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Mabeo gives ILO middle finger

Minister of Employment, Labour Productivity and Skills Development Tshenolo Mabeo was not apologetic about his government’s stance following the International Labour Organisation (ILO) convention that found the country had contravened the ratified standards.

The Committee on Application of Standards concluded that the government of Botswana violated the Conventions and that “corrective measures ought to be made” to rectify the transgression. In particular the committee ordered that Botswana should allow Prisons Service employees to unionise in compliance with ILO conventions 87 and that there be amendment of the controversial Trade Dispute Act for conformity with contravention 87, among other recommendations.

Botswana was given a deadline to report progress made to the Committee of Application of standards on or before November 2017. However shortly after landing at Sir Seretse Khama International Airport (SSKI) in Gaborone from Geneva on Friday, Mabeo denounced the ILO recommendations. He told a pack of journalists who graced the press conference that: “ILO is not a court.”

When Weekend Post sought clarity on the words of the minister that fall short of undermining ILO and whether that meant Botswana is not in a position to implement the body’s recommendations, Mabeo was non-committal. “ILO cannot make labour laws for member states or amend them, but it can advise on the compliance of the laws to the conventions ratified by member states.”

He emphasised boldly that ILO is just an international organization whose role is only to advise member states on implementation of ILO conventions and recommendations and cannot claim to be or act like a court. The minister continued to dismiss ILO saying “yes individual sovereign countries have their own constitutions. In our case as an example parliament makes laws. It’s important that the conventions, which we have ratified, can be of benefit to us and see that the local law is compatible with the ILO conventions. We are going to continue making laws as we have been, at parliament.”

Mabeo also highlighted that as government of Botswana, they went to ILO for the issue of essential services but “if you look at the ILO recommendations” it does not come out “clearly and separately”. “And I will tell you why,” he said adding that “it is the contradictions that we have said the employers group expressed during their presentation at ILO. We pointed a finger at ILO saying the organ is not specific and crystal clear on their recommendations.”

“When the recommendations were handed over to us,” the Botswana Minister said they, together with some African countries were complaining about the biasness of ILO. Mabeo justified that “the shortlisted countries in contravention of ILO conventions were mostly from African countries. We want this process to be transparent, as it is now, it not transparent.” “I can give you another example to show this unfairness, when we were given the recommendations; we were not given an opportunity to respond on it,” he pointed out.

“Countries were concerned.  The issue was that when a committee has any findings on a country, government must be given an opportunity to respond. That is even procedure at a court of law. Countries felt there is no transparency. The process is very secretive. And member states were dissatisfied.” He added that they had about 40 countries in the list but they don’t know what happened with them eventually.

“We are not happy that we have made to the list. It is detrimental for our country’s growth, economic prosperity and foreign investment. We understand that countries who have made it before, were sanctioned. But of course that comes after countless long battles.” According to Mabeo, a number of delegates at ILO also expressed dissatisfaction relating to the processes followed by the Committee of Application of Conventions and Recommendations that found Botswana of wrong doings.

 “In particular, lack of transparency, failure to look at positive events, and citing of negative events in countries were cited as examples.” In terms of amending the Trade Dispute Act which was cited by ILO also as a recommendation, Mabeo also poured cold water on the recommendation instead justifying the need for the existing law as is. “The list of essential services in the Trade Disputes Act, 2016 was developed in good faith, considering the unique circumstances prevailing in Botswana as determined by Parliament,” he explained.  

The Minister of Employment said the list comprised services whose interruption might lead to conditions that might endanger life, personal safety or health of the population. The contentions of local trade unions has been that, categorisation of professions such as as teachers, Government Broadcasting services and Immigration and Customs Services as essential cannot endanger anyone at their work stations.  

The ILO Committee of Experts on the Applications of Conventions and recommendations considers essential services to be the interruption would endanger the life, personal safety or health of the whole or part of the population. With regard to unionisation by prison officers, contrary to ILO’s, Mabeo said Government’s position is that: Prison officers are members of the disciplined forces; Prison officers are custodians of public safety and security; and support staff or administrative staff in the Department of Prisons and Rehabilitation are allowed to unionise as their responsibilities does not border on security.

With these clear contraventions, Mabeo insisted that, he still believes it was also premature for Botswana to have made it on the list of shortlisted countries accused of contravening ILO conventions. It is not the first time Mabeo rebuffs ILO. Recently before attending the ILO conference, he told this publication that ILO cannot solve our problems but only “us” domestically can do that.  “We do not need anyone from outside to dictate to us how to solve our issues and that’s my departure point,” he said then.

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DPP drops Kably threat to kill case

22nd March 2023

The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Chief Whip and Member of Parliament for Letlhakeng/Lephephe Liakat Kably has welcomed the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP)’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. “I 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,” Kablay said.

Connectedly, Kably said he has made peace with Tshenyego, “we have made peace and he even called me where upon we agreed to work for the party and bury the hatchet”.

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, “Mosadi 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.”

Loosely translated this means, Liakat’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 Manchwe  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.

“In 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,” 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 “that matters be withdrawn with prejudice to the State, accused is acquitted and discharged.”

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DPP seizes prosecution duties from Police

22nd March 2023

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.

“Out 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 otherwise” said Shamukuni.

He further stated that The DPP has consistently maintained an 80% success rate in matters completed at court.

“As 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,” he said.


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. “It has been mandated to determine appeals from the decisions of Physical planning committees of Districts Councils” said Shamukuni.

Land Tribunal relocated to the Ministry of Justice from Ministry of Land and Water Affairs in November 2022.

“An amount of P37, 842,670 is requested to cover salaries, allowance and other operational expenses for the Department of the land Tribunal,” alluded Shamukuni

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BCP, AP stalemate in 7 constituencies

21st March 2023

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.

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