Government will foot the legal bill of a Madiba Senior School teacher, after having lost a case against her last Friday. Government had subjected the teacher to suffering and embarrassment by halting her salary and ceasing her payments of medical aid and pension contributions for well over four months.
By halting the salary of the teacher Ellen Morula under questionable circumstances, court ruled last Friday that the government had acted in violation of both the Public Service Act as well as the Employment Act. Morula, who is employed at Madiba Senior Secondary School in Mahalapye, had her salary halted for more than 4 months (and counting) including benefits such as medical and pension contributions.
Up to now, Morula continues to discharge her functions as a teacher as she continues to be allocated classes at Madiba by the school management albeit without pay. When presenting the ‘draft consent order’ which is not entirely in favour of government on Friday at the High Court, Justice Michael Leburu stated that government should pay all dues to the teacher in question, including the legal cost of the applicant.
Justice Leburu stressed in the order that: “the respondent (government) is ordered to pay all arrears salaries, benefits, including pension contributions and medical aid subscriptions, immediately, and forthwith.” In addition, the Gaborone High Court Judge also ordered intensely that “the respondent (government) pay 10 per cent per annum on the outstanding salaries and benefits from the date they fell due to the date of payment.” Justice Leburu did not spare government also in the conclusion of his judgement further ordering the respondent (government) at the end to also pay the costs of the application before the Judgeship (that he presided over).
Court papers seen by WeekendPost indicate that Morula was unceremoniously put under what the Ministry of Education officials termed “suspended assignment” from “active assignment”. The ministry had seen the teacher to be acting in insubordination after she failed to resume duty following voluntary transfer.
According to the senior teacher, she could not continue with the transfer she voluntarily opted for given her health condition; and went further to state that travelling 80km every day was going to be detrimental to her health. But later on, to her dismay, she said in court papers that she was shocked that her salary, medical aid contributions, and pensions were stopped by the Directorate for Public Service Management (DPSM).
She narrated that this happened after she has conceded to move to Swaneng Senior Secondary School with the advice of the Ministry of Education officials, with the condition that she would later move to Shashe River Senior Secondary School in Tonota, where, owing to her ill health, will be closer to the cardiology clinic in Francistown.
When she got to Shashe however, she said in court papers, she was told by the school head that they did not need a Biology teacher and was ordered to go back to Madiba which she did. Morula continued to point out that surprisingly, and after a long passage of time, on the 24th May 2017, she received a letter written by the Director alleging that she had refused to go on transfer and that she should show cause why a disciplinary action should not be taken against her.
The senior teacher said she was then advised by her attorney, Uyapo Ndadi of Ndadi Law Firm, that the employer in terms of the Public Service Act could only stop payment as a punishment following a disciplinary hearing as per section 40 of the Public Service Act.
She further stressed that no disciplinary hearing had ever taken place against her prior to the termination of payment of her salary and benefits.
“I am further advised the DPSM has a legal duty to pay me monthly salaries and failure to do so is in violation of the employment Act. My attorneys will deal with this point in argument,” she had submitted in her initial papers. As a result, her attorney Ndadi had also stated in court papers that the client was gravely suffering financial prejudice and embarrassment, and any further delay would invariably worsen her situation.
Ndadi said that they were monitoring whether the government will respect the court order and pay the said teacher who is likely to smile all the way to the bank as the festive season slowly creeps in. While Morula was represented by Ndadi and Ramou Jallow both from Ndadi Law Firm M. Taunyane stood in for the government through the Attorney General Chambers.
In an era where the advocacy for the rights and inclusion of marginal groups, especially individuals beset with profound and multiple impairments, grows more fervent, the Ministry of Education and Skills Development is actively devising schemes to integrate these individuals comprehensively.
Embarking on a pioneering venture, heralded by the Minister Douglas Letsholathebe, the establishment of a novel facility designated for individuals faced with disabilities is on the horizon, set to inaugurate in Maun by mid-2024.
This forthcoming entity, bestowed with the title “Maun Center for Learners with Severe and Multiple Disabilities,” is set to emerge as a sanctuary for those grappling with intense and diverse disabilities in the expanse of the Ngamiland District. Its mission extends beyond serving as a haven; it aims to elevate educational standards and secure outstanding scholastic achievements for this special cohort.
With palpable optimism, Dr. Letsholathebe heralds that this sanctuary, a collective effort of the ministry’s allies, is constructed and awaits its ceremonial launch in the June of 2024, marking a significant epoch in the winter season.
“Construction of the Maun Center for Learners with Severe and Multiple Disabilities has concluded, now in the stewardship of my Ministry. We are poised for its operational unveiling come June 2024,” Dr. Letsholathebe revealed, signaling a new chapter of assurance.
The Government of the Republic of Botswana is steadfast in elevating the status of individuals with disabilities, fostering an environment where their rights are fervently protected and upheld.
Echoing this commitment, the recent adoption of the Persons Living with Disabilities Act marks a historic stride. Its foremost objective is the establishment of the National Disability Coordinating Office alongside the National Disability Council, aligning with the mandates of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). This movement is expected to significantly influence the integration of disability-centric issues.
Moreover, this legislative framework is set to fortify ongoing initiatives, increasing the economic participation of disabled individuals, thereby enhancing their living conditions and steering them towards securing a life marked by dignity and fulfillment.
