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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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BCP, AP stalemate in 7 constituencies

21st March 2023

When the Botswana Congress Party (BCP), Alliance for Progressives, Botswana Labour Party (BLP), and conveners reconvene next week, the controversial issue of allocation of the seven constituencies will be the main topic of discussion, WeekendPost can reveal.

Not only that, but the additional four constituencies will also dominate the talks. The idea is to finally close the “constituency allocation phase,” which has proven to be the most difficult part of the ongoing negotiations.

Earlier this year, the two parties announced that the marathon talks would be concluded by February. Even at a media briefing last month, BCP Secretary General Goretetse Kekgonegile and Publicity Secretary Dr. Mpho Pheko were optimistic that the negotiations would be concluded before the end of February.

However, it is now mid-March and the talks have yet to be concluded. What could be the reasons for the delay? This is a question that both Kekgonegile and Pheko have not responded to, as they have ignored the reporters’ inquiries. However, a senior figure within the party has confided to this publication as to what is delaying the highly anticipated negotiations.

“We are reconvening next week to finalize constituency allocations, taking into account the additional four new ones plus the outstanding seven,” he explained. It later surfaced that Gaborone Central, Gaborone North, Mogoditshane, Tswapong North, Francistown West, Tati West, and Nata Gweta are all contested by both BCP and AP. This is because the other 50 constituencies were allocated by December of last year.

The three parties have failed to find common ground for the Bosele Ward by-elections. Are these constituencies not a deal breaker for the talks? “None of the constituencies is a deal breaker,” responded a very calm BCP official.

In Bosele Ward, AP has yielded to BCP, despite most of its members disapproving the decision. On the other hand, BLP has refused, and it will face off with BCP together with Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC).

The decision by BLP to face off with BCP has been labelled as a false start for the talks by political observers.

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Botswana approves extradition of British fugitive

21st March 2023

Raiz Ahmed Tayub, a British fugitive sought by Interpol for his involvement in human trafficking and slave trade crimes, was captured by the Botswana Police Service (BPS) earlier this year.

Merapelo Mokgosi, the Assistant Director of the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP), confirmed that he will be extradited to France, where he is wanted for his crimes.

“It is true that Tayub will be extradited to France, where he has been wanted for some time,” says Mokgosi.

She explained that the fugitive was arrested by the Botswana Police in early January while attempting to enter Botswana through the Pioneer border gate. Since his arrest, he has been appearing before the Lobatse Magistrate Court to fight his release from custody and to object to his extradition to France. During his court appearance, Tayub opted for voluntary extradition.

“He opted for voluntary extradition, which the extradition Act allows,” said Mokgosi. She added that the suspect was not under duress when he chose voluntary extradition. Soon after he made this choice, the Ministry of Justice was notified, and the minister approved his extradition. Preparations are still underway to fly the wanted man to France, and once the necessary paperwork is completed between the two nations, the suspect will be extradited.

Mokgosi indicated that plans were still being made to complete the suspect’s extradition to France, and the Botswana government would pay for his flight along with his escort.

Meanwhile, the court has ordered the Botswana Prison Services (BPS) to provide the Islamic British fugitive with “halal food” while he is in custody.

In an earlier court application, Tayub had asked to be detained at a five-star hotel, as he could pay for it until the completion of his case. He also argued that he should not have to wear a prison uniform due to the Covid-19 outbreak. He was thought to have been traveling to Malawi at the time of his capture.

When delivering the order, the principal magistrate, Gofaone Morwang, said the detainee should be provided with halal daily rations with immediate effect while he is in custody. The magistrate dismissed TAYUB’s application for hotel detention and exemption from wearing a prison uniform.

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Botswana approves extradition of British fugitive

20th March 2023

Raiz Ahmed Tayub, a British fugitive sought by Interpol for his involvement in human trafficking and slave trade crimes, was captured by the Botswana Police Service (BPS) earlier this year.

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