More than 107 teachers who are members of Botswana Sectors of Educators Trade Union (BOSETU) have this week dragged the government to court claiming the debatable scarce skills allowances.
Information reaching Weekend Post suggests that the teachers demanding the scarce skills allowances are holders are holders of Diploma in Business Studies, Degree in Business Studies and Association of Accounting Technician's (ATT) which is a United Kingdom (UK) qualification and professional body for vocational accountants.
Recently BOSETU acting in concert with Botswana Teachers Union (BTU) won a case in which court ordered government to increase salaries of all Senior Teachers at Primary School level to correlate with their counterparts at Junior and Secondary Schools. The case acted as a moral boos for BOSETU and they have this week filed another case in relation to 107 teachers in which they plead with High Court to order that the Director of Public Service Management (DPSM) to pay them scarce skills allowance which they believe deserve them.
“The DPSM is directed to pay Scarce Skill Allowances to teachers who are members of the Applicant’s Union (BOSETU), holding degree in Accounting and related qualifications in accordance with DPSM Circular Savingram of 2nd December 2015,” BOSETU through their lawyer Onalethata Kambai stated in court papers seen by this publication.
The attorney further stated that alternatively, there be an order declaring that the claimants (teachers) duly represented by BOSETU, being holders of Diploma or Degree in Accounting And Business Accounting AAT/, Diploma in Accounting, Business Studies /BIA/CIFA or related qualifications and teaching accounting and business studies or commerce perform accounting duties and are eligible to be paid scare skill as allowance as per Circular Savingram referenced DP 19/72 VI (116) dated 2nd December 2015 and 10th August 2015 referenced DP 19/96 VIII (40).
“That such payment of scarce skill allowance shall be backdated reckoned from 1st April 2013 in accordance with Circular Savingram of 10th August 2015 referenced DP 19/96 VIII (40) and savingram 2nd December 2015 referenced DP 19/72 VI (116),” Kambai argued in the court papers. He also contended that the Attorney General be ordered and directed to pay the costs of the Application, jointly and several with the DPSM, the one paying the other to be absolved, only in the event that they oppose this Application.
In his founding affidavit in the court documents, BOSETU Secretary General Tobokani Rari narrated that a review of the skills audit was conducted in November 2009 and resulted in the DPSM Directive dated 20th November 2009 which covered holders of AAT qualifications. In April 2013, the BOSETU SG reminisced that a savingram was circulated to all ministries to pay holders of Diploma in Accounting and Business Studies scarce skill effective from 1st April 2013.
“On the 31st of March 2014, the Director of DPSM Mr. Carter Morupisi issued a savingram authorizing public service employees holding Diploma in Accounting and Business Studies to earn Scarce Skill Allowance effective 1st April 2013.” Thereafter, the unionist pointed out that, on the 2nd of December 2015, the Director of DPSM, Mrs. Ruth Maphorisa, issued another circular Savingram referenced DP 19/72 V1 (116) authorizing holders of degree in Accounting or related qualifications to be paid scarce skill allowance.
According to Rari the said directive never discriminated between holders of accounting qualifications who are teachers in government schools and those working in various government offices as officials. He said the teachers are entitled to benefit from the said allowance because they are all in the employ of the public service as holders of Business Studies, ATT, and or Accounting or related qualifications and actually practice accounting during teaching and imparting knowledge to students in public schools.
“I aver that teachers teaching Business Studies are also entitled to scarce skill allowance as they impart trade principles including credit trading, to mention but a few. I aver that this is the same knowledge applied by officers holding Degrees or Diploma in commerce qualifications working in different offices as commerce/trade officials for the government of Botswana,” Rari stressed in the court documents.
According to BOSETU SG, the denial of scarce skill allowance to the applicants is completely irrational, unreasonable discriminatory because it is based on the placement of the claimants on their vocation as teachers and not on whether they apply accounting or business principles in the discharge of their duties. This is so because former teachers who hold the same Accounting or Business Degrees were transferred to other departments in government earn scarce skill allowance when they are employed in other Ministries like the Department of trade or Accountant General, he further contended.
“I aver that in teaching the above principles, teachers actually practice or perform accounting and audit duties as they have to solve accounting, audit and business studies problems using principles of accounting and audit equations in the same manner as other holders of same qualifications who are holding accounting and audit positions employed as officials other than teachers in public schools,” he said.
