Overworked nurses finally take govt to court
Nurses and midwives who work in government clinics and health posts are planning to stop performing some of their usual duties and have approached the Lobatse High Court to authorise their intended action.
The judiciary is the last hope of the disgruntled health service employees to resolve the long standing impasse between these workers and the Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) together with the Ministry of Health in regards to the nurses’ duties.
The nurses’ trade union, Botswana Landboards, Local Authorities and Health Workers Union (BLLHWU) has filed court papers through their lawyer, Tshiamo Rantao of Rantao Kewagamang Attorneys to fast track the process.
The long list of the ‘non-nursing’ services that the nurses would not want to extend to patients include among others, medical consultation of patients and prescriptions of drugs, ordering laboratory specimen such as blood, stool, sputum and urine and to ensure proper transportation, screening of patients, dispensing of drugs and proper disposal of expired drugs, ordering, stock control, compiling statistical reports on attendance at the clinic. According to the disgruntled nurses, the services would only be performed by authorised prescribing practitioners.
Further in the list of not to do by nurses is the rationing of food to beneficiaries such as Tuberculosis (TB) patients, children under five and pregnant mothers whose rations are only given out at the clinics and health posts.
The nurses who are crying exploitation by their employer, the DPSM, further threaten to stop pottering of non-ambulatory patients, registering of birth and deaths, registering of vulnerable groups such as orphans, off loading of drug cartons from central medical stores and the collection and safe keeping of revenue.
To be able to off load the duties from their daily rota, the nurses would request the court to declare that the duties are not nursing duties. The matter has been filed before Justice Garekwe of the Lobatse High Court and the date of hearing is yet to be announced.
“The troubling question of the performance of non nursing duties by nurses employed by Local government at Clinics duties dates back a couple of years back. The Union has been at the forefront of it engaging stakeholders, including the Ministry of Health and the DPSM as the new employer,” explained BLLHWU’s Secretary General, Ketlhalefile Motshegwa.
The nurses have confirmed that they perform the duties as they are expected and are instructed by the employer to do so as a matter of daily routine whether or not there is an emergency or other exceptional circumstances. According to the nurses, they have not refused to do the job for fear of disciplinary action which could include dismissal from work hence they need court protection.
The government has always maintained that the nurses have to conduct general duties because their numbers do not allow for specialisation.
In the nursing profession, there are authorised nurses who are exceptionally entitled to perform certain duties. Such nurses according to experts are trained to perform special duties such as midwifery, family nursing practice, community health nursing, ophthalmic nursing and others. However in so far as Botswana government clinics and Health Posts are concerned, the nurses practice general nursing duties as there is no distinction regardless of their qualification as they perform the same duties.
In fact the Ministry of Health including its Minister and Permanent Secretary has in several occasions cried foul of migration of nurses from Botswana to other countries. Some of the factors that they admitted causes the disgruntlement in the nursing field include, heavy work load, poor working conditions, high patient-nurse ratio, but has since failed to resolve the problem due to “financial constraints.”
“It is quite clear that the performance by nurses and midwives of non nursing duties on daily basis contributes directly to undesirable heavy-workload, generally poor working conditions and high patient-nurse ration as complained by the Permanent Secretary. This is inimical to the health of the nation, especially when this country continues to fight the effects of HIV and AIDS,” Motshegwa added.
In the past the nurses have threatens to stop performing the duties but the government continued to persuade them with promises to correct the problem. In 2011, scores of nurses alongside other public service employees went on a two month long strike which crippled the country’s health services among others. Some Health workers lost their jobs as a result of the strike and some had to re-apply for their jobs.
However, this time around, the nurses who have previously threatened to go on strike if these duties are not off loaded from their rota have made a wise decision to take the legal route since they are prohibited by law to strike.
Meanwhile it is clear that there is no consensus as on whether or not nurses are entitled to perform the duties in question and it would be in the interest of the public that the court gives direction on this because the continues dispute over it threatens the health of the nation.
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Mascom, Letshego partner to deliver the MyZaka instant loan
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.
DCEC granted warrant to arrest Khama twins
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.
DCEC’s Tshepo Pilane still has his mojo
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.