Leader of the Opposition, Advocate Duma Boko this week challenged President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s refusal to appoint former Director General of the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS), Isaac Kgosi, as former President Lt Gen Ian Khama’s Private Secretary, a reason which he said among others qualifies parliament to move a motion of no confidence against Masisi and his government.
In a shock development, Boko spoke on the side of ex-president Khama and Kgosi, a few months after declaring that he will take the latter to court and have him prosecuted for his involvement in the National Petroleum Fund (NPF) scandal. The motion of confidence failed after 35 legislators voted against it, while only 11 supported the motion and three abstained.
When presenting the motion, Boko argued that there is a serious uncertainty and anxiety in the security sector as certain personnel in that sector seem singled out and targeted for termination or removal without being afforded proper and fair hearing. “This poses an imminent and present danger to the security of the country,” argued Boko. “This is a matter of a grave nature and of utmost public importance is patently clear and that it must therefore admit the most swift and urgent attention by this parliament is required in order to give certainty to the citizenry.”
Boko also expressed detestation of Masisi’s decision to bring back officer who were fired by Khama back into the civil service to replace those who are associated with Khama’s administration. A month after assuming office, Masisi expelled the controversial DIS director from office, replacing him with Khama’s foe, Brigadier Peter Magosi. Brig Magosi had been removed from office while serving in the BDF by then president, Khama under cloudy circumstances.
Although Masisi’s decision was hailed as a good move, by among others leader of the Botswana Congress Party (BCP), the decision was considered a poke in the eye of the former president. Masisi recently refused to re-appoint Kgosi back into the civil service following a request by his predecessor. Khama had submitted Kgosi’s name to Masisi for consideration as his Private Secretary following the retirement of Brigadier George Tlhalerwa.
Boko indicated that Kgosi had since sought legal opinion from his office, a revelation that was startling. Despite Boko having initiated a motion that expresses his sympathy for Khama and his lieutenants, a few days after Masisi’s appointment, the leader of the opposition expressed that Masisi will be a better president than his predecessor.
“Masisi will be much slightly better than Khama, at least at the level of engagement and being able to talk and listening to each other, and respecting certain protocols. For example appreciating that the LOO does not imply writing him (LOO) telling him what to do but consulting him and engaging with him robustly,” the UDC leader told WeekendPost in April.
Boko contended in his motion of no confidence against Masisi that the latter has since assumption of office, in his approach to national issues as well as key appointment into the public service, excluded certain competent, and qualified individuals ostensibly on the basis of their regional and ethnic origins. “The recent appointments of Chief Justice as well as the appointment of the Director of Intelligence and his Deputy are cases in point,” contended Boko.“In the case of the latter two, the current President has appointed individuals who were facing certain accusations or allegations of impropriety on the basis of which the former President of Botswana had taken decisions to retire or remove them from public office.”
BDP RESPONSE TO MOTION OF NO CONFIDENCE
There are reports indicating that there are scores of MPs who are not happy with Masisi’s leadership. This has been expressed in different ways, something which Masisi is aware of. This week, while addressing members of the press, Masisi conceded that there is a talk of a potential challenger to his throne during next year’s special congress, convened specifically for the purpose of electing party president during the election year.
Prior to the press conference, Masisi had presided over a joint meeting between his cabinet as well as backbenchers. The purpose of the meeting was to gauge the mood, solicit for support as well as to engage the MPs and hear their concerns. Information known by this publication indicates that Masisi’s rule is not yet safe and he still has more to do to consolidate his power. “I have asked them if they were [challenging him] and they said they were not. Do not think I asked like a novice; am a politician and asked knowing with full knowledge of what he is going on,” he said.
Masisi said that in the event that one democrat wants to challenge him, there are free to do so as per the constitution. Masisi also expressed his readiness for such eventuality, even though he is convinced that what seems to be party tradition will obtain at the end of the day. No sitting BDP president has ever been challenged since independence, something which has helped to maintain unity and continuity for the ruling party.
BDP MPs ACCUSSE BOKO OF BEING A HIRED GUN
Meanwhile in parliament, Boko’s motion was rejected, as BDP legislators rallied in favour of Masisi. The debate also expressed how many in the BDP feel about the relationship between Khama led administration against that of Masisi. “I suspect the mover [Boko] is a hired gun that came to this house under the disguise of moving a motion of national importance while he is being fuelled to come to this house and rubble rouse for certain people,” said Assistant Minister of Tertiary Education, Fidelis Molao.
