Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) President Advocate Duma Boko has revealed that his party has rejected and will continue to snub local businessmen who pledge to assist the party financially ahead of the highly anticipated October general elections.
Boko told the media this week that he has been approached on numerous occasions by the local business community volunteering to help the UDC with funds. However, according to the UDC leader, this financial help either comes with expectations or it is done in bad faith. This, he says, he deliberately and unashamedly rejected because their help comes up with conditions which he cannot abide by.
“Most of their assistance comes up with conditions and I will never accept anything from them. I will traverse the world seeking assistance from international donors, not sponsors because they do not want anything after assisting you. Besides when you ask them their monies are regulated by international authorities,” Boko told media in press briefing this week.
The UDC leader said, in some instances, the donors give millions to the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) only to offer UDC peanuts, a gesture which Boko believes it is done in bad faith. The UDC for now through Boko, will continue with their last elections formula of sourcing funds from international community to assist in wresting the BDP out of power. Already the party has agreed on centralising sourcing of fund with Boko as the face of the project.
The party believes should they get assistance from the local businessmen it will compromise their governance post October should they win. “There are conditions from them that is why even the BDP is failing to crack the whip because they were assisted by the same. And as the UDC we want to sanitize this country after October so we want to do so freely. We want to get rid of corruption and we don’t want to be compromised in situations when we ask someone to account for his wealth, No,” Boko said.
For now Boko said he is aware of a number of businessmen who are flocking to assist BDP, threatening to reveal their names. “We know a lot of things including who is being assisted by whom and by how much, if we want to reveal we can, but we as the UDC we want to remain clean of this mess,” he said.
BOKO LAUNCHES CRUSADE AGAINST DWINDLING DEMOCRACY
The UDC leader who also made it clear at the briefing that he supports former President Ian Khama’s decision to grant international media interviews — which some believe tarnish the image of the country— says he is going to do the same. “There is no crisis in Botswana and Khama has the right to freedom of expression. I did the same interviews in the past because we were not given opportunity on state media and even this time around I will continue to. So there is nothing wrong with what Khama is doing,” he said.
Boko continued to add that he is not happy with the way state apparatus are being used to frustrate democracy, something which is at variance with the country’s reputation. “IEC for example is a useless body. Go and tell them that. It is either they are incompetent or complicit in what they are doing and not only them but whole others. Soon I will be going to USA and I am going to tell them about the deteriorating democracy levels in Botswana. From there I will visit Westminster democracy foundation at the United Kingdom to also preach the same message,” he said.
UDC ENGAGES EXPERTS ON LIFTING OF THE HUNTING BAN
The ongoing hot potato of lifting the hunting ban which has attracted much commentary and criticism across the globe has called the UDC National Executive Committee (NEC) to call experts to give fair appraisal. “Hunting ban does not give us a durable solution. UDC will engage experts to this issue to find a sustainable and durable solution to this challenge,” president Boko told journalists.
However Boko believes that whoever is attacked or threatened by an animal should defend themselves as the constitution dictates on Section 4 which talks about protection of life. “Government should also compensate to the full quantum of loss in case a wild-animal demolished crops or any other damage.”
UDC TO RECONFINGURE PARASTATALS, MINISTRIES
The UDC NEC has also agreed to form a transitional team as the party cannot “inherit incompetent institutions dominated by corrupt BDP cadres post elections.” The idea of forming a transition team is to reconfigure the executive arm of the government which Boko says is bloated. “18 ministers and 10 assistants for a 2 million population? He asked rhetorically and added, “We have executive larger than the backbench and that is subversion of democracy.”
The team will propose a linear, more dynamic, efficient and agile cabinet for UDC. “It will also re-organise public service by advising on the size of cabinet and names of different ministries.” According to Boko, ministries will be run like corporate entities where there would be CEO, COO and HR manager to ensure efficiency of the ministries.
The transitional team will comprise of skilled personnel determined by the three presidents of UDC’s constituent parties who will also advise on the composition of the team.“Some of the team members will be revealed while others will not because they are embedded in the high civil service and naming might compromise their jobs,” he said.
