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P486 million windfall for teachers

Senior teachers at Primary School level across the country will smile all the way to the bank end of this month to receive their salary increments coupled with back pays dating from July 2013.


The salary increase will put them on equal scale with equivalents at Junior and Senior Schools – the disparity which has been going on for 3 years since the implementation of the contentious Levels Of Operation (LOO). The Primary School Senior teachers will hence forth move from C1 to D4 salary scale. According to the scale, C1 is an income of around P 14 000 and D4 falls around P16 000 to P17 000.


Out of the 4 512 Senior teachers across the country with an increment of around P 3000 means they will drain government coffers approximately 486 million pula. There are 752 Primary Schools in Botswana and each Primary School houses around 6 Senior School teachers. This means there are approximately 4 512 Senior School teachers in the country whom will be affected by this windfall.


The court order to increase the salaries of the Primary School Senior teachers was made by Lobatse High Court Justice Godfrey Ntlhomiwa on Friday. He said that the full judgement will be released next week Monday. In the matter Justice Ntlhomiwa ordered that the implementation of LOO to primary school teachers holding positions of responsibility be made retrospective to the month of July 2013, when LOO was first implemented in respect of secondary schools who hold positions of responsibility.


“The Government, is directed in its capacity as employer, to pay the primary school teachers holding positions of responsibility their LOO benefit including the corresponding salary arrears (back-pays) calculated from July 2013, when LOO was first implemented at secondary schools who hold positions of responsibility,” court order states.

 
He also declared that that the Primary School level Senior Teachers are entitled to benefit from LOO without the precondition of a job evaluation assessment. “The government set aside its decision to require Primary School level Senior Teachers to undergo a job evaluation assessment as a precondition to them benefiting from the Levels Of Operation.”


Subsequent to Justice Ntlhomiwa’s ruling, BOSETU Secretary General Tobokani Rari told Weekend Post in collaborative presentation to other union members including Botswana Federation of Public, Private and Parastatal Sectors Union (BOFEPPPUSU) president Innocent Tshukudi that the replica effects of the judgement is that government will have to incur the costs which run in “millions.”


According to Rari, the implications of the ruling is that since a court has agreed with them, the Senior teachers will be moved to D4 and when they move to D4 it then means that at D4 currently there are Heads of Departments (HOD’s). “The HOD’s will then have to move from D4 to D3, and on D4 currently we have Deputy School Heads and it means they will have to move from D3 to D 2. On D2 we also have School Heads then they would have to move from D2 to D1,” he said.


The BOSETU SG added that; that’s why they are saying this case has a replica effect. “These are things that are done by people we advise, and we have advised them during the course of the negotiations. They did not take the advice. If during the negotiations when we were trying to avoid this case going to court we tried to advise and they didn’t take the advice. Now the judgement is out in our favour,” Rari stated. Rari also took time to narrate where the matter emanates from.


He said just to take people back a little bit, they would recall that in 2012, because of the two union’s (BOSETU and BTU)’s pressure from government they have always said there is no reason why they can have different people having been pitched at different levels only on the basis of where they are teaching.


He added that since 1994, when scheme of service was instigated, it created that at primary schools post of responsibility start at salary scale C2. Then post of responsibility at Junior Schools, he added that rank from C1 and post of responsibility at senior school stood at D4.


“So we have always put pressure to say that these differences are out of the fact that you are teaching at a certain level and not out of any merit, but there were purely out of the fact that somebody is at Primary while the other is at Junior School and another at Senior School.”  


And because of the pressure since 1994, he conceded that the government loosened up and stated that they will unravel Levels Of all Operations. “Then they said it means teachers at Junior school, their post of responsibility will be pitched to the level of those at Senior which is D4. Then when they were supposed to do the same with those teachers at Primary School then did not and instead said their post of responsibility will start at C1,” Rari pointed out.


But after having said that, BOSETU SG said they agreed that in terms of movement, teachers at Primary can move without being promoted up to salary scale C1. “Remember C1 is being held by a Senior teacher with a responsibility.” He also observed that then it happened that starting in 2014, it happened that Senior teachers without responsibility at C2 now they moved and got to C1 and then this means they shared a scale with those with a responsibility.


“The trade unions during negotiations of Level of Operations, indicated that it would not work, that instead it will create a management crisis because when those without a responsibility are made to share a scale with those with a responsibility it means there will be a big problem of management because those with a responsibility will be at the same scale with their Juniors.” So 2014 that crisis passed, which we have warned about prior during the course of negotiations of Levels of Operation, he observed.


According to Rari, then they moved and they had several meetings with the ministry to try to knock sense to their head and tell them that they are heated on a crisis and let’s see if the Senior teachers at Primary be pitched at salary of D4 like their counterparts at Juniors and Senior Schools.


“So our negotiations did not bear any fruits to an extent that at some point they were saying that lets do job evaluation as a pre-requisite that they can only be moved to D4 based on the outcome of the job evaluation.” On his part, BTU Secretary General Agang Gabana said what is key about the matter is that even in promotions the issue at hand was catastrophic at Primary Schools.