“He is doing the bidding for certain people and it is dangerous. It is fortunate that he has shown his colours this early so that Batswana should see him for who he really is towards 2019.” Minister of Defence, Justice and Security, Shaw Kgathi also dismissed Boko, indicating that Boko has never loved Khama, and would never be the best placed person to talk about the subject. Other MPs who debated the motion include Dorcas Makgato, Nonofo Molefhi, Dr Tlamelo Mmatli, Kgosi Tawana Moremi II and Vice President Slumber Tsogwane. BDP prevailed in the vote that ensued.
The government has failed to implement some commitments and agreements that it had entered into with unions to improve conditions of public servants.
Three years after the government and public made commitments aimed at improving conditions of work and services it has emerged that the government has ignored and failed to implement all commitments on conditions of service emanating from the 2019 round of negotiations.
In its position paper that saw public service salaries being increased by 5%, the government the government has also signalled its intention to renege on some of the commitments it had made. “Government aspires to look into all outstanding issues contained in the Labour Agreement signed between the Employer and recognised Trade Union on the 27th August 2019 and that it be reviewed, revised and delinked by both Parties with a view to agree on those whose implementation that can be realistically executed during the financial years 2022/23, 2023/24 and 2024/25 respectively,” the government said.
Furthermore, in addition to reviewing, revising and de-linking of the outstanding issues contained in the Collective Labour Agreement alluded to above and taking on a progressive proposal, government desires to review revise, develop and implement human resource policies as listed below during the financial year 2022/23,2023/24,2024/25
They include selection and appointment policy, learning and development policy, transfer guidelines, conditions of service, permanent and pensionable, temporary and part time, Foreign Service, expatriate and disciplinary procedures.
In their proposal paper, the unions which had proposed an 11 percent salary increase but eventually settled for 5% percent indicated that the government has not, and without explanation, acted on some of the key commitments from the 2019/2020 and 2021/22 round of negotiations. The essential elements of these commitments include among others the remuneration Policy for the Public Service.
The paper states that a Remuneration Policy will be developed to inform decision making on remuneration in the Public Service. It is envisaged that consultations between the government and relevant key stakeholders on the policy was to start on 1st September 2019, and the development of the policy should be concluded by 30th June 2020.
The public sector unions said the Remuneration Policy is yet to be developed. The Cooperating Unions suggested that the process should commence without delay and that it should be as participatory as it was originally conceived. Another agreement relate to Medical Aid Contribution for employees on salary Grades A and B.
The employer contribution towards medical aid for employees on salary Grades A and B will be increased from 50% to 80% for the Standard Option of the Botswana Public “Officers’ Medical Aid Scheme effective 1st October 2019; the cooperating unions insist that, in fulfilling this commitment, there should be no discrimination between those on the high benefit and those on the medium benefit plan,” the unions proposal paper says.
Another agreement involves the standardisation of gratuities across the Public Service. “Gratuities for all employees on fixed term contracts of 12 months but not exceeding 5 years, including former Industrial class employees be standardized at 30% across the Public Service in order to remove the existing inequalities and secure long-term financial security for Public Service Employees at lower grades with immediate effect,” the paper states.
The other agreement signed by the public sector unions and the government was the development of fan-shaped Salary Structure. The paper says the Public Service will adopt a best practice fan-shaped and overlapping structure, with modification to suit the Botswana context. The Parties (government and unions) to this agreement will jointly agree on the ranges of salary grades to allow for employees’ progression without a promotion to the available position on the next management level.
“The fan-shaped structure is envisaged to be in place by 1st June 2020, to enable factoring into the budgetary cycle for the financial year 2021/22,” the unions’ proposal paper states. It says the following steps are critical, capacity building of key stakeholders (September – December 2019), commission remuneration market survey (3 months from September to November 2019), design of the fan-shaped structure (2 to 3 months from January to March2020) and consultations with all key stakeholders (March to April 2020).
The unions and government had also signed an agreement on performance management and development: A rigorous performance management and reward system based on a 5-point rating system will be adopted as an integral part of the operationalization of the new Remuneration System.
Performance Management and Development (PMD) will be used to reward workers based on performance. The review of the Performance Management System was to be undertaken in order to close the gaps identified by PEMANDU and other previous reports on PMS between 1st September 2019 and 30th June 2020 as follows; internal process to update and revise the current Performance Management System by January 2020.
