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Friday, 19 April 2024

DPSM considers implementing the PEMANDU report

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As the nation prepares for the first budget speech under President Mokgweetsi Masisi on Monday by Minister of Finance and Economic Development Kenneth Matambo, government through the Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) is considering implementing some of the findings of the controversial PEMANDU report, Weekend Post can confirm.

The classified report, leaked to this publication exposes the Botswana Public Service while proposing some major sweeping changes with wide implications. Chief among them are a proposal of a salary hike of 20 percent for grades A and B; 10 percent for grades C and D and 15 percent for grade E and F. It says however to bridge the widening gap between lower and higher paid civil servants, higher grades of E and F should receive no increment in the proposals and keep their range.

In the absence of the increments of grades E and F the report further recommends 15 percent for grades A and B; and 10 percent for grades C and D only. The additional costs to the government however will be P1.23 billion. In addition to increments some of the findings include; redesigning the salary structure to have broad bands that get broader at the higher grade (fan-shaped) with a high degree of overlap between one range and another.

The report also proposes that government calibrate the salary to narrow the gap with the private sector to be more comparable but not leading; and that a formal salary review process should be established and undertaken regularly to ensure the salary structure is still relevant and parity with the private sector is maintained. It also calls for the allowances be terminated or be streamlined.

“The initiatives will put the remuneration system on a competitive basis and in line with best practices in other countries. It will enable the public sector to attract, recruit and retain the skills and competencies it need to transform the public sector into a high performing organisation that is ready and capable to further the transformation programmes to achieve Vision 2036,” report posits. The report was compiled by a Malaysian firm, PEMANDU Associates, at the tune of USD 1,677,390 (BWP 17, 6 million).


In light of the PEMANDU report, when speaking to Weekend Post on Wednesday, the Director of DPSM Goitseone Mosalakatane confirmed that indeed they are considering implementing the report for the civil servants in Botswana. “We are considering the report. We will discuss it with the reference group. Immediately after next week we will call a reference team meeting. It has not been discussed as yet. It’s premature but we will definitely consider it – as soon as possible,” she told this publication.

When asked what her overall impressions were on the confidential and controversial PEMANDU report, she said “we will formulate an opinion around the case. So my opinion alone does not count.” She highlighted that however she was shocked that the classified report got leaked to Weekend Post before they receive, read, internalise and deliberate on it especially deciding on whether to implement the well-researched findings.

According to the Director of DPSM, the long awaited PEMANDU report was received by government on the 25th January 2019 and has since been shared with all Public Sectors Unions on the 29th January 2019. When asked who now misled President Masisi in the State of the Nation Address (SONA) in November that the unions were handed the report, the Permanent Secretary to the President (PSP) Carter Morupisi referred this publication to the DPSM.

The DPSM Director in turn was mum and chose not to answer when asked on what transpired leading to the president being misinformed. The report, she said, is now being processed by the parties (government and unions) and information shall be availed in due course regarding future engagements. The DPSM stated that however she would like to put it on record that the report is not a reflection of government’s position (at least as yet).

When asked on the briefcase carried by Matambo with regards to public servants salaries she was cagey with the details and instead told this publication that, “it would be too early to comment on the budget salary component because the salary negotiation process is still ongoing.” In order to expedite the salary negotiations process, she said the eight Public sector unions will be negotiating with the employer party as two blocks comprising; Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU), National Amalgamated Local, Central Government and Parastatal Workers Union (NALCGPWU), Botswana Teachers Union (BTU), Botswana Sectors of Educators Trade Union (BOSETU), Botswana Land Board, Local Authorities and Health Workers Union (BLLAHWU), and Botswana Nurses Union (BONU). There will be six negotiators from each negotiating party.

The other trade unions block includes Trainers and Allied Workers’ Union (TAWU) and Botswana Government Workers Union (BOGOWU) which will only have two negotiators from each negotiating party. Mosalakatane emphasised that although the unions will negotiate in two blocks as stated, but conclusive agreements will be entered into with each trade union. The DPSM Director went on to state that the Public Service Bargaining Council (PSBC) will remain dysfunctional.

This is despite the fact that President Masisi has promised the nation that the government is committed to the resuscitation of the PSBC to advance the interests of public sector employees in a fair and transparent manner. The unions maintain that all what the president promised; resuscitating the Bargaining Council has not materialised, and that they have lost hope on his government right from the beginning. Against what Masisi promised initially, Mosalakatane said the resuscitation of the PSBC has been halted in order to fully focus on salary negotiations.

