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Retrenchment unmasks the real war at BPC

There is a purpose as to why government had to change management at Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) to the extent of sacrificing the indigenization approach for the leadership of the limping organization.

While the latest indications point only to cost cutting and containment, it is evident that government was not happy with the glaring failure of the BPC and its heavy losses. Fast forward, BPC CEO, Stefan Schwarzfischer is at work, shedding load in the form of Batswana employees at the Corporation. He is convinced that they are the waste, they are the cost.  

Together with his Human Resource team, the CEO has attracted the wrath of axed and serving employees because of what employees see as double standards. Batswana with superior qualifications and experience have been retrenched while at the same time the corporation is engaging contract companies that employs expatriates of inferior qualification.

With the BPC is already at loggerheads with its employees and former employees over the ongoing retrenchment exercise which is intended to achieve a streamlined organization. Management claims that a review of the overall results of the individual staff performance appraisals for the financial year ending 31st March 2017 and that of the Corporation as a whole indicates a gross mismatch between the performance of the Corporation and that of individual employees.

But reports by employees on the ground are such that there are many cases of favouritism and witch hunt. “Employees who have questioned some management malpractices in the past are being targeted through the retrenchment exercise,” alleges one plant operator in Palapye where the heaviest blow was felt.

Most of the employees who were recently retrenched in Palapye had questioned the introduction of clocking machine for citizen employees whereas there no such machine at BPC depots elsewhere. Employees had indicated that the introduction of the machine was against the BPC HR manual or policy. Steag which has been engaged by the BPC on consultancy basis has in fact replaced BPC staff. Employees allege that the Steag bill far outweigh the retrenched employees wage bill.

One retrenched employee told this publication that he had complained about unfair treatment by one of the expatriate colleagues only to receive a retrenchment letter the next morning. “I am actually more qualified than the expatriate I am talking about, but they chose to keep him and boot me out,” he says.  He further stated that they have lost hope on lodging appeals or complaints because some in management and in the Board own flats that they have rented out to the expatriate workers, “so they cannot retrench them because they are paying their flats,” he claimed.

Citizen employees, most of whom have been retrenched now, had questioned some decisions such as the appointment of expatriates as forklift operators. As citizens continue to be shown the door at BPC, contract companies and their employees continue to enjoy bonuses for “no load loss”   and vacuum trucks are hired at the tune of P1.5 million per month despite working for a few days in a given month. By the account of these employees it is evident that cost is only justified when the money pays them but it becomes a different story when contract companies and expatriates are involved.

So far about 600 employees have been laid off and the target is to reduce the BPC work force by 1200 people. The actions of the Corporation’s well paid executives are a complete contrast to the reasons advanced for executing the ongoing retrenchment exercise which is meant to bring down costs at the loss making Power Corporation.

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Khan: Boko, Masisi are fake politicians

18th January 2021
Masisi & Boko

While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.

Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.

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Ookeditse rejects lobby for BPF top post

18th January 2021

Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.

Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.

Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”

“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.

He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.

He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.

According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.

There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.

Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.

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BDP cancels MPs retreat

18th January 2021
President Masisi

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.

“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication.
The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.

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