In light of historical evidence, individuals bearing disabilities have consistently encountered significant obstacles in securing employment, often finding themselves at the margins of the workforce. Constraints to equitable employment opportunities compared to their non-disabled counterparts were a common plight.
A substantial portion of employers harbor reservations about integrating people with disabilities into their workplaces, fearing potential complications. Only a select few are open to the idea of employing individuals with disabilities. Consequently, these individuals face heightened unemployment rates and a lack of social support, exacerbating their vulnerability to economic hardship. The International Labour Organisation (ILO), along with the nation of Botswana, champions the cause of workplace inclusion for people with disabilities.
Statistics from Botswana’s multi-topic survey for the fourth quarter of 2021 underscore the situation. The labor force comprising individuals with disabilities saw an uptick to 11,553 from 8,649 in just a year. Among these, 4,313 were males and 7,240 were females. The unemployed tally stood at 2,195, against 9,358 who were employed. A notable majority resided in Urban Villages, with the remainder spread across rural locales and cities.
During this quarter, individuals with disabilities accounted for approximately 1.3 percent (9,358 persons) of the overall 717,418 employed populace, marking a significant increase from the previous year. The distribution of employed persons with disabilities across various areas also saw changes, with urban regions employing a majority, followed by rural areas and cities.
The report further delves into the occupational landscape for people with disabilities, noting a predominant employment in service/sales roles over elementary positions – a contrast to the broader employment data.
Despite a reduction in unemployment figures for individuals with disabilities from the preceding year, the unemployment rate stands at a worrying 19.0 percent, with disparities between genders. Urban areas house the majority of the unemployed, with rural areas and cities following suit.
Unemployment across different age groups reveals a balanced distribution, highlighting a widespread issue across the demographic spectrum. This paints a vivid picture of the ongoing challenges and gradual progress within the sphere of employment for people with disabilities.
Majority of employers are still hesitant to employ people with disabilities because they believe they may bring problems in the workplace. Only a few employers are willing to hire workers with disabilities. This as a result makes people living with disability to be affected by high unemployment and insufficient social protection which then further increases their risk of poverty. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) is advocating for the inclusion of people with disability in the world of work and Botswana as a country too is advocating for their inclusion in the workplaces.
According to statistics Botswana, multi-topic survey quarter 4, 2021 labour force module report, the total labour force for people with disability was estimated at 11,553 persons, an increase of 2,904 persons over a period of twelve months (from 8,649 persons recorded in Q4 2020). From this total, 4,313 persons were males while 7,240 were females. In addition, 2,195 persons were unemployed whereas 9,358 persons were employed. Furthermore, the data showed the majority of labour force with disability were in Urban Villages (6,185), 3,708 were in rural areas and 1,661 in Cities & Towns.
The essence of community and local flair reigns supreme as St Louis Lager takes a bold step with its ambitious “Hype the Homegrown” Initiative, designed to bolster the visibility and support for local artists and home-based brands, weaving them into the fabric of mainstream success through revolutionary partnerships.
The launchpad for this endeavor has been set with a plethora of creative projects. Among them, a musical odyssey titled “The Journey,” featuring the fusion of local House and Pop virtuoso Hanceford Magapatona, widely celebrated as Han C. Enriching the project further are talents like the visionary Producer Flex the Ninja and the RnB Phenom, Priscilla K, whose track “Away” has captured hearts. This six-track EP, ripe with local genius, is up for grabs across all streaming services, inviting listeners to a world of Botswana’s finest.
But “Hype the Homegrown” transcends the bounds of musical exploration, delving into the realms of fashion and lifestyle, stitching a dynamic collaboration with Collections by B.K. Proctor. This venture, rooted in 100% local ownership by the trailblazing Rapper and Entrepreneur Bokang βBKβ Proctor alongside Digital Maverick, Fifi Wale, showcases a vibrant melding of St Louis Lager and Collections by BK Proctor insignias across a series of street-savvy sneakers and tees. These exclusive pieces have hit the shelves at the Collections by BK Proctor boutiques within the bustling hubs of Gaborone Fairgrounds Mall, Grand Palm, and Toro Junction Mall in Francistown.
Unveiled by the marketing maestro of Kgalagadi Breweries Limited, Gaamanngwe Ramokgothwane, this initiative not only shines a spotlight on KBL’s enduring commitment to the arts but also underscores the wealth of creativity brewing within Botswana, deserving of grand stages and accolades. Ramokgothwane passionately advocates for a collective embrace of this homegrown brilliance, positioning “Hype the Homegrown” as not merely a campaign but a clarion call to action for institutions far and wide to champion and elevate local talent.
Echoing this sentiment, KBL’s steward Carlos Bernitt envisions a future where these artisans not only sparkle locally but also etch their mark on the global canvas, all through the unified backing of Batswana. With “Hype the Homegrown,” a legacy of innovation, creativity, and inspiration is in the making.
The Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Seipati Olweny, acknowledged this campaign as a turning point for the creative community. She stressed the indispensable role of local talent in crafting Botswana’s cultural tapestry and stimulating economic diversification, pledging unwavering support from the ministry towards this collective journey of uplifting local flair.