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Classified Pemandu report exposes Botswana Public Service

A confidential report by a Malaysian private consultancy firm, Performance Management and Delivery Unit (PEMANDU) Associates, that was engaged by Botswana government through the Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) has revealed a damning state of affairs in the country’s Civil Service.

Curiously, the report has been ready for long but kept in the shelves by the Botswana government, making it out of reach and touch for the critical stakeholders including the trade unions and the public. The report essentially provides the progress and status update on Pemandu Associate’s activity in Botswana from December 2017 up to September 2018 in which their main aim, which they executed, was to conduct preliminary assessments on the areas of remuneration management system.

In the classified report they unearthed that generally the Botswana Public service performance management is not functioning efficiently as it was supposed to be. According to the report, titled, “remuneration system project report for grades A to D,” there are issues on the complexity of performance appraisal form and biased session between employee and employer.  It further reveals that “the Botswana Public Service today does not have a comprehensive remuneration structure and does not follow best practices.”

Some of the flaws in the system, it posits, is that the current Botswana public service remuneration follows a traditional model made up of grades and notches or steps within grades; and a new employee will start at the bottom notch of the grade as there is no flexibility to take into account special skills and experience. It states that the employee will move up from one notch to another based on promotion and that the notches remain steep, meaning an employee will reach the ceiling of the particular grade quickly.

“The salary for one grade does not overlap with another. This means that on reaching the ceiling (the top most notch of the salary grade), the employee must be promoted to another grade in order to advance in salary. In addition the current design does not have a fixed salary range – it is merely a series of notches within a particular grade and no fixed ceiling and floor levels. This has serious implications in terms of the salary structure in equilibrium.”

To illustrate this, the report gives an example of an employee (A) who may start at the lowest notch of a grade at P20 000 and another employee (B) at the highest notch earns P100 000 adding that the range between the lowest and the highest salary point is then therefore P80000. “Assuming there is a salary increment of 5 percent. Employee at the bottom will now earn P21000 whilst employee B will earn P105000. The gap between the two salary points increases from P80000 to P84000. With another 5 percent adjustment, the gap widens to P88200,” it highlights.

According to the top secret report, this means the structure will slide with each salary adjustment and the gap will grow exponentially as well. It points out that this design is not sustainable in terms of managing the salary bill, keeping equity and maintaining employee morale as the salary pyramid grows steeper with each salary adjustment. It further revealed that the existing salary structure does not follow the norm in terms of range and notches; it’s complex and difficult to manage.

“The salary rates are below market rates and is thus not competitive in terms of attracting and retaining talent and the required professional skills for the country to become a high performing public service sector,” the report compiled by the engaged Malaysians highlights. The Pemandu Associates report also discloses that the structure contains many legacy issues which arose as a means of circumventing the current shortfalls in the system and that there is no review process to sustain a motivated workforce and productivity.

The current salary is a sliding structure, reports states adding that the minimum and maximum salaries (ranges) are not locked and will change according to any inflationary adjustments declared by the leadership. The range (maximum and minimum) within each grade from grade C to grade E is narrow. Hence over time, this would create a bulge of employees who are stagnated at the top of the scale. This was observed particularly for grade E1 where 63 percent of the employees are stagnated at ceiling.

Many of those who have reached the salary ceiling would remain there for a long time as the number of positions at the next level is usually less and consequently, the number of vacancies is much lesser. In the case of grade E1, report states that 36 percent of the employees at the ceiling have remained status quo for more than 5 years – in fact, all 63 percent of them at the ceiling of grade E1 will not be promoted to grade F1 as there are no vacancies in grade F1. “This is demotivating for current employees and a deterrent for the recruitment of much needed talent for the public service.”

In some Ministries, it states the percentage of employees who are stagnated at the top of their scale has reached a dire situation and that the ministry of Basic Education has 82.7 percent of their employees stuck at the ceiling in grade C1 and 42.8percent at grade D1 while stressing “this has an adverse on productivity.” Considering cadres such as doctors and teachers, the government report posits that the remuneration system is not flexible enough to recognise skills.


 As an illustration, it explains that a doctor who joins the public service has a starting basic salary of P187 716 and a scarcity allowance of 40percent of the basic salary to supplement the shortfall in attracting the profession to the public service. It recommends that if the remuneration system is sufficiently robust and flexible, the doctor should be offered a starting salary of P262802 without the need to act as a ‘bandage.’

The same is true for teachers, the shelved report asserts adding that Science and Mathematics teachers join the public service at grade C4 with a starting salary of P73416, supplemented by a 40percent scarcity allowance that makes the total remuneration P102782. “The scarcity allowance albeit a necessity distorts the remuneration structure and makes it difficult to manage the total remuneration.” This comes in light of remuneration system issues which were raised including concern of among others, scarce allowances issues being distributed “unequally” in Botswana.

