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‘Civil servants salaries will go up’

Incoming President Mokgweetsi Masisi looks set to sweep unions under their feet. Government’s decision to engage Malaysian company, Performance Management & Delivery Unit (PEMANDU) Associates to review the public service remuneration and performance systems, is expected to be the basis for a long overdue increment for government workers.

BOFEPUSU family of trade unions recently confirmed that on 14th February 2018 met the Employer (DPSM) on over the issue of salaries. At the meeting, DPSM proposed a salary increment to the Public servants pending the outcome of reports of consultants engaged by the two parties. “The Union party submitted that it accepts the principle of salary increase, but that should not prejudice their labour rights as per their Collective labour agreements. The house did not finish its business and the next meeting is scheduled for 20th February 2018. We remain hopeful that such a meeting will bear desirable fruits,” Mogomotsi Motshegwa, BOFEPUSU Acting Secretary General.

According to the Directorate of Public Servants Management (DPSM), the company has been contracted with special focus on the remunerations which have gone unchanged for some time now. Trade unions have been at war with government over public servants salaries for a long time now. Just recently, the Public Service Bargaining Council (PSBC) collapsed owing to incongruities between government and trade unions. The contracted company will also review government’s Performance Management System (PMS) tools.

“The consultancy was initiated on the basis of the need to establish a proper remuneration system that will guide future reviews of salaries. This was necessitated by calls from employees to relook at the current salaries, which are believed to be low relative to market rates,” DPSM director Ruth Maphorisa said.

The expectation from DPSM is that the ongoing exercise will establish a remuneration system for Botswana that will set parameters for salary structure and the basis reviews in relation to the budget. The study will further link remuneration to performance management and the reward system. It is also to address issues relating to allowances which have been a source of litigation.


According to Maphorisa, the consultancy will run for 52 weeks and it commenced on the 1st December 2017. The consultancy has been awarded at the cost of USD (1,677,390) inclusive of withholding tax of USD 218, 790. However, sources are of the view that the consultancy might propose recommendations that border on altering of conditions of service. “Government should bear in mind that some of the issues that the consultancy might propose on its recommendations might border on altering of the current conditions of service,” a source said before adding, “The same conditions of service for employees however fall squarely with negotiable matters and as such government will have to negotiate with unions on the recommendations of the consultancy.”

Trade unions on the other hand say they were not engaged on the decision but rather informed that the consultancy had begun in December. “We were only informed about this development in December by government,” Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) Secretary General Tobokani Rari said.


Meanwhile BOFEPUSU, insisted on being part of the evaluation meeting of the consultancy’s research, and are also carrying out a parallel exercise to compare it with PEMANDU’s. “The federation has since engaged Tsa Badiri Consultancy to carry out a review of the same with a view to table the report to DPSM that we would use to bargain in view of them engaging their company,” Rari said.

Quizzed on whether the union does not trust the Malay company, Rari said: “It is not that we don’t trust them, we cannot cast aspersions on them. We don’t know whether they will do a good job or not, but our reasons for engaging Tsa Badiri is that we are definitely of the conviction that issues subjected to a consultancy by DPSM are issues within the realms of bargaining and negotiations.” The union believes that it will need to have an informed position on them to engage DPSM when the consultancy is completed. The two reports are expected to be done before April with government and unions expected to start negotiating employees’ conditions using the recommendations by the two consultants.

WHY DPSM ENGAGED PEMANDU?

The relationship between DPSM with PEMANDU has grown out of bilateral cooperation with the government of Malaysia for South-South development. The company according to reports has previously assisted DPSM in coming up with the delivery unit for Vision 2036 and National Development Plan.

PEMANDU Associates is a consultancy firm established by PEMANDU; a Malaysian government unit that was established under the Prime Minister’s department in 2009. It has since been disestablished. PEMANDU's main role and objective was to oversee the implementation, assess the progress, facilitate as well as support the delivery and drive the progress of the Government Transformation Programme (GTP) and the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP). It is touted for its success in transforming the Malaysian economy, and their work, and in particular their Big Fast Result methodology in providing solutions on transforming government in other countries is well documented.

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Botswana confirms new COVID-19 variant

17th May 2021
covid19

Botswana health officials have confirmed the new COVOD-19 variant, which was first found in India. The Ministry of Health and Wellness has through a press statement informed members of the public that a new COVID-19 variant (B.1.617), first discovered in India. The Indian variant was confirmed in Botswana on 13 May 2021.

