Gov’t refuses to Bargain – BOFEPUSU
The Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) has accused Government of refusing to go back to the bargaining table following a series of court battles.
On the other hand Government and the Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) has accused, at court, the BOFEPUSU A.J.A of having not complied with Constitution of Public Service Bargaining Council (P.S.B.C) by not submitting membership numbers. As a result of the alleged non-compliance Government is also refusing to BOFEPUSU’s decision to accept a 3% salary increase offered by the employer last year – at salary negotiations for 2016/17.
At last week’s PSBC meeting BOFEPUSU had indicated that they have complied with Constitution of P.S.B.C as they have submitted the requested membership names, and such evidence was consequently produced. Despite BOFEPUSU’s arguments the Employer party declined to continue with the negotiations indicating that there must be a specific item on the agenda discussing the matter of non-compliance.
Explaining how his Federation has attempted to bring normalcy to the bargaining process, BOFEPUSU deputy secretary general, Ketlhalefile Motshegwa wrote: “In return for purpose of settling issues, progress at Bargaining Council, stability in civil service, BOFEPUSU wrote to Bargaining Council Secretary General and the Employer that there be a meeting to deal with the said allegations, a meeting at which BOFEPUSU will indicate clearly that they have complied.
This BOFEPUSU did to heed to the concerns and demands of Government. Surprisingly and shockingly now Government is refusing to go back to the Council for purpose of that meeting and item, and they are now saying the Permanent Secretaries and Directors who represent them at Council are busy. This is not truthful because Government representatives at Council are eight (8) and each have an alternative to attend when the substantive is not around. It is clear that Government does not want Bargaining Council to function, does not want negotiations and Collective Bargaining in Botswana. Government have many permanent secretaries and Directors to represent her.”
He said BOFEPUSU will announce a way forward on Monday should government hold on to its hard line stance of refusing to come to the bargaining table. “We encourage workers to remain strong and courageous because we are in the final stages of claiming the so much fought for victory,” he added. Meanwhile judgement has been reserved in a matter of where the Botswana Public Sector Union (BOPEU) had asked the Court of Appeal for a Stay of Execution of the Motswagole J judgement, ruling has been reserved following passionate submissions from representatives of the two parties, Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) was represented by the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) president, Advocate Duma Boko while BOPEU was represented by Martin Dingake.
BOFEPUSU says it is protecting the Public Service Bargaining Council (PSBC) and the recognised bargaining process while BOPEU says it wants to protect the salaries of civil servants who were awarded 3 percent last year. According to Motshegwa, the motive and consequences of application of BOPEU and Government is destruction of Bargaining Council and giving Government absolute power over workers and rendering Trade Unions irrelevant. He said this is a great attack on Industrial Democracy and human rights.
HOW THE PARTIES GOT HERE
In October 2015, the Trade Union party BOFEPUSU A.J.A tabled a proposal of 13.5 % for purposes of 2016/17 salary negotiations. Government delayed to submit a counter proposal to Trade Union Party’s proposal. In April 2015, Government made a unilateral salary increment of 3 % outside the P.S.B.C. and the increment only awarded to non-unionised public servants. This brought sharp and deep divisions within the civil service.
The Trade Union party, BOFEPUSU approached High Court in an endeavour to protect the role and integrity of the P.S.B.C to ensure that it's functionality is entrenched. This was a path of principle to protect the Collective Bargaining power of workers, protect Trade Unions and Workers Rights. On the 2nd November 2016 Government tabled a 3 % proposal as counter proposal to the Trade Union party proposal for negotiations of 2016/17.
The meeting of 2016/17 salary negotiations started on the 8th November 2016, and adjourned when Government pulled out of the Bargaining Council indicating that they will not continue with negotiations when the scope of Bargaining Council is pending at Court. The Trade Unions tried without success to reason with Government representatives that the pending case does not imply stoppage of salary negotiations. Government representatives insisted on their rigid position and the negotiations stopped.
Judgment on the scope of Bargaining Council was delivered on 4th April 2017 where the Court declared the scope of Bargaining Council as that of all Public Servants and further setting aside the 3 % and 4% unilateral salary increment by Government which had violated the P.S.B.C. and Public Service Act. The Trade Union party wrote to the Chairperson of P.S.B.C requesting for convening of a continuation meeting of salary negotiations. The meeting was scheduled and subsequently held today 18th April 2017.
Motshegwa indicated that the Trade Union party pointed out that in the best interests of harmonious labour relations, peace and stability of the Country they would like to compromise and accept the 3% percent offer made by the employer.
“The employer then refused saying they don't agree that Trade Unions should accept the employer’s offer and they pulled out of the Bargaining Council.
