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DPSM considers implementing the PEMANDU report

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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Church in the doghouse

30th November 2020
CHURCHES

Just like in politics, numbers matter in the church. As much as the COVID-19 pandemic has put so many commercial entities in the red, the church in Botswana has not escaped the wrath either. These glaring similarities between the church and world have pushed the former beyond limits and now there is a bone to pick with government.

Just last week, President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi met with men of the cloth, a jaw-jaw that precipitated a decision to increase the number of congregants per church service from 75 to 100 in line with the State of Emergency powers and COVID-19 regulations. The decision by the President is an indication that he has a foot in both camps – that is the church and COVID-19 Presidential Task Team.

But the church is still not satisfied, with some leaders expressing hard feelings over the bunch that met the President. From the latest decisions, it seems the government will open churches to their full capacity in a pi’s eye. In any case this position is expressed in black and white through various press statements from the Task team and individual ministries. Government is hell-bent on containing the possible spread of the coronavirus.

For some churches, such as the Zion Christian Church (ZCC) they have leaned on the Hobson choice – taking what is offered or nothing at all – and they have chosen the latter. The ZCC has also adopted a hush up as per the instruction of its leader, Bishop Lekganyane.

AND HERE ARE THE NUMBERS

A statistical generalisation in Botswana when it comes to church capacities demonstrates thus; St Peters Roman Catholic in Gabane, has a church capacity of 600. In main mall, Christ the King Cathedral Roman Catholic has a capacity of 1300, and in Gaborone West they have close to 1200 capacity.

Eloyi Christian Church in Selibe Phikwe boasts of a 1000 strong membership. On a normal service, The City Angeles Church in Tlokweng has 1500 people attending one service. For Spiritual Healing in Gaborone more than 800 people normally attend in between services; and as for Naledi Church of God in Palapye it has 700 people while Cornelius Apostolic Church has an average attendance of 2000 people in one service. The figures continue to pour in, Olive Church in Metsimotlhabe has more than 2500 members; while Royal Assembly in Gaborone has more than 800 attendees for a normal service. Their membership stands at 1200.

Speaking to this publication, Bishop Raphael Habibo of Assemblies of God confirmed that the 100 per service as recently prescribed is not enough. He pointed out that it would have been better had they been allowed a 200 or 300 ceiling looking at the capacity of various churches around the country.

“We are not in a position to take care of the needs of our people. In terms of counselling, ministering and standing with them during challenging times and financially. We have hired different people in church. When services are stopped it means we are not making enough money to pay these people. We hear the government’s cry but we need to come up with ways of living with this,” he said.

From Bishop Habibo’s interjection, it is evident that the church has an itching palm for purposes of paying salaries, rent, and general welfare issues. In essence the church is saying the 100 capacity command remains in the clouds, it is far from addressing the realities they face.

From the figures shared, it is evident that the church has a Midas touch but the Presidential Task Team on COVID-19 remains in the driver’s seat hence the church’s itching palm may be satisfied in a coon’s age!

While some church leaders agree that the churches do not need to be opened to the brim, they still shoot down the 100 members cap. They argue that they have enough space to adhere to COVID-19 protocols should their numbers be increased to 200 or 300.

The church says it is not only money that will ensure that they keep head above the water. There is a claim that by limiting the number of people may attend church services, emotional strain and depression are taking a toll on citizens. Faith thought leaders also attempt to link emerging worries such as Gender Based Violence and suicides to restrained spiritual interactions. While there is yet to be empirical data to full-proof these assertions as gospel truth, the church’s campaign for more numbers remains just a grasp at straws.

The church is also worried that certain decisions by the Presidential Task team appear to swim against the tide. They cite opening of borders, buses loading full capacity, tourism industry’s leisure travels, and a litany of decisions only explained by the idiom, smoke and mirrors.

CHURCH MEMBERS ARE DEPRESSED

“A lot of people have been stressed and depressed by this season. Having to live with the fear of the chance of contacting the virus or a loved one or colleague being positive is too much. It is at this point that we need to have a closer relationship with God to pray; to be in church and as we sing, we create an atmosphere of hope. People lost their jobs, businesses and for some it will take months if not years to recover.

We have even seen a rise in gender based violence – I would even think it’s indirectly connected to this pandemic. An affected mind facing a situation that is heavy and can’t take it anymore will just lose it and misbehave,” said the President of Royal Assembly Ministries, Boago Ramogapi.

“I wish the government could do “Capacity Seating” while still adhering to COVID-19 regulations of masks and distance between seats. In that case, a building that normally seats 1000 people will be able to take 500 people – there will still be space between the people and strict compliance on masks and sanitising,” he said.

He further highlighted that challenges arose amid the pandemic within the church and the main one was that many people were losing themselves and feeling helpless because they do not have the opportunity to go to church – a place that has an atmosphere to encounter, inspire and vibe peace of mind.

“On top of that, let’s understand that churches are run by the free will offerings of the congregants. Most of the time the offerings are taken when people have congregated. Discussing with some Pastors I discovered that many churches have had serious financial challenges – those renting places of worship, staff members to pay salaries and their usual outreaches to the less privileged were affected. We have banking online platforms to make transactions but they have not yet penetrated that much on the church sphere where people send their contributions to the church accounts,” he said.