NO FORMAL AGREEMNENT BETWEEN UDC, KHAMA
Boko also disclosed that as the NEC of the UDC, they have not had any formal agreement with former president Khama. “I have met with him. I wanted to remind him what I told him in 2014 when I became the leader of opposition. But there was nothing formal [agreed],” he said. ‘He expressed his desire to have me representing him in court against government. He did so because he believes in my capabilities,”
Boko continued; “People value interaction as it is a part of socialization and if he (Khama) comes with soup to my constituency I will encourage and assist him. He was able to understand this dynamic of dealing with people at that level and it is not cooperation but interaction.”
The government has failed to implement some commitments and agreements that it had entered into with unions to improve conditions of public servants.
Three years after the government and public made commitments aimed at improving conditions of work and services it has emerged that the government has ignored and failed to implement all commitments on conditions of service emanating from the 2019 round of negotiations.
In its position paper that saw public service salaries being increased by 5%, the government the government has also signalled its intention to renege on some of the commitments it had made. “Government aspires to look into all outstanding issues contained in the Labour Agreement signed between the Employer and recognised Trade Union on the 27th August 2019 and that it be reviewed, revised and delinked by both Parties with a view to agree on those whose implementation that can be realistically executed during the financial years 2022/23, 2023/24 and 2024/25 respectively,” the government said.
Furthermore, in addition to reviewing, revising and de-linking of the outstanding issues contained in the Collective Labour Agreement alluded to above and taking on a progressive proposal, government desires to review revise, develop and implement human resource policies as listed below during the financial year 2022/23,2023/24,2024/25
They include selection and appointment policy, learning and development policy, transfer guidelines, conditions of service, permanent and pensionable, temporary and part time, Foreign Service, expatriate and disciplinary procedures.
In their proposal paper, the unions which had proposed an 11 percent salary increase but eventually settled for 5% percent indicated that the government has not, and without explanation, acted on some of the key commitments from the 2019/2020 and 2021/22 round of negotiations. The essential elements of these commitments include among others the remuneration Policy for the Public Service.
The paper states that a Remuneration Policy will be developed to inform decision making on remuneration in the Public Service. It is envisaged that consultations between the government and relevant key stakeholders on the policy was to start on 1st September 2019, and the development of the policy should be concluded by 30th June 2020.
The public sector unions said the Remuneration Policy is yet to be developed. The Cooperating Unions suggested that the process should commence without delay and that it should be as participatory as it was originally conceived. Another agreement relate to Medical Aid Contribution for employees on salary Grades A and B.
The employer contribution towards medical aid for employees on salary Grades A and B will be increased from 50% to 80% for the Standard Option of the Botswana Public “Officers’ Medical Aid Scheme effective 1st October 2019; the cooperating unions insist that, in fulfilling this commitment, there should be no discrimination between those on the high benefit and those on the medium benefit plan,” the unions proposal paper says.
Another agreement involves the standardisation of gratuities across the Public Service. “Gratuities for all employees on fixed term contracts of 12 months but not exceeding 5 years, including former Industrial class employees be standardized at 30% across the Public Service in order to remove the existing inequalities and secure long-term financial security for Public Service Employees at lower grades with immediate effect,” the paper states.
The other agreement signed by the public sector unions and the government was the development of fan-shaped Salary Structure. The paper says the Public Service will adopt a best practice fan-shaped and overlapping structure, with modification to suit the Botswana context. The Parties (government and unions) to this agreement will jointly agree on the ranges of salary grades to allow for employees’ progression without a promotion to the available position on the next management level.
“The fan-shaped structure is envisaged to be in place by 1st June 2020, to enable factoring into the budgetary cycle for the financial year 2021/22,” the unions’ proposal paper states. It says the following steps are critical, capacity building of key stakeholders (September – December 2019), commission remuneration market survey (3 months from September to November 2019), design of the fan-shaped structure (2 to 3 months from January to March2020) and consultations with all key stakeholders (March to April 2020).
The unions and government had also signed an agreement on performance management and development: A rigorous performance management and reward system based on a 5-point rating system will be adopted as an integral part of the operationalization of the new Remuneration System.
Performance Management and Development (PMD) will be used to reward workers based on performance. The review of the Performance Management System was to be undertaken in order to close the gaps identified by PEMANDU and other previous reports on PMS between 1st September 2019 and 30th June 2020 as follows; internal process to update and revise the current Performance Management System by January 2020.
A job evaluation exercise in the Public Service will also be undertaken to among others establish internal equity, and will also cover the grading of all supervisory positions within the Public Service. Another agreement included overtime Management. The Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) was to facilitate the conclusion of consultations on management of overtime, including consideration of the Overtime Management Task Team’s report on the same by 30th November 2019.
