt that the Russia- Ukraine war disrupted supply chains. SMMEs have felt the most impact as some start-up businesses acquire their materials internationally, therefore as inflation peaks, this means the exchange rate rises which makes commodities expensive and challenging for SMMEs to progress. Basically, the cost of doing business has gone up. Governments are no longer able to support DFI’s.”

Moribame shared remedies to the situation, noting that; “What we need is leadership that will be able to address this. CEOs should ensure companies operate within a framework of responsible lending. They also ought to scout for opportunities that would be attractive to investors, this include investors who are willing to put money into green financing. Botswana is a prime spot for green financing due to the great opportunity that lies in solar projects. ”

Technology has been hailed as the economy of the future and thus needs to be embraced to drive operational efficiency both internally and externally.

Executive Director, bank of Industry Nigeria, Simon Aranou mentioned that for investors to pump money to climate financing in Africa, African states need to be in alignment with global standards.

“Do what meets world standards if you want money from international investors. Have a strong risk management system. Also be a good borrower, if you have a loan, honour the obligation of paying it back because this will ensure countries have a clean financial record which will then pave way for easier lending of money in the future. African states cannot just be demanding for mitigation from rich countries. Financing needs infrastructure to complement it, you cannot be seating on billions of dollars without the necessary support systems to make it work for you. Domestic resource mobilisation is key. Use public money to mobilise private money.” He said.

For his part, the Minster of Minister of Entrepreneurship, Karabo Gare enunciated that, over the past three years, governments across the world have had to readjust their priorities as the world dealt with the effects and impact of the COVID 19 pandemic both to human life and economic prosperity.

“The role of DFIs, during this tough period, which is to support governments through countercyclical measures, including funding of COVID-19 related development projects, has become more important than ever before. However, with the increasingly limited resources from governments, DFIs are now expected to mobilise resources to meet the fiscal gaps and continue to meet their developmental mandates across the various affected sectors of their economies.” Said Gare.

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