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Khama, MPs to talk more money in July

Members of Parliament deliberately postponed a debate of the Bill set to adjust their salaries by 4 percent and a proposal to increase their constituency allowances by 40 percent because they want a holistic address of their conditions of service. Many observers are of the view that Botswana legislators are poorly remunerated when compared to their peers in the SADC region and elsewhere.


In July this year, Members of Parliament will talk about their conditions of service and their debates will be guided by a proposal tabled by a committee chaired by Gaborone Bonninton North Member of Parliament, Haskins Nkaigwa. Inevitably whatever would be agreed as adjustment to salaries will also benefit the President and Cabinet ministers because they are also Members of Parliament.


President Lt Gen Ian Khama has already secured a lucrative retirement arrangement and package that would see him use any mode of government transport at the discretion of the sitting President and a P34 million office and home. During his early days in the Presidency Khama was a known critique of Members of Parliament demanding high salaries. However following the passage of his retirement package, which some quarters have labelled opportunistic and unreasonable, the President is seen as having lost the moral standing to try and block any demands of salary increases by Members of Parliament. In fact some point out that by giving Khama the package he wants, some BDP MPs were setting events in motion for their Conditions of Service improvements to be looked at favourably.  


Also lined up to benefit is the Minister responsible for the Parliament portfolio, Eric Molale, Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration. Molale is already enjoying a lucrative pension that is valued at E2 scale or P18 000 per month which he attracted as a result of having served in the public service for a long time, leaving at the position of Permanent Secretary to the President. Molale is also netting a salary of about P40 000 a month as Minister. MPs want him to push their proposals so that they can also get better packages at the end of their terms as legislators. They cite examples of disgraced former legislators and ministers who are failing to lead honourable lives because of financial strain.  


Members of Parliament could have easily awarded themselves the 4 percent that was proposed and awarded by government to civil servants albeit challenged successfully in court, but they decided to suspend the award and wait for the July session of Parliament when they will be addressing all issues affecting their conditions of service. In addition to monetary gains, the Members of Parliament are also demanding resources that could help ease their job such as trained research assistants.


The latest move to further adjust Members of Parliament salaries follows a silent execution of increases in April 2015 after a six percent increase in salaries was effected for public servants, Parliament secretly approved a hefty increase of close to 40 percent for the President, Vice President, Leader of Opposition and Members of Parliament by then. It is likely that another heavy percentage will be loaded to their salaries in July, some MPs have however voiced out against the piece meal increases, they want the July session of Parliament to fix their Conditions of Service once and for all.


At the moment salaries and allowances of the National Assembly show that after the passing of the sniper pass of the National Assembly Salaries and Allowances Amendment Bill of 2015, President Khama’s salary was increased by 26 percent to P651, 348 per annum. Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi also had his salary increased as he now pockets P501, 216 per annum or P41, 768 per month. On the other hand, cabinet ministers and the Speaker now earn P439, 656 per annum which translate to P36, 638 monthly. The leader of Opposition, Duma Boko has his new salary pegged at P30, 891 per month or P370, 692 per annum, on par with that of assistant ministers and Deputy Speaker, Kagiso Molatlhegi. The standard expectation was that in the Budget session of Parliament Legislators would have awarded themselves the 4 percent that government has offered civil servants, but they shunned the single digit.


In 2015 ordinary Members of Parliament also hiked their salaries by at least 32 percent from 201, 565.00 in 2014 to P266, 460 annually effective May 2015. Under the new salaries, the chairpersons of parliamentary committees will receive a daily allowance of P59.31 if the committee conducts business on a day that Parliament is not sitting. The Members of Parliament have also had allowances such as constituency, hospitality, communication and acting allowance increased by six percent.


MPS CAUGHT IN GOV’T, UNIONS FIGHT


At the moment Government and the Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPPPUSU) are embroiled in a bitter raw over the former’s decision to increase salaries of civil servants unilaterally without the input of the Public Service Bargaining Council. BOFEPPPUSU was forced to take government to court after the 4% unilateral salary increase. As things stand the PSBC will meet on the 18th of April for its first meeting after the High Court directed the Government back to the negotiation table. 

 

The differences between government and trade unions are making the situation difficult for Members of Parliament especially those from the opposition ranks when it comes to debating their conditions of service. Legislators do not want to be seen to be lining their pockets where as their voters are struggling to the same. The public service negotiations on salaries and other conditions of service for the year 2015/16 were the last that went through the PSBC process, after both government and trade unions agreed on a six percent salary increase. Initially trade unions had proposed a 15 percent salary hike while government offered only 4 percent.

