With the recent announcement of salary adjustments for public servants being the epicentre of ongoing legal battles between Government and Botswana federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU), it has emerged that President Lt Gen Dr Ian Khama was determined to give public servants a salary increase this April, outside the Public Service Bargaining Council (PSBC).
This publication has gathered that President Khama briefed his cabinet on what he intended to do, and when some ministers objected to the move owing to some pending legal matters at the courts relating to conditions of service for public servants, he made it clear that he will go ahead and make adjustments to salaries. It is understood that the final details of the adjustments were done by President Khama, Minister of Presidential Affairs, Good Governance and Public Administration, Eric Molale, and the Permanent secretary to the President, Carter Morupusi.
During the discussions on the issue of salaries before he took ministers off the equation, the President is said to have expressed displeasure at the apparent leakage of cabinet discussions. His gripe emanates from the fact that ‘confidential discussions’ which he had held with the then four suspended judges. Intricacies of the ceasefire agreement between the President, the Chief Justice and the four judges were reported on mainstream media in the recent weeks and the President is suspecting that some Ministers, who were briefed of the discussions, leaked the information to the media.
Some Ministers are said to have not taken kindly to the accusations because they expressed that they were not the only ones privy to the discussions, they were other players who could have dashed to the media to ambush the official communication of the ceasefire. Meanwhile, some insiders point to the current polarisation of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) because of the expected July elective congress, to be motivating some of the jabs and gestures within the executive.
Insiders who spoke to some ministers pointed out that after this discussion the President chose to complete the task of crafting salary increases with Minister Molale and his PSP. President Khama is said to be strongly of the view that Government has an obligation to decide to increase salaries for its employees especially when the bargaining process is dysfunctional.
BOFEPUSU BLOCKS SALARY INCREMENT
Upon lodging their application to interdict the unilateral salary increment by government which increased salaries for non-unionised public servants by 4%, hence side lining the Public Service Bargaining Council and acting on a matter that is still under Court, BOFEPUSU was of the view that it is representing principle. Its Secretary General, Tobokani Rari, pointed out that the High Court was still ceased with the matter of determination of the scope of Bargaining Council on salary negotiations. Before the interdict matter was heard, the Judge delivered the judgment on the scope of Bargaining Council and government lost with costs. Rari and his team are of the opinion that once the scope of P.S.B.C. has been determined then the P.S.B.C should meet and then conclude on salary negotiations for financial years 2016/17 and 2017/18.
WIN BIG AGAINST GOVERNMENT
BOFEPUSU had approached Court for determination of the scope of Public Service Bargaining Council; interdict Government from unilateral salary increments. This was meant to protect the functionality of role of P.S.B.C and thereby protecting and guaranteeing prevalence of Collective Bargaining. The Court consequently decided that; The Public Service Bargaining Council as a Joint Industrial Council is duly mandated to negotiate for all Public Servants and not just for members of Unions at P.S.B.C.; That Government acted in bad by awarding 3% salary increment for year 2016/17, and therefore the increment declared illegal, null and void. The same extend to the 4% which was envisaged for increment of financial year 2017/18.
BOFEPUSU PUSHES FOR COMPLIANCE
BOFEPUSU approached the High Court again on Thursday to force Government to comply with Judgment delivered on Tuesday 4th April 2017. The ruling had set aside the Government's unilateral salary increment of 3 % percent last year and 4% this year. The application for compliance came in the wake of government contending that they have already prepared salaries for the month of April and could only comply from the month of May going forward.
During the deliberations, BOFEPUSU through its attorneys indicated that salaries have not yet been prepared, and that the system allows for reversal. But Government lawyers said the salaries for April have already been prepared and the system is being operated from outside the country. The judge ordered that government should bring evidence to prove that the salaries have already been prepared and the matter will return to court on 24th April this year.
BOFEPUSU WANTS PSP AND MINISTER TO RESIGNâ€¨â€¨
Rari says as BOFEPUSU they are concerned that people who mislead government are never answerable for their misdeeds. “A sad reality of our times under this current government, that a certain known individual government bureaucrats and known Cabinet Ministers, could be allowed to make such telling blunders that costs government not only money, but that subject government to such denting humiliating embarrassment, and still be allowed to continue to hold office without being required to resign or be sacked.
How on earth does one explain a situation where twice in a row, government is forced by the courts to reverse an increment on the basis of the same mistake, that of side-lining the bargaining process in altering conditions of service of workers. Government was restrained in the case of a 3% last year, and once again government is being restrained in the case of a 4%,” observed Rari. â€¨â€¨He says what is even more denting and extremely embarrassing which reduces government to a circus is the fact that this week’s court decision, government has been told that last year's 3% salary increment to non – unionized employees and those who were not admitted into the PSBC then, was unlawful and as such it should be stopped forthwith and those employees who got the 3% should pay back.
“No no no, the circus cannot be allowed to continue. This dashes and dampens the little hope and moral that was left in the public service. The BDP as a ruling party should and cannot allow this to go uncommented and unpunished. We would like to hear the voice all Batswana on this issue including the civil society. These public service which some individuals toy around with are drivers of the country's development and service providers to the nation.
That's why we feel that the PSP and Minister of Presidential Affairs should resign forthwith or be sacked for horrendous blunders,” further states Rari.â€¨ â€¨Rari says they are reliably informed that they were advised by the legal brains prior to the 4% adjustment and defied such advices only because they are pushing some agenda with some unions. “The fact that in today's case, government was represented by private attorneys tells a story,” he said.â€¨
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.