Connect with us

Botswana fails the labour test again in ILO – report

A report by International Labour Organization (ILO) Committee of Application of Standards from ILO office in Geneva, Switzerland has put Botswana on the spotlight with regard to labour relations.

The damning report seen by WeekendPost captures the latest violations of ILO conventions which include the deregistration of the Bargaining Council, and continued clamp on workers and Trade Union rights. According to the report of the Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations released in January 2018 – in essence the government of Botswana failed to act on ILO findings.

The findings included that government should allow Prisons Service employees to unionise in compliance with Convention 87; and amend the Trade Unions and Employers Organisations Act to align it to ILO Standards and other national laws. It also advised government to liaise with the ILO Technical Committee for holistic review of Labour Laws in Botswana for alignment to international standards; work in consultation with tripartite partners to develop a time-bound action plan of implementation by ILO and report progress made to the committee on or before November 2017.

However the recommendations have not been executed to date as promised by the government, a development which worries ILO. The Committee in the latest report paints the country with a dark brush in labour relations as it points out at the 2011 Botswana Industrial strike which was dubbed the ‘mother of all strikes’ that led to the dismissal of some health workers because of the strike action; followed by the brutal repression by police of a peaceful picket organized in August 2016 dented Botswana’s image.

The report also captures the refusal to allow the labour centre, Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) to raise its concerns before Parliament as regards the proposed amendments affecting the public sector. The committee said in the report that it is also concerned about the classification at national level of the prison service as “disciplined force”, and requests the government once again to take, within the framework of the ongoing labour law review, the necessary legislative measures to ensure that prison officers enjoy the right to establish and join trade unions.

The Committee also notes with concern that section 46 of the new Trade Disputes Bill No. 21 of 2015 enumerated a broad list of essential services, and that in line with section 46(2), the Minister may declare any other service as essential if its interruption for at least seven days endangers the life, safety or health of the whole or part of the population or harms the economy.

“Recalling that essential services, in which the right to strike may be restricted or even prohibited, as is the case in Botswana, should be limited to those the interruption of which would endanger the life, personal safety or health of the whole or part of the population,” the Committee highlighted. It also pointed out that, while the economic impact of industrial action and its effect on trade and commerce may be regrettable, such consequences in and of themselves do not render a service “essential”.

The Committee therefore considers that “certain services enumerated in section 46, including diamond sorting, cutting and selling services; teaching services; government broadcasting services; the Bank of Botswana; railways operation and maintenance services; public veterinary services; and services necessary to the operation of any of these services, do not constitute essential services in the strict sense of the term.”

Referring to the Conference Committee’s request to ensure that the TDA is in full conformity with the Convention, the Committee therefore requests the Government to take the necessary legislative measures to ensure that the list in section 46(1) of the TDA is limited to essential services in the strict sense of the term, and invites the Government, with regard to the services mentioned above, to give consideration to the negotiation or determination of a minimum service rather than imposing an outright ban on industrial action.

Representation and composition of the Bargaining Council

The committee also states in the report that it had also requested the Government to ensure that where no union represented one third of the employees in a bargaining unit, collective bargaining rights would be granted to all unions in the unit, at least on behalf of their own members. Additionally, the Committee notes that section 37(5) of the draft TDA Bill also provides a one third minimum threshold requirement for union recognition at the industry level.

The Committee recalls that the determination of the threshold of representativity to designate an exclusive agent for the purpose of negotiating collective agreements which are destined to be applied to all workers in a sector or establishment is compatible with the Convention in so far as the required conditions do not constitute an obstacle to the promotion of free and voluntary collective bargaining in practice.

In this regard, the Committee considers that if no union in a specific negotiating unit meets the required threshold of representativity to be able to negotiate on behalf of all workers, minority trade unions should be able to negotiate, jointly or separately, at least on behalf of their own members.

Regretting that no information has been provided in this respect, the Committee requests the Government to take the necessary measures to ensure that if no union reaches the required threshold to be recognized as a bargaining agent, unions should be given the possibility to negotiate, jointly or separately, at least on behalf of their own members.

BOFEPUSU to mobilize international organisations against Botswana

Meanwhile the Federation has stated that they are mobilising international organisation as the June 2018 International Labour Conference approaches. The national labour centre states that the continued government‘s contempt for ILO and its international standards continue to dent Botswana’s international image and integrity.

“This is clear testimony that the government does not respect international labour and international institutions. We have witnessed drastic amendments and enactment of labour laws with sole objective of curtailment of workers and trade Union rights something which is against principles of human rights, democracy and violate international labour law,” BOFEPUSU Deputy Secretary General told this publication this week.

Unions want new government official leaders under Masisi presidency

According to the BOFEPUSUS DSG, when there was unionisation and ushering in Collective Bargaining following domestication of ILO Conventions in 2007, it is clear that Government did not prepare for this paradigm shift, as top bureaucracy (Permanent Secretaries, Directors, Councillors, District Commissioners) are clueless about contemporary labour relations that involve social dialogue, collective bargaining.