According to Christopher Nyanga, spokesperson at the Ministry, this followed a case investigation within Greater Gaborone, involving people of Indian origin who arrived in the country on the 24th April 2021.

“As at 16 May 2021, the B. 1. 617 variant was confirmed in two (2) people. The clients are currently receiving medical care and remain stable with no life-threatening symptoms. The two (2) cases were part of 383 people (both Batswana and some Indian nationals) who were tested for COVID-19. From this number, 43 tested positive, with two (2) showing the B. 1. 617 variant as already alluded to. Contact tracing has been expanded in line with COVID-19 protocols. All contacts and confirmed cases have been evacuated to facility based quarantine and isolation respectively, for close monitoring,” Nyanga narrated.

The World Health Organization recently announced that the Indian Covid-19 variant was a global concern, with some data suggesting the variant has “increased transmissibility” compared with other strains.

Meanwhile in the wake of Botswana’s confirmation of the Indian variant, Nyanga reminded the public of the government intervention to control the introduction of new variants of public health concern into the country. He stated that all those who have travelled or transited through areas of high risk as previously communicated on 3rd May 2021 upon return shall immediately quarantine in a central area to be identified by the Ministry of Health and Wellness for a period not exceeding ten (10) days; Repeat Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test after seven (7) days of quarantine and be discharged as per the outcome of the results.

He said the requirements are complementary to the mandatory requirements of producing on arrival a negative PCR test not older than 72hrs from the time the sample was collected

“The public is advised to remain vigilant and minimize the spread of COVID-19 by following the already outlined preventative measures such as washing of hands with soap or use of a hand sanitizer, wearing of face masks, avoiding crowded places/social distancing and avoiding non-essential movement,” Nyanga said.

The India variant – officially called B.1.617.2 – is one of four mutated versions of coronavirus which have been designated as being “of concern” by transitional public health bodies, with others first being identified in Kent, South Africa and Brazil.

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Khama lawyers dismiss BDP’s MacD

17th May 2021
former President Lt Gen Ian Khama

The lawyers representing former President Lt Gen Ian Khama, Ramalepa Attorneys have come forth dismissing a response letter penned down by Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) activist MacDonald Peloetletse after he was slapped with a P1.5 million lawsuit for defamation of their client.

Tebogo Tladi, an attorney at Ramalepa, said last week Thursday Peloetletse took to social media to publish a substantively false, wrongful and unlawful statement about Khama. MacDonald Peloetletse’s commentary which was posted on Gabz FM News page reads, “I am a former soldier. Everything former President SKI Khama said here is a LIE. In fact, soldiers suffered more under Khama than under his predecessors.

He actually stole money that the UN had paid to the soldiers who went for the operations and paid them less than a quarter of what was actually due to them.  “Unhappy soldiers took the BDF to court and won, the BDF is still struggling to pay the debts! Khama can fool some people, but not all the people and not all the time.

“In fact many soldiers, serving, retired and those that resigned and were in the operations during Khama’s time get even more annoyed to such disrespectful statements by Ian Khama.” Khama’s lawyer says the impugned statement was published with the intention to injure his client (Khama) in his personality rights, good name and dignity, further indicating that the statement has damaged his good reputation.

“We have therefore been instructed by Client to demand, as we hereby do, that you publish on the same forum a retraction and a full and unconditional apology to Client within three days of receipt of this letter- and that you deliver such apology in a formal letter to the Office of the Former President, Dr Khama. In the event that you have not compiled with this demand by close of business on Monday 10th May 2021, our Client will assume that you have refused to comply with this demand.”

To top it all off, Khama demands that Peloetletse pay him P1.5 million in damages for defamation. “Furthermore, we hold instructions to demand as we hereby do, that you pay our Client damages for defamation in the sum of P1, 500,000.00 within seven days of receipt of this letter.” In the event that Peloetletse fails to pay the amount of damages demanded by Khama, Tladi says they will institute legal proceedings for the recovery of the aforesaid damages.

In his response letter addressed to Ramalepa Attorneys, Peloetletse said that he requests enlightenment and clarification that he be provided with proof that the allegations and comments which they attribute to him were indeed authored by him and that the platform which the comments were placed was not hacked.

“Please also advise if whether your clients has been endowed with a “special particular privilege status” that restricts the citizens of this country from commenting or responding to public statements made by your client in the course of political discourse especially when made on public forum and relate to matters of general public concern. (I trust that your brilliant legal mind is well informed with respect to the jurisprudence in such matters)”.