It is planned that once these are complete (salary negotiations), the PSBC resuscitation process will continue. In a separate statement, the Chief Negotiators for the Employer Party and the Union Party in the just established salary negotiations, Dr Theophilus Mooko and Tobokani Rari respectively stated that the PEMANDU report “has not been processed by the relevant structures of the two parties, but can be used to inform that process.”

The DPSM’s declaration that they will “consider” the findings of the PEMANDU report barely comes after Weekend Post ran a story last week on another confidential paper by Minister of Finance and Economic Planning titled “economic background paper to inform government’s position on the review of salaries and conditions of service for public officers” which backed the PEMANDU recommendations.

The Ministry stated: “It is therefore important that the recommendations from the PEMANDU study on the public service remunerations should be considered against all these other competing needs on the government budget, as well as the limited fiscal space available in the medium term.” According to the Ministry report, which is based on the baseline budget for 2019/2020, and to be submitted to cabinet, one can consider two scenarios for the implementation of the recent PEMANDU recommendations; “scenario 1 it’s either government adopts full implementation of the recommendations; or scenario 2 government adopts and implement at least 50% of the PEMANDU recommendations.”

Masisi had said that it was government’s wish for any (PEMANDU) recommendations agreed upon – to be budgeted for and effected on April 1 2019 (which is the government’s beginning of the financial cycle). However it remains to be seen this week what in the brief case for the public servants. The DPSM head has also stated that the government is alive to the fact that poor working conditions contributes to poor productivity and poor employee relations.

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Nigerians, Zimbabweans apply for Chema Chema Fund

16th April 2024

Fronting activities, where locals are used as a front for foreign-owned businesses, have been a long-standing issue in Botswana. These activities not only undermine the government’s efforts to promote local businesses but also deprive Batswana of opportunities for economic empowerment, officials say. The Ministry of Trade and Industry has warned of heavy penalties for those involved in fronting activities especially in relation to the latest popular government initiative dubbed Chema Chema.

According to the Ministry, the Industrial Development Act of 2019 clearly outlines the consequences of engaging in fronting activities. The fines of up to P50,000 for first-time offenders and P20,000 plus a two-year jail term for repeat offenders send a strong message that the government is serious about cracking down on this illegal practice. These penalties are meant to deter individuals from participating in fronting activities and to protect the integrity of local industries.

“It is disheartening to hear reports of collaboration between foreigners and locals to exploit government initiatives such as the Chema Chema Fund. This fund, administered by CEDA and LEA, is meant to support informal traders and low-income earners in Botswana. However, when fronting activities come into play, the intended beneficiaries are sidelined, and the funds are misused for personal gain.” It has been discovered that foreign nationals predominantly of Zimbabwean and Nigerian origin use unsuspecting Batswana to attempt to access the Chema Chema Fund. It is understood that they approach these Batswana under the guise of drafting business plans for them or simply coming up with ‘bankable business ideas that qualify for Chema Chema.’

Observers say the Chema Chema Fund has the potential to uplift the lives of many Batswana who are struggling to make ends meet. They argue that it is crucial that these funds are used for their intended purpose and not siphoned off through illegal activities such as fronting. The Ministry says the warning it issued serves as a reminder to all stakeholders involved in the administration of these funds to ensure transparency and accountability in their disbursement.

One local commentator said it is important to highlight the impact of fronting activities on the local economy and the livelihoods of Batswana. He said by using locals as a front for foreign-owned businesses, opportunities for local entrepreneurs are stifled, and the economic empowerment of Batswana is hindered. The Ministry’s warning of heavy penalties is a call to action for all stakeholders to work together to eliminate fronting activities and promote a level playing field for local businesses.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Trade and Industry’s warning of heavy penalties for fronting activities is a necessary step to protect the integrity of local industries and promote economic empowerment for Batswana. “It is imperative that all stakeholders comply with regulations and work towards a transparent and accountable business environment. By upholding the law and cracking down on illegal activities, we can ensure a fair and prosperous future for all Batswana.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Merck Foundation and African First Ladies mark World Health Day 2024

15th April 2024

Merck Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany marks “World Health Day” 2024 together with Africa’s First Ladies who are also Ambassadors of MerckFoundation “More Than a Mother” Campaign through their Scholarship and Capacity Building Program. Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation emphasized, “At Merck Foundation, we mark World Health Day every single day of the year over the past 12 years, by building healthcare capacity and transforming patient care across Africa, Asia and beyond.

