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.
While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.
Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.
Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.
Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.
Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”
“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.
He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.
He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.
According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.
There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.
Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.
“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication. The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.