Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) attorney Dutch Leburu disclosed to the Court of Appeal this week that the union wants the Public Service Bargaining Council (PSBC) dismantled.
Leburu said this in relation to a matter in which government in cohorts with BOPEU is appealing Justice Tshepo Motswagole’s April ruling in which he nullified the unilateral decisions by government to award public servants 3% increment (and later 4%) outside the auspices of the Bargaining Council. The appeal came as a result of Botswana Federation of Public, Private and Parastatal Sectors Union (BOFEPUSU) having approached High Court through an application seeking to set aside government’s decision which it argued was in breach of the PSBC as increments were not a decision of it (PSBC).
The move also led to BOFEPUSU withdrawing from the PSBC to allow for the court process to take course. When delivering his oral arguments on Thursday before CoA Judges; Justice(s) Ian Kirby (CoA President), Monametsi Gaongalelwe and Zibani Makhwade, Counsel Leburu said all unions should withdraw from the Bargaining Council and altogether, kill it. “All unions should withdraw from the PSBC,” Leburu said adding that “they should instead bargain through sector by sector.” According to Leburu, the PSBC only binds members of unions in it; that is members of trade unions admitted into the Bargaining Council at any given time.
“We submit that PSBC resolution doesn’t apply to all Civil Servants. It only tells us the space of which we can withdraw membership from,” Leburu said adding that “scope limits those who could be in the PSBC but are not.” The BOPEU attorney emphasised that “individualism applies and not collectives per se”. He further said that even under Acting Jointly Agreement (AJA), in the PSBC, it is made by the majority and that’s collective, which they don’t believe should be the case.
Leburu warned the CoA Judges against ruling not in his favour while stressing that all parties should withdraw from the PSBC and bargain with government individually. He said it is not proper that PSBC is the only sole authority of bargaining. After Leburu uttered the words, Justice Kirby then interjected to ask him whether it therefore would not be an incentive to rule in protection of PSBC so that unions who voluntarily withdraw affiliation can go back and keep the Council intact.
The lawyer insisted that still there would be a vacuum in the PSBC while continuously stressing to the Judges that they should consider the danger he is pointing out to them. According to Leburu, Justice Tshepo Motswagole of a lower court, High Court, was wrong in his findings. “He was wrong in finding that the Bargaining Council decisions applied to all members even those outside the unions admitted in the PSBC including BOPEU and that they should abide by the decisions.”
Leburu added that there was therefore nothing wrong in BOPEU accepting the 3% salary hike for its members as they were outside the PSBC and it did not stop PSBC from continuing negotiating further. He asserted that “absolutely nothing” could stop government from increasing salaries of public servants, whether in terms of common law or practice. On his part, BOFEPUSU lawyer, South African, Advocate Alec Freund started his oral submissions by emphasizing that Court of Appeal has the opportunity to settle the collapse of PSBC in its ruling of the matter. He asserted that PSBC is binding to all public servants, regardless of union membership.
According to Freund, who differed sharply with Leburu, when an agreement is concluded at the PSBC, it applies to every employee or public servant. “It’s one deal for all,” he said. He highlighted that when unions bargain in their individual capacities in the absence of the Bargaining Council, it is a very unpopular arrangement in an international juris-prudence. “It’s the worst possible system for the employer,” he told the Court of Appeal bench. The Advocate added: “it will be a tragedy if PSBC breaks down. PSBC should be brought to life. What was the purpose of establishing the Bargaining Council in the first place? We said it should be the forum that will establish useful notes.”
Salary increment for public officers, he said should be uniform while also pointing out that agreements concluded provide a uniform approach to all even those outside the PSBC and this is the industry way. “Bargaining is the duty to negotiate in good faith until impasse. Workers can exercise their powers through an industrial strike and, an employer can exercise his power also through unilateral action.” Advocate Freund maintained that salaries and conditions of service for public servants or increments should go through a process of bargaining at the established structure of the Bargaining Council.
