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Govt sued for unlawful salary cessation

A senior teacher at a government school, Ellen Morula is taking government to task following a decision by the government to stop paying her monthly salary under controversial circumstances since July to date.

The decision she has cited through her attorneys, violated the Employment’s Act and Public Service Act. Morula is being represented by Uyapo Ndadi of Ndadi Law Firm and the respondent is government through Attorney General (AG) on behalf of Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM). The teacher, whose salary has been halted for 3 months now and counting, is employed at Madiba Senior Secondary School in Mahalapye.

The senior teacher wants the government through the employer, DPSM, to pay her all arrears salaries, benefits, including pension contributions and medical aid subscriptions immediately and forthwith. According to court papers seen by Weekend Post, she also said the government should pay 10 percent per annum as interest on the outstanding salaries and benefits from the date they fell due. The court documents indicate that the dispute matter started in 2014 when Morula arranged and requested to swap working stations (self requested transfers) with other colleagues but fell ill along the way and wrote to cancel the request.

She narrated that she was then advised to notify those who were party to the requested transfer which she did, but was shocked later when she was given instruction to go to Swaneng Senior Secondary School despite having cancelled the transfer request.
However she then conceded to move to Swaneng 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, she said in court papers, she was told by the school head that they do not need a Biology teacher and was ordered to go back to Madiba which she did. Morula continued: “surprisingly, and after a long passage of time, on the 24th May 2017, I received a letter written by the Director alleging that I have refused to go on transfer and that I should show cause why a disciplinary action should not be taken against me.”

She said that she then responded in which the essence of her response was that “I went to Swaneng again after receiving the show cause letter and I was informed that there is no accommodation for me, and when I went back after 2 weeks I was told that I can only be housed at Palapye.” According to the senior teacher, she made it clear in that letter that given her health condition; travelling 80km every day would be detrimental to her.

However, after that, the next communication she later received was in the form of a letter from the Director indicating something to the effect that: “the following changes with effect from 4th July 2017 have been made on your assignment: assignment status changed from active assignment to suspended assignment.” The letter further highlighted that “reason for the change: failure to resume duty following voluntary transfer.” The Madiba Senior School teacher pointed out that she could not interpret what the letter meant and consequently went further to seek legal advice.

She further emphasised that to her shock and dismay “following the letter, my salary, medical aid contributions, and pensions were stopped by the DPSM”. In the meantime Morula pointed out that she continued to discharge her functions as a teacher as she continued to be allocated classes at Madiba by the school management. “On the 5th September 2017, I received a letter dated 28 August 2017 inviting me to a disciplinary hearing on the 14th September 2017 at Madiba at 10am. On the said day and time, I appeared at the said place for the hearing, I found no one, I waited until about lunch time, still with no joy.”

She explained that she then approached the head teacher at Madiba, to check if there is an update on the status of the disciplinary hearing and “the head teacher was also in the dark”. Morula said in the said papers before court: “I am advised by my attorney, which advise I accept as true, that the employer in terms of Public Service Act can 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 has ever taken place against her, prior to the termination of payment of her salary and benefit. “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 submitted. As a result, her attorney Ndadi also stated in court papers that the client is gravely suffering financial prejudice and embarrassment, and any further delay will invariably worsen her situation. Morula will know her fate as soon as the case takes course in court, as expected, soon.

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People with Disabilities Face Barriers to Political Participation in Botswana

23rd February 2024

Individuals challenged by disabilities encounter formidable obstacles when endeavoring to partake in political processes within the context of Botswana. Political involvement, a cornerstone of democratic governance, empowers citizens to shape the legislative landscape that impacts their daily existence. Despite Botswana’s reputation for upholding democratic ideals, recent insights unveil a troubling reality – those with disabilities find themselves marginalized in the realm of politics, contending with substantial barriers obstructing the exercise of their democratic liberties.

A recent inquiry in Botswana unveiled a panorama where individuals with disabilities confront hurdles in navigating the political arena, their involvement often restricted to the basic act of voting. Voices emerged from the study, underscoring the critical necessity of fostering environments that are accessible and welcoming, affording individuals with disabilities the active engagement they rightfully deserve in political processes. Noteworthy was the account of a participant grappling with physical impairments, shedding light on the glaring absence of ramps at polling stations and the urgent call for enhanced support mechanisms to ensure an equitable electoral participation.

