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Masisi might be another version of Khama UB academic

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. 

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.

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African countries call on WHO to increase funding

2nd February 2023

Minister of Health Dr Edwin Dikoloti says Africa member states call on World Health Organization (WHO) to ensure equitable resource allocation for 2024-2025. Dr Dikoloti was speaking this week at the WHO Executive Board Meeting in Geneva, Switzerland.

He said countries agreed that there is need to address the budget and funding imbalances by increasing the programme budget share of countries and regions to 75% for the next year.

“The proposed budget for 2024-2025 marks an important milestone as it is the first in Programme Budget in which country offices will be allocated more than half of the total budget for the biennium. We highly welcome this approach which will enable the organization to deliver on its mandate while fulfilling the expectations for transparency, efficiency and accountability.”

The Botswana Health Minister commended member states on the extension of the General Programme of Work (GPD 13) and the Secretariat work to monitor the progress towards the triple billion targets, and the health-related SDGs.

“We welcome the Director’s general proposed five priorities which have crystalized into the “five Ps” that are aligned with the GPW 13 extension. Impact can only be achieved through close coordination with, and support to national health authorities. As such, the strengthening of country offices is instrumental, with particular focus on strengthening national health systems and on promoting more equitable access to health services.”

According to Dr Dikoloti, the majority of countries with UHC index that is below the global median are in the WHO Africa region. “For that, we call on the WHO to enhance capacity at the regional and national levels in order to accelerate progress. Currently, the regional office needs both technical and financial support in order to effectively address and support country needs.”

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Botswana still weighing in on Maseko’s assassination

27th January 2023

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Lemogang Kwape says Botswana has not taken any position regarding the killing of a renowned human rights lawyer, Thulani Maseko, who was gunned down at his house in Mbabane, Eswatini.

In a brief interview with WeekendPost, Dr Kwape said Botswana has not yet taken any position regarding his death. He said the purported incident should be thoroughly probed before Botswana can form an opinion based on the findings of the inquiries.

“Botswana generally condemns any killing of human life by all means,” says Dr. Kwape. He wouldn’t want to be dragged on whether Botswana will support the suspension of Eswatini from SADC.

“We will be guided by SADC organ Troika if they can be an emergency meeting. I am not sure when the meeting will be called by Namibian president,“ he said.

However, the Namibian president Hage Geingob notes with deep concern reports coming out of Eswatini about the killing of Mr. Maseko. In a statement, he called upon the “Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini to ensure that the killing of Maseko is swiftly, transparently and comprehensively investigated, and that any or all persons suspected of committing this heinous crime are brought to justice.”

Maseko was chairperson of the Multi-Stakeholder Forum which was established as a coalition of non-State actors to advocate for a process of national political dialogue aimed at resolving the security and political challenges confronting the Kingdom.

“SADC expresses its deepest and heartfelt condolences to the family of Mr. Maseko, his friends, colleagues, and to the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini for the loss of Mr. Maseko. In this context, SADC further calls upon the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini to remain calm, exercise due care and consideration whilst the appropriate structures conduct the investigations and bring the matter to completion,” the statement says.

Geingob reiterated the need for peaceful resolution of the political and security challenges affecting the country.

Meanwhile political activists are calling on SADC to suspend Eswatini from the block including the African Union as well.

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Kopong Murder: Accused interferes with witnesses again!

27th January 2023

State prosecutor, Seeletso Ookeditse revealed before the Broadhurst Magistrate Jobbie Moilatshimo that the third accused involved in the murder of Barulaganye Aston, has interfered with the State witnesses again.

The second and third accused (Lefty Kosie and Outlwile Aston) were previously accused of interference when they were caught in possession of cellphones in prison. They were further accused of planning to kill the deceased’s brother, who is currently the guardian to the children of the deceased.

Ookeditse indicated that Outlwile had earlier went to challenge the magistrate’s decision of denying him bail at the High Court before Judge Michael Motlhabi.

“The third accused approached the High Court and made a bail application, which was dismissed on the same day,” Ookeditse said.

However, even after the High Court verdict on their bail application, the duo (Kosie and Aston) has once again applied for bail this week.

Ookeditse plead with the court to stop the accused from abusing the court process.

“Yesterday, Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) received papers of his bail application filed before the Broadhurst Magistrates Court. However, the papers do not speak to changed circumstances, therefore this back and forth about bail must be put to a stop,” said the State prosecutor.

While giving evidence before court, the Investigations Officer, Detective Inspector Quite Zhalamonto, said his investigations have proved that there is interference continuing regarding the accused trio.

He told the court that on the 12th of January 2023, he received a report from Thato Aston, who is the son of the accused and the deceased. The son had alleged to the Investigation Officer that he received a call from one Phillip Molwantwa.

According to Zhalamonto, Thato revealed that Molwatwa indicated that he was from prison on a visit to the Outlwile Aston and went on to ask where he was staying and where his siblings (Aston’s children) are staying.

“Thato revealed that Phillip went on to ask if he or his siblings saw their father murdering their mother, and he was referring to the crime scene. Thato told me that he, however, refused to answer the questions as he was afraid especially because he was asked about where him and his siblings stay,” said Zhalamonto.

Zhalamonto alluded to the court that he then went to Orange to confirm the communication between Thato and Molwantwa where he found the case.

“I have arrested Philip yesterday and when I interviewed him, he did not deny that he knows Aston and that he has indeed called Thato and asked questions as to where him and his siblings resides even though he failed to give reasons for asking such questions,” Zhalamonto told the court.

He further revealed that Molwantwa indicated that he had received a call from an unknown man who refused to reveal himself.

“Phillip told me that the unknown man said he was sent by the accused (Aston), and that Aston had instructed him to tell me to check if there was still some money in his bank accounts, and he also wanted to know where the kids were residing, the unknown man even asked him to meet at Main Mall” the Investigation Officer told the court.

He further informed the court that he is working tirelessly to identify the “unknown caller” and the route of the cell number.

Furthermore, the fourth accused, Kebaleboge Ntsebe, has revealed to the court through a letter that she was abused and tortured by the Botswana Police Services. She wrote in her letter that she suffered miscarriage as a result of being beaten by the police.

Ntsebe is on bail, while a bail ruling for Aston and Kosie will be delivered on the 6th of next month

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