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.
Botswana Police Service (BPS) has indicated concern about the ongoing trend where the general public falls victim to criminals purporting to be police officers.
According to BPS Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, the criminals target individuals at shopping malls and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) where upon approaching the unsuspecting individual the criminals would pretend to have picked a substantial amount of money and they would make a proposal to the victims that the money is counted and shared in an isolated place.
“On the way, as they stop at the isolated place, they would start to count and sharing of the money, a criminal syndicate claiming to be Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officer investigating a case of stolen money will approach them,” said Motube in a statement.
The Commissioner indicated that the fake police officers would instruct the victims to hand over all the cash they have in their possession, including bank cards and Personal Identification Number (PIN), the perpetrators would then proceed to withdraw money from the victim’s bank account.
Motube also revealed that they are also investigating a case in which a 69 year old Motswana woman from Molepolole- who is a victim of the scam- lost over P62 000 last week Friday to the said perpetrators.
“The Criminal syndicate introduced themselves as CID officers investigating a case of robbery where a man accompanying the woman was the suspect.’’
They subsequently went to the woman’s place and took cash amounting to over P12 000 and further swindled amount of P50 000 from the woman’s bank account under the pretext of the further investigations.
In addition, Motube said they are currently investigating the matter and therefore warned the public to be vigilant of such characters and further reminds the public that no police officer would ask for bank cards and PINs during the investigations.
Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leadership walked out of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting this week on account of being targeted by other cooperating partners.
UDC meet for the first time since 2020 after previous futile attempts, but the meeting turned into a circus after other members of the executive pushed for BCP to explain its role in media statements that disparate either UDC and/or contracting parties.
The Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crimes (DCEC), Tymon Katlholo’s spirited fight against the contentious transfers of his management team has forced the Office of the President to rescind the controversial decision. However, some insiders suggest that the reversal of the transfers may have left some interested parties with bruised egos and nursing red wounds.
The transfers were seen by observers as a badly calculated move to emasculate the DCEC which is seen as defiant against certain objectionable objectives by certain law enforcement agencies – who are proven decisionists with very little regard for the law and principle.