Government negotiators in the on and off discussions on conditions of service for public servants have proposed a Remuneration Policy for the Public Service while also warning that “any consideration of the conditions of service for the public service that have financial implications should be approached with caution.”
The negotiators agree that pressure for competitive pay from various cadres in the public service has resulted in Government enhancing salaries for selected cadres through allowances or regarding certain cadres in isolation of others. “These adhoc and piecemeal approaches have distorted the public service pay system,” they state in their position paper.
It is evident from the position paper that Government has more or less adopted all the recommendations of the PEMANDU Associates report but not those with financial implications. Government is underpinning its arguments on the economic conditions globally and domestically – which they argue is characterised by sluggish economic activity compounded by uncertainty in global markets. While acknowledging positive growth of 4.5% in the domestic propelled by non-mining sectors, Government points to a declining global economy which grew by 3.6% in 2018 and is anticipated to only grow at 3.3% in 2019.
Budget proposals for the 2018/2018 overall balance is estimated at a deficit of P6.35 billion (or 3.3 percent of GDP), which is expected to worsen to P7.79 billion (or 3.8 percent of GDP) in 2019/2020. “The latter is largely accounted for by the recent salary adjustment. This worsening of fiscal position is against the Government’s commitment of achieving budget balance or surpluses in the second half of NDP 11. Continuing in this trajectory will lead the country into a non-sustainable economic growth pathway.
This is against the backdrop that Botswana’s wage bill is high by international standards, as it currently stands at 11.3 percent of GDP, against the international threshold of 5.0 percent of GDP. A high wage bill has negative impacts in the economy as it erodes Government finances and therefore, needs to be compensated for by restraint in public spending, especially personnel emoluments, which account for a larger share in overall government recurrent expenditure,” reads the Government position paper.
Government argues that it introduced the Scarce Skills Allowance in March 2013 in an endeavour to attract and retain those skills that were perceived to be scarce at the time. “This was to be implemented for an interim period of 3 years whilst Government was working on introducing a broad banded pay structure. The broad banded structure was never introduced and the scarce skill allowance continued beyond the three years. The allowance no longer serves its purpose and has resulted in many challenges due to poor implementation resulting in endless litigation.”
PEMANDU Associates were engaged amongst others looking into the deferred recommendations through review of the Remuneration System. Government agrees that the public service salary rates are below market rates and not competitive in terms of attracting and retaining talent. “The gap is bigger at the higher grades,” states the report.
“Ob average public service pay scales substantially lag behind the national citizen market by 28%, 40% and 55% for Grade A and B, Grade C and D and Grade E and above respectively. “The parastatal CEOs are earning more than Permanent Secretaries,” it reads. The report further states that there are too many fragmented allowances and benefits, which leads to complex administration and distortion of the salary structure (41 allowances and 56 deductions). Government is of the view that the PEMANDU Consultancy report on remuneration and performance management, including negotiations of other conditions of service should be discussed separately from salary negotiations.
THE UNION PARTY IS NOT HAPPY
“We note with concern that the Employer Party has taken the view that the substantial salary adjustments awarded to the Disciplined Forces are irrelevant to the current negotiations, ostensibly because the Disciplined Forces are not governed by the Public Service Act (PSA).” Unions observe that it is unfortunate that merely because of the artificial divide created by four constitutive statutes, the PSA, the Botswana Defence Force Act, the Police Act and the Prisons Act, the employer party fails to appreciate that these statues govern employees of the same government, who serve the same public and are resourced from the same pool.
They argues that any decision that unreasonably favours one or more of these categories of government employees that excludes one or more of the others, is inevitably invidious to the excluded party (parties), and therefore constitutes an unfair labour practice. “This is the reason the salary structures of the disciplined have historically mirror that of the “Public Service”. Indeed, public sector salary adjustment are routinely extended to the disciplined forces. This happens, not as a matter of tradition and custom, but rather as a result of the substantive reality that these cadres are employed by the same government and serve the same public as those governed by the PSA.”
Taking into account the quarter one adjustments to the salaries of the disciplined forces, the Union Party recommends as follows:
Remove the A3 Band of the public sector salary structure: This will action will move the entry level salary in the public towards the P30000/annum recommended by the Union Party during the February 2019 salary negotiations and position the lowest paid workers to qualify for the public sector pension scheme.
Move every cadre one band up the public sector salary structure: This, as Table 3.5 shows, means that A3 becomes A2, A2 becomes A1…, and F1 becomes F0. This will have the effect of restoring parity between Directors and their equivalents in the disciplined forces. Below D1, the adjustment will narrow the gap between public sector cadres and their equivalents in the disciplined forces by one band. For instance, the entry band for fresh university graduates will move from C3 to C2 compared to D4 for the disciplined forces.
Consistent with the recommendations of the De Villiers Commission, public servants should be provided with accommodation or be paid a housing allowance of 15% of basic salary in lieu of accommodation. Accommodation is a big source of pay iniquity between the public service and the disciplined forces, and within the PSA governed part of the public service.
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.