In the same vein, Rari stated that when preparing examinations, and marking same, the claimants who are all teachers in public schools perform accounting duties by imparting accounting, business studies , and audit knowledge to learners in government schools by actually applying accounting and business principles and techniques.
He further maintained that the claimants who are all teachers in public schools are not merely holders of Diploma in Accounting and Business Studies, but practice or perform accounting, Business Studies and audit duties by imparting knowledge to students in public schools hence they are eligible to earn Scarce Skill Allowance. The matter is expected to be heard at Lobatse High Court before Justice Ntlhomiwa soon.
In a classic and shocking case of disgrace and dishonour to this country, the law enforcement agencies are currently struggling to cover up a damaging and humiliating scandal of having conspired to forge the signature of a Palapye Chief Magistrate, Rebecca Motsamai in an unlawful acquisition of the much-publicised 2019 warrant of arrest against Isaac Kgosi, the former director of the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS).
The cloak-and-dagger arrest was led by the DIS director, Brigadier Peter Magosi supported by the Botswana Police, Botswana Defence Force (BDF), with the Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) which accused Kgosi of tax evasion, in the backseat.
Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) constituent members are struggling to reach an agreement over the allocation of wards for the imminent ward by-elections across the country.
Despite a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) and Alliance for Progressives (AP) are said to be active, but the nitty-gritties are far from being settled.
The eight bye-elections will be a precursor of a somewhat delayed finalisation of the brittle MoU. The three parties want to draw a plan on how and who will contest in each of the available wards.
This publication has gathered that the negotiations will not be a run off the mill because there is already an impasse between the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) which is a UDC constituent and AP (currently negotiating to join umbrella).
The by-elections joint committee met last week at Cresta President Hotel in a bid to finalise allocation but nothing tangible came out of the gathering, sources say.
The cause of the stalemate according to those close to events, is the Metsimotlhabe Ward which the two parties have set their eyes on.
In 2019, he ward was won by Botswana Democratic Party’s (BDP) Andrew Sebobi who unfortunately died in a tragic accident in February last year.
Sebobi had convincingly won by 1 109 votes in the last elections; and was trailed by Sephuthi Thelo of the UDC trailed him with 631 votes; while Alliance for Progressives’ Innocent Moamogwe got 371 votes.
Thelo is a BCP candidate and as per UDC norm, incumbency prevails meaning that the BCP will contest since they were runners up. On the other hand, AP has also raised its hand for the same.
“AP asked for it on the basis that they have a good candidate but BCP did not agree to that request also arguing they have a better contestant,” one UDC member confided to this publication.
Notwithstanding Metsimotlhabe Ward squabble, it is said the by-election talks are almost a done deal, with Botswana National Front (BNF) tipped to take Boseja South ward in Mochudi East constituency. Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) will be awarded Tamasane Ward in Lerala/Maunatlala constituency, sources say.
“But the agreement has to be closed by National Executive Committee (NEC),” emphasized the informant.
The NEC is said to have been cautioned not to back the wrong horse but rather rate with reason and facts.
UDC President, Duma Boko has told this publication that, “allocation is complete with two wards already awarded but with only one yet to be finalized,” he could not dwell into much details as to which party got what and the reasons for the delay in finalisation.
Chairperson of the by-elections committee, Dr. Phenyo Butale responded to this publication regarding the matter: “As AP we contested and as you may be aware we signed the MoU with UDC and BPF to collaborate on bye-elections. The opposition candidate for all bye-elections will be agreed by these parties and that process is still ongoing,” he said when asked if AP is interested on the ward and how far with the talks on bye-elections.
Butale, a former Gaborone Central Member of Parliament, who is also AP Secretary General continued to say, “As the chairperson of the bye-elections committee we are still seized with that matter. We should also do some consultations with the local structures. Once the process is complete we will issue a notice for now we cannot talk about the other two while the other is still pending the other one”.
Butale further clarified: “There is no such thing as AP and BCP not in agreement. It is an issue of signatories discussing and determining the opposition candidates across the three wards.”
Apart from the three wards, there are five more council wards that UDC is yet to allocate to cooperating partners.
FROM PALAPYE MEET: BPP CAUTION NEC MEMBERS
With the UDC cheerful from last weekend’s meeting in Palapye, the meeting however was very tense on the side of both BCP and BNF, with only BPP flexing its muscle and even lashing out.
