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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Local tennis team upbeat ahead of Billie Jean King cup
With almost two weeks until the 2023 Billie Jean King Cup, which will be staged in Kenya from June 12-17, 2023, the Botswana Tennis Association (BTA) ladies’ team coach, Ernest Seleke, is optimistic about reaching greater heights.
Billie Jean King Cup, or the BJK Cup, is a premier international team competition in women’s tennis, launched as the Federation Cup to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the International Tennis Federation (ITF). The BJK Cup is the world’s largest annual women’s international team sports competition in terms of the number of nations that compete.
The finals will feature 12 teams (Botswana, Burundi, Ghana, Kenya, Seychelles, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, Tunisia, Mauritius, Zimbabwe, and the Democratic Republic of Congo) competing in the four round-robin groups of three. The four group winners will qualify for the semifinals, and the 2023 Billie Jean King Cup will be crowned after the completion of the knockout phase.
Closer to home, the BW Tennis team is comprised of Thato Madikwe, Leungo Monnayoo, Chelsea Chakanyuka, and Kelebogile Monnayoo. However, according to Seleke, they have not assembled the team yet as some of the players are still engaged.
“At the moment, we are depending on the players and their respective coaches in terms of training. However, I will meet up with Botswana-based players in the coming week, while the United States of America (USA) based player Madikwe will probably meet us in Kenya. Furthermore, Ekua Youri and Naledi Raguin, who are based in Spain and France respectively, will not be joining us as they will be writing their examinations,” said Seleke.
Seleke further highlighted the significance of this competition and how competitive it is. “It is a massive platform for our players to showcase their talent in tennis, and it is very competitive as countries target to get promoted to the world categories where they get to face big nations such as Spain, France, USA, and Italy. Though we are going to this tournament as underdogs because it is our second time participating, I’m confident that the girls will put in a good showing and emerge with results despite the odds,” highlighted Seleke.
Quizzed about their debut performance at the BJK Cup, he said, “I think our performance was fair considering the fact that we were newbies. We came third in our group after losing to North Macedonia and South Africa. We went on to beat Uganda, then Kenya in the playoffs. Unfortunately, we couldn’t play Burundi due to heavy rainfall and settled for the position 9/10,” he said.
For her part, team representative Leungo Monnayoo said they are working hard as they aim to do well at the tourney. “The preparations for the tourney have long begun because we practice each and every day. We want to do well, hence we need to be motivated. Furthermore, I believe in my team as we have set ourselves a big target of coming home with the trophy,” she said.
Pep Stores donates sanitary towels to Popagano JSS
The Guidance and Counseling unit at Popagano Junior Secondary School received a donation of 790 sanitary towels from Pep stores on Thursday.
When presenting the donation, Mareledi Thebeng, the Dinokaneng Area Manager, highlighted their belief in giving back to the community, as their existence depends on the communities they serve. Thebeng pointed out that research indicates one in four girls miss school every day due to the lack of basic necessities like sanitary towels. Therefore, as a company, they strive to assist in alleviating this situation. She expressed hope that this donation would help ensure uninterrupted learning for girls.
Upon receiving the donation on behalf of the students, Charity Sambire, the President of the Student Representative Council, expressed her gratitude. Sambire specifically thanked Pep Store for their generous gift, speaking on behalf of the students, especially the girl child.
She conveyed their sincere appreciation for Pep Store’s compassion and quoted the adage, “Blessed is the hand that gives.” Sambire expressed the students’ hope for Pep Stores’ prosperity, enabling them to continue supporting the students. As a gesture of gratitude, the students pledged to excel academically.
During her speech, Motlalepula Madome, the Senior Teacher in Guidance and Counseling, highlighted that many students at the school come from disadvantaged backgrounds where parents struggle to provide basic necessities. Consequently, some students miss school when they experience menstruation due to this lack.
Madome emphasized the significance of the donation in preventing the girl child from missing lessons and its potential to improve the school’s overall results. She expressed the school’s gratitude and expressed a desire for continued support from Pep Stores.
Popagano Junior Secondary School, situated in the Okavango District, holds the second position academically in the North West region. Despite its location, the school has been dedicated to achieving excellence since 2017
Botswana misses out critical PAP committee meeting
The Pan African Parliament (PAP) committee on gender, family, youth and people with disability in its sitting considered, adopted and recommended to the plenary session the preliminary report on the framework for the model law on gender equality.
According to the last week’s media release from PAP which is sitting with its various committees until June 2nd, the committee is following up the PAP initiative to draw up a model law on gender equality to enable national governments to harmonize, modernize and standardize their legislations to address local needs is set to be discussed in Plenary.
However, what is concerning is the fact that Botswana which is a member state missed the deliberations. Kgosi Mosadi Seboko who sat in the committee representing Botswana has since been ejected by parliament and this is a huge blow for a nation that is still battling equity and gender balance.
“Although PAP has no legislative powers it makes model laws for member states to adopt. PAP also develops protocols to be ratified by countries. The input of countries at Committee state is extremely critical. It now means the voice of Botswana is missing the discussions leading up to development of protocols or model laws,” said one of Botswana’s representative at PAP Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang who is attending the current session.
While Botswana is missing, the committee meeting took place on the sidelines of the Sixth PAP second ordinary Session being held under the African Union Theme of the Year for 2023, “The Year of AfCFTA: Accelerating the Implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area” in Midrand, South Africa and will run up to 2 June 2023. Chairperson of the Committee, Hon Mariam Dao-Gabala expressed satisfaction with preliminary processes undertaken so far towards the formulation of the Model Law,” a release from the PAP website reads.
“The law should be suitable to all countries whatever the predominant culture or religion is. The aim is to give an opportunity to women to participate in the economic, political and social development of the continent. Women are not well positioned and face a lot of obstacles. We are introducing the idea of equity in the Law because we cannot talk about equality without equity,” said Hon Mariam Dao-Gabala in the press statement.
The release has stated that among issues to be covered by the Model Law is the migratory movements of women. The Committee proffered that this has to be addressed at the continental level to ensure that migrant women enjoy all their rights and live with dignity in their destination country. The members of the Gender Committee undertook consultations to consolidate the contributions of the various stakeholders that will be the logical framework format for the Model Law.