Meanwhile, an Attorney representing government, Advocate Tim Bruinders also from South Africa also said, while sharing the same sentiments with BOPEU, that when those admitted to the Bargaining Council talk about agreements they only bind themselves and not anybody else. He added that what mainly concerns government is that resolutions of the Council go to an extent of binding PSBC non-parties.
“It doesn’t mean government cannot negotiate in good faith for other recognized unions outside the ambit of the Bargaining Council. Government doesn’t mind negotiating with many parties,” he said. Upon hearing both sides of the arguments, Justice Kirby leading the trio on the bench, in the matter that will set the record straight on the scope of the PSBC – reserved the judgement to a later date he said will be announced.
Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration, Kabo Morwaeng together with Permanent Secretary to the President (PSP) Elias Magosi, this week refused to name and shame the worst performing Ministries and to disclose the best performing Ministries since beginning of 12th parliament including the main reasons for underperformance.
Of late there have been a litany of complaints from both ends of the aisle with cabinet members accused of providing parliament with unsatisfactory responses to the questions posed. In fact for some Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) backbenchers a meeting with the ministers and party leadership is overdue to address their complaints. Jwaneng-Mabutsane MP, Mephato Reatile is also not happy with ministers’ performance.
Bokamoso Private Hospital is battling a P10 million legal suit for a botched fibroids operation which resulted in a woman losing an entire womb and her prospects of bearing children left at zero.
The same suit has also befallen the Attorney General of Botswana who is representing the Ministry of Health and Wellness for their contributory negligence of having the unlawful removal of a patient, Goitsemang Magetse’s womb.
According to the court papers, Magetse says that sometimes in November 2019, she was diagnosed with fibroids at Marina Hospital where upon she was referred to Bokamoso Private Hospital to schedule an appointment for an operation to remove the fibroids, which she did.
Magetse continues that at the instance of one Dr Li Wang, the surgeon who performed the operation, and unknown to her, an operation to remove her whole womb was conducted instead. According to Magetse, it was only through a Marina Hospital regular check-up that she got to learn that her whole womb has been removed.
“At the while she was under the belief that only her fibroids have been removed. By doing so, the hospital has subjected itself to some serious delictual liability in that it performed a serious and life changing operation on patient who was under the belief that she was doing a completely different operation altogether. It thus came as a shock when our client learnt that her womb had been removed, without her consent,” said Magetse’s legal representatives, Kanjabanga and Associates in their summons.
The letter further says, “this is an infringement of our client‘s rights and this infringement has dire consequences on her to the extent that she can never bear children again”. ‘It is our instruction therefore, to claim as we hereby do, damages in the sum of BWP 10,000,000 (ten million Pula) for unlawful removal of client’s womb,” reads Kanjabanga Attorneys’ papers. The defendants are yet to respond to the plaintiff’s papers.
What are fibroids?
Fibroids are tumors made of smooth muscle cells and fibrous connective tissue. They develop in the uterus. It is estimated that 70 to 80 percent of women will develop fibroids in their lifetime — however, not everyone will develop symptoms or require treatment.
The most important characteristic of fibroids is that they’re almost always benign, or noncancerous. That said, some fibroids begin as cancer — but benign fibroids can’t become cancer. Cancerous fibroids are very rare. Because of this fact, it’s reasonable for women without symptoms to opt for observation rather than treatment.
Studies show that fibroids grow at different rates, even when a woman has more than one. They can range from the size of a pea to (occasionally) the size of a watermelon. Even if fibroids grow that large, we offer timely and effective treatment to provide relief.
The Alliance for Progressives (AP) President Ndaba Gaolathe has said that despite major accolades that Botswana continues to receive internationally with regard to the state of economy, the prospects for the future are imperilled.
Delivering his party Annual Policy Statement on Thursday, Gaolathe indicated that Botswana is in a state of do or die, and that the country’s economy is on a sick bed. With a major concern for poverty, Gaolathe pointed out that almost half of Botswana’s people are ravaged by or are about to sink into poverty. “Our young people have lost the fire to dream about what they could become,” he said.