The current salary plus allowance lags behind the private sector and that it is not competitive and is a concern especially at the leadership level, it stresses. Moreover, the report acknowledges that the government of Botswana has laid out a bold and compelling vision of what the future of the country would look like in Vision 2036, which is, transforming from an upper middle-income nation to a high-income nation.

It adds that “the critical successes factor in arriving at a high-income nation status will be a high performing public service sector that will move the many levers for socio and economic development.” Creating and sustaining a high performing public service sector, it emphasises that will depend to a larger part on having a remuneration framework that will enable the government to attract, retain, and motivate public service employees.

The report further cites a study by the University of Warwick, United Kingdom which showed that productivity increased between 12percent and 20percent if an employee was happy and that in another article, it was noted while money is not the only motivator and it is not the primary motivator for everyone, it is an important motivator for most people in the workplace including the public servants in Botswana.

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Civil Service volatility: Democracy vs Bureaucracy

19th April 2021
President Masisi

Here is how one Permanent Secretary encapsulates the clear tension between democracy and bureaucracy in Botswana: “President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s Government is behaving like a state surrounded with armed forces in order to capture it or force its surrender. The situation has turned so volatile, for tomorrow is not guaranteed for us top civil servants.

These are the painful results of a personalized civil service in our view as permanent secretaries”. Although his deduction of the situation may be summed as sour grapes because he is one of the ‘victims’ of the reshuffle, he is convinced this is a perfect description of the rationale behind frequent changes and transfers characterising the current civil service.

The result of it all, he said, is that “there is too much instability at managerial and strategic levels of the civil service leading to a noticeable directionless civil service.” He continued: “Changes and transfers are inevitable in the civil service, but to a permissible scale and frequency. Think of soccer team coach who changes and transfers his entire squad every month; you know the consequences?”

The Tsunami has hit hard at critical departments and Ministries leaving a strong wave of uncertainty, many demoralised and some jobless. In traditional approaches to public administration, democracy gives the goals; and bureaucracy delivers the technical efficiency required for implementation. But the recent moves in the civil service are indicative of conflicting imperatives – the notion of separation between politicians and administrators is becoming blurred by the day.

“Look at what happened to Prisons and BDF where second in command were overlooked for outsiders, and these are the people who had sacrificially served for donkey’s years hoping for a seat at the ladder’s end. The frequency of the changes, at times affecting the same Ministry or individual also demonstrates some level of ineptitude, clumsiness and lack of foresight from those in charge,” remarked the PS who added that their view is that the transfers are not related to anything but “settling scores, creating corruption opportunities and pushing out perceived dissident and former president, Ian Khama’s alleged loyalists and most of these transfers are said to be products of intelligence detection.”

Partly blaming Khama for the mess and his unwillingness to let go, the PS dismissed Masisi for falling to the trap and failing to outgrow the destructive tiff. “Khama is here to stay and the sooner Masisi comes to terms with the fact that he (Masisi) is the state President, the better. For a President to still be making these changes and transfers signals signs of a confused man who has not yet started rolling his roadmap, if at all it was ever there. I am saying this because any roadmap comes with key players and policies,” he concluded.

The Ministry of Health and Wellness seems to be the most hard-hit by the transfers, having experienced three Permanent Secretaries changes within a year and a half. Insiders say the changes have everything to do with the Ministry being the centre of COVID-19 tenders and economic opportunities. “The buck stops with the PS and no right-thinking PS can just allow glaring corruption under his watch as an accounting officer. Technocrats are generally law abiding, the pressure comes with politically appointed leaders racing against political terms to loot,” revealed a director in the Ministry preferring anonymity.

The latest transfer of Kabelo Ebineng she says was also motivated by his firm attitude against the President’s blue-eyed Task Team boys. “The Task Team wants to own the COVID-19 pandemic and government interventions and always cry foul when the Ministry reasserts itself as mandated by law,” said the director who added that Masisi who was always caught between the crossfire decided on sacrificing Ebineng to the joy of his team as they (Task Team) were in the habit of threatening to resign citing Ebineng as the problem.

Ebineng joins the Office of the President as a deputy Coordinator (government implementation and coordination office).The incoming PS is the soft-spoken Grace Muzila, known and described by her close associates as a conformist albeit knowledgeable.

One of the losers in the grand scheme is Thato Raphaka who many had seen as the next PSP because of his experience and calm demeanour following a declaration of interest in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Secretary post by the current PSP, Elias Magosi.

But hardly ten months into his post, Raphaka has been transferred out to the National Strategy Office in what many see as a demotion of some sort. Other notable changes coming into OP are Pearl Ramokoka formerly with the Employment, Labour and Productivity Ministry coming in as a Permanent Secretary and Kgomotso Abi as director of Public Service Reforms.