“These are very weak, uninspiring and hopeless people occupying higher offices which seriously affect productivity and prosperity of this Country. This situation was largely bred by President Lt. Gen. Seretse Khama Ian Khama ‘s style of leadership that bordered on dictatorship, coercion, top down approach at the expense of social dialogue and enhancement of rights. This then entrenched a system of nepotism, corruption, bootlicking, sycophancy and incompetence.”

The unionist added that what is even scary is that the Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi ‘s Presidency is poised to retain majority of these people. “There is need for a positive and progressive overhaul and revamping at Government enclave to bring in a new culture of competence, creative thinking, and this requires independent and professional minds,” he stated.

In order to achieve this, he said the incoming President would have to go on a shopping spree for a new Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration to replace Molale, new Permanent Secretary to the President to replace Carter Morupisi, rearrange Directorate of Public Service Management with people who objectively understand industrial relations.

“It is critical to have strong and effective Ministers of Public Service and that of Employment, Productivity and Skills Development.” Motshegwa therefore stressed that Masisi needs to shed off Khama’s people in the civil service in order to allow for a new thinking in the public service, otherwise he will be seen as a disciple President of Khama, and will correlatively retain Khama’s enemies and failings.

Continue Reading


Mascom, Letshego partner to deliver the MyZaka instant loan

31st March 2023

Letshego Botswana has recently partnered with Mascom to launch the Mascom MyZaka Instant Loan, a customer focused mobile money microloan service designed to provide customers with swift and convenient access to funds, driven by the underlying theme of “Ithuse” meaning “help yourself”

The loan is said to have been developed through a partnership driven by a deep customer focus with the key objectives of access, convenience and flexible financial support to customers of Letshego Botswana and Mascom through instantly disbursed short-term loans from P50 to P1 500 over the period of one month.

Letshego’s head of transformation, Molebogeng Malomo highlighted that working through agile methodologies, the partnership was able to develop and be released as what they call a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) or solution. “In keeping up with the spirit of design thinking and agile methodologies, the experiences and viewpoints of both Letshego Botswana and Mascom’s customers will be valuable to inform further enhancements to the Mascom MyZaka solution,” he said.

He further noted that the partnership and the development of the MyZaka instant loan will provide both the organizations to diversify their offering and customer base, while also offering the customer more choices and flexibility to initiate and be in control of their loan requests through the self-service mobile based application.

Mascom’s Chief Executive Officer, Dzene Makhwade-Seboni also alluded that their origins, priorities and initiatives are firmly rooted in Botswana and in the success of all Batswana, and that their strategy and intent is supported by embracing innovative problem-solving.

“The speed with which Letshego has grown over the years gives us confidence that we have partnered with the right service provider. Their expertise and most of all, innovation, a value we both share, will be beneficial to MyZaka Mobile Money for growth and for the convenience of our subscribers,” she concluded.

Continue Reading


DCEC granted warrant to arrest Khama twins

29th March 2023

The Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) has been granted permission to apprehend the former Minister of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism, Tshekedi Khama, and his twin brother Anthony Khama.

Information gathered by this publication suggests that the DCEC is actively searching for the Khama brothers, this is in connection with events that transpired whilst Tshekedi was Minister of Environment. The duo is currently in exile in South Africa together with their elder brother, and former President Lt Gen Ian Khama.

Approximately two weeks ago, the corruption-busting agency discreetly filed for an arrest warrant that was approved by the Broadhurst Magistrate Court for the two to be taken into custody, according to a highly placed source within the government enclave.

DCEC is also said to have filed an affidavit signed by a high-ranking officer known to this publication. Reports indicate that after being presented with details of the case, the Broadhurst magistrate issued the agency an arrest warrant.

It is also believed that the agency has been conducting extensive investigations into the supposed suspects for quite some time. Furthermore, Weekend Post has it on good word that the DCEC has been looking for methods to summon the two for questioning but has been unsuccessful.

According to unconfirmed reports, DCEC met with attorney Victor Ramalepa, who refused to accept the summons, saying that he is not their attorney. Furthermore, it is believed that DCEC has enlisted the assistance of the Botswana Police Service (BPS) in flagging the suspects’ names in the International Criminal Police Organisation INTERPOL.

Responding to WeekendPost enquiries, DCEC spokesperson Lentswe Motshoganetsi said, “I am not in good position to confirm or deny the allegation,” adding that such allegations may fall within the operational purview of the DCEC.

When contacted for comment, Ramalepa briefly stated that he is unaware of the purported arrest warrant. “I know nothing about the warrant and I haven’t been served with anything,” he said.

Meanwhile, former president Lt Gen Ian Khama recently issued a statement stating that DIS is intensifying the harassment and intimidation of him, family, friends and office employees.

“It is reprehensible for state officials and agencies to abuse government resources to terrorise their own citizens for personal gain,” said the former president in a statement.