The employer motivated a position held by BOPEU that BOFEPUSU should not be in the Bargaining Council, a position BOPEU lost at Court in Francistown. This is clearly indicative of acts of collusion between BOPEU and Government. Prior to the negotiations meeting, BOPEU had indicated that negotiations will not proceed, and at Bargaining Council Government representatives behaved the way BOPEU had stated,” he said.
“The Minister of Presidential Affairs Eric Molale, Permanent Secretary to President Carter Morupisi have dismally failed the Public Service, have drastically failed the Nation and they are responsible for low productivity and division in the public service . They are great architects of instability in the Country due to their lack of leadership where they are required to provide it. In this scheming the D.P.S.M and Attorney General has been side-lined to the extent that now Government is using BOPEU lawyers and side-lining its own Attorney General. That means Government is paying twice, paying its own attorneys at Attorney General who are just spectators in these cases and paying BOPEU lawyers for service rendered to Government on consultancy.
It is clear that Government is trying to save BOPEU at the expense of the whole civil service and Trade Unions in Botswana. The question then is what has made BOPEU leadership and Minister of Presidential and P.S.P to unite towards destroying the civil service,” wrote Motshegwa in one of his posts on social media.
Motshegwa is of the view that BOFEPUSU has done all within its power to be reasonable, patriotic by compromising in the best interests of unity of civil service and stability of the Country. He called on Cabinet, BDP MPs, Councillors, structures to rise up as they are the ones in Government. He said if they (BDP) are not careful, the top civil servants who get paid even when they create this mess will cost them as a party and politicians because it is now clear in the eyes that ours is a stubborn, ruthless and unrepentant Government.
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DPP drops Kably threat to kill case
The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Chief Whip and Member of Parliament for Letlhakeng/Lephephe Liakat Kably has welcomed the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP)â€™s decision not to prosecute BDP councillor, Meshack Tshenyego who allegedly threatened to kill him. However, the legislator has warned that should anything happen to his life, the state and the courts will have to account.
In an interview with this publication, Kablay said he has heard that the DPP has declined to prosecute Tshenyego in a case in which he threatened to kill him adding that the reasons he received are that there was not enough evidence to prosecute. â€śI am fine and at peace with the decision not to prosecute over evidential deficits but I must warn that should anything happen to my life both the DPP and the Magistrate will have to account,â€ť Kablay said.
Connectedly, Kably said he has made peace with Tshenyego, â€śwe have made peace and he even called me where upon we agreed to work for the party and bury the hatchetâ€ť.
The DPP reportedly entered into a Nolle Prosequi in the matter, meaning that no action would be taken against the former Letlhakeng Sub-district council chairperson and currently councillor for Matshwabisi.
According to the charge sheet before the Court, councilor Tshenyego on July 8th, 2022 allegedly threatened MP Kably by indirectly uttering the following words to nominatedcouncilor Anderson Molebogi Mathibe, â€śMosadi wa ga Liakat le ban aba gagwe ba tsile go lela, Mosadi wame le banake le bone ba tsile go lela. E tla re re mo meeting, ka re tsena meeting mmogo, ke tla mo tlolela a bo ke mmolaya.â€ť
Loosely translated this means, Liakatâ€™s wife and children are going to shed tears and my wife and kids will shed tears too. I will jump on him and kill him during a meeting.
Mathibe is said to have recorded the meeting and forwarded it to Kably who reported the matter to the police.
In a notice to the Magistrate Court to have the case against Tshenyego, acting director of Public Prosecutions, Wesson ManchweÂ cited the nolle prosequi by the director of public prosecution in terms of section 51 A (30) of the Constitution and section 10 of the criminal procedure and evidence act (CAP 08:02) laws of Botswana as reasons for dropping the charges.
A nolle prosequi is a formal notice of abandonment by a plaintiff or prosecutor of all or part of a suit or action.
â€śIn pursuance of my powers under section 51 A (300 of the Constitution and section 10 of the criminal procedure and evidence act (CAP 08:02) laws of Botswana, I do hereby stop and discontinue criminal proceedings against the accused Meshack Tshenyego in the Kweneng Administrative District, CR.No.1077/07/2022 being the case of the State vs Tshenyego,â€ť said Manchwe. The acting director had drafted the notice dropping the charges on 13th day of March 2023.
The case then resumed before the Molepolole Magistrate Solomon Setshedi on the 14th of March 2023. The Magistrate issued an order directing â€śthat matters be withdrawn with prejudice to the State, accused is acquitted and discharged.â€ť
DPP seizes prosecution duties from Police
Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) has finally taken over prosecution from the Botswana Police Service (BPS). The police have been prosecuting for years, but the takeover means that they will now only focus on investigations and then hand over to the DPP for prosecution.
