Khama, Botswana to headline ILO conference
An international body, Public Services International (PSI) is coming after government following recent developments with labour unions which they have termed as anti-workers rights prevailing in the country.
PSI is a global union federation of 669 public services trade union representing 20 million workers in 154 countries. It represents workers in social services, health care, municipal services, central government and public utilities.
In Botswana, recently, the Public Service Bargaining Council (PSBC) collapsed owing to persistent unilateral salary increments by government while negotiations were ensuing at the Council. This led to trade union party, Botswana Federation of Private, Public and Parastatal Workers Union, (BOFEPUSU) out of frustration, pulling out from the talks hence collapsing the Council.
Further, government is at an advanced stage of ensuring that the Public Service Bill becomes law, yet another step considered an endeavour by Khama’s government to trample on the workers’ rights. The bill essentially dis-empowers the PSBC and gives more power to the government through the Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) and Permanent Secretary to the President. The PSP has been given authority to undertake disciplinary actions.
Moreover, the government has, despite strong resistance by local trade unions, passed a controversial law at parliament, Trade Dispute Act, which essentially categorized the teaching services, state broadcasting services, veterinary services in the public service, diamond sorting, cutting and selling services, operational and maintenance services of the railways among others – as essential services.
Unions believe their categorization was a calculated move to deprive them of their own weapon against powerful employers – which is their right to strike. WeekendPost is in possession of a letter directed to head of Botswana government President Lt. Gen. Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama in which they highlight to him that the state of affairs concerning the workers’ rights in the country are upsetting to say the least.
They therefore highlighted to him that Botswana and it’s trampling of workers’ rights issues will set the agenda at the International Labour Conference (ILC) next month in Geneva, Switzerland where hundreds of countries will partake.
They state that: “PSI strongly believes that these developments are not only a cause for concern, but also an issue for action by the 106th International Labour Conference (ILC) in June 2017.” The General Secretary of PSI Rosa Pavanelli told Khama in the communiqué that PSI fully supports the complaint lodged about Botswana government to the impending 106th ILC sitting in June 2017, Geneva.
Pavanelli said the public service unions affiliating to PSI in Botswana, shall always confront any of the mentioned or identified challenges that infringe on the rights of their members, in any way whatsoever.
“In light of the various developments taking place in Botswana, particularly in reference to the public services, PSI has seen it fit to send a statement/open letter to the President of the country, His Excellency, Sir Seretse Khama on the issues,” she pointed out.
She continued to explain that the issues under dispute that put Botswana on the spotlight include the enactment of the Trade Disputes Act of 2016, the proposals for the amendments of the Public Service Act of 2008 and other developments taking place in the public services.
Pavanelli told Khama that she has been keenly following the developments taking place in the public services in Botswana over the enactment of the Trade Disputes Act (TDA) of 2016, the proposed amendments to the Public Services Bill of Botswana, and the culminating events informed by the posture of the Government of Botswana over the collective bargaining processes in the recent months.
She complained that “the proposed Public Service Bill amendments, which seek to amend the Public Service Act of 2008, have, amongst other things, provided for the unilateral appointment of the Secretary of the Public Service Bargaining Council by the President, and not by all the parties in the council; only limited to the employees of the Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM).”
In the letter, she is gravely concerned that the PSBC is not involved in dispute resolution, “particularly since it is not clear what, in the absence of dispute resolution, will the function of the PSBC be, in line with the proposals of the bill”. Moreover, Pavanelli stated that the proposals to the bill provide for the conference of benefits on employees whilst negotiations are ongoing, something which seriously undermines and mocks the bargaining process in its entirety.
“These and other such proposals to the amendments to the bill remain problematic in the spirit of building industrial harmony and tranquillity. Furthermore, in all these proposed amendments, there is an apparent lack of commitment to provide rationality for these proposals, and to bring unions closer to such deliberations.”
Adding salt to injury, she explained that the recent court incidents over the PSBC and the proposed amendments to the Public Service Act of 2008 all show an apparently glaring shortage of commitment and sincerity from the Government of the Republic of Botswana to amicably resolve the outstanding matters of workers’ rights infringement in the public services.
According to the PSI General Secretary, this was raised following their prior correspondence, but no action has been taken. Instead, she said, they seem to witness an unabated, uninterrupted and consistent continuation of the process towards promulgating this bill into law soon, despite all the concerns raised.
Pavanelli noted that following the correspondence from the PSI Office on the 30th August 2016, directed to Khama’s office, there has been no change at all in relation to the commitment of the Government of Botswana to considering the concerns of public sector trade unions in the country over the enactment of the act.
“We also have a strong belief that since Botswana has ratified a majority of the core conventions, including Convention No.87 on the right to collective bargaining, and that Botswana is part of the ILO Governing Body, the Government of Botswana should ensure that it consistently upholds the rights enshrined in these conventions. We continue to reiterate this fact,” she stated.