 

The trade unions submitted their proposals for negotiations on salary and conditions of service for the year 2015/16 on 25th November 2014 while government submitted its counter proposal on 20th January 2015. For this financial year unions are demanding a 10.5 percent salary increase and government is expected to counter with the 4 percent it has already offered.  

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Cabinet approves AFCON dream

24th January 2022
zebras

The government of Botswana has reportedly approved the dream of hosting African Cup of Nations in 2027 with Namibia as co-host, following a proposal to cabinet by Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sports and Culture Development, Tumiso Rakgare.

WeekendSport learns that the organizing committee dreaming to host the tournament is preparing to hand their hefty book to Confederation of African Football (CAF) when bidding stage comes into open. Botswana Football Association (BFA) has, to this date, managed to win the confidence of the government, and all thoughts around the African football prestigious tournament are given serious attention with acceleration of construction of 10 mini stadia across the country, sources have said.

Furthermore, reports in Namibia state that the Botswana government has approached them with a proposal to co -host the 2027 edition of African tournament. “I can confirm that the minister of sport in Botswana has written to our minister but these are still early days and no decision has been made yet,” Audrin Mathe, an executive director in the Ministry of Sport was quoted by Namibia Sun this week. Meanwhile, Rakgare has said: “It is still an internal issues but yes, we are interested in hosting with Namibia.”

All the while, BFA president who also sits in CAF national executive committee is expected to embody a more emotive promise about the ability of African Cup in Botswana and how it can benefit the citizenry and by extension, the Southern region. With Zimbabwe having come out clean about their intentions to bid for 2034 World Cup, there has been a growing feeling that Botswana should try her luck, and therefore Botswana delegation will be hopeful to walk a fine line.

Although, the commercial potential of a Botswana AFCON Cup is a compelling factor in their favour, following the relative uncertainty of many African countries ( due to political instability, extent of corona virus ) and state of insecurity, BFA is minded not make that their thrust of the case. Hence the concentration on providing a home from home for all teams among Botswana’s diverse population and the opportunity to use the proceeds to advance legacy projects around Africa. The feeling on the ground is that the move might be bold, and some association influential players believe that it will be a matter of upgrading Maun stadium, Masunga and Serowe stadium.

An idea is also harbored that another stadium will be built in around Gaborone to boost the existing National Stadium with the Lobatse and Francistown stadia also expected to play pivotal role.  All the while, a more than P20 million operational budget is said to be needed to travel the African countries in convincing them that Botswana is more suitable to host with its security and economy very much stable.

Botswana passes the mark when it comes to transportation, accommodation and hotel facilities. The fact that CAF normally want a country that has hosted youth tournaments before enables Botswana to score points in that it has hosted before. The only problem that might mark Botswana down is road infrastructure.  BFA will consider roping in an experienced sport person and the high profile of former players like Diphetogo Selolwane is anticipated to appear for the thoughts building around the bid, and his name will be seen as watershed moment.

The southern region, however, might be dealt a devastating blow following the catastrophe that hit Angola when they hosted the 2010 edition. The Togo team was shot by rebels and panic erupted.  However, the field is open and the ever shifting sands of CAF internal politics make the race hard to call and feed fears of horse trading and backroom deals.

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Major public services shake-up looms

24th January 2022
Emmah

Public Servants should brace themselves for some changes as the government is in an overdrive mode to overhaul the public sector. The government has also set the tone for the looming changes as it has added the public sector to its looming list of major and sweeping reforms.

This is contained in a savingram from the Permanent Secretary to the President (PSP) Emmah Peloetletse’s office showing how the government intends to “take stock” of all reforms in the public sector through the establishment of an inventory.  Peloetletse’s savingram addressed to various ministries and the Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) reveals that the government is working around the clock to implement some changes in the Public Service.

The savingram reminded Permanent Secretaries of various ministries and DPSM that the public sector reforms unit (PSRU) at the Office of the President is mandated with Coordinating Reforms across the Public Service.  “This essentially entails providing the strategic guidance and facilitation in the implementation of reforms across the Public Service. In this endeavour the Unit has in the past with Technical Assistance from European Union developed a template for documenting Reforms in the Public Service and documented ten (10) major reforms across the Public Service,” reads the savingram in part. It added that “The Unit has lately rolled out the Change Management Framework in an effort to facilitate effective and efficient management of change in the Public Service.”

According to the savingram, it has been noted that for a variety of reasons the use of the template for documenting reforms has not been universally used across the Botswana Public Service.  It further states that to facilitate the documentation of the reforms it is essential that an inventory of the various reforms across the Public Service (Central Government, Local Government and State Owned Entities) is established.

