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OF PSBC MEETING AND THE COURT CASE

Nature of the meeting

The PSBC was convened on 18th April 2017 at 1400hrs at the Botswana Bureau of Standards. The purpose of the special meeting was to continue with the negotiations of the Public service salaries and other conditions of service for the financial year 2016/17.
 


Trade Union Party to the PSBC (BOFEPUSU AJA) Compromises

At this meeting, the union party, just from the beginning, extended its hand to the employer party that it (Union party) accepts the 3% that the employer party tabled on 2nd November 2016. The BOFEPUSU AJA further indicated that as a consequence of the gesture to compromise and accept the 3%, the council should not waste time and deliberate on each and every item on agenda.

The BOFEPUSU AJA compromised to accept the 3% in view of the fact that the public service is currently deeply divided and polarized owing to differential treatment with the 3% issue, and as such, it (Union party) endeavors to act in the interest of the nation to bring harmony, peace, stability and sanity within the public Service.

Employer Party refuses to embrace the compromise

The Employer party on the other hand, could not embrace the acceptance of the 3% by the Union party, but instead wanted the agenda to be changed to include an item on the compliance to the PSBC constitution. Though the Union party was not averse to the discussion of the item, it indicated that the item could not be accepted owing to the fact that the meeting was special and specifically convened to continue the discussions on the 2016/17 Salary Negotiations and as such a council meeting to deal with issues of compliance can be convened at any time.
 
The Trade Union Party further reasoned that even if the there was no compliance on the part of the Trade Union party, which is not the case, the procedure would have to be followed for the council to arrive at a decision that its (Trade Union Party) membership of the PSBC should be terminated, hence refusing to execute the PSBC duties is tantamount to closing the council.


The Trade Union Party further clarified that until Council has made such a decision, any party to the Council remains legitimately admitted and the Council remains competent to transact the business of the Council in all matters including among others matters of salary negotiations.

The employer party stuck to its guns and indicated that they would not continue with the salary negotiation meeting if the issue of compliance is not dealt with and would only return to a negotiation table if the membership audit for the Trade Union party has been carried out. The employer party decided to abandon the talks on the basis that the union party should be audited first whilst knowing quite well that the union party was audited just in October 2016.

Way Foward

13. The federation leadership has been in discussion with its attorneys to map a way forward with respect to this bizarre conduct by the employer party with a view to ponder on the prospects to litigate.

14.  Meanwhile, as reiterated elsewhere in this release, the Trade Union Party, BOFEPUSU AJA, has submitted its audited numbers and expects that the secretariat would commence its audit.

Appeal of Justice Motswagole's Judgment and Application of Stay of Execution of the same

15. Meanwhile, it has to be noted that BOPEU and Government, acting in cohorts have appealed the judgment in which the High Court held that the scope of the PSBC covers all public servants including the non – unionized, members of management and the unionized who are outside the PSBC.


16. The purpose of the appeal and the consequent application for stay of execution is to have the scope of the PSBC restricted only to public servants whose unions are admitted to the PSBC, and as a result, paving way for Government to continue to award the 3% and 4% only to public servants whose Unions are Non – BOFEPUSU affiliates.


17. This explains the conduct of Government of refusing to negotiate under the pretext of non – compliance to the PSBC constitution. They (Government) hope that the court would grant them a stay and then continue awarding a 3% and a 4% to the non – unionized and those whose unions are outside PSBC hence attempting to put BO


18. The conduct of government is a carefully orchestrated plan carried out in conjunction with BOPEU to frustrate and attempt to dismantle the Bargaining Council. This matter of compliance is the one that BOPEU took to court but could not succeed on it and now it is being picked by Government in the council.  


19. It has to be recalled that the General Secretary of BOPEU Mr. Topias Marenga went public that the PSBC meeting would not discuss salary negotiations, but rather would only discuss the issue of compliance. True to his word the employer insisted that the issue of compliance should be part of the meeting's agenda and should be discussed first. This goes a long way to show how BOPEU has become part of the bigger scheme in defeating the bargaining principle in this country.


The Stay of Execution of the Motswagole’s judgment case was heard on 21st and 22nd April 2017. Justice Gaongalelwe, having heard the parties, reserved the judgment to what he said would be "soon". We are convinced that we had filed a very good defense and our lawyers did their best. It remains with the honourable judge to adjudicate. We remain optimistic that the judgment would come in our favour. We would like to thank very much all the wokers from the BOFEPUSU affiliated unions, workers in general and for having thronged the court in large numbers. We as usually appeal for your patience as we traverse this rather difficult path. We remain convinced that we are fighting a good course and shall very soon clear the path.