“In that regard, Honourable President, PSI kindly brings the following to your attention: that we again call upon your government to open up for consultative, genuine and conclusive deliberations on both the TDA (2016) and the Public Service Bill Amendments in order to reinstate the confidence that has been eroded on the good faith by the Government of Botswana on all parties to the tripartite structure,” further reads the letter from Pavanelli.
She added: “we shall consistently liaise with your office to ensure that legislative amendments are a process involving all tripartite structures in social dialogue format, so as to avoid unnecessary industrial tensions and unrest.” The PSI official also requested Khama’s government to desist from creating wedges between union and non-union members, as it would likely back fire in future.
Meanwhile BOFEPUSU had vowed to expose Botswana in the global stage, particularly at ILC, for infringement of workers’ rights which is likely to tarnish Botswana’s reputation as “a shining example of democracy” abroad.
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Mascom, Letshego partner to deliver the MyZaka instant loan
Letshego Botswana has recently partnered with Mascom to launch the Mascom MyZaka Instant Loan, a customer focused mobile money microloan service designed to provide customers with swift and convenient access to funds, driven by the underlying theme of “Ithuse” meaning “help yourself”
The loan is said to have been developed through a partnership driven by a deep customer focus with the key objectives of access, convenience and flexible financial support to customers of Letshego Botswana and Mascom through instantly disbursed short-term loans from P50 to P1 500 over the period of one month.
Letshego’s head of transformation, Molebogeng Malomo highlighted that working through agile methodologies, the partnership was able to develop and be released as what they call a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) or solution. “In keeping up with the spirit of design thinking and agile methodologies, the experiences and viewpoints of both Letshego Botswana and Mascom’s customers will be valuable to inform further enhancements to the Mascom MyZaka solution,” he said.
He further noted that the partnership and the development of the MyZaka instant loan will provide both the organizations to diversify their offering and customer base, while also offering the customer more choices and flexibility to initiate and be in control of their loan requests through the self-service mobile based application.
Mascom’s Chief Executive Officer, Dzene Makhwade-Seboni also alluded that their origins, priorities and initiatives are firmly rooted in Botswana and in the success of all Batswana, and that their strategy and intent is supported by embracing innovative problem-solving.
“The speed with which Letshego has grown over the years gives us confidence that we have partnered with the right service provider. Their expertise and most of all, innovation, a value we both share, will be beneficial to MyZaka Mobile Money for growth and for the convenience of our subscribers,” she concluded.
DCEC granted warrant to arrest Khama twins
The Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) has been granted permission to apprehend the former Minister of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism, Tshekedi Khama, and his twin brother Anthony Khama.
Information gathered by this publication suggests that the DCEC is actively searching for the Khama brothers, this is in connection with events that transpired whilst Tshekedi was Minister of Environment. The duo is currently in exile in South Africa together with their elder brother, and former President Lt Gen Ian Khama.
Approximately two weeks ago, the corruption-busting agency discreetly filed for an arrest warrant that was approved by the Broadhurst Magistrate Court for the two to be taken into custody, according to a highly placed source within the government enclave.
DCEC is also said to have filed an affidavit signed by a high-ranking officer known to this publication. Reports indicate that after being presented with details of the case, the Broadhurst magistrate issued the agency an arrest warrant.
It is also believed that the agency has been conducting extensive investigations into the supposed suspects for quite some time. Furthermore, Weekend Post has it on good word that the DCEC has been looking for methods to summon the two for questioning but has been unsuccessful.
According to unconfirmed reports, DCEC met with attorney Victor Ramalepa, who refused to accept the summons, saying that he is not their attorney. Furthermore, it is believed that DCEC has enlisted the assistance of the Botswana Police Service (BPS) in flagging the suspects’ names in the International Criminal Police Organisation INTERPOL.
Responding to WeekendPost enquiries, DCEC spokesperson Lentswe Motshoganetsi said, “I am not in good position to confirm or deny the allegation,” adding that such allegations may fall within the operational purview of the DCEC.
When contacted for comment, Ramalepa briefly stated that he is unaware of the purported arrest warrant. “I know nothing about the warrant and I haven’t been served with anything,” he said.
Meanwhile, former president Lt Gen Ian Khama recently issued a statement stating that DIS is intensifying the harassment and intimidation of him, family, friends and office employees.
“It is reprehensible for state officials and agencies to abuse government resources to terrorise their own citizens for personal gain,” said the former president in a statement.
He also stated that his brother TK’s staff and security were ordered to falsely implicate him. “Their desperate tactics will never work, it only serves to motivate me more to pursue regime change and free Botswana from tyranny,” he said
This comes after the corruption busting agency wants to interview the alleged suspects as they are still hiding in South Africa since last year.
