The negotiations involving Government and six cooperating public sector unions have reached a stalemate, after the two parties failed to reach a common ground on the recommendations of PEMANDU report.
Government is not willing to give in to demands by the six cooperating unions with regard to implementation of a structure which would have seen the public service doing away with the lowest salary scale of A3. Approval of such proposal by the unions would however result in the entire public service structure feeling the ripple effects. The parties agreed to a break on Friday in order to seek new mandate from mandate givers.
Tobokani Rari, the Botswana Federation of Public Sector Trade Unions (BOFEPUSU) secretary general, speaking on behalf the six cooperating unions being; Botswana Teachers Union (BTU), Botswana Sector of Educators Trade Union (BOSETU), Botswana Nurses Union (BONU), National Amalgamated Central, Local & Parastatal Manual Workers' Union (NALCPWU), and Botswana Landboards & Local Authorities Health Workers Union (BLLAHWU), stated that parties could not specifically find a common ground on a fundamental matter of closing the gap between the public employees’ current pay, and what the market is currently paying, and also, of addressing the injustice and discrimination within the public service salary structure occasioned by adjustments made to the salaries of the disciplined forces.
“The union party had propose that in line with the dispensation that was extended to the disciplined forces, the value of A3 salary band should be improved to that of A2 salary band which will have a ripple effect on the rest of the salary scales/hands in the public service,” he said in a statement released on Friday. According to Rari, over the past days there was no substantive progress on the negotiations, resulting in the union party invoking clause12 of the Rules of Engagement that allows any of the parties to the negotiations to consult its mandate givers.
The negotiations are scheduled to resume on the 9th of August following consultation with union membership. Unions want public servants to move one scale up to even them with the disciplined forces like police, BDF and prisons. They also call for the scrapping off of the A3 scale which pays an employee about P1600 per month. They want A3 to be moved to A1 which earns about P2300. Government has found itself in a tight corner ever since the PEMANDU report came to the surface.
In 2017, Government through the Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM), commissioned Malaysian private consultancy firm, Performance Management and Delivery Unit (PEMANDU) Associates, to study the civil service structure, then offer diagnosis as well as the prognosis of the current structure. Pemandu Associate’s main mandate was to conduct preliminary assessments on the areas of remuneration management system.
In the report it was revealed that generally the Botswana Public service performance management is not functioning efficiently as it was supposed to be. According to the report, titled, “remuneration system project report for grades A to D,” there are issues on the complexity of performance appraisal form and biased session between employee and employer. It further reveals that “the Botswana Public Service today does not have a comprehensive remuneration structure and does not follow best practices.”
Some of the flaws in the system, it posits, is that the current Botswana public service remuneration follows a traditional model made up of grades and notches or steps within grades; and a new employee will start at the bottom notch of the grade as there is no flexibility to take into account special skills and experience. It states that the employee will move up from one notch to another based on promotion and that the notches remain steep, meaning an employee will reach the ceiling of the particular grade quickly.
“The salary for one grade does not overlap with another. This means that on reaching the ceiling (the top most notch of the salary grade), the employee must be promoted to another grade in order to advance in salary. In addition the current design does not have a fixed salary range – it is merely a series of notches within a particular grade and no fixed ceiling and floor levels. This has serious implications in terms of the salary structure in equilibrium.”
To illustrate this, the report gives an example of an employee (A) who may start at the lowest notch of a grade at P20 000 and another employee (B) at the highest notch earns P100 000 adding that the range between the lowest and the highest salary point is then therefore P80000. “Assuming there is a salary increment of 5 percent. Employee at the bottom will now earn P21000 whilst employee B will earn P105000. The gap between the two salary points increases from P80000 to P84000. With another 5 percent adjustment, the gap widens to P88200,” it highlights.
Government is currently sitting on 4 400 vacant posts that remain unfilled in the civil service. This is notwithstanding the high unemployment rate in Botswana which has been exacerbated by the recent outbreak of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.
Just before the burst of COVID-19, official data released by Statistics Botswana in January 2020, indicate that unemployment in Botswana has increased from 17.6 percent three years ago to 20.7 percent. “Unemployment rate went up by 3.1 percentage between the two periods, from 17.6 to 20.7 percent,” statistics point out.
Leading commercial bank, First National Bank Botswana (FNBB), expects the central bank to sharpen its monetary policy knife and cut the Bank Rate twice in the last quarter of 2020.
