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‘Toxic’ new pay structure divides CAAB

A proposed new pay structure at the Civil Aviation Authority of Botswana (CAAB) has divided staff, with those on the technical side but lower bands accusing those on the Human Resources and Administration bands of coming up with a self-serving structure albeit undermining the “core” cadres of aviation.

The positions grading levels for approved structure – April 2014 compared with the revised structure of October 2017 were shared with staff this week and caused a lot of consternation especially in the middle and lower bands. The discussions around a new pay structure comes at a time when the CAAB board is also battling with the decision to renew or not to renew the contract of their 76 year old Chief Executive Officer, Geoffrey Moshabesha whose three year contract is coming to an end in December. Some in the board want to bring in a local to take over the reins while appreciating what the former CEO has done for CAAB. They also point to the issue of age. Moshabesha, a Lesotho national, first came to CAAB as a consultant and was later offered the CEO post.

As word document copies of the new pay structure hit in boxes of some of the CAAB staff members, there allegations were flying thick and fast that one of the staff   members based at the Human Resource Department had fiddled with the original document from the consultant and forwarded a doctored version of the proposal.

As he gripes over his protracted contract appraisal, the CEO has to deal with unhappy Air Traffic Controllers, Aviation Security Officers, Aviation Firemen, and Air craft maintenance officers among others. These cadres have been notched at lower bands of 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11 in the CAAB pay structure but they are convinced that they should have been capped at a better scale.

The aggrieved staff point to the Corporate Services directorate which houses human resources and administration personnel as self-serving. According to the new pay structure a number of positions have been moved from band 5 to band 4; and others in their majority have been moved from band 6 to band 4. There is only one person or position pegged at the middle band of 8, an Administrative Assistant, the rest are between 2 and 6 bands.

The Chief Executive Officer remains at the top of the chart on band 1 followed by Heads, Aviation Security and Facilitation Oversight, and Head, Air Transport; Director, Aviation Safety Oversight; Director, Air Navigation Services, Director Airport Services; Director, Corporate Services; and Director, Airport Engineering and Maintenance, who are all on band 2. Corporate Secretary and General Counsel has been downgraded from band 2 to band 3.  The biggest jump in the new grading level is observed at the Public Relations and Communication department where the Public Relations and Communications Officer has been upgraded from band 8 to band 5. Head of Public Relations and Communications has been also upgraded from band 4 to band 3.

At Directorate level the staff there ranks the lowest among all the departments with the highest band being 5, held by a Public Affairs Officer and the lowest being 13 held by a Cleaner. A Systems Analyst has been pegged at band 7 in the Directorate. Under Airport Engineering and Maintenance, a most Engineers have been upgraded from band 6 to band 5 while technicians have been upgraded from band 8 to band 7.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Botswana (CAAB) was established by the Civil Aviation Authority Act, 2004 which mandates CAAB to promote aviation safety and security and ensure the regular and efficient use and development of Civil Aviation in Botswana. The Authority commenced full operations on 1st April 2009 as a statutory Corporation under the ministry of Transport and Communications (MTC).  

CAAB is responsible under the Act for regulation of air transport, providing air navigation services, managing airports and advising the government on all aspects of civil aviation. Most of these functions were formerly being handled by the former Department of Civil Aviation (DCA). This is not the first time that the CAAB proposes a new pay structure, everytime there is this proposal staff is divided. Many insiders point to the entrenched divisions of the former DCA employees versus the new institution (CAAB) staff members who were never with the DCA. However those who have not been with the DCA are accused of undermining the former DCA staff.

The CAAB has in the past faced some financial constraints, fingers pointed at the organisational structure for the woes. The organisation has been facing some structural squabbles that were more pronounced during the reign of former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Major Jefferson Thokwane, some employees were retrenched to conjur a new organizational structure. Some of the positions in the organisational structure were faced out then amid contestation. The organisation may be heading to the same situation again, as staff pay bands are changed and a new pay structure is proposed.

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UDC founder warns against merger

19th October 2020
Ex UDC Convener: Mpotokwane

Lebang Mpotokwane, one of the conveners who presided over the opposition cooperation talks that resulted in the formation of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), has advised against changing the current umbrella model in favour of a merger as proposed by others.

The Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leader, Dumelang Saleshando recently went public to propose that UDC should consider merging of all opposition parties, including Alliance for Progressives (AP) and Botswana Patriotic Front (BNF).

Saleshando has been vehemently opposed by Botswana National Front (BNF), which is in favour of maintaining the current model.  BNF’s position has been favoured by the founding father of UDC, who warned that it will be too early to ditch the current model.

“UDC should be well developed to promote the spirit of togetherness on members and the members should be taught so that the merger is developed gradually. They should approach it cautiously. If they feel they are ready, they can, but it would not be a good idea,” Mpotokwane told WeekendPost this week.

Mpotokwane and Emang Maphanyane are the two men who have since 2003 began a long journey of uniting opposition parties in a bid to dethrone the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BCP) as they felt it needed a strong opposition to avoid complacency.

Tonota born Mpotokwane is however disappointed on how they have been ejected from participating in the last edition of talks ahead of the 2019 general elections in which BCP was brought on board.  However, despite the ejection, Mpotokwane is not resentful to the opposition collective.

He said the vision of opposition unity was to ultimately merge the opposition parties but he believes time has not arrived yet to pursue that path. “The bigger picture was a total merger and we agreed that with three independent parties, members might be against merger eventuality so the current model should be used until a point where they are now together for as long as possible,” he said.

