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DPSM sat on P1billion budgeted for jobs

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.

Dow has said this however was beyond her as minister, even if she would have loved to employ more teachers on permanent basis

“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.

JOBS PRESIDENT

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. 

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DPP halts JSC, Judge’s back to work plan

25th January 2021
Kebonang

The Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP)’s decision to reject and appeal the High Court’s verdict on a case involving High Court Judge, Dr Zein Kebonang has frustrated the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and Judge Kebonang’s back to work discussions.

JSC and Kebonang have been in constant discussions over the latter’s return to work following a ruling by a High Court panel of judges clearing him of any wrong doing in the National Petroleum Fund criminal case filed by the DPP. However the finalization of the matter has been hanged on whether the DPP will appeal the matter or not – the prosecution body has since appealed.

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BDP rejects Saleshando payment proposal

25th January 2021
MP saleshando

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) top brass has declined a request by Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) to negotiate the legal fees occasioned by 2019 general elections petition in which the latter disputed in court the outcome of the elections.

This publication is made aware that UDC Vice President Dumelang Saleshando was left with an egg on his face after the BDP big wigs, comprising of party Chairman Slumber Tsogwane and Secretary General Mpho Balopi rejected his plea.

“He was told that this is a legal matter and therefore their (UDC) lawyer should engage ours (BDP) for negotiations because it is way far from our jurisdiction,” BDP Head of Communications, Kagelelo Kentse, told this publication.

This spelt doom for the main opposition party and Saleshando who seems not to have confidence and that the UDC lawyers have the dexterity to negotiate these kind of matters. It is not clear whether Saleshando requested UDC lawyer Boingotlo Toteng to sit at the table with Bogopa Manewe, Tobedza and Co, who are representing the BDP to strike a deal as per the BDP top echelons suggested.

“From my understanding, the matter is dealt with politically as the two parties are negotiating how to resolve it, but by far nothing has come to me on the matter. So I believe they are still substantively engaging each other,” Toteng said briefly in an interview on Thursday.

UDC petitioners saddled with costs after mounting an unprecedented legal suit before the court to try and overturn BDP’s October 2019 victory. The participants in the legal matter involves 15 parliamentary candidates’ and nine councillors. The UDC petitioned the court and contested the outcome of the elections citing “irregularities in some of the constituencies”.

In a brief ruling in January 2020, Judge President Ian Kirby on behalf of a five-member panel said: “We have no jurisdiction to entertain these appeals. These appeals must be struck out each with costs including costs of counsel”. This was a second blow to the UDC in about a month after their 2019 appeals were dismissed by the High Court a day before Christmas Day.

This week BDP attorneys decided to attach UDC petitioners’ property in a bid to settle the debts. UDC President Duma Boko is among those that will see their property being attached with 14 of his party members. “We have attached some and we are on course. So far, Dr. Mpho Pheko (who contested Gaborone Central) and that of Dr, Micus Chimbombi (who contested Kgalagadi South) will have their assets being sold on the 5th of February 2021,” BDP attorney Basimane Bogopa said.

Asked whether they met with UDC lawyers to try solve the matter, Bogopa said no and added. “Remember we are trying to raise the client’s funds, so after these two others will follow. Right now we are just prioritising those from Court of Appeal, as soon as the high court is done with taxation we will attach.”

Saleshando, when contacted about the outcomes of the meeting with the BDP, told WeekendPost that: “It would not be proper and procedural for me to tell you about the meeting outcomes before I share with UDC National Executive Committee (NEC), so I will have to brief them first.”

UDC NEC will meet on the 20th of next month to deal with a number of thorny issues including settling the legal fees. Negotiations with other opposition parties- Alliance for Progressives and Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) are also on the agenda.

Currently, UDC has raised P44 238 of the P565 000 needed to cover bills from the Court of Appeal (CoA). This is the amount in a UDC trust account which is paltry funds equating 7.8 per cent of the overall required money. In the past despite the petitioners maintaining that there was promise to assist them to settle legal fees, UDC Spokesperson, Moeti Mohwasa then said the party has never agreed in no way to help them.

“We have just been put in debt by someone,” one of the petitioners told this publication in the past. “President’s (Duma Boko) message was clear at the beginning that money has been sourced somewhere to help with the whole process but now we are here there is nothing and we are just running around trying to make ends meet and pay,” added the petitioner in an interview
UDC NEC has in December last year directed all the 57 constituencies to each raise a minimum of P10, 000. The funds will be used to settle debts that are currently engulfing the petitioners with Sheriffs, who are already hovering around ready to attach their assets.

The petitioners, despite the party intervention, have every right to worry. “This is so because ‘the deadline for this initiative (P10, 000 per constituency) is the end of the first quarter of this year (2021),” a period in which the sheriffs would have long auctioned the properties.

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Boko-Khama axis viewed with suspicion

25th January 2021
boko-and-khama

President of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Duma Boko’s alliance with former President Lt Gen Ian Khama continues to unsettle some quarters within the opposition collective, who believe the duo, if not managed, will once again result in an unsuccessful bid for government in 2024.

While Khama has denied that he has undeclared preference to have Boko remaining as leader of UDC, many believe that the two have a common programme, while other opposition leaders remain on the side-lines.

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