The Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) is at loggerheads with its employees and former employees over the ongoing retrenchment exercise which is intended to achieve a streamlined organization. What is angering staff even more is the failure by BPC to pay some employees their retrenchment packages on time due to “cash flow problems”.
So far 200 employees have been laid off and the target is to reduce the BPC work force by 1000 people. The BPC Chief executive Officer was petitioned in Palapye recently but refused to show up and listen to the complaints of his frustrated staff. While the majority of employees, over 900, are reported to have dumped the staff union for failing to address their concerns, especially the modalities of the retrenchment, the leadership of that union claims the retrenchment is aimed at creating opportunities for contract companies and consultancies owned by some powerful people who have connections to the BPC.
BPC CEO, Stefan Schwarzfischer has indicated in the past that he intends to cut the BPC costs by about 30 percent and the easiest way to achieve his target would be to go through a retrenchment exercise that would target a good number of the 2300 BPC staff complement. Schwarzfischer took over an organization whose losses are billions annually, just the 2015/2016 loss amounted to just over P2 billion.
For the first phase of the retrenchment, management has approved 356 workers for retrenchment. Employees are enraged because of the haphazard nature of the exercise, they point out that some of them were issued with letters of retrenchment a week after 31st May 2017 but they were still told in the letters that their last day of work was 31 May 2017. They claim to being forced to apply for voluntary separation, they point that the whole exercise is now involuntary.
Furthermore the BPC retrenched staff is concerned that while the exercise is meant to deliver a lean BPC, the Corporation continues to engage expatriates, especially of Indian origin at very high rates. They put the number of these people at 20 who have been engaged since December 2016.
“Some of them do not even have work permits and they are being paid huge salaries while staying at BPC houses. In terms of skill most of them are comparable to Botswana,” said one of the retrenched staff members. Meanwhile the BPC staff union is challenging the retrenchment in court and the matter is expected to be heard is September this year. Efforts to get comments from both management and union leaders were not successful.
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.
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.
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.