Talks of complete takeover began as far back as 2008, but for years it seemed implementation was sluggish. However, the Minister of Justice, Machana Shamukuni, revealed that the complete takeover is expected to be completed soon.
During a presentation to the Committee of Supply by Shamukuni this week, it was revealed that the project has been implemented in 22 police stations nationwide, including Maun, Selebi-Phikwe, Palapye, Francistown, and Kasane. He further stated that the project has been allocated P3,000,000 for the 2023/2024 financial year to facilitate the opening of more satellite offices for the DPP.
Shamukuni said the Lobatse station is scheduled for a complete takeover by the end of May 2023, while the Kasane DPP satellite office has been established and became operational as of February 1, 2023.
“As reported previously, preparations are at an advanced stage to open a satellite office in Tsabong to curtail expenses, as well as frequent long-distance trips to these areas, as it is currently serviced by the Lobatse DPP office,” Shamukuni said.
Shamukuni said that the takeover strategy is to enable a seamless and gradual takeover of prosecution from the BPS without overwhelming and overstretching the thin resources at its disposal.
According to Shamukuni, the implementation of the prosecution takeover project has increased the workload of the 211 prosecutors in the DPP establishment.
Furthermore, the Justice Minister said DPP statistics show that the DPP has a total of 11,903 cases and dockets as of January 2023. He indicated that this is a significant increase in the number of cases being handled by the DPP, considering that in November 2021, the DPP had just over 8,471 files.
â€śOut of the total case load, 8 382 are cases pending before various courts while 3521 are dockets received from law enforcement agencies of which 1 325 are awaiting service of summons while the rest are being assessed for suitability of prosecution or otherwiseâ€ť said Shamukuni.
He further stated that The DPP has consistently maintained an 80% success rate in matters completed at court.
â€śAs at the end of January 2023, the success rate stood at 82.3% against a target of 90% whilst the average performance in respect of turnaround time for conclusion of cases at court stood at 17.5 months against a target of 18 months,â€ť he said.
BACKLOG OF CASES â€“ LAND TRIBUNAL
Meanwhile, Minister Shamukuni has revealed that Gaborone land Tribunal is experiencing a backlog of cases. Before parliament this week, Shamukuni revealed that a total 230 appeals were completed for the period of April 2022- December 2022 and only 76.5% of them were completed within set time frame.
The minister said that the Gaborone division has experiencing a backlog of cases due to manpower constraints and he further indicated that presiding officers from other divisions have been brought in to expedite case disposal.
He further indicated that the land tribunal is a specialized court that has been empowered to resolve appeals arising from land boards. â€śIt has been mandated to determine appeals from the decisions of Physical planning committees of Districts Councilsâ€ť said Shamukuni.
Land Tribunal relocated to the Ministry of Justice from Ministry of Land and Water Affairs in November 2022.
â€śAn amount of P37, 842,670 is requested to cover salaries, allowance and other operational expenses for the Department of the land Tribunal,â€ť alluded Shamukuni
BCP, AP stalemate in 7 constituencies
When the Botswana Congress Party (BCP), Alliance for Progressives, Botswana Labour Party (BLP), and conveners reconvene next week, the controversial issue of allocation of the seven constituencies will be the main topic of discussion, WeekendPost can reveal.
Not only that, but the additional four constituencies will also dominate the talks. The idea is to finally close the “constituency allocation phase,” which has proven to be the most difficult part of the ongoing negotiations.
Earlier this year, the two parties announced that the marathon talks would be concluded by February. Even at a media briefing last month, BCP Secretary General Goretetse Kekgonegile and Publicity Secretary Dr. Mpho Pheko were optimistic that the negotiations would be concluded before the end of February.
However, it is now mid-March and the talks have yet to be concluded. What could be the reasons for the delay? This is a question that both Kekgonegile and Pheko have not responded to, as they have ignored the reporters’ inquiries. However, a senior figure within the party has confided to this publication as to what is delaying the highly anticipated negotiations.
“We are reconvening next week to finalize constituency allocations, taking into account the additional four new ones plus the outstanding seven,” he explained. It later surfaced that Gaborone Central, Gaborone North, Mogoditshane, Tswapong North, Francistown West, Tati West, and Nata Gweta are all contested by both BCP and AP. This is because the other 50 constituencies were allocated by December of last year.
The three parties have failed to find common ground for the Bosele Ward by-elections. Are these constituencies not a deal breaker for the talks? “None of the constituencies is a deal breaker,” responded a very calm BCP official.
In Bosele Ward, AP has yielded to BCP, despite most of its members disapproving the decision. On the other hand, BLP has refused, and it will face off with BCP together with Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC).
The decision by BLP to face off with BCP has been labelled as a false start for the talks by political observers.