He also stated that his brother TK’s staff and security were ordered to falsely implicate him. “Their desperate tactics will never work, it only serves to motivate me more to pursue regime change and free Botswana from tyranny,” he said

This comes after the corruption busting agency wants to interview the alleged suspects as they are still hiding in South Africa since last year.

Despite the hostility between government and Khama family going unabated, last month, Masisi extended an olive branch to Khama in political rally, indicating that he hopes the two of them settle their differences, of which the former responded by welcoming the gesture.

Khama further said his brother, Tshekedi, will facilitate the reconciliation of his behalf. Many have indicated that Masisi did not say what he said in good faith, and was only scoring political brownies since he was in Khama’s territory in Shoshong.

Continue Reading


DCEC’s Tshepo Pilane still has his mojo

29th March 2023

Tshepo Pilane silenced his critics after being named the head of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) in May of last year and served his opponents humble pie. Many believed he would only last for a month, but almost a year later, he is still standing.

Pilane, a trained soldier whose appointment surprised both the general public and some officers within the DCEC walls, has never glanced back in his duty to steer the DCEC ship forward.

It is alleged that immediately after his appointment the man embarked on a nation-wide trip touring the DCEC offices across the country in order to confirm and reaffirm the DCEC’s mandate. Sources from inside the DCEC claim that Pilane won the hearts of many DCEC employees due to his humility and plain message; “people at the top of the DCEC will come and go but the mandate of the DCEC remains relevant and unchanged.”

Pilane was appointed the Acting DCEC Director General at a time when the organisation was undergoing turbulence through court proceedings in which the suspended Director General Tymon Katlholo had interdicted the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) from accessing the DCEC premises. At the time, the DIS had raided the DCEC offices in the absence of Katlholo claiming to be looking for high profile corruption cases allegedly held by Katlholo.

At the time Pilane was Head of the DCEC Intelligence Division holding the position of Senior Assistant Director General reporting directly to the Deputy Director General Operations Ms Priscilla Israel. Contrary to his detractors, Pilane who is a reserved and humble person by nature won the support and backing of many DCEC officers due to his unassuming nature.

In a recent questionnaire sent to the DCEC regarding Pilane’s term in office, the DCEC was resolute on its commitment towards the fight against corruption. When quizzed on allegations of rife corruption since he took over, Pilane through his Public Relations (PR) office stated that the corruption landscape in Botswana remains unchanged as the DCEC continues to receive reports on allegations of corruption with sectors such as procurement (tenders and supplies), Transport (licensing and certificates), and land (dubious allocation and collusion) still leading issues reported. This trend has been consistence in the DCEC database for more than 10 years.

When further quizzed on accusations that suggest that due to the infighting at the agency, particularly at the top management, Investigations of cases has dropped significantly the DCEC claimed ignorance to the matter, stating that they are not aware of any “infights” at the DCEC “at the top management”, further stating that, investigations of cases has increased significantly, contrary to the allegations raised. “The DCEC is currently seeking new ways of expediting the investigations in order to fast track its enforcement role,” said the DCEC Head of Public Relations Lentswe Motshoganetsi. He further stated that the DCEC is in pursuit of high profile cases involving money and assets valued over P900 million. Three companies are involved in the scandal and two cases have already been committed to court while on one, investigations are about to be completed.

When WeekendPost inquired about Pilane’s roadmap, the DCEC stated that in the past, anti-corruption interventions were reactive, particularly in dealing with national projects that involve large sums of money. It was further started that in most instances investigating such matters takes a long time and in most instances, the money looted form Government in never recovered. As a result, the DCEC has taken a deliberate stance to attach its officers from the Corruption Prevention Division to be part of the implementation of these projects before, during, and after implementation.

The DCEC cited the Economic Stimulus Programme which, although meant to grow the economy and uplift Batswana from poverty, yielded incidents of corruption and poor workmanship. To date, the DCEC is still grappling with cases as some projects were not done, or were completed with defects beyond repair. Currently the DCEC is involved at the Ministry of Education conducting project risk management in the Multiple Path Ways Program at Moeng College and Maun Senior School. This intervention will spread to other sectors of the economy as part of the DCEC’s corruption prevention strategy.

Of recent, the DCEC has been in the media for all the wrong reasons following leakage of high profile cases and allegations claiming that the executive management is at war with each other more particularly with some within the agency harbouring ambitions to dethrone Pilane from the Directorship.

Although the infighting was denied by Pilane’s Office, he acknowledged that leakage of information is a problem across Government and stated that it is a pain at the DCEC. He however stated that Staff has been cautioned against leakage of investigation information and that they have roped in the Botswana Police to assist in investigating incidents of leakage. He further stated that they have increased continuous vetting and lifestyle audits for DCEC employees in order to enforce discipline.

Pilane’s term comes to an end in May 2023 after serving the DCEC for a year on acting basis. It will be in the public interest to see who will be given the baton to continue the anti-corruption journey if Pilane’s contract is not renewed. The DCEC has seen arrival and departure of Director Generals having alternated the top seat five times in less than seven years.


Continue Reading