The Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) has shockingly returned close to P1billion budgeted for vacant government post to consolidated Fund, despite the high unemployment rate in the country, Public Accounts Committee (PAC) heard this week.
Appearing before the committee, DPSM Director, Naledi Mosalakatane who reported for duty on Monday, was without answers for the probing PAC members. Mosalakatane is among a group of senior civil servants who were appointed to top posts recently following the ascendance of President Mokgweetsi Masisi to the throne. PAC was informed that the DPSM which is responsible for hiring civil servants has in the past financial year returned P900 million back to government.
The monies were budgeted for filling vacancies across ministries as unemployment has proven to be a hot potato Botswana. It was shared with the inquisitive PAC members that government has over 7000 vacancies which need to be filled. However it has been revealed that these posts could not be filled owing to the bureaucracy and the centralised DPSM hiring procedure. “Different council and ministries want to hire on their own but it is not possible because we have a system that we use as the DPSM. So that is why the whole process has stalled,” Mosalakatane said.
The DPSM has in recent years been criticised for failing to absorb employees even at entry level, positions which are not as complicated as other advanced postings. This publication has learnt that Government departments are advocating for a more decentralised system so that they can give employees who have been given short contracts permanent employment.There are some who have been given six months contracts, interns and others who the ministries considered as they have institutional memory and therefore can perform to the expectations.
The DPSM on the other hand is using the graduate register for their hiring process. The list as of current is still considering the 2010 graduates leaving the current ones who are having ‘piece jobs’ at their respective ministries with nothing. WeekendPost has established that most of the vacancies that need to be filled are at councils and within the disciplined forces.
SHORTAGE OF PERSONNEL AFFECTS SERVICE DELIVERY
Earlier this year, the then Minister of Basic Education told this publication that employing teachers on temporary arrangement is affecting school performances. She noted that this is not because teachers who are hired on temporary basis are less qualified but because they do not have security of tenure.
“I know some of them are great teachers, but if they do not have security of tenure, it affects their productivity. I would have happier teachers and secure teachers if they were not temporary,” she stated.â€¨â€¨Dow has said this however was beyond her as minister, even if she would have loved to employ more teachers on permanent basisâ€¨â€¨“Unless the system [DPSM system] creates vacancies we cannot hire anybody on permanent and pensionable basis, only temporary,” she said. According to Dow, Ministry of Basic Education needs more than 3000 teachers in public schools to deal with the shortage. The teaching service currently has 26 000 teachers employed on permanent basis.
When Masisi was appointed Vice President, one of his tasks was to champion job creation agenda for government. However, since then, there has never been a point where government has managed to create a good number of jobs. In fact, over the past four years, government has seen scores of citizens losing their jobs, the most devastating one being the closure of BCL mine in 2016, which resulted in over 5000 employees directly losing their jobs.
Masisi has been termed “jobs president” for his promise to create jobs during his tenure. However, Masisi has indicated that his idea of job creation is the one which is led by the private sector while government takes the role of an enabler. In any case, Masisi has revealed that he does not intend to grow the public service.
Immediately after assuming the presidency, Masisi told international media of his intention to shrink the civil service, sell state companies and cut red tape as he targets increased foreign investment. According to Bloomberg, Masisi has identified reducing Botswana’s reliance on diamonds and creating jobs for the almost one in five workers who are unemployed as his top priorities since taking office six weeks ago.
“The government in and of itself does not really create jobs,” Masisi said. “It is not my desire to grow the public service any bigger, if anything it is my desire to trim the civil service so we are more efficient, we are leaner, meaner, and we can do business and we are more attractive to the private sector for them to invest,” Masisi said.
Former Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Member of Parliament for Gaborone North, Haskins Nkaigwa has confirmed his departure from opposition fold to re-join the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).
Nkaigwa said opposition is extremely divided and the leadership not in talking terms. “They are planning evil against each other. Nothing much will be achieved,” Nkaigwa told WeekendPost.
“I believe my time in the opposition has come to an end. It’s time to be of value to rebuilding our nation and economy of the country. Remember the BDP is where I started my political journey. It is home,” he said.
“Despite all challenges currently facing the world, President Masisi will be far with his promises to Batswana. A leader always have the interest of the people at heart despite how some decisions may look to be unpopular with the people.
“I have faith and full confidence in President Dr Masisi leadership. We shall overcome as party and nation the current challenges bedevilling nations. BDP will emerge stronger. President Masisi will always have my backing.”
Nkaigwa served as opposition legislator between 2014-2019 representing Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) under UDC banner. He joined BMD in 2011 at the height public servant strike whilst Gaborone City Deputy Mayor. He eventually rose to become the mayor same year, after BDP lost majority in the GCC.
Nkaigwa had been a member of Botswana National Front (BNF), having joined from Alliance for Progressives (AP) in 2019.
Botswana has received assistance worth over P100 million from Japanese government since 2019, making the latter of the largest donors to Botswana in recent years.
