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Gov’t appeals P468 million teachers’ windfall

Botswana Government has this week appealed a case in which Primary Schools Senior teachers were expecting a windfall of a salary increment and back pays from July 2013 following the implementation of Levels of Operations (LOO).

LOO is a cabinet directive and the salary adjustments were designed to put the senior school teachers on equal scale with their counterparts at junior and Senior Schools. The Primary School Senior teachers were to move from C1 band with an income of around P 14 000 to D4 salary scale which falls around P 16 000 to P 17 000 which was to drain the government coffers 486 million pula.

There are 752 Primary Schools in Botswana and each Primary School houses around 6 Senior School teachers. This means there are approximately 4 512 Senior School teachers in the country whom could be affected by this windfall. The appeal on the matter was presided over by the Court of Appeal President Justice Ian Stuart Kirby, Justice Singh Walia and Justice Nicholas Nick McNally.

When presenting the grounds of appeal orally in court on Friday, government through their Senior Attorney Matlhogonolo Phuthego of the Attorney General, stated that government never made a promise to senior teachers at Primary Schools that they will be part of the salary upgrades as a result of LOO.

“LOO could not cover Primary School teachers. However it was to apply in due course to the Primary School teachers but there was no time set,” government Senior Counsel told a three Judges Court of Appeal bench. He explained that the senior teachers were excluded in the guidelines and that there was no legitimate expectation from them. He continued to highlight that nonetheless senior teachers at Primary Schools have no same responsibility as their counterparts at Junior and Senior Secondary Schools.

According to government attorney, they should have at least pushed government to speed up the Job Evaluation Assessments in which they may have benefited from it as far as increments are concerned. Phuthego stressed that there was no agreement between government and teachers and therefore the lower court misdirected itself as they used its power in the administration affairs of government which should not be the case.

He also said the unions failed to attach the cabinet directive on LOO and therefore the court does not have evidence on the contents and details of such. On his part, Joseph Akoonyatse who represented the unions BTU and BOSETU said orally that the guidelines from government were cutting across senior teachers at Junior and Senior Schools as well as at Primary School.

As such, the LOO’s intention was to level the playing field and that’s why LOO was implemented in 2013 and the unions only went to court in 2016 seeking for remedy as no action was taken as yet by government in implementing LOO.
The lawyer was also worried that government is now introducing a barrier of pre-conditions while explaining that the directive never included pre-conditions and applied to all teachers.

At the High Court, the case was brought by Botswana Teachers Union and Botswana Sectors of Educators Trade Union (BOSETU). The appeal case comes as a result of a ruling by Lobatse High Court Judge Godfrey Ntlhomiwa recently in favour of the Primary School senior teachers in which he ordered to increase salaries of the senior teachers’ holding positions of responsibility.

He said the increments should be made retrospective to the month of July 2013, when LOO was first implemented. The High Court also held that indeed it was unlawful for the two portfolios to be clustered together in one scale and that the Job Evaluation Assessment by government should not be used as a pre-condition of the senior teachers with responsibilities at primary School to benefit rightfully from LOO.

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Botswana economic recovery depends on successful vaccine rollout – BoB

5th May 2021

Bank of Botswana (BoB) has indicated that the rebounding of domestic economy will depended on successful vaccine roll-out which could help business activity to return to its post pandemic days.

Projections by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) suggest a rebound in economic growth for Botswana in 2021.

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Inside the UB-BDF fighter Jet tragedy report

5th May 2021

Despite being hailed and still regarded as a hero who saved many lives through his decision to crash the BF5 fighter Jet around the national stadium on the eve of the 2018 BDF day, the deceased Pilot, Major Clifford Manyuni’s actions were treated as a letdown within the army, especially by his master-Commander of the Air Arm, Major General Innocent Phatshwane.

Manyuni’s master says he was utterly disappointed with his Pilot’s failure to perform “simple basics.”

Manyuni was regarded as a hero through social media for his ‘colourful exploits’, but Phatshwane who recently retired as the Air Arm Commander, revealed to WeekendPost in an exclusive interview that while he appreciated Batswana’s outpouring of emotions and love towards his departed Pilot, he strongly felt let down by the Pilot “because there was nothing wrong with that Fighter Jet and Manyuni did not report any problem either.”

The deceased Pilot, Manyuni was known within the army to be an upwardly mobile aviator and in particular an air power proponent.