“By this correspondent we are seeking your assistance in populating the attached template to provide basic information on the various reforms. The PSRU will, through the various Coordination of focal Persons facilitate the full documentation of the reforms once the inventory is established,” the savingram further stated. The copy of the template among others calls on the focal persons to fill out them form under several headings; they include title of reform, start date, reform objectives, reform components, reform components, progress status.

The savingram echoes President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s announcement last year during his state of the nation address that as a nation Botswana has set itself a lofty goal of becoming a high income country by 2036 and has come up with a list of reforms among them digitisation of government infrastructure. He said the path to achieving this goal dictates that, Botswana takes deliberate steps that will transform its institutions; the way Batswana think and the way they act.

“It is with this in mind, that I presented a Reset Agenda in May 2021, with the following priorities: Save Botswana‘s population from COVID-19, by implementing a series of life saving measures that include a successful and timely vaccination programme, Adherence to COVID-19 health protocols remains key and align Botswana Government’s machinery to the Presidential Agenda, to ensure that the national transformation agenda will be embodied in the public service of the day,” said Masisi. He added that, “this will come with significant Government reforms in all public institutions. We need greater agility and responsiveness like never before in the delivery of public services.”

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Covid-19 Task Force meddled in tenders-report

24th January 2022
Dr. Kereng Masupu

The Presidential COVID-19 Task Force reportedly meddled in the awarding of tenders for COVID-19, a new Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report has revealed.

The Committee expressed concern that it has noted that there are two centres for covid procurement being the Ministry of Health and the Covid Task team in the Office of the President. The report says the Committee questioned the Accounting Officer on why the COVID 19 task team is usurping the powers of the Ministry of Health by engaging in covid procurement when the Ministry of Health is the one which has the experience and mandate of dealing with the pandemic. The report says clarification was also sought on why direct appointment is the preferred method for covid procurement.

“In her response the Accounting Officer stated that the task team was mainly engaged in the procuring of quarantine facilities and was assisting the Ministry of Health due to the heavy workload brought about by the COVID 19 pandemic,” the report says. The report says the Accounting Officer further stated that direct procurement was used because COVID 19 was treated as an emergency and that procurement was mainly from companies that have been traditionally used by the Ministry of Health.

“This however, is not the case as there has been report of new companies being awarded COVID -19 contracts. The use of direct procurement method should only be used in exceptional cases as it’s a non-competitive method which increases the risk of inflated pricing and close relations with particular suppliers to the detriment of others,” the report says.

It says since most covid procurement fell under emergency, there is need for openness and transparency regarding the procurement.  The PAC recommended that in order to ensure transparency and accountability all COVID 19 related procurement should be periodically published in the PPADB website giving full details of the companies receiving procurement contracts and the beneficial owners of the companies.

It says with the passage of time the impact of covid is no longer unexpected so direct awards should gradually be abandoned as the medium and long-term needs of the pandemic can now be predicted. “Judgement should be used even during direct awards to ensure that prices are not higher than the market prices,” the report says.

In a related matter, the report says the Central Medical Stores (CMS) was unable to cater for the required quantities of medical supplies with order fulfilments of about 35% resulting in shortages and insufficient drugs to Athlone Hospital and the surrounding clinics.
“In his submission the Accounting Officer had indicated that CMS was unable to supply the exact quantities required by the hospital and surrounding clinics due to the fact that supplies from CMS have to be rationed in order to cover other facilities around the country,” says the report.

The committee expressed concern about the inadequate supply of drugs to government facilities which puts the lives of patients at risk due to non- availability of essential supplies. It recommended that the Ministry identifies and prioritise measures that need to be taken to ensure that there is adequate supply of essential medicines which are needed in the public health system.

Meanwhile the report says the Ministry of Health and Wellness coordinates the operations and functions of some institutions which receive government subventions and secondment of staff from the government. These institutions include 10 NGO’s, two mission Hospitals, three mission clinics and two schools of Nursing.

It says in its endeavour to enhance efficiency and effectiveness of government support to NGOs the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development developed some Policy Guidelines for Financial Support to Non- Governmental Organisations.  According to the PAC report, the guidelines were meant to ensure that there is consistency, accountability and transparency in administering public funding to NGOs. However, the Ministry of Health did not comply with the very important guidelines.

“The main areas of non-compliance were the following: (i) There was no Evaluation Committee to vet proposals from NGOs, in some instances NGOs had formed part of the evaluation forum when their requests were being considered,” the report says.  It says there was continued funding of NGOs even when they failed to submit narrative and financial progress reports; and (iv) Continued funding of NGOs that failed to submit audited financial statements and management letters as required. The Committee expressed concern at the lapses in the administration of grants by the Ministry despite the large sums of public money awarded to these NGOs.

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