The assistance include relatively large-scale grant aid programmes such as the COVID-19 programme (to provide medical equipment; P34 million), the digital terrestrial television programme (to distribute receivers to the underprivileged, P17 million), the agriculture promotion programme (to provide agricultural machinery and equipment, P53million).
“As 2020 was a particularly difficult year, where COVID-19 hit Botswana’s economy and society hard, Japan felt the need to assist Botswana as our friend,” said Japan’s new Ambassador to Botswana, Hoshiyama Takashi.
“It is for this reason that grants of over P100 million were awarded to Botswana for the above mentioned projects.”
Japan is now the world’s fourth highest ranking donor country in terms of Official Development Assistance (ODA).
From 1991 to 2000, Japan continued as the top donor country in the world and contributed to Asia’s miracle economic development.
From 1993 onwards, the TICAD process commenced through Japan’s initiative as stated earlier. Japan’s main contribution has been in the form of Yen Loans, which are at a concessional rate, to suit large scale infrastructure construction.
“In Botswana, only a few projects have been implemented using the Yen Loan such as the Morupule “A” Power Station Rehabilitation and Pollution Abatement in 1986, the Railway Rolling Stock Increase Project in 1987, the Trans-Kalahari Road Construction Project in 1991, the North-South Carrier Water Project in 1995 and the Kazungula Bridge Construction Project in 2012,” said Ambassador Hoshiyama.
“In terms of grant aid and technical assistance, Japan has various aid schemes including development survey and master planning, expert dispatch to recipient countries, expert training in Japan, scholarships, small scale grass-roots program, culture-related assistance, aid through international organizations and so on.”
In 1993, Japan launched Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) to promote Africa’s development, peace and security, through the strengthening of relations in multilateral cooperation and partnership.
TICAD discuss development issues across Africa and, at the same time, present “aid menus” to African countries provided by Japan and the main aid-related international organizations, United Nations (UN), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Bank.
“As TICAD provides vision and guidance, it is up to each African country to take ownership and to implement her own development following TICAD polices and make use of the programmes shown in the aid menus,” Ambassordor Hoshiyama noted.
“This would include using ODA loans for quality infrastructure, suited to the country’s own nation-building needs. It is my fervent hope that Botswana will take full advantage of the TICAD process.”
Since then, seven conferences where held, the latest, TICAD 7 being in 2019 at Yokohama. TICAD 7’s agenda on African development focused on three pillars, among them the first pillar being “Accelerating economic transformation and improving business environment through innovation and private sector engagement”.
“Yes, private investment is very important, while public investment through ODA (Official Development Assistance) still plays an indispensable role in development,” the Japanese Ambassador said.
“For further economic development in Africa, Japan recognizes that strengthening regional connectivity and integration through investment in quality infrastructure is key.”
Japan has emphasized the following; effective implementation of economic corridors such as the East Africa Northern Corridor, Nacala Corridor and West Africa Growth Ring; Quality infrastructure investment in line with the G20 Principles for Quality Infrastructure Investment should be promoted by co-financing or cooperation through the African Development Bank (AfDB) and Japan.
Japan also emphasized the establishment of mechanisms to encourage private investment and to improve the business environment.
According to the statistics issued by Japan’s Finance Ministry, Japan invested approximately 10 billion US dollars in Africa after TICAD 7 (2019) to year end 2020, but Japanese investment through third countries are not included in this figure.
“With the other points factored in, the figure isn’t established yet,” Ambassador Hoshiyama said.
The next conference, TICAD 8 will be held in Tunisia in 2022. This will be the second TICAD summit to be held on the African continent after TICAD 6 which was held in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2016.
According to Ambassador Hoshiyama, in preparation for TICAD 8, the TICAD ministerial meeting will be held in Tokyo this year. The agenda to be discussed during TICAD 8 has not yet been fully deliberated on amongst TICAD Co-organizers (Japan, UN, UNDP, the World Bank and AU).
“Though not officially concluded, given the world situation caused by COVID-19, I believe that TICAD 8 will highlight health and medical issues including the promotion of a Universal Health Coverage (UHC),” said Hoshiyama.
“As the African economy has seriously taken a knock by COVID-19, economic issues, including debt, could be an item for serious discussion.”
The promotion of business is expected to be one of the most important topics. Japan and its partners, together with the business sector, will work closely to help revitalize private investment in Africa.
“All in all, the follow-up of the various programs that were committed by the Co-Organizers during the Yokohama Plan of Actions 2019 will also be reviewed as an important item of the agenda,” Ambassador Hoshiyama said.
“I believe that this TICAD follow-up mechanism has secured transparency and accountability as well as effective implementation of agreed actions by all parties. The guiding principle of TICAD is African ownership and international partnership.”
Directorate on Intelligence Services (DIS) Director General, Brigadier Peter Magosi is said to be hell-bent and pushing President Mokgweetsi Masisi to reshuffle his cabinet as a matter of urgency since a number of his ministers are conflicted.
The request by Magosi comes at a time when time is ticking on his contract which is awaiting renewal from Masisi.
This publication learns that Magosi is unshaken by the development and continues to wield power despite uncertainty hovering around his contractual renewal.