“I was hurt and very disappointed because nobody knows why he decided to crash a well-functioning aircraft,” stated Phatshwane – a veteran pilot with over 40 years of experience under the Air Arm unit.

Phatshwane went on to express shock at Manyuni’s flagrant disregard for the rules of the game, “they were in a formation if you recall well and the guiding principle in that set-up is that if you have any problem, you immediately report to the formation team leader and signal a break-away from the formation.

Manyuni disregarded all these basic rules, not even to report to anybody-team members or even the barracks,” revealed Phatshwane when engaged on the much-publicised 2018 incident that took the life of a Rakops-born Pilot of BDF Class 27 of 2003/2004.

Phatshwane quickly dismisses the suggestion that perhaps the Fighter Jet could have been faulty, “the reasons why I am saying I was disappointed is that the aircraft was also in good condition and well-functioning. It was in our best interest to know what could have caused the accident and we launched a wholesale post-accident investigation which revealed that everything in the structure was working perfectly well,” he stated.

Phatshwane continued: “we thoroughly assessed the condition of the engine of the aircraft as well as the safety measures-especially the ejection seat which is the Pilot’s best safety companion under any life-threatening situation. All were perfectly functional.”

In aircrafts, an ejection seat or ejector seat is a system designed to rescue the pilot or other crew of an aircraft in an emergency. The seat is propelled out of the aircraft by an explosive charge or rocket motor, carrying the pilot with it.”

Manyuni knew about all these safety measures and had checked their functionality prior to using the Aircraft as is routine practice, according to Phatshwane. Could Manyuni have been going through emotional distress of some sort? Phatshwane says while he may never really know about that, what he can say is that there are laid out procedures in aviation guiding instances of emotional instability which Manyuni also knew about.

“We don’t allow or condone emotionally or physically unfit Pilots to take charge of an aircraft. If a Pilot feels unfit, he reports and requests to be excused. We will subsequently shift the task to another Pilot. We do this because we know the risks of leaving an unfit pilot to fly an aircraft,” says Phatshwane.

Despite having happened a day before the BDF day, Phatshwane says the BDF day mishap did not really affect the BDF day preparations, although it emotionally distracted Manyuni’s flying formation squad a bit, having seen him break away from the formation to the stone-hearted ground. The team soldiered on and immediately reported back to base for advice and way forward, according to Phatshwane.

Sharing the details of the ordeal and his Pilots’ experiences, Phatshwane said: “they (pilots) were in distress, who wouldn’t? They were especially hurt by the deceased‘s lack of communication. I immediately called a chaplain to attend to their emotional needs.

He came and offered them counselling. But soldiers don’t cry, they immediately accepted that a warrior has been called, wiped off their tears and instantly reported back for duty. I am sure you saw them performing miracles the following day at the BDF day as arranged.”

Despite the matter having attracted wide publicity, the BDF kept the crash details a distance away from the public, a move that Phatshwane felt was not in the best interest of the army and public.

“The incident attracted overwhelming public attention. Not only that, there were some misconceptions attached to the incident and I thought it was upon the BDF to come out and address those for the benefit of the public and army’s reputation,” he said.

One disturbing narrative linked to the incident was that Manyuni heroically wrestled the ‘faulty’ aircraft away from the endangered public to die alone, a narrative which Phatshwane disputes as just people’s imaginations. “Like I said the Aircraft was functioning perfectly,” he responded.

A close family member has hinted that the traumatised Manyuni family, at the time of their son’s tragedy, strongly accused the BDF ‘of killing their son’. Phatshwane admits to this development, emphasising that “Manyuni’s mother was visibly and understandably in inconsolable pain when she uttered those words”.

Phatshwane was the one who had to travel to Rakops through the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS) aircraft to deliver the sad news to the family but says he found the family already in the know, through social media. At the time of his death, Manyuni was survived by both parents, two brothers, a sister, fiancée and one child. He was buried in Rakops in an emotionally-charged burial. Like his remains, the BDF fighter jets have been permanently rested.

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Uphill battle in Khama’s quest to charge Hubona

5th May 2021

A matter in which former President Lt Gen Ian Khama had brought before Broadhurst Police Station in Gaborone, requesting the State to charge Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) lead investigator, Jako Hubona and others with perjury has been committed to Headquarters because it involves “elders.” 

Broadhurst Police Station Commander, Obusitswe Lokae, told this publication this week that the case in its nature is high profile so the matter has been allocated to his Officer Commanding No.3 District who then reported to the Divisional Commander who then sort to commit it to Police Headquarters.

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