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Sunday, 03 December 2023

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.

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19 Bokamoso Private Hospital nurses graduate at Lenmed Nursing College

28th November 2023

The graduation of 19 nurses from Bokamoso Private Hospital at Lenmed Nursing College marks a significant milestone in their careers. These nurses have successfully completed various short learning programs, including Adult Intensive Care Unit, Emergency Nursing Care, Anaesthetic & Recovery Room Nursing, Anaesthetic Nursing, and Recovery Room Nursing. The ceremony, held in Gaborone, was a testament to their hard work and dedication.

Lenmed Nursing College, a renowned healthcare group with a presence in South Africa, Botswana, Mozambique, and Ghana, has been instrumental in providing quality education and training to healthcare professionals. The Group Head of Operations, Jayesh Parshotam, emphasized the importance of upskilling nurses, who are at the forefront of healthcare systems. He also expressed his appreciation for the partnerships with Bokamoso Private Hospital, the Ministry of Health, and various health training institutes in Botswana.

Dr. Morrison Sinvula, a consultant from the Ministry of Health, commended Lenmed Health and Lenmed Nursing College for their commitment to the education and training of these exceptional nurses. He acknowledged their guidance, mentorship, and support in shaping the nurses’ careers and ensuring their success. Dr. Sinvula also reminded the graduates that education does not end here, as the field of healthcare is constantly evolving. He encouraged them to remain committed to lifelong learning and professional development, embracing new technologies and staying updated with the latest medical advancements.

Dr. Gontle Moleele, the Superintendent of Bokamoso Private Hospital, expressed her excitement and pride in the graduating class of 2023. She acknowledged the sacrifices made by these individuals, who have families and responsibilities, to ensure their graduation. Dr. Moleele also thanked Lenmed Nursing College for providing this opportunity to the hospital’s nurses, as it will contribute to the growth of the hospital.

The certificate recipients from Bokamoso Private Hospital were recognized for their outstanding achievements in their respective programs. Those who received the Cum Laude distinction in the Adult Intensive Care Unit program were Elton Keatlholwetse, Lebogang Kgokgonyane, Galaletsang Melamu, Pinkie Mokgosi, Ofentse Seboletswe, Gorata Basupi, Bareng Mosala, and Justice Senyarelo. In the Emergency Nursing Care program, Atlanang Moilwa, Bakwena Moilwa, Nathan Nhiwathiwa, Mogakolodi Lesarwe, Modisaotsile Thomas, and Lorato Matenje received the Cum Laude distinction. Kelebogile Dubula and Gaolatlhe Sentshwaraganye achieved Cum Laude in the Anaesthetic & Recovery Room Nursing program, while Keletso Basele excelled in the Anaesthetic Nursing program. Mompoloki Mokwaledi received recognition for completing the Recovery Room Nursing program.

In conclusion, the graduation of these 19 nurses from Bokamoso Private Hospital at Lenmed Nursing College is a testament to their dedication and commitment to their profession. They have successfully completed various short learning programs, equipping them with the necessary skills and knowledge to excel in their respective fields. The collaboration between Lenmed Nursing College, Bokamoso Private Hospital, and the Ministry of Health has played a crucial role in their success. As they embark on their careers, these nurses are encouraged to continue their professional development and embrace new advancements in healthcare.

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BNF secures 15 constituencies in UDC coalition, wants more

28th November 2023

The Botswana National Front (BNF) has recently announced that they have already secured 15 constituencies in the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) coalition, despite ongoing negotiations. This revelation comes as the BNF expresses its dissatisfaction with the current government and its leadership.

The UDC, which is comprised of the BNF, Botswana Peoples Party (BPP), Alliance for Progressives (AP), and Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF), is preparing for the upcoming General Elections. However, the negotiations to allocate constituencies among the involved parties are still underway. Despite this, the BNF Chairman, Patrick Molotsi, confidently stated that they have already acquired 15 constituencies and are expecting to add more to their tally.

Molotsi’s statement reflects the BNF’s long-standing presence in many constituencies across Botswana. With a strong foothold in these areas, it is only natural for the BNF to seek an increase in the number of constituencies they represent. This move not only strengthens their position within the UDC coalition but also demonstrates their commitment to serving the interests of the people.

In a press conference, BNF Secretary General, Ketlhafile Motshegwa, expressed his discontent with the current government leadership. He criticized the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) for what he perceives as a disregard for the well-being of the Batswana people. Motshegwa highlighted issues such as high unemployment rates and shortages of essential medicines as evidence of the government’s failure to address the needs of its citizens.