“UDC should gradually perform better in elections and gain confidence. They should not rush the merger. We have been meeting since 2003, but if they rush it might cause endless problems. If they are ready they can anyway,” he advised. For now the constituent parties of the umbrella have been exchanging salvos with others (BCP and BNF).

“There are good reasons for and against merging the parties. Personally, I am in favour of merging the parties (including AP and BPF) into a single formation but I know it’s a complex mission that will have its own challenges,” Saleshando said when he made his position known a week ago.

“Good luck to those advocating for a merger, it will be interesting to observe the tactics they will use to lure the BPF into a merger,” former BNF councillor for Borakalalo Ward and former BNF Youth League Secretary General, Arafat Khan, opined in relation to BCP’s proposed position.

Mpotokwane, who is currently out in the cold from the UDC since he was ejected from the party’s NEC in 2017, said the current bickering and the expected negotiations with other parties need the presence of conveners.

“We did not belong to any party as conveners so we were objective in our submissions. If party propose any progressive idea we will support, if it is not we will not, so I would agree that even now conveners might be key for neutrality to avoid biasness,” he observed. Despite being abandoned, Mpotokwane said he will always be around to assist if at all he is needed.

“If they want help I will be there, I have always been clear about it, but surely I will ask few questions before accepting that role,” he said. UDC is expected to begin cooperation talks with both AP and BPF either this week or next weekend for both upcoming bye-elections (halted by Covid-19) and 2024 general elections and it is revealed that there will be no conveners this time around.

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BDP attaches Boko’s property

19th October 2020
DUMA BOKO

The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) moved through its lawyers to attach the property of Umbrella for Democratic (UDC) President Duma Boko and other former parliamentary contestants who failed in their court bid to overturn the 2019 general elections in 14 constituencies.

WeekendPost has established that this week, Deputy Sheriffs were commissioned by Bogopa Manewe Tobedza and Company who represented the BDP, to attach the properties of UDC elections contents in a bid to recover costs.  High Court has issued a writ of execution against all petitioners, a process that has set in motion the cost recovery measures.

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COVID-19 exposes decay in the education system

19th October 2020
Education Systm

Botswana Sectors of Teachers Union (BOSETU) says COVID-19 as a pandemic has negatively affected the education sector by deeply disrupting the education system. The intermittent lockdowns have resulted in the halting of teaching and learning in schools.

The union indicated that the education system was caught napping and badly exposed when it came to the use of Information System (IT), technological platforms and issues of digitalisation.

“COVID-19 exposed glaring inefficiencies and deficiencies when it came to the use of ITC in schools. In view of the foregoing, we challenge government as BOSETU to invest in school ITC, technology and digitalization,” says BOSETU President Kinston Radikolo during a press conference on Tuesday.

As a consequence, the union is calling on government to prioritise education in her budgeting to provide technological infrastructure and equipment including provision of tablets to students and teachers.

“Government should invest vigorously in internet connectivity in schools and teacher’s residences if the concept of flexi-hours and virtual learning were to be achieved and have desired results,” Radikolo said.

Radikolo told journalists that COVID-19 is likely to negatively affect final year results saying that the students would sit for the final examinations having not covered enough ground in terms of curriculum coverage.

“This is so because there wasn’t any catch up plan that was put in place to recover the lost time by students. We warn that this year’s final examination results would dwindle,” he said.

The Union, which is an affiliate of Botswana Federation of Public, Private and Parastatal Union (BOFEPUSU), also indicated that COVID-19’s presence as a pandemic has complicated the role of a teacher in a school environment, saying a teacher’s role has not only transcended beyond just facilitating teaching and learning, but rather, a teacher in this COVID-19 era, is also called upon to enforce the COVID-19 preventative protocols in the school environment.

“This is an additional role in the duty of a teacher that needs to be recognized by the employers. Teachers by virtue of working in a congested school environment have become highly exposed and vulnerable to COVID-19, hence the reason why BOSETU would like teachers to be regarded as the frontline workers with respect to COVID-19,” says Radikolo.

BOSETU noted that the pandemic has in large scales found its way into most of the school environments, as in thus far more than 50 schools have been affected by COVID-19. The Union says this is quite a worrying phenomenon.

“As we indicated before when we queried that schools were not ready for re-opening, it has now come to pass that our fears were not far-fetched. This goes out to tell that there is deficiency in our schools when it comes to putting in place preventative protocols. In our schools, hygiene is compromised by mere absence of sanitizers, few hand-washing stations, absence of social distancing in classes,” the Union leader said.

Furthermore, Radikolo stressed that the shifting system drastically increased the workload for teachers especially in secondary schools. He says teachers in these schools experience very high loads to an extent that some of them end up teaching up to sixty four periods per week, adding that this has not only fatigued teachers, but has also negatively affected their performance and the quality of teaching.

In what the Union sees as failure to uphold and honour collective agreements by government, owing to the shift system introduced at primary schools, government is still in some instances refusing to honour an agreement with the Unions to hire more teachers to take up the extra classes.

“BOSETU notes with disgruntlement the use of pre-school teachers to teach in the mainstream schools with due regard for their specific areas of training and their job descriptions. This in our view is a variation of the terms of employment of the said teachers,” says Radikolo.

The Union has called on government to forthwith remedy this situation and hire more teachers to alleviate this otherwise unhealthy situation. BOSETU also expressed concerns of some school administrators who continuously run institutions with iron fists and in a totalitarian way.

“We have a few such hot spot schools which the Union has brought to attention the Ministry officials such as Maoka JSS, Artesia JSS, and Dukwi JSS. We are worried that the Ministry becomes sluggish in taking action against such errant school administration. In instances where action is taken, such school administrators are transferred and rotated around schools.”

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