A public health expert, Dr Edward Maganu who is also the former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health has said that unlike many who are expressing shock at the population census growth decline results, he is not, because the 2022 results represents his expectations.
He rushed to dismiss the position by Statistics Botswana in which thy partly attributes the low growth rates to mortality rates for the past ten years. “I don’t think there is any undercounting. I also don’t think death rates have much to do with it since the excessive deaths from HIV/AIDS have been controlled by ARVs and our life expectancy isn’t lower than it was in the 1990s,” he said in an interview with this publication post the release of the results.
Preliminary results released by Statistics Botswana this week indicated that Botswana’s population is now estimated to be 2,346,179 – a figure that the state owned data agency expressed worry over saying it’s below their projected growth. The general decline in the population growth rate is attributed to ‘fertility’ and ‘mortality’ rates that the country registered on the past ten years since the last census in 2011.
Maganu explained that with an enlightened or educated society and the country’s total fertility rate, there was no way the country’s population census was going to match the previous growth rates. “The results of the census make sense and is exactly what I expected. Our Total Fertility Rate ( the average number of children born to a woman) is now around 2.
This is what happens as society develops and educates its women. The enlightened women don’t want to bear many children, they want to work and earn a living, have free time, and give their few children good care. So, there is no under- counting. Census procedures are standard so that results are comparable between countries.
That is why the UN is involved through UNFPA, the UN Agency responsible for population matters,” said Maganu who is also the former adviser to the World Health Organisation. Maganu ruled out undercounting concerns, “I see a lot of Batswana are worried about the census results. Above is what I have always stated.”
Given the disadvantages that accompany low population for countries, some have suggested that perhaps a time has come for the government to consider population growth policies or incentives, suggestions Maganu deems ineffective.
“It has never worked anywhere. The number of children born to a woman are a very private decision of the woman and the husband in an enlightened society. And as I indicated, the more the women of a society get educated, the higher the tendency to have fewer children. All developed countries have a problem of zero population growth or even negative growth.
The replacement level is regarded as 2 children per woman; once the fertility level falls below that, then the population stops growing. That’s why developed countries are depending so much on immigration,” he said.
According to him, a lot of developing countries that are educating their women are heading there, including ourselves-Botswana. “Countries that have had a policy of encouraging women to have more children have failed dismally. A good example is some countries of Eastern Europe (Romania is a good example) that wanted to grow their populations by rewarding women who had more children. It didn’t work. The number of children is a very private matter,” said Maganu
For those who may be worried about the impact of problems associated with low growth rate, Maganu said: “The challenge is to develop society so that it can take care of its dependency ratio, the children and the aged. In developed countries the ratio of people over 60 years is now more than 20%, ours is still less than 10%.”
The preliminary results show that Mogoditshane with (88,098) is now the biggest village in the country with Maun coming second (85,293) and Molepolole at third position with 74,719. Population growth is associated with many economic advantages because more people leads to greater human capital, higher economic growth, economies of scale, the efficiency of higher population density and the improved demographic structure of society, among many others.
Gabane-Mmankgodi Member of Parliament Kagiso Mmusi, who is also the Minister of Justice looks set to retain his place as ruling party, Botswana democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary candidate for the constituency after his team triumphed at the party’s branch congress held recently.
Mmusi’s team, as expected sailed through by claiming all executive positions of chairperson, secretary, treasurer, vice chairman, and vice treasurer.
Despite reports doing rounds that Mmusi’s team was defeated, the victorious chairperson of the Women Wing branch, Pinkie Mmusi confirmed that they stand with the area Member of Parliament.
For the position of branch chairperson, Baby Chalengwa defeated Tshepo Thobega with 51 votes to 44 votes. On the other hand the branch chairperson, Chalegwa also confirmed their solidarity with the area Member of Parliament.
The anti-Mmusi’s camp has been working hard to prepare for his dethronement in the run-up to the 2024 general election, but it appears the Minister of Justice is holding his ground and will be a tough opponent to dispose at the party primary elections.
Since Minister Mmusi’s name is regularly linked with the Vice Presidency for the future, some within the party use this against him to label him as a power hungry politician. However, Mmusi’s supporters have pointed out that the MP has never spoken on the subject and is only focused on delivering as a legislator and Minister.