The BNF’s dissatisfaction with the current government is a reflection of the growing discontent among the population. The Batswana people are increasingly frustrated with the lack of progress and the failure to address pressing issues. The BNF’s assertion that the government is playing with the lives of its citizens resonates with many who feel neglected and unheard.

The BNF’s acquisition of 15 constituencies, even before the negotiations have concluded, is a testament to their popularity and support among the people. It is a clear indication that the Batswana people are ready for change and are looking to the BNF to provide the leadership they desire.

As the negotiations continue, it is crucial for all parties involved to prioritize the interests of the people. The allocation of constituencies should be done in a fair and transparent manner, ensuring that the voices of all citizens are represented. The BNF’s success in securing constituencies should serve as a reminder to the other parties of the need to listen to the concerns and aspirations of the people they aim to represent.

In conclusion, the BNF’s acquisition of 15 constituencies, despite ongoing negotiations, highlights their strong presence and support among the Batswana people. Their dissatisfaction with the current government leadership reflects the growing discontent in the country. As the UDC coalition prepares for the upcoming General Elections, it is crucial for all parties to prioritize the needs and aspirations of the people. The BNF’s success should serve as a reminder of the importance of listening to the voices of the citizens and working towards a better future for Botswana.








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Children’s summit to discuss funding of NGOS

21st November 2023

One of the key issues that will be discussed by the Childrens’ Summit, which will be hosted by Childline Botswana Trust on 28th – 30th November in Gaborone, will be the topical issue of financing and strengthening of civil society organizations.

A statement from Childline Botswana indicates that the summit will adopt a road map for resourcing the children’s agenda by funding organizations. It will also cover issues relating to child welfare and protection; aimed at mobilizing governments to further strengthen Child Helplines; as well as sharing of emerging technologies to enhance the protection of Children and promotion of their rights.

According to Gaone Chepete, Communications Officer at Childline Botswana, the overall objective of the summit is to provide a platform for dialogue and engagement towards promoting practices and policies that fulfil children’s rights and welfare.

“Child Helplines in the region meet on a bi-annual basis to reflect on the state of children; evaluate their contribution and share experiences and best practice in the provision of services for children,” said Chepete.

The financing of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) by the state or its functionaries has generated mixed reactions from within the civil society space, with many arguing that it threatened NGOs activism and operational independence.

In February 2019, University of Botswana academic Kenneth Dipholo released a paper titled “State philanthropy: The demise of charitable organizations in Botswana,” in which he faulted then President Lieutenant General Seretse Khama Ian Khama for using charity for political convenience and annexing the operational space of NGOs.

“Civil society is the domain in which individuals can exercise their rights as citizens and set limits to the power of the state. The state should be developing capable voluntary organizations rather than emaciating or colonizing them by usurping their space,” argued Dipholo.

He further argued that direct involvement of the state or state president in charity breeds unhealthy competition between the state itself and other organizations involved in charity. Under these circumstances, he added, the state will use charity work to remain relevant to the ordinary people and enhance its visibility at the expense of NGOs.

“A consequence of this arrangement is that charitable organizations will become affiliates of the state. This stifles innovation in the sense that it narrows the ability of charitable organizations to think outside the box. It also promotes mono-culturalism, as the state could support only charitable organizations that abide by its wishes,” said Dipholo.

In conclusion, Dipholo urged the state to focus on supporting NGOs so that they operate in a system that combines philanthropic work and state welfare programs.

He added that state philanthropy threatens to relegate and render charitable organizations virtually irrelevant and redundant unless they re-engineer themselves.

Another University of Botswana (UB) academic, Professor Zibani Maundeni, opined that politics vitally shape civil society interaction; as seen in the interactions between the two, where there is mutual criticism in each other’s presence.

Over the years, NGOs have found themselves grappling with dwindling financial resources as donors ran out of money in the face of increased competition for financing. Many NGOs have also been faulted for poorly managing their finances because of limited strategic planning and financial management expertise. This drove NGOs to look to government for funding; which fundamentally altered the relationships between the two. The end result was a complete change in the operational culture of NGOs, which diminished their social impact and made them even more fragile. Increased government control through contract clauses also reduced NGOs activism and autonomy.

However, others believe that NGOs and government need each other, especially in the provision of essential services like child welfare and protection. Speaking at the Civil Society Child Rights Convention in 2020, Assistant Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Setlhabelo Modukanele said government considers NGOs as critical partners in development.

“We recognize the role that NGOs play a critical role in the country’s development agenda,” said Modukanele.

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