One of the ousted senior officers in the Office of the President warned that there are no signs that the changes and transfers will stop anytime soon: “If you are observant you would have long noticed that the changes don’t only affect senior officers but government decisions as well. A decision is made today and the government backtracks on it within a week. Not only that, the President says this today, and his deputy denies it the following day in Parliament,” he warned.

Some observers have blamed the turmoil in the civil service partly to lack of accountable presidential advisers or kitchen cabinet properly schooled on matters of statecraft. They point out that politicians or those peripheral to them should refrain from hampering the technical and organizational activities of public managers – or else the party (reshuffling) won’t stop.

In the view expressed by some Permanent Secretaries, Elias Magosi, has not really been himself since joining the civil service; and has cut a picture of indifference in most critical engagements; the most notable been a permanent secretaries platform which he chairs. As things stand there is need to reconcile the imperatives of democracy and democracy in Botswana. Peace will rein only when public value should stand astride the fault that runs between politicians and public managers.

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Morupisi fights for freedom in court

19th April 2021
morupisi

Former Permanent Secretary to the President, Carter Morupisi, is fighting for survival in a matter in which the State has charged him and his wife, Pinnie Morupisi, with corruption and money laundering.

Morupisi has joined a list of prominent figures that served in the previous administration and who have been accused of corruption during their tenure in office. While others have been emerging victorious, Morupisi is yet to find that luck. The High Court recently dismissed his no case to answer application.

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Pressure mounts on Biden to suspend Covid-19 vaccine patents

19th April 2021
Joe Biden

United States President, Joe Biden, is faced with a decision to make relating to the Covid-19 vaccine intellectual property after 175 former world leaders and Nobel laurates joined the campaign urging the US to take “urgent action” to suspend intellectual property rights for Covid-19 vaccines to help boost global inoculation rates.

According to the world leaders, doing so would allow developing countries to make their own copies of the vaccines that have been developed by pharmaceutical companies without fear of being sued for intellectual property infringements.

“A WTO waiver is a vital and necessary step to bringing an end to this pandemic. It must be combined with ensuring vaccine know-how and technology is shared openly,” the signatories, comprising more than 100 Nobel prize-winners and over 70 former world leaders, wrote in a letter to US President Joe Biden, according to Financial Times.

A measure to allow countries to temporarily override patent rights for Covid related medical products was proposed at the World Trade Organization by India and South Africa in October, and has since been backed by nearly 60 countries.

Former leaders who signed the letter included Gordon Brown, former UK Prime Minister; François Hollande, former French President; Mikhail Gorbachev, former President of the USSR; and Yves Leterme, former Belgian Prime Minister.

In their official communication, South Africa and India said: “As new diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines for Covid-19 are developed, there are significant concerns [about] how these will be made available promptly, in sufficient quantities and at affordable prices to meet global demand.”

While developed countries have been able to secure enough vaccine to inoculate their citizens, developing countries such as Botswana are struggling to source enough to swiftly vaccine their citizens, something which world leaders believe it would work against global recovery therefore proving counter-productive.

Since the availability of vaccines, Botswana has been able to secure only 60 000 doses of vaccines, 30 000 as donation as from the Indian government, while the other 30 000 was sourced through COVAX facility.  Canada, has pre-ordered vaccines in surplus and it will be able to vaccinate each of its citizens six times over. In the UK and US, it is four vaccines per person; and two each in the EU and Australia.

For vaccines produced in Europe, developing countries are forced to pay double what European countries are paying, making it more expensive for already financially struggling economies.  European countries however justify the price of vaccines and that they deserve to buy them cheap since they contributed in their development.

It is evident that vaccines cannot be made available immediately to all countries worldwide with wealthy economies being the only success story in that regard, something that has been referred to as a “catastrophic moral failure”, head of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

The challenge facing developing countries is not only the price, but also the capacity of vaccine manufactures to be able to do so to meet global demand within a short time. The proposal for a patent waiver by India and South Africa has been rejected by developed countries, known for hosting the world leading pharmaceutical companies such US, European Union, the United Kingdom, and Switzerland.

According to the Financial Times, US business groups including pharmaceutical industry representatives, have urged Biden to resist supporting a waiver to IP rules at the WTO, arguing that the proposal led by India and South Africa was too “vague” and “broad”.

The individuals who signed the letter, including Nobel laureates in economics as well as from across the arts and sciences, warned that inequitable vaccine access would impact the global economy and prevent it from recovering.

“The world saw unprecedented development of safe and effective vaccines, in major part thanks to US public investment,” the group wrote. “We all welcome that vaccination rollout in the US and many wealthier countries is bringing hope to their citizens.”

“Yet for the majority of the world that same hope is yet to be seen. New waves of suffering are now rising across the globe. Our global economy cannot rebuild if it remains vulnerable to this virus.”
The group warned that fully enforcing IP was “self-defeating for the US” as it hindered global vaccination efforts. “Given artificial global supply shortages, the US economy already risks losing $1.3tn in gross domestic product this year.”

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