Appeal for Patience from the General Membership

Once more we appeal to the General membership to remain focused and trusting bearing in mind that this is just a small fight within a bigger war which the workers of this country would ultimately win. We should stick to the conviction that workers of this country shall not be defeated. We appeal once more for your patience Comrades as we go through these rather delaying hurdles.

Tobokani Nicholas Rari is BOSETU Secretary General

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Civil Service volatility: Democracy vs Bureaucracy

19th April 2021
President Masisi

Here is how one Permanent Secretary encapsulates the clear tension between democracy and bureaucracy in Botswana: “President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s Government is behaving like a state surrounded with armed forces in order to capture it or force its surrender. The situation has turned so volatile, for tomorrow is not guaranteed for us top civil servants.

These are the painful results of a personalized civil service in our view as permanent secretaries”. Although his deduction of the situation may be summed as sour grapes because he is one of the ‘victims’ of the reshuffle, he is convinced this is a perfect description of the rationale behind frequent changes and transfers characterising the current civil service.

The result of it all, he said, is that “there is too much instability at managerial and strategic levels of the civil service leading to a noticeable directionless civil service.” He continued: “Changes and transfers are inevitable in the civil service, but to a permissible scale and frequency. Think of soccer team coach who changes and transfers his entire squad every month; you know the consequences?”

The Tsunami has hit hard at critical departments and Ministries leaving a strong wave of uncertainty, many demoralised and some jobless. In traditional approaches to public administration, democracy gives the goals; and bureaucracy delivers the technical efficiency required for implementation. But the recent moves in the civil service are indicative of conflicting imperatives – the notion of separation between politicians and administrators is becoming blurred by the day.

“Look at what happened to Prisons and BDF where second in command were overlooked for outsiders, and these are the people who had sacrificially served for donkey’s years hoping for a seat at the ladder’s end. The frequency of the changes, at times affecting the same Ministry or individual also demonstrates some level of ineptitude, clumsiness and lack of foresight from those in charge,” remarked the PS who added that their view is that the transfers are not related to anything but “settling scores, creating corruption opportunities and pushing out perceived dissident and former president, Ian Khama’s alleged loyalists and most of these transfers are said to be products of intelligence detection.”

Partly blaming Khama for the mess and his unwillingness to let go, the PS dismissed Masisi for falling to the trap and failing to outgrow the destructive tiff. “Khama is here to stay and the sooner Masisi comes to terms with the fact that he (Masisi) is the state President, the better. For a President to still be making these changes and transfers signals signs of a confused man who has not yet started rolling his roadmap, if at all it was ever there. I am saying this because any roadmap comes with key players and policies,” he concluded.

The Ministry of Health and Wellness seems to be the most hard-hit by the transfers, having experienced three Permanent Secretaries changes within a year and a half. Insiders say the changes have everything to do with the Ministry being the centre of COVID-19 tenders and economic opportunities. “The buck stops with the PS and no right-thinking PS can just allow glaring corruption under his watch as an accounting officer. Technocrats are generally law abiding, the pressure comes with politically appointed leaders racing against political terms to loot,” revealed a director in the Ministry preferring anonymity.

The latest transfer of Kabelo Ebineng she says was also motivated by his firm attitude against the President’s blue-eyed Task Team boys. “The Task Team wants to own the COVID-19 pandemic and government interventions and always cry foul when the Ministry reasserts itself as mandated by law,” said the director who added that Masisi who was always caught between the crossfire decided on sacrificing Ebineng to the joy of his team as they (Task Team) were in the habit of threatening to resign citing Ebineng as the problem.

Ebineng joins the Office of the President as a deputy Coordinator (government implementation and coordination office).The incoming PS is the soft-spoken Grace Muzila, known and described by her close associates as a conformist albeit knowledgeable.

One of the losers in the grand scheme is Thato Raphaka who many had seen as the next PSP because of his experience and calm demeanour following a declaration of interest in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Secretary post by the current PSP, Elias Magosi.

But hardly ten months into his post, Raphaka has been transferred out to the National Strategy Office in what many see as a demotion of some sort. Other notable changes coming into OP are Pearl Ramokoka formerly with the Employment, Labour and Productivity Ministry coming in as a Permanent Secretary and Kgomotso Abi as director of Public Service Reforms.

One of the ousted senior officers in the Office of the President warned that there are no signs that the changes and transfers will stop anytime soon: “If you are observant you would have long noticed that the changes don’t only affect senior officers but government decisions as well. A decision is made today and the government backtracks on it within a week. Not only that, the President says this today, and his deputy denies it the following day in Parliament,” he warned.

