A University of Botswana renowned scholar in the Department of Management, Professor Motsomi Ndala Marobela has cautioned that President Mokgweetsi Masisi is likely to be a carbon copy of ex-president Lt Gen Ian Khama with regard to his relations with trade unions in Botswana.
Masisi served under Khama in various portfolios prior to his Vice President post. Maisisi had stint as Assistant Minister for Presidential Affairs and Public Administration and in 2011 he was appointed a full Minister for Presidential Affairs and Public Administration. He also served as a Minister of Education and Skills Development ahead of his appoint as Khama’s deputy.
In the academic study paper released this week titled “The State of Industrial Relations in Botswana: collective bargaining in turmoil and trade Union resistance,” Professor Maroba stated that Masisi will be a direct duplicate of Khama in as far as purging trade unions is concerned particularly because Khama has all over the years been Masisi’s mentor, and therefore has essentially made Masisi. The paper explores the state of industrial relations in Botswana and specifically, it investigates collective bargaining as a structure of mediation.
According to the academic in the paper, which he co-authored with Ketlhalefile Motshegwa, Deputy General Secretary of Botswana Federation of Public, Private and Parastatal Sectors Unions (BOFEPUSU), both Khama and Masisi’s governments’ hostile political attacks on the Public Service Bargaining Council (PSBC), which led to its dysfunctionality and ultimate collapse, resembles an ongoing behavioural pattern of government agenda of attempts to silence the labour movement.
To buttress his point, the distinguished academic said while Masisi has promised to resuscitate the Bargaining Council, curiously his government backtracked on his initial promise and recently went on to deregister six main trade unions in the labour movement, though the court temporarily lifted deregistration, after the Unions made an urgent application and sought relief. From the case, which is still ongoing before the courts, the researchers state that “it (therefore) becomes clear that Masisi and Khama are the two sides of a coin,” and that their main goal is to secure the interest of the ruling party.
According to Professor Marobela, Masisi is another Khama in dealing with trade unions because he was a key player under Khama administration when he was minister responsible for the presidency and the public service, and he led a blistering onslaught on a biting public sector strike which occurred in 2011, flatly refusing to offer a reasonable salary increase and eventually dismissed striking workers. It is understood that the behaviour has earned him Khama’s blue eyed boy back then as “recently, Khama revealed that he nominated (him) the current president to succeed him because he was firm in dealing with the striking workers.”
The UB professor also observed that as vice president of Botswana Masisi knew about workers poor conditions of service; that he was there when government disregarded the Bargaining Council; and that he was still there when government subsequently deregistered the bargaining council. â€¨
However, Marobela further highlighted that it is Masisi’s recent outbursts and anger at a public forum (Kgotla meeting in Serowe) recently when simply asked about his frosty relationship with his predecessor (Khama) and his thoughts about poor pay and motivation of government workers. His seemingly angry attitude to questioning, Professor stated, earned the new President an unkindly editorial from a local newspaper.
Unions already losing hope on new Masisi administration
Meanwhile trade unions have started to doubt the Masisi government implying that his charm is misleading as there is no action to what he says on the ground. The BOFEPUSU DSG fumed in a press statement dated 15th January 2019 that, President Masisi continue to utter statements to the effect that government is willing to start negotiations and work well with trade unions, while it is clear that his administration is not committed to improving the welfare of workers, and not prepared to establish the Bargaining Council.
He further on stated that it is distressing that the new Director of DPSM (Goitseone Mosalakatane) continues in her deceitful to mislead the President who in turn misleads the nation in State of the Nation Address (SONA). In another incident, a Coordinator for six cooperating unions being Botswana Sectors of Educators Trade Union (BOSETU), Botswana Teachers Union (BTU), Botswana Land Board & Local Authorities & Health Workers Union (BLLAHWU), Botswana Nurses Unions (BONU), Manual Workers; Tobokani Rari said in a separate statement that Masisi administration is basically dishonest.
Rari stressed that: “trade unions were of the view that there is a mismatch between what Masisi pronounced to the public and what is actually happening on the ground, and as such, there is need to hear from the president himself.” “At the meeting, some of the issues were the inability of DPSM to avail the Pemandu report contrary to President Masisi’s pronouncement during the SONA that Pemandu will be availed in December,” he also emphasised.
He said Masisi further expressed his regret and disappointment that the trade unions have not received the Pemandu report in spite of his pronouncement in SONA that unions will get the report during the month of December 2018. He also said government was commitment to the resuscitation of the Public Service Bargaining Council to advance the interests of public sector employees in a fair and transparent manner. The unions maintain that all what the president promised; handing the Pemandu report and resuscitating Bargaining Council has not materialised, to date, and that they have lost hope on his government right from the beginning.
Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the Review of the Constitution held a meeting in Serowe this week. The meeting was to accord Bangwato, just like other tribes, a platform to give their opinions, contributions and what they think is the horse power and limitations of the current Constitution of Botswana.
Bangwato Regent, Kgosi Serogola Seretse said, he is of the understanding that the Commission has not come for anything apart from getting their opinions on how things could be made better. His contribution was that he solely knows of only two social positions in the world; Dikgosi and Pastors. He said other positions are just benedictions. He further urged that, Batswana should respect God’s ordained protocols such as Dikgosi and Pastors.
Seretse pointed out the importance of acknowledging and appreciating Dikgosi as nation builders. He cautioned and warned that, the Commission should ensure that their dealing with Dikgosi is harmonious. He called for an amendment to be made on the ‘National Order of Precedence’ noting that Dikgosi are put at number 11, but should at least be taken a little higher to number 7.
One resident, Tshepo Moloi while giving his contribution said there must be provisions of Social Justice that ensure equal distribution of resources to all citizens. He said this provision should entail an obligation that all citizen have equal opportunities to different Government Initiatives. Moloi substantiated that, all ‘Presidential Commissions’ be engraved on the Constitution
Alfred Thogolwane who is as well a resident of the biggest village in the Central District, pointed out the need for preservation of the country and resources thereof, saying “it must dawn onto all that, the calabash that fetches water for the family cannot fixed once its broken.” Another resident, Keikantsemang Sebedi advocated for Polygamous marriage, saying that men should marry as many wives as they please. She said there is no need for any socioeconomic assessment done on men who wish to marry more than one wife.
She advised that, the country should benchmark from the Zezuru culture that does it, with no complexities. On the other hand, Sebedi said that, there must be considerations done on the Old Age Pension. She said people who earned P4000 should not receive the old Age Pension upon their fullness of age. Forshia Koloi called for amendments on Section 77 and all the provisions that speaks to the subject of Bogosi and the powers infested in them. He said they should be made more detailed and avoid ambiguity in clauses.
Mr Tlhaodi said there must be Land Audits done in the country. Citing an example of the Tati Land as one that should be thoroughly audited. He further advised that, Election Day be put on the Calendar. He said, if it happens that the day be a Saturday, there should be some special dispensation for the 7th Day Adventist Church members to take part in voting without compromising on their day of worship. Tlhaodi added that there must be People’s Complaint Commission in the country.
Speakers emphasized the need for the country to review the exercise of ‘Political Party Funding’. They articulated that lack of funding political parties’ results in political parties resorting to finding funds for themselves. They reiterated that sometimes going to the extent of getting funds through illegal means. Bangwato agreed in one accord that they want the President be tried whilst in office if suspected of any criminal offences. This was revealed in their contributions. They pointed out that, the law should not to wait until the end of their tenure.
For his part, the Deputy Chairperson of the Commission Johnson Motshwarakgole expressed gratitude to the residents of Serowe. He applauded women for their kindness saying it is only them, who always take responsibility for doing things amicably in the society.
Parliament has revealed that it plans to rollout a Community Score Card (CSC) exercise as part of sweeping reforms to its role and mandate among others.
The planed shakeup, along with the rollout of CSC will see creation of new Parliamentary Portfolio Committees on Health, HIV&AIDS, Education and Skills Development, Trade and Economic Development, Agriculture, Lands and Housing and Local Governance and Social Welfare. Parliament informed government ministries and departments that the CSC is a participatory, community based monitoring and evaluation tool that enables citizens to assess the quality of public services and interact with services providers to express their concerns.
According to Parliament, the CSC will assist to inform community members about available services and their entitlements and to solicit their opinions about the accessibility and quality of certain services related to the portfolio committees mentioned. It said the main objective is for Parliament through identified oversight committees is to conduct a participatory monitoring and evaluating process that puts ownership and responsibility for delivery of services in the hands of both the Government and the service recipients.
“Through scorecards developed around identified sectors and services, communities and implementing departments remain in touch with progress made through the programme delivery cycle and are able to respond timely to bottlenecks,” the National Assembly said. Some of the measurements and expected outcomes for the rolling out of the CSC include among others, improved monitoring and economic evaluation, to determine the impact of spending, so as to be able to direct resources from where they having the least benefit to those projects and programmes where they will have a larger positive impact.
The National Assembly explained further that this could result in a willingness to close down ineffective programmes and institutions and not to implement projects that do not deliver adequate returns, improved productivity in the public services, especially given the substantial pay increases.
The National Assembly believes that the rolling out of CSC is also expected to result in efficiency savings: many public services and programmes could be delivered more effectively at lower costs, by improving management and accountability, and making use of e-services. “This would yield financial savings that could be used for development programmes or reducing the deficit,” the National Assembly said.
