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.
Former Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Member of Parliament for Gaborone North, Haskins Nkaigwa has confirmed his departure from opposition fold to re-join the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).
Nkaigwa said opposition is extremely divided and the leadership not in talking terms. “They are planning evil against each other. Nothing much will be achieved,” Nkaigwa told WeekendPost.
“I believe my time in the opposition has come to an end. It’s time to be of value to rebuilding our nation and economy of the country. Remember the BDP is where I started my political journey. It is home,” he said.
“Despite all challenges currently facing the world, President Masisi will be far with his promises to Batswana. A leader always have the interest of the people at heart despite how some decisions may look to be unpopular with the people.
“I have faith and full confidence in President Dr Masisi leadership. We shall overcome as party and nation the current challenges bedevilling nations. BDP will emerge stronger. President Masisi will always have my backing.”
Nkaigwa served as opposition legislator between 2014-2019 representing Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) under UDC banner. He joined BMD in 2011 at the height public servant strike whilst Gaborone City Deputy Mayor. He eventually rose to become the mayor same year, after BDP lost majority in the GCC.
Nkaigwa had been a member of Botswana National Front (BNF), having joined from Alliance for Progressives (AP) in 2019.
Botswana has received assistance worth over P100 million from Japanese government since 2019, making the latter of the largest donors to Botswana in recent years.
The assistance include relatively large-scale grant aid programmes such as the COVID-19 programme (to provide medical equipment; P34 million), the digital terrestrial television programme (to distribute receivers to the underprivileged, P17 million), the agriculture promotion programme (to provide agricultural machinery and equipment, P53million).
“As 2020 was a particularly difficult year, where COVID-19 hit Botswana’s economy and society hard, Japan felt the need to assist Botswana as our friend,” said Japan’s new Ambassador to Botswana, Hoshiyama Takashi.
“It is for this reason that grants of over P100 million were awarded to Botswana for the above mentioned projects.”
Japan is now the world’s fourth highest ranking donor country in terms of Official Development Assistance (ODA).
From 1991 to 2000, Japan continued as the top donor country in the world and contributed to Asia’s miracle economic development.
From 1993 onwards, the TICAD process commenced through Japan’s initiative as stated earlier. Japan’s main contribution has been in the form of Yen Loans, which are at a concessional rate, to suit large scale infrastructure construction.
“In Botswana, only a few projects have been implemented using the Yen Loan such as the Morupule “A” Power Station Rehabilitation and Pollution Abatement in 1986, the Railway Rolling Stock Increase Project in 1987, the Trans-Kalahari Road Construction Project in 1991, the North-South Carrier Water Project in 1995 and the Kazungula Bridge Construction Project in 2012,” said Ambassador Hoshiyama.
“In terms of grant aid and technical assistance, Japan has various aid schemes including development survey and master planning, expert dispatch to recipient countries, expert training in Japan, scholarships, small scale grass-roots program, culture-related assistance, aid through international organizations and so on.”
In 1993, Japan launched Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) to promote Africa’s development, peace and security, through the strengthening of relations in multilateral cooperation and partnership.
TICAD discuss development issues across Africa and, at the same time, present “aid menus” to African countries provided by Japan and the main aid-related international organizations, United Nations (UN), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Bank.
“As TICAD provides vision and guidance, it is up to each African country to take ownership and to implement her own development following TICAD polices and make use of the programmes shown in the aid menus,” Ambassordor Hoshiyama noted.
“This would include using ODA loans for quality infrastructure, suited to the country’s own nation-building needs. It is my fervent hope that Botswana will take full advantage of the TICAD process.”
Since then, seven conferences where held, the latest, TICAD 7 being in 2019 at Yokohama. TICAD 7’s agenda on African development focused on three pillars, among them the first pillar being “Accelerating economic transformation and improving business environment through innovation and private sector engagement”.
“Yes, private investment is very important, while public investment through ODA (Official Development Assistance) still plays an indispensable role in development,” the Japanese Ambassador said.
“For further economic development in Africa, Japan recognizes that strengthening regional connectivity and integration through investment in quality infrastructure is key.”
Japan has emphasized the following; effective implementation of economic corridors such as the East Africa Northern Corridor, Nacala Corridor and West Africa Growth Ring; Quality infrastructure investment in line with the G20 Principles for Quality Infrastructure Investment should be promoted by co-financing or cooperation through the African Development Bank (AfDB) and Japan.
Japan also emphasized the establishment of mechanisms to encourage private investment and to improve the business environment.
According to the statistics issued by Japan’s Finance Ministry, Japan invested approximately 10 billion US dollars in Africa after TICAD 7 (2019) to year end 2020, but Japanese investment through third countries are not included in this figure.
“With the other points factored in, the figure isn’t established yet,” Ambassador Hoshiyama said.
The next conference, TICAD 8 will be held in Tunisia in 2022. This will be the second TICAD summit to be held on the African continent after TICAD 6 which was held in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2016.
According to Ambassador Hoshiyama, in preparation for TICAD 8, the TICAD ministerial meeting will be held in Tokyo this year. The agenda to be discussed during TICAD 8 has not yet been fully deliberated on amongst TICAD Co-organizers (Japan, UN, UNDP, the World Bank and AU).
“Though not officially concluded, given the world situation caused by COVID-19, I believe that TICAD 8 will highlight health and medical issues including the promotion of a Universal Health Coverage (UHC),” said Hoshiyama.
“As the African economy has seriously taken a knock by COVID-19, economic issues, including debt, could be an item for serious discussion.”
The promotion of business is expected to be one of the most important topics. Japan and its partners, together with the business sector, will work closely to help revitalize private investment in Africa.
“All in all, the follow-up of the various programs that were committed by the Co-Organizers during the Yokohama Plan of Actions 2019 will also be reviewed as an important item of the agenda,” Ambassador Hoshiyama said.
“I believe that this TICAD follow-up mechanism has secured transparency and accountability as well as effective implementation of agreed actions by all parties. The guiding principle of TICAD is African ownership and international partnership.”
Directorate on Intelligence Services (DIS) Director General, Brigadier Peter Magosi is said to be hell-bent and pushing President Mokgweetsi Masisi to reshuffle his cabinet as a matter of urgency since a number of his ministers are conflicted.
The request by Magosi comes at a time when time is ticking on his contract which is awaiting renewal from Masisi.
This publication learns that Magosi is unshaken by the development and continues to wield power despite uncertainty hovering around his contractual renewal.