Some observers have blamed the turmoil in the civil service partly to lack of accountable presidential advisers or kitchen cabinet properly schooled on matters of statecraft. They point out that politicians or those peripheral to them should refrain from hampering the technical and organizational activities of public managers – or else the party (reshuffling) won’t stop.

In the view expressed by some Permanent Secretaries, Elias Magosi, has not really been himself since joining the civil service; and has cut a picture of indifference in most critical engagements; the most notable been a permanent secretaries platform which he chairs. As things stand there is need to reconcile the imperatives of democracy and democracy in Botswana. Peace will rein only when public value should stand astride the fault that runs between politicians and public managers.

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Morupisi fights for freedom in court

19th April 2021
morupisi

Former Permanent Secretary to the President, Carter Morupisi, is fighting for survival in a matter in which the State has charged him and his wife, Pinnie Morupisi, with corruption and money laundering.

Morupisi has joined a list of prominent figures that served in the previous administration and who have been accused of corruption during their tenure in office. While others have been emerging victorious, Morupisi is yet to find that luck. The High Court recently dismissed his no case to answer application.

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Pressure mounts on Biden to suspend Covid-19 vaccine patents

19th April 2021
Joe Biden

United States President, Joe Biden, is faced with a decision to make relating to the Covid-19 vaccine intellectual property after 175 former world leaders and Nobel laurates joined the campaign urging the US to take “urgent action” to suspend intellectual property rights for Covid-19 vaccines to help boost global inoculation rates.

According to the world leaders, doing so would allow developing countries to make their own copies of the vaccines that have been developed by pharmaceutical companies without fear of being sued for intellectual property infringements.

“A WTO waiver is a vital and necessary step to bringing an end to this pandemic. It must be combined with ensuring vaccine know-how and technology is shared openly,” the signatories, comprising more than 100 Nobel prize-winners and over 70 former world leaders, wrote in a letter to US President Joe Biden, according to Financial Times.

A measure to allow countries to temporarily override patent rights for Covid related medical products was proposed at the World Trade Organization by India and South Africa in October, and has since been backed by nearly 60 countries.

Former leaders who signed the letter included Gordon Brown, former UK Prime Minister; François Hollande, former French President; Mikhail Gorbachev, former President of the USSR; and Yves Leterme, former Belgian Prime Minister.

In their official communication, South Africa and India said: “As new diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines for Covid-19 are developed, there are significant concerns [about] how these will be made available promptly, in sufficient quantities and at affordable prices to meet global demand.”

While developed countries have been able to secure enough vaccine to inoculate their citizens, developing countries such as Botswana are struggling to source enough to swiftly vaccine their citizens, something which world leaders believe it would work against global recovery therefore proving counter-productive.

Since the availability of vaccines, Botswana has been able to secure only 60 000 doses of vaccines, 30 000 as donation as from the Indian government, while the other 30 000 was sourced through COVAX facility.  Canada, has pre-ordered vaccines in surplus and it will be able to vaccinate each of its citizens six times over. In the UK and US, it is four vaccines per person; and two each in the EU and Australia.

For vaccines produced in Europe, developing countries are forced to pay double what European countries are paying, making it more expensive for already financially struggling economies.  European countries however justify the price of vaccines and that they deserve to buy them cheap since they contributed in their development.

It is evident that vaccines cannot be made available immediately to all countries worldwide with wealthy economies being the only success story in that regard, something that has been referred to as a “catastrophic moral failure”, head of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

The challenge facing developing countries is not only the price, but also the capacity of vaccine manufactures to be able to do so to meet global demand within a short time. The proposal for a patent waiver by India and South Africa has been rejected by developed countries, known for hosting the world leading pharmaceutical companies such US, European Union, the United Kingdom, and Switzerland.

According to the Financial Times, US business groups including pharmaceutical industry representatives, have urged Biden to resist supporting a waiver to IP rules at the WTO, arguing that the proposal led by India and South Africa was too “vague” and “broad”.

The individuals who signed the letter, including Nobel laureates in economics as well as from across the arts and sciences, warned that inequitable vaccine access would impact the global economy and prevent it from recovering.

“The world saw unprecedented development of safe and effective vaccines, in major part thanks to US public investment,” the group wrote. “We all welcome that vaccination rollout in the US and many wealthier countries is bringing hope to their citizens.”

“Yet for the majority of the world that same hope is yet to be seen. New waves of suffering are now rising across the globe. Our global economy cannot rebuild if it remains vulnerable to this virus.”
The group warned that fully enforcing IP was “self-defeating for the US” as it hindered global vaccination efforts. “Given artificial global supply shortages, the US economy already risks losing $1.3tn in gross domestic product this year.”

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