BCP going into the meeting, had promised to ask difficult questions to the UDC NEC.
BCP VP and also acting Secretary General, Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang, presented their qualms which were addressed by UDC Chairperson Motlatsi Molapisi, informants say.
It is said Molapisi is fed up and concerned by some UDC members especially those in the NEC who ‘wash party’s dirty linen in public’.
Insiders say the veteran politician cautioned the NEC members that they “will not expel any party but individuals who tarnish the image of the UDC.”
It is not the first time BPP play a paternalistic role as it once expressed its discontent with BCP in 2020, saying it should never wash UDC linen in public.
At first it is said, BPP, the oldest political formation in Botswana, claims disappointment on BCP stance that UDC should be democratised especially by sharing their stand with the media. Again, BPP was not happy with BCP leader Dumelang Saleshando’s decision to air his personal views on social media regarding the merger of UDC party.
Botswana Police Service (BPS) Commissioner, Keabetswe Makgophe, has of late been dousing raging fires from various quarters of society following the infiltration of the police fingerprint system by the Directorate on Intelligence and Security (DIS), WeekendPost has learnt.
Fresh information gleaned from a number of impeccable sources, points to a pitiable working relationship between the two state organs. Cause of concern is the DIS continuous big brother role to an extent that it is now interfering with other institutions’ established mandates.
BPS which works closely with the DIS has been left exasperated by the works of the institution formed in 2008. It is said, the DIS through its Information Technology (IT) experts in collusion with some at BPS forensics department managed to infiltrate the Fingerprint system.
The infiltration, according to those in the know, was for the DIS to “teach a lesson” to some who are on their radar. It is said the DIS is playing and fighting dirty to win the fights they have lost before.
By managing to hack the police finger print system, a number of renowned businessmen and other politically exposed persons found their fingers in the system. What surprised the victims is the fact that they have never been charged of any wrongdoing by the police and they were left reeling in shock to learn that their fingers are on the data-base of criminals.
In fact, some of those who their fingerprints were falsely included in the records of those on the wrong side of law learnt later when other errands demanded their fingerprints.
“We learnt later when we had to submit and buy some documents and we were very shocked,” one politician who is also a businessman confided to this publication this week.
“We then learn that there are some fabricated criminality recorded for us, as to when did we commit those remained secret to the police, but then we had to engage our lawyers on the matter and that is when we were cleared,” said the politician-cum- tenderpreneur.
The lawyers have confirmed engaging the police and that the matters were settled in a gentlemen’s agreement and concluded.
All these happened behind the scenes with the police top brass oblivious only to be confronted by the irked lot, police sources also add. The victimized group who most of them have been fighting lengthy battles with the DIS read malice and did not blink when it was revealed that these were done by the DIS.
“And it was clear that they (DIS) are the ones in this dirty war which we don’t understand. Remember when we sue, it will be the Police at the courts not the DIS and that is why we agreed to a ceasefire more so they also requested that be kept under carpet,” said the victim.
Nonetheless, the Police through its spokesperson Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, briefly said: “we do not have any system that has been hacked.” On the other hand DIS mouthpiece Edward Robert was not in office this week to comment on the matter.
Reports however say DIS boss, Peter Magosi, who most of the victims accuse of the job, is said to have met his police counterpart Makgophe to put the matter to bed.
COVID-19 RAVAGES POLICE
As frontline workers, Police have not escaped the wrath of Covid-19. Already the numbers of those infected has reached the highest of high and they suggest that they be priorities on vaccine rollout.
“Our job is complicated, firstly we arrest including those who are non-compliant to Covid protocols and we go to accidents and many more. These put us at risk and it seems our superiors are not bothered,” said one police officer this week.
The cops further complain about that working spaces are small, as such expose them to contact the virus.
“Some tests positive and go for quarantine while the rest of the unit will be left without even test carried out. If at all the bosses are serious all the police officers should every now and then be subjected to testing or else we will be no more because of the virus,” added another officer based in Gaborone.
The government has since placed teachers on the priority list for the vaccines, it remains to be seen whether the police, who also man road blocks, will be considered.
“But our bosses should convince the country leadership about this, if not then we are doomed,” concluded a more senior officer.