I am proud to share that Merck Foundation has provided over 1740 scholarships to aspiring young doctors from 52 countries, in 44 critical and underserved medical specialties such as Oncology, Diabetes, Preventative Cardiovascular Medicine, Endocrinology, Sexual and Reproductive Medicine, Acute Medicine, Respiratory Medicine, Embryology & Fertility specialty, Gastroenterology, Dermatology, Psychiatry, Emergency and Resuscitation Medicine, Critical Care, Pediatric Emergency Medicine, Neonatal Medicine, Advanced Surgical Practice, Pain Management, General Surgery, Clinical Microbiology and infectious diseases, Internal Medicine, Trauma & Orthopedics, Neurosurgery, Neurology, Cardiology, Stroke Medicine, Care of the Older Person, Family Medicine, Pediatrics and Child Health, Obesity & Weight Management, Women’s Health, Biotechnology in ART and many more”.

As per the available data, Africa has only 34.6% of the required doctors, nurses, and midwives. It is projected that by 2030, Africa would need additional 6.1 million doctors, nurses, and midwives*. “For Example, before the start of the Merck Foundation programs in 2012; there was not a single Oncologist, Fertility or Reproductive care specialists, Diabetologist, Respiratory or ICU specialist in many countries such as The Gambia, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Central African Republic, Guinea, Burundi, Niger, Chad, Ethiopia, Namibia among others. We are certainly creating historic legacy in Africa, and also beyond. Together with our partners like Africa’s First Ladies, Ministries of Health, Gender, Education and Communication, we are impacting the lives of people in the most disadvantaged communities in Africa and beyond.”, added Senator Dr. Kelej. Merck Foundation works closely with their Ambassadors, the African First Ladies and local partners such as; Ministries of Health, Education, Information & Communication, Gender, Academia, Research Institutions, Media and Art in building healthcare capacity and addressing health, social & economic challenges in developing countries and under-served communities. “I strongly believe that training healthcare providers and building professional healthcare capacity is the right strategy to improve access to equitable and quality at health care in Africa.

Therefore, I am happy to announce the Call for Applications for 2024 Scholarships for young doctors with special focus on female doctors for our online one-year diploma and two year master degree in 44 critical and underserved medical specialties, which includes both Online Diploma programs and On-Site Fellowship and clinical training programs. The applications are invited through the Office of our Ambassadors and long-term partners, The First Ladies of Africa and Ministry of Health of each country.” shared Dr . Kelej. “Our aim is to improve the overall health and wellbeing of people by building healthcare capacity across Africa, Asia and other developing countries. We are strongly committed to transforming patientcare landscape through our scholarships program”, concluded Senator Kelej.

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Interpol fugitive escapes from Botswana

15th April 2024

John Isaak Ndovi, a Tanzanian national embroiled in controversy and pursued under a red notice by the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol), has mysteriously vanished, bypassing a scheduled bail hearing at the Extension 2 Magistrate Court in Gaborone. Previously apprehended by Botswana law enforcement at the Tlokweng border post several months earlier, his escape has ignited serious concerns.

Accused of pilfering assets worth in excess of P1 million, an amount translating to roughly 30,000 Omani Riyals, Ndovi has become a figure of paramount interest, especially to the authorities in the Sultanate of Oman, nestled in the far reaches of Asia.

The unsettling news of his disappearance surfaced following his failure to present himself at the Extension 2 Magistrate Court the preceding week. Speculation abounds that Ndovi may have sought refuge in South Africa in a bid to elude capture, prompting a widespread mobilization of law enforcement agencies to ascertain his current location.

In an official communiqué, Detective Senior Assistant Police Commissioner Selebatso Mokgosi of Interpol Gaborone disclosed Ndovi’s apprehension last September at the Tlokweng border, a capture made possible through the vigilant issuance of the Interpol red notice.

At 36, Ndovi is implicated in a case of alleged home invasion in Oman. Despite the non-existence of an extradition treaty between Botswana and Oman, Nomsa Moatswi, the Director of the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP), emphasized that the lack of formal extradition agreements does not hinder her office’s ability to entertain extradition requests. She highlighted the adoption of international cooperation norms, advocating for collaboration through the lenses of international comity and reciprocity.

Moatswi disclosed the intensified effort by law enforcement to locate Ndovi following his no-show in court, and pointed to Botswana’s track record of extraditing two international fugitives from France and Zimbabwe in the previous year as evidence of the country’s relentless pursuit of legal integrity.

When probed about the potential implications of Ndovi’s case on Botswana’s forthcoming evaluation by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), Moatswi reserved her speculations. She acknowledged the criticality of steering clear of blacklisting, suggesting that this singular case is unlikely to feature prominently in the FATF’s assessment criteria.

 

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