The exercise is also expected to result in “Careful scrutiny of subsidy schemes and termination of those that do not address market failure or assist truly needy Batswana.” The National Assembly revealed that proposed Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health and Wellness has been established in accordance with the Standing of National Assembly of Botswana. It explained that the mandate of the Committee is mainly to exercise Parliamentary oversight and scrutiny over Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies with portfolio responsibilities in respect of Health and HIV/AIDS.
“There is need to identify reasons for inefficiency and poor outcomes and ensure that health system reform improve productivity and value for money. Key areas of focus for scorecard, availability of drugs, staffing ratios, accessibility of health services, speciality care and services and sexual reproductively health,” the National Assembly said.
Another proposed Committee is on Local Governance and Social Welfare. The mandate of the Committee is mainly to exercise Parliamentary Oversight and Scrutiny over Government Ministries. Departments and Agencies with Portfolio responsibilities in respect of Local Governance and Social Welfare.
“Strategies under NDP 11 to improve outcomes of social uplifment include; diversiﬁcation of rural economies, development and support of small businesses, provision of social safety nets, eradication of absolute poverty, provision of quality and equitable education and harmonisation of social protection programmes,” said the National Assembly. It said social nets need to be improved so as to target these most in need (at present some social safety nets benefit many people who are not the most needy, but also miss out some of those who are needy).
“Some social development policies more broadly should also aim to reduce household vulnerability to shocks such as those arising from fluctuations in agriculture, climate change, incomes and employment and improve their ability to handle shocks, thereby building household resilience,” the National Assembly said.
Another Committee established is on Agriculture, Lands and Housing. The mandate of the Committee is mainly to exercise Parliamentary oversight and scrutiny over Government Institutions, Departments and Agencies with portfolio responsibilities in respect of Agriculture, Lands and Housing.
The National Assembly said the average growth rate of the agricultural sector since the beginning of National Development Plan 11 (NDP11) (i.e. during the 2017/2018 and 2018/19 financial years) was 2.5 percent, making it the slowest growing sector of the economy, in line with its historical performance.
“Over the same period, its share of GDP has been stagnant at around 2 percent. The sector also contributes job opportunities for about 80 000 adults. Food security has become paramount since the onset of the corona virus pandemic,” the National Assembly said. The National Assembly said the Government realises the need to increase food production for products in which Botswana has a cooperative advantage such as beef, grains and other horticulture products.
The Committee on Finance, Trade and Economic Development has also been established. One of the mandates of Committee would be to exercise Parliamentary oversight and scrutiny over government ministries, departments and agencies with portfolio responsibilities in respect of Finance, Development, Trade and Industry.
“The sector is at the core of industrialisation aspirations and strategies for economic development in Botswana. Manufacturing in particular can be the driver of economic growth through technological improvements and innovation,” the National Assembly said. Hence, it said, the development of the sector could also foster export diversification and export led-growth in Botswana while benefitting from the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA).
Two senior members of Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) have threatened legal action against Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS), it has transpired. The threat is contained in an answering affidavit of Director General of DCEC, Tymon Katlholo in which he is seeking an interdiction from High Court to stop the DIS from accessing investigation files at his office.
After the DIS detained DCEC officials Joao Salbany and Tsholofelo Bareetsi on December 16, 2021, they filed an official complaint against DIS and some officials. They complained about abuse of office by DIS and five officers. Salbany and Bareetsi also complained about unlawful detention by DIS and unlawful dissemination of classified information contrary to Section 44 of Corruption and Economic Crime Act. “The DIS interviews were premised on information divulged during the course of official DCEC work product, that is the Monday media brief meeting,” they wrote.
They further requested leave to institute a civil suit against the DIS and its officers, and invariably the State for inhuman and degrading treatment they suffered and unlawful detention. They also pondered a declaratory seeking a sanction against the DIS and Botswana Police Service (BPS) and clarification of the role of BPS officers seconded to DIS.
“The envisaged suit against BPS and DIS officers and the DIS will inevitably centre on investigations done by the DCEC and the scope of the protection availed to DCEC officers for conduct done in the course and scope of DCEC official duties.” The duo said it was self-evident from the conduct of the DIS officers that there was nothing urgent about the information required by the DIS, justifying their detention at its Sebele facility from 08:30 hours on December 16, 2021 until 02:00 hours on December 17, 2021.
They reasoned that the information required by the DIS could have been obtained by a simple request to DCEC Director General. “What the DIS did was to seek to intimidate officers of the DCEC whom they knew were carrying out investigations against some of the DIS officers who were part of their investigation team. This turn of events has a chilling effect not only on the functioning of the DCEC but also on the official conduct of officers of the DCEC as to how they conduct their official duties.”
They concluded by stating that in the event the request is granted, they would further request to be advised as to the provision of legal representation as the unalwful detention and the degrading and inhuman treatment by the DIS was in relation to matters conducted by and on behalf of the DCEC.