The attorney representing the main labour centre, the Botswana Federation of Public, Private and Parastatal Sectors Union (BOFEPUSU) Advocate Duma Gideon Boko has hinted that the government wants to “kill” the Public Service Bargaining Council (PSBC) so that it is absolutely “dysfunctional”.
According to Advocate Boko, all the negotiations pertaining to salary increments and conditions of service of public servants should be done through the Bargaining Council. “This will ensure that the law is not rendered worthless,” he maintained in his oral arguments to lone Judge Monametsi Gaongalelwe this week in a fully packed public gallery at Court of Appeal consisting of the adversary union sympathisers for the two rival unions.
Boko said this in his law insignia at the highest Court in Botswana in a matter in which Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) in concert with government was praying for a stay of execution of High Court Judgement delivered by Justice Tshepo Motswagole on the scope of PSBC.
In the Motswagole Judgment, Court declared that the Bargaining Council can only decide on salaries and conditions of service of “all” Public Servants. It further set aside the unilateral increments of 3 % (2016) and 4% (2017) that was awarded by Government outside the ambit of Bargaining Council which he said had violated the Council as well as the Public Service Act of 2008. Aggrieved by the Motswagole judgement, BOPEU and government appealed the judgement.
In the appeal, Boko pointed out to Justice Gaongalelwe verbally that: “government looks resolute to destruct the Bargaining Council and giving itself absolute power over workers and rendering Trade Unions irrelevant. Should government do as it pleases? That’s not what the law in this regard,” he said in his signature bragging and confident voice to the presiding Judge.
He repeatedly stressed that in terms of the law; the Bargaining Council should take all the decisions with regard to salaries of government employees and that’s a “striking distinction between his side and the antagonists in the case.” Advocate Boko further pointed out that BOPEU and government failed to illustrate to court where they will suffer prejudice if they are not granted stay of execution and therefore maintained that they have no case hence no prospects of success. “They should provide concrete evidence to illustrate their case but they failed dismally.”
Boko, who is also the Leader of Opposition in Parliament, highlighted that the submission of government, through Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) in concert with BOPEU therefore should consequently not succeed. He reminded them that the Motswagole Judgement, which is at the centre of dispute – does not concern itself with the pay checks and pay backs of the 3% and the 3% and 4% increments – but only with what is “unlawful and illegal.” He emphasised that deciding salary increases outside the PSBC is clearly unlawful and illegal.
On his part, his counterpart Mpho Garebatho concurred with Boko adding that the government should stop continuing with payments of the unlawful salary increments and stop unilateral salary increases outside the Bargaining Council. Meanwhile a lawyer representing BOPEU, Dutch Leburu stated that when replying to Boko that “Bargaining Council is not the law in Botswana.” He prayed that the judgement should come in their favour as the lives of close to 29 000 BOPEU members are at stake in terms of stopping their salaries.
“My lord, this case affects 29 000 members therefore is exceptional and of paramount importance. Imagine, the members’ salary increment of 3% being cut.” He said it will affect their taxes, medical aids, pensions negatively. Leburu added that PSBC is currently rippled with problems and therefore it cannot be trusted. He said BOFEPUSU Acting Jointly Agreement has failed to comply with PSBC constitution in terms of compliance by not submitting membership numbers.
On one side of the appellants, Leburu and Martin Dingake represented BOPEU while government was represented by Advocate Timothy Bruinders. On the other hand Advocate Boko sat in for BOFEPUSU together with Garebatho. After listening to both arguments, Justice Gaongalelwe then reserved the judgement to a later date he said he will announce. The matter has the potential to set the record straight in terms of the relevance of the PSBC.
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.