Despite the hostility between government and Khama family going unabated, last month, Masisi extended an olive branch to Khama in political rally, indicating that he hopes the two of them settle their differences, of which the former responded by welcoming the gesture.
Khama further said his brother, Tshekedi, will facilitate the reconciliation of his behalf. Many have indicated that Masisi did not say what he said in good faith, and was only scoring political brownies since he was in Khama’s territory in Shoshong.
DCEC’s Tshepo Pilane still has his mojo
Tshepo Pilane silenced his critics after being named the head of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) in May of last year and served his opponents humble pie. Many believed he would only last for a month, but almost a year later, he is still standing.
Pilane, a trained soldier whose appointment surprised both the general public and some officers within the DCEC walls, has never glanced back in his duty to steer the DCEC ship forward.
It is alleged that immediately after his appointment the man embarked on a nation-wide trip touring the DCEC offices across the country in order to confirm and reaffirm the DCEC’s mandate. Sources from inside the DCEC claim that Pilane won the hearts of many DCEC employees due to his humility and plain message; “people at the top of the DCEC will come and go but the mandate of the DCEC remains relevant and unchanged.”
Pilane was appointed the Acting DCEC Director General at a time when the organisation was undergoing turbulence through court proceedings in which the suspended Director General Tymon Katlholo had interdicted the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) from accessing the DCEC premises. At the time, the DIS had raided the DCEC offices in the absence of Katlholo claiming to be looking for high profile corruption cases allegedly held by Katlholo.
At the time Pilane was Head of the DCEC Intelligence Division holding the position of Senior Assistant Director General reporting directly to the Deputy Director General Operations Ms Priscilla Israel. Contrary to his detractors, Pilane who is a reserved and humble person by nature won the support and backing of many DCEC officers due to his unassuming nature.
In a recent questionnaire sent to the DCEC regarding Pilane’s term in office, the DCEC was resolute on its commitment towards the fight against corruption. When quizzed on allegations of rife corruption since he took over, Pilane through his Public Relations (PR) office stated that the corruption landscape in Botswana remains unchanged as the DCEC continues to receive reports on allegations of corruption with sectors such as procurement (tenders and supplies), Transport (licensing and certificates), and land (dubious allocation and collusion) still leading issues reported. This trend has been consistence in the DCEC database for more than 10 years.
When further quizzed on accusations that suggest that due to the infighting at the agency, particularly at the top management, Investigations of cases has dropped significantly the DCEC claimed ignorance to the matter, stating that they are not aware of any “infights” at the DCEC “at the top management”, further stating that, investigations of cases has increased significantly, contrary to the allegations raised. “The DCEC is currently seeking new ways of expediting the investigations in order to fast track its enforcement role,” said the DCEC Head of Public Relations Lentswe Motshoganetsi. He further stated that the DCEC is in pursuit of high profile cases involving money and assets valued over P900 million. Three companies are involved in the scandal and two cases have already been committed to court while on one, investigations are about to be completed.
When WeekendPost inquired about Pilane’s roadmap, the DCEC stated that in the past, anti-corruption interventions were reactive, particularly in dealing with national projects that involve large sums of money. It was further started that in most instances investigating such matters takes a long time and in most instances, the money looted form Government in never recovered. As a result, the DCEC has taken a deliberate stance to attach its officers from the Corruption Prevention Division to be part of the implementation of these projects before, during, and after implementation.
The DCEC cited the Economic Stimulus Programme which, although meant to grow the economy and uplift Batswana from poverty, yielded incidents of corruption and poor workmanship. To date, the DCEC is still grappling with cases as some projects were not done, or were completed with defects beyond repair. Currently the DCEC is involved at the Ministry of Education conducting project risk management in the Multiple Path Ways Program at Moeng College and Maun Senior School. This intervention will spread to other sectors of the economy as part of the DCEC’s corruption prevention strategy.
Of recent, the DCEC has been in the media for all the wrong reasons following leakage of high profile cases and allegations claiming that the executive management is at war with each other more particularly with some within the agency harbouring ambitions to dethrone Pilane from the Directorship.
Although the infighting was denied by Pilane’s Office, he acknowledged that leakage of information is a problem across Government and stated that it is a pain at the DCEC. He however stated that Staff has been cautioned against leakage of investigation information and that they have roped in the Botswana Police to assist in investigating incidents of leakage. He further stated that they have increased continuous vetting and lifestyle audits for DCEC employees in order to enforce discipline.
Pilane’s term comes to an end in May 2023 after serving the DCEC for a year on acting basis. It will be in the public interest to see who will be given the baton to continue the anti-corruption journey if Pilane’s contract is not renewed. The DCEC has seen arrival and departure of Director Generals having alternated the top seat five times in less than seven years.