When quizzed on the stand of the Ministry regarding the opening of churches, the Minister of Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs, Anna Mokgethi said;

“There is no silence at all. My Ministry has been engaged with faith leaders on the issue of increasing the number of attendees at church services. They have made their submissions to the Ministry on a number of occasions and we agreed on the submissions to be made to the Task Force team. Consultations are ongoing.

At yesterday’s COVID-19 Task Force meeting it was agreed that consultations should be concluded and submissions should be presented this coming Monday and a final decision be made.”But from the black and white issued by various Government agencies, capacity seating for churches will come in a month of Sundays!

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Inside Botswana’s ambitious decent work programme

30th November 2020
work programme

In an effort to address the mounting challenges of unemployment and labour issues in Botswana, government has introduced the Decent Work Programme that will help the country achieve its decent work ambitions by the year 2024.

Botswana’s unemployment rate has been high at around 20% over the years as a result of the slow growth of employment opportunities. Youth and women are the most affected, however, the ratio of female to male youth unemployment has since had a significant decline from 165% in 2008 to 139% in the past three years, reflecting improvements in employment opportunities for women. The youth unemployment rate hovered around 35% over the last years.

In their Decent Work Country report, the Ministry of Employment, Labour Productivity and Skills Development strives to contribute to Botswana’s progress towards the achievement of full and productive employment and decent for all. The report prioritizes sustainable employment creation in which, government aims to reduce at least by half the proportion of men, women and children of all ages living in poverty in all its dimensions according to national definitions.

By 20230, the Decent Work Report aspires for sustainable food production systems and implementation of resilient agricultural practices that increase productivity and production, that help maintain ecosystems, that strengthen capacity for adaption to climate change, extreme weather, drought, flooding and other disasters and that progressively improve land and soil quality.

It has been suggested that Botswana should move to adopt measures to ensure that proper functioning of food commodity markets and their derivatives and facilitate timely access to market information, including on food reserves, in order to help limit extreme food price volatility.

Furthermore, the country aims to ensure equal access for all women and men to affordable and quality technical, vocational and tertiary education hence increasing the number of youth and adults who have relevant skills, including technical and vocational skills, for employment, decent jobs and entrepreneurship.

Gender disparity has always been a challenge in Botswana. According to the report, there are aspirations to eliminate gender disparities in education and ensuring equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for the vulnerable, including persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples and children in vulnerable situations.

As the country moves towards the digital space, technology is anticipated to play a bigger role in developing the economy. In the next ten years, Botswana says it would have enhanced the use of technology, in particular information and communications technology, to promote the empowerment of women. In a more tangible approach, there will be the adoption and strengthening of sound policies and enforceable legislation for the promotion of gender equality and women at all levels.

Achieving higher levels of economic productivity through diversification, technological upgrading and innovation, including through a focus on high-value added and labour-intensive sectors has also been a target outlined on the report, as well as promoting development-oriented policies that support productive activities, decent job creation, formalization and growth of micro-small and medium sized enterprises, including through access to financial services.

Furthermore, the report says Botswana will work to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls in the public and private spheres, including trafficking and other forms of exploitation.
“Botswana will take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including recruitment and the use of child soldiers which is to be ended by 2025 in all its forms.”

Meanwhile, the slow growth in employment opportunities in Botswana is said to be due to the fact that the supply of skills from the education sector does not match the needs of the job market. The skills mismatch has led to an oversupply of certain skills in the job market, resulting in high graduate unemployment, even though other skills are in short supply.

The report highlighted that there is a need to develop an adequately skills workforce, which is responsive to the labour market demands. “The growing rate of unemployment of the youth, specifically graduates, indicates the critical need for improving the coordination, planning, quality as well as management of human resource development. Government aims to address this challenge by implementing the National Human Resource Development Strategy, which stipulates the formulation of HRD Sector Plans, aimed at matching of skills with the labour market and the needs of the economy,” the Decent Work report reads.

Meanwhile, government has introduced Labour Market Information System that collects, analyses, monitors and captures labour market information such as labour indicators, data, labour demand and supply forecasts and any other labour market data.

In other words, it is a system that collects statistical and non-statistical information concerning labour market actors and their environment, as well as information concerning labour market institutions, policies and regulations that serves the needs of users and has been collected through the application of accepted methodologies and practice to the largest possible extent.

Government further says the labour market information is key to all players: policy makers use it for decision making purposes, students and their parents for informed career choices, researchers amongst others.

The availability of reliable, comprehensive, cost effective and up-to date labour market information is a necessary condition for effective human resource planning and its implementation. Such information is not only required by government and its agencies, but also by employers for their personnel planning decisions.

Individuals also need information on the state of the labour market to make their training and career choices. As a result of this, knowledge of how the labour market functions become integral to an understanding of the key economic issues of time.

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BPF targets Molefhi for Presidency

30th November 2020
Nonofo Ezekiel Molefhi

Former cabinet minister, Nonofo Ezekiel Molefhi could be back in circulation should he bow to pressure attracting his attention to the presidency of Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF), a political party formed by former President Lt Gen Seretse Khama Ian Khama’s close allies in the run-up to 2019 general elections.

But what will it take to coerce the former Selibe- Phikwe East Member of Parliament and Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) stalwart, a defined democrat whose orientation is deeply rooted in the ruling party traditions, to avail himself to BPF leadership? His handlers are adamant he will not settle for a snow job.

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