A job evaluation exercise in the Public Service will also be undertaken to among others establish internal equity, and will also cover the grading of all supervisory positions within the Public Service. Another agreement included overtime Management. The Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) was to facilitate the conclusion of consultations on management of overtime, including consideration of the Overtime Management Task Team’s report on the same by 30th November 2019.
A public health expert, Dr Edward Maganu who is also the former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health has said that unlike many who are expressing shock at the population census growth decline results, he is not, because the 2022 results represents his expectations.
He rushed to dismiss the position by Statistics Botswana in which thy partly attributes the low growth rates to mortality rates for the past ten years. “I don’t think there is any undercounting. I also don’t think death rates have much to do with it since the excessive deaths from HIV/AIDS have been controlled by ARVs and our life expectancy isn’t lower than it was in the 1990s,” he said in an interview with this publication post the release of the results.
Preliminary results released by Statistics Botswana this week indicated that Botswana’s population is now estimated to be 2,346,179 – a figure that the state owned data agency expressed worry over saying it’s below their projected growth. The general decline in the population growth rate is attributed to ‘fertility’ and ‘mortality’ rates that the country registered on the past ten years since the last census in 2011.
Maganu explained that with an enlightened or educated society and the country’s total fertility rate, there was no way the country’s population census was going to match the previous growth rates. “The results of the census make sense and is exactly what I expected. Our Total Fertility Rate ( the average number of children born to a woman) is now around 2.
This is what happens as society develops and educates its women. The enlightened women don’t want to bear many children, they want to work and earn a living, have free time, and give their few children good care. So, there is no under- counting. Census procedures are standard so that results are comparable between countries.
That is why the UN is involved through UNFPA, the UN Agency responsible for population matters,” said Maganu who is also the former adviser to the World Health Organisation. Maganu ruled out undercounting concerns, “I see a lot of Batswana are worried about the census results. Above is what I have always stated.”
Given the disadvantages that accompany low population for countries, some have suggested that perhaps a time has come for the government to consider population growth policies or incentives, suggestions Maganu deems ineffective.
“It has never worked anywhere. The number of children born to a woman are a very private decision of the woman and the husband in an enlightened society. And as I indicated, the more the women of a society get educated, the higher the tendency to have fewer children. All developed countries have a problem of zero population growth or even negative growth.
The replacement level is regarded as 2 children per woman; once the fertility level falls below that, then the population stops growing. That’s why developed countries are depending so much on immigration,” he said.
According to him, a lot of developing countries that are educating their women are heading there, including ourselves-Botswana. “Countries that have had a policy of encouraging women to have more children have failed dismally. A good example is some countries of Eastern Europe (Romania is a good example) that wanted to grow their populations by rewarding women who had more children. It didn’t work. The number of children is a very private matter,” said Maganu
For those who may be worried about the impact of problems associated with low growth rate, Maganu said: “The challenge is to develop society so that it can take care of its dependency ratio, the children and the aged. In developed countries the ratio of people over 60 years is now more than 20%, ours is still less than 10%.”
The preliminary results show that Mogoditshane with (88,098) is now the biggest village in the country with Maun coming second (85,293) and Molepolole at third position with 74,719. Population growth is associated with many economic advantages because more people leads to greater human capital, higher economic growth, economies of scale, the efficiency of higher population density and the improved demographic structure of society, among many others.
Gabane-Mmankgodi Member of Parliament Kagiso Mmusi, who is also the Minister of Justice looks set to retain his place as ruling party, Botswana democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary candidate for the constituency after his team triumphed at the party’s branch congress held recently.
Mmusi’s team, as expected sailed through by claiming all executive positions of chairperson, secretary, treasurer, vice chairman, and vice treasurer.
Despite reports doing rounds that Mmusi’s team was defeated, the victorious chairperson of the Women Wing branch, Pinkie Mmusi confirmed that they stand with the area Member of Parliament.
For the position of branch chairperson, Baby Chalengwa defeated Tshepo Thobega with 51 votes to 44 votes. On the other hand the branch chairperson, Chalegwa also confirmed their solidarity with the area Member of Parliament.
The anti-Mmusi’s camp has been working hard to prepare for his dethronement in the run-up to the 2024 general election, but it appears the Minister of Justice is holding his ground and will be a tough opponent to dispose at the party primary elections.
Since Minister Mmusi’s name is regularly linked with the Vice Presidency for the future, some within the party use this against him to label him as a power hungry politician. However, Mmusi’s supporters have pointed out that the MP has never spoken on the subject and is only focused on delivering as a legislator and Minister.