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WUC moves to retrench hundreds

The Botswana government is said to have learned a lesson from the sudden closure of BCL mine which lead to severe emotional breakdown amongst axed miners and is trying to avoid falling into the same trap by putting in place psychological support ahead of the looming mass retrenchment of Water Utilities Corporation (WUC) employees.


In Selibe Phikwe this past week, cabinet Minister, Nonofo Molefhi told residents of New-stands that WUC will scale down its workforce in the coming weeks and that the retrenchment exercise will be done over a few months. “Because of the unplanned shutdown of BCL we were not prepared for psycho-social fatalities hence there was no counseling and psychological guidance put in place to prepare the workers of the wrath coming,” he said, “We dismally failed in that area.”


According to Molefhi, for any future retrenchments or restructuring that is to occur, which is well planned and known, necessary emotional preparations will be put in place to ready workers for the loss of employment trauma. Molefhi shed some light to Phikwe residents that the next economic job bleeds is at the WUC. According to Minister Molefhi, Cabinet has approved Mmetla Masire’s restructuring of the financial strapped corporation.


“Water Utilities is currently overstaffed and the number of employees at the company does not make business sense as there is idle human resource, which bears the company avoidable costs,” he explained. He further stipulated that the overstaffing at WUC is a result of the 2009 absorbing of employees from council authorities and water affairs, adding that due to transfer of all water services from Water Affairs Department to Water Utilities, Government did not want to discard the employees at the time but the status of economy and financial troubles at Water Utilities does not allow for such workforce noting that the company can no longer affordto pay employees salaries.


“Currently the company is completing a restructuring and remodeling analysis to inform exactly how the undertaking will be done,” said Molefhi. He added that by end of February 2019 the assigned consultants will present their finding to the Minister in charge as well as the board of directors of WUC.


“The preliminary counseling has already began to prepare company workers of the reality of job losses ahead.” The Selibe Phikwe East lawmaker observed that workers unions, insurance companies and other service providers are currently being consulted of the upcoming retrenchments at the country’s water supplier.


Information gathered by WeekendPost reveals that WUC will invite employees to apply for exit voluntarily before implementing forced retrenchment. According to sources at Sedibeng House, counseling of employees long commenced last year November after a communiqué from the Corporation Chief Executive, who is former President Sir QKJ Masire‘s son. This publication has it on good authority that almost one-third of Water Utilities employees will no longer be on Mmetla Masire’s payroll by April 2017.


Although Minister Molefhi was in denial of the analysis that the closure of BCL was a knout punch for WUC treasury, experts observe that BCL was Water Utilities’ single largest factory client from the private sector alongside another cash strapped Botswana Meat Commission. As of now Water Utilities   Corporation is one of BCL creditors and over 71 million pula was owed to Water Utilities at the time BCL limited was put under provisional liquidation.


Information gathered by this publication reveals that the move to rescale workforce and restructure the business model of Water Utilities is a plan by the government enclave to privatise water and sanitation services. According to a source close to the echelons of power, Ministers Sadique Kebonang and Prince Maele’s constant dual trips abroad are a quest to find lucrative investors who will be sold some of WUC’s assets and services.


During the commemoration of African Industrialization day last year in November at the town, Minister of Lands, Water and Sanitation, Maele, was quoted by this publication noting that his visit with Hon Kebonang to Vietnam and Sweden was to salvage investors in Minerals, energy and water related businesses.


The retrenchments at Water Utilities will add to 2016’s tremendous job losses.

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Free at last: Ian Kirby Speaks Out

6th December 2021
Justice Ian Kirby

The outgoing President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ian Kirby, shares his thoughts with us as he leaves the Bench at the end of this year.

WeekendPost: Why did you move between the Attorney General and the Bench?

Ian Kirby: I was a member of the Attorney General’s Chambers three times- first in 1969 as Assistant State Counsel, then in 1990 as Deputy Attorney General (Civil), and finally in 2004 as Attorney General. I was invited in 2000 by the late Chief Justice Julian Nganunu to join the Bench. I was persuaded by former President Festus Mogae to be his Attorney General in 2004 as, he said, it was my duty to do so to serve the nation. I returned to the Judiciary as soon as I could – in May 2006, when there was a vacancy on the High Court Bench.

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Civil society could rescue Botswana’s flawed democracy’ 

6th December 2021
Parliament

Botswana’s civil society is one of the non-state actors that could save the country’s democracy from sliding into regression, a Germany based think tank has revealed.  This is according to a discussion paper by researchers at the German Development Institute who analysed the effects of e-government usage on political attitudes In Botswana.

In the paper titled “E-government and democracy in Botswana: Observational and experimental evidence on the effects of e-government usage on political attitudes,” the researchers offer a strongly worded commentary on Botswana’s ‘flawed democracy.’  The authors noted that with Botswana’s Parliament structurally – and in practice – feeble, the potential for checks and balances on executive power rests with the judiciary.

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Bangwato at loggerheads over Moshupa trip

6th December 2021

Bangwato in Serowe — where Bamagwato Paramount Chief and former President Lt. Gen Ian Khama originates – disagree on whether they must send a delegation to dialogue with President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s family in Moshupa. Just last week, a meeting was called by the Regent of Bamagwato, Kgosi Sediegeng Kgamane, at Serowe Kgotla to, among others, update the tribe on the whereabouts of their Kgosi (Khama). 

Further, his state of health was also discussed, with Kgamane telling the attendees that all is well with Khama. The main reason for the meeting was to deliberate on the escalating tension between Khama and Masisi — a three-year bloodletting going unabated.

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