The bank expects a 25 basis point (bps) in the beginning of the last quarter, which is next month, and another shed by the same bps in December, making a total of 50 bps cut in the last quarter. According to the bank’s researchers, the central bank is now holding on to 4.25 percent for the time being pending for more informed data on the economic climate.
An audit of the accounts and records for the supply of food rations to the institutions in the Northern Region for the financial year-ended 31 March 2019 was carried out. According to Auditor General’s report and observations, there are weaknesses and shortcomings that were somehow addressed to the Accounting Officer for comments.
Auditor General, Pulane Letebele indicated on the report that, across all depots in the region that there had been instances where food items were short for periods ranging from 1 to 7 months in the institutions for a variety of reasons, including absence of regular contracts and supplier failures. The success of this programme is dependent on regular and reliable availability of the supplies to achieve its objective, the report said.
There would be instances where food items were returned from the feeding centers to the depots for reasons of spoilage or any other cause. In these cases, instances had been noted where these returns were not supported by any documentation, which could lead to these items being lost without trace.
The report further stressed that large quantities of various food items valued at over P772 thousand from different depots were damaged by rodents, and written off.Included in the write off were 13 538 (340ml) cartons of milk valued at P75 745. In this connection, the Auditor General says it is important that the warehouses be maintained to a standard where they would not be infested by rodents and other pests.
Still in the Northern region, the report noted that there is an outstanding matter relating to the supply of stewed steak (283×3.1kg cans) to the Maun depot which was allegedly defective. The steak had been supplied by Botswana Meat Commission to the depot in November 2016.
In March 2017 part of the consignment was reported to the supplier as defective, and was to be replaced. Even as there was no agreement reached between the parties regarding replacement, in 51 October 2018 the items in question were disposed of by destruction. This disposal represented a loss as the whole consignment had been paid for, according to the report.
“In my view, the loss resulted directly from failure by the depot managers to deal with the matter immediately upon receipt of the consignment and detection of the defects. Audit inspections during visits to Selibe Phikwe, Maun, Shakawe, Ghanzi and Francistown depots had raised a number of observations on points of detail related to the maintenance of records, reconciliations of stocks and related matters, which I drew to the attention of the Accounting Officer for comments,” Letebele said in her report.
In the Southern region, a scrutiny of the records for the control of stocks of food items in the Southern Region had indicated intermittent shortages of the various items, principally Tsabana, Malutu, Sunflower Oil and Milk which was mainly due to absence of subsisting contracts for the supply of these items.
“The contract for the supply of Tsabana to all depots expired in September 2018 and was not replaced by a substantive contract. The supplier contracts for these stocks should be so managed that the expiry of one contract is immediately followed by the commencement of the next.”
Suppliers who had been contracted to supply foodstuffs had failed to do so and no timely action had been taken to redress the situation to ensure continuity of supply of the food items, the report noted.
In one case, the report highlighted that the supplier was to manufacture and supply 1 136 metric tonnes of Malutu for a 4-months period from March 2019 to June 2019, but had been unable to honour the obligation. The situation was relieved by inter-depot transfers, at additional cost in transportation and subsistence expenses.
In another case, the contract was for the supply of Sunflower Oil to Mabutsane, where the supplier had also failed to deliver. Examination of the Molepolole depot Food Issues Register had indicated a number of instances where food items consigned to the various feeding centres had been returned for a variety of reasons, including food item available; no storage space; and in other cases the whole consignments were returned, and reasons not stated.
This is an indication of lack of proper management and monitoring of the affairs of the depot, which could result in losses from frequent movements of the food items concerned.The maintenance of accounting records in the region, typically in Letlhakeng, Tsabong, and Mabutsane was less than satisfactory, according to Auditor General’s report.
In these depots a number of instances had been noted where receipts and issues had not been recorded over long periods, resulting in incorrect balances reflected in the accounting records. This is a serious weakness which could lead to or result in losses without trace or detection, and is a contravention of Supplies Regulations and Procedures, Letebele said.
Similarly, consignments of a total of 892 bags of Malutu and 3 bags of beans from Tsabong depot to different feeding centres had not been received in those centres, and are considered lost. These are also not reflected in the Statement of Losses in the Annual Statements of Accounts for the same periods.