Peloetletse also said he would like to share with the attorneys a video which was posted on a public forum. “Please listen carefully to the conversations and discussion herein and advice if possibly such discussions form a reasonable basis for a justifiably rebuttal by any Motswana Citizen to the public pronouncements and defamatory statements made by your client about our government (bearing in mind of course a citizens constitutional right to freedom of speech and freedom of expression).’’

Consulted for further comment on the matter on Thursday after receiving Peloetletse’s response, Khama’s attorney Tebogo Tladi said the letter doesn’t hold any water. “The only way out for him is to prove the truth of the allegations on his comment or deny publication. He does not answer substantively to the defamation and does not respond to the demand of an apology or payment of damages.

So his letter really contains largely matters irrelevant to the substance of the letter of demand. His response in fact presents no legally cognizable defence at all- it would appear he responded without the benefit of legal advice, which would not be prudent for such an important case. So we will proceed to issue summons and wait to see what defences he will plead in court.’’

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Inside the multi-million Dollar Kazungula Bridge business

17th May 2021
kazungula bridge

Botswana and Zambia this week celebrated the opening of a multi-million Dollar infrastructural project, the Kazungula Bridge, projected to contribute around P100 million annually for Botswana. This project comes after the signing of the 2012 Agreement between the two countries to construct a bridge that would ease movement of goods.

President Mokgweetsi Masisi said the Kazungula Bridge will open avenues for improved trade, job creation and economic diversification in both countries. Further, the Bridge will significantly accelerate Southern African Development Committee (SADC) regional integration agenda which Botswana and Zambia are vigorously pursuing.

“By growing our strategic partnerships through this project, we have improved the development and competitiveness of our economies to attract more private sector investment, thereby, supporting our efforts to create employment, especially for the burgeoning youth,” Masisi said at the opening ceremony in Kazungula on Monday.

The Kazungula Bridge comprises a road and rail bridge over the Zambezi River, directly linking Botswana and Zambia. It has One-Stop-Border Post facilities on both sides, which will enhance the operational efficiency at entry points, replicated on both sides of the boarder.

The Bridge was originally conceived as a critical link in the African North-South Corridor under the African Union’s New Partnership (NEPAD) for Africa’s Development programme. It has since evolved to encompass a multimodal transport plan under the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA).

The PIDA programme, which encompasses liberalisation of air travel, rail links, road, water and all other modes of transport has only one objective: to unite the States of Africa in order to foster trade on the continent

“Connectivity of our nations will in no small measure, promote people to people interactions and uplifts their standard of living. I am pleased to state that the completion of this project is a clear demonstration of our commitment to PIDA.”

The 260 million US Dollar Kazungula Bridge was commissioned by Zambian President, Edgar Lungu and President Masisi. President Lungu said the bridge was a monumental effort linking Zambia internally and externally to ease the movement of goods and services.

“I have held talks with my counterpart in Botswana that this project must run daily up to 22 hours as soon as possible and you the technocrats must not play ping-pong with us after making these public procurements,” Lungu said at the official opening in Kazungula.

For his part, DRC President Felix Tshisekedi said the project was tandem with the Africa Union (AU) goals and priority areas for Agenda 2063 which called for a prosperous Africa, based on inclusive growth and sustainable development.

KAZUNGULA FERRY

The new Kazungula Bridge replaces the Kazungula Ferry, a pontoon ferry across the 400-metre-wide Zambezi River between Botswana and Zambia. It was one of the largest ferries in South-Central Africa, having a capacity of 70 tonnes.

In 2003 the ferry was the site of a disaster when a severely overloaded Zambian truck capsized one of the pontoons and 18 people drowned. The accident was blamed on the lack of weighbridges in Zambia to check the weight of trucks.

In August 2007, the governments of Zambia and Botswana announced a deal to construct a bridge at the site to replace the ferry. The existence of a short boundary of about 150 meters between Zambia and Botswana was apparently agreed to during various meetings involving Heads of State and officials from all four States in the 2006-2010 period.

The route for this new bridge crosses the boundary without entering Zimbabwe and Namibia. Zimbabwe already has a bridge into Zambia at Victoria Falls, 70KM from Kazungula. Namibia on the other hand has a bridge into Zambia at Katima Mulilo about 150KM upriver.

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