The echoes reverberating from these narratives serve as poignant reminders of the entrenched obstacles impeding the full integration of individuals with disabilities into the democratic tapestry. The inaccessibility of polling stations and the glaring absence of provisions tailored to the needs of persons with disabilities loom large as formidable barricades to their political engagement. Particularly pronounced is the plight of those grappling with severe impairments and intellectual challenges, who face even steeper hurdles in seizing political participation opportunities, often grappling with feelings of isolation and exclusion from the political discourse.

Calls for decisive action cascade forth, urging the establishment of more inclusive and accessible political ecosystems that embrace individuals with disabilities in Botswana. Government bodies and concerned stakeholders are urged to prioritize the enactment of laws and policies designed to safeguard the political rights of individuals with disabilities. Furthermore, initiatives geared towards enhancing awareness and education on political processes and rights for this segment of society must be spearheaded, alongside the adoption of inclusive measures within political institutions and party structures.

By dismantling these barriers and nurturing a political landscape that is truly inclusive, Botswana can earnestly uphold its democratic ethos and afford every citizen, including those with disabilities, a substantive opportunity to partake in the political fabric of the nation.

 

 

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Neo Kirchway- Defying the odds

23rd February 2024

In the heartwarming tale of Neo Kirchway, a beacon of inspiration emerges, shining brightly amid life’s adversities.

Defying the constraints of destiny, Neo Kirchway, a resilient Motswana soul now thriving in the United States, stands tall despite the absence of her lower limbs. With unwavering determination, she tends to her cherished family – a loving husband and four children – engaging in the daily symphony of household tasks with remarkable grace.

Neo’s indomitable spirit traces back to the fateful year of 1994, a time when medical intervention called for the amputation of her curled legs. Embracing this pivotal juncture with unwavering courage and the blessing of her mother, she ventured forth into a world adorned with prosthetic legs, eager to script a tale of triumph.

Venturing beyond borders, Neo’s journey led her to the embrace of the United States, where serendipity intertwined her fate with that of her soulmate, Garrett Kirchway. Together, this harmonious duo navigates the ebbs and flows of life, their bond fortified by unwavering love and unyielding support.

In a bid to illuminate paths and embolden hearts, Neo leverages the digital realm, crafting a sanctuary of empowerment on her YouTube channel. Brimming with authenticity and raw emotion, her videos chronicle the tapestry of her daily life, serving as a testament to resilience and the unwavering human spirit.

Amidst the digital cosmos, Neo, affectionately known as “KirchBaby,” reigns supreme, a luminary in the hearts of 658,000 enraptured subscribers. Through her captivating content, she not only navigates the mundane tasks of cooking, cleaning, and childcare but also dances with celestial grace, a testament to her boundless spirit and unyielding zest for life.

In the cathedral of Neo Kirchway’s narrative, resilience reigns supreme, echoing a universal truth – that amidst life’s gales, the human spirit, when kindled by hope and fortitude, emerges as a beacon of light, illuminating even the darkest of paths.

 

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Inequalities Faced by Individuals with Disabilities

22nd February 2024

The government’s efforts to integrate individuals with disabilities in Botswana society are being hampered by budgetary constraints. Those with disabilities face inequalities in budgetary allocations in the health and education sectors. For instance, it is reported that the government allocates higher budgetary funds to the general health sector, while marginal allocations are proposed for the development and implementation of the National Primary Health Care guidelines and Standards for those with Disabilities. This shows that in terms of budgetary solutions, the government’s proposed initiatives in improving the health and well-being of those with disabilities remain futile as there is not enough money going towards disability-specific health programs. On the other hand, limited budgetary allocations to the Special Education Unit also are a primary contributor to the inequalities faced by children with disabilities. The government only provides for the employment of 15 teachers with qualifications in special education despite the large numbers of children with intellectual disabilities that are in need of special education throughout Botswana. Such disproportional allocation of resources inhibits the capacity to provide affordable and accessible assisted technology and residential support services for those with disabilities. Given the fact that a different amount of resources have been availed to the education and health sectors, the general understanding is that the government is not doing enough to ensure that adequate resources are distributed to disability-specific programs and facilities such as barrier-free environments, residential homes, and special education schools for children with disabilities.

 

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