He continued: “everyone was confused as to on what basis are the teachers being promoted on, they were those that were already Senior teachers but were promoted, there were those who were just on that scale.” Gabana said they didn’t know also on what basis they were promoting those presumed to be accelerating to C1, and this he said led to a lot of commotions among the 10 education regions in the country.


According to BTU SG, this issue comes at a time in which some quarters have already rendered unions useless. “So this case is a landmark case as it speaks paramount to further issues of Bargaining that topical issues which has been there like what has been said that we were inciting members to refuse the 3% public servants salary increment.”


He maintained that the thing is they have always said collective bargaining council does not only exists for issues of salary adjustments as other people want to confine its scope to. “So today is a big victory that I believe our members understands in a broader perspectives the role that unions play in our country. This is a collective bargaining issue.”  


“Ofcourse as BTU we acting jointly with BOSETU in this matter but it’s a matter that shows it’s a collective issue that I hope going forward our membership will grow tremendously because of this issue. It will also make us to settle well because the relevance of our existence has been proven today and our win speaks a lot on us.” The unions BTU and BOSETU took the matter to court and they were represented by lawyer Joseph Akoonyatse while the Attorney General’s chambers stood in for the government of Botswana.

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Botswana’s development agenda in jeopardy

21st September 2020
Botswana’s-development-agenda-in-jeopardy--water-construction

Stanbic Bank Botswana Quarterly Economic Review indicates that Botswana will fail to meet some of its Vision 2036 targets, particularly unemployment reduction and reaching high-income status.

The report says this is mainly due to the slow economic growth that the country is currently experiencing. This Quarterly Economic Review focuses on the 2020 Budget Speech.

The first paper reviews the entire budget with its key observations being that this budget is prepared as prescribed by the Public Finance Management Act; the priorities it seeks to address are drawn from Vision 2036 and the eleventh

The 2020 budget Speech, which was the maiden speech by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Dr. Thapelo Matsheka, and the first after the 2019 general elections, was delivered to Parliament on the 4th of February 2020.

It has been well received by the labour unions, business community, and the public at large as well as international organisations such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

It mainly derived its support from key facets including, emphasis on changing the business-as-usual approach to development; outlining the transformation agenda; fiscal reform that minimizes the negative impact on economic development and human welfare, competiveness and the decision to implement the 2019 negotiated and agreed public sector.

The budget’s progress review shows that economic growth was consistent with the NDP 11 projections, with growth of around 4 percent. At this growth rate, the country would neither ascend to a high-income status nor reduce unemployment towards the Vision 2036 target of a single digit.

Simple calculations of this review confirm that the economy will need to grow the Vision 2036’s target of 6 percent over the next 16 years for per capita income to increase from around USD 8,000.00 to above USD 12,000.00 in current prices.

Further, the population is anticipated to grow by only 2 percent per annum.

For this reason, the focal areas for the forthcoming FY’s budget include measures to increase economic growth towards an average of 6 percent per annum.

Economic diversification is reportedly progressing fairly well. The report says, the share of the non-mining private sector in value added has risen to 66 percent in 2018 from to 63 percent in 2015.

The sectoral pattern of growth showed that the performance of services sector (particularly transport & communications, trade, hotels & restaurants, and finance & business services) has been the silver lining and that of mining sector was subdued whilst the utility sector disappointed.

The drive towards the service sector of the economy, especially to low-productivity activities (tourism, public administration, wholesaling and retailing) does not bode well for the country’s development aspirations.

In the previous versions of this Quarterly Review, it was noted that there is need for the rethinking of economic diversification. Since the country’s domestic market is small, it is inevitable that economic diversification not only focus on broadening the product mix, but also the composition of exports and markets.

This understanding of economic diversification has not been embraced by this year’s budget. Consequently, Botswana’s exports are still overwhelmingly diamonds, which means that the rest of economic sectors are still highly dependent on foreign-exchange earnings from diamonds. Thus, “the transformation programme requires a review of the country’s entire ecosystem”.

The budget review of the economic context also depicts that an economy with positive medium-term prospects, with growth expected to recover to 4.4 percent in 2020 from the expected growth of 36 percent in 2019 largely due to faster growth of services sectors and, thereafter, to slow-down to 4 percent in 2021.

These projected growth rates are comparable to those of the IMF staff’s baseline scenario of 4.2 percent in 2020 and 4 percent in 2021. Thus, the business-as-usual scenario produces growth rates that are still too low to achieve Botswana’s development objectives and create enough jobs to absorb the new entrants into the labour market.

Trade tensions between the two major markets for diamond exports, viz., the United States of America and China, is one of the factors that are cited as contributing to, indeed, undermining not only the domestic growth, but also the fiscal position.

Another notable downside risk to both global and domestic growth is outbreak of the coronavirus in China around January 2020. This has been declared as a global health emergency. In an attempt to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus pneumonia, the Chinese authorities have ordered city lockdowns and extended holidays, of course, at the expense of near- term economic growth, according to the new Stanbic Bank Botswana report.

According to Nomura Holdings Inc., fewer migrant workers returned for work than in previous years and business activities have been slow to pick up. The havoc wreaked by the virus on the world’s second largest economy is likely to spill over to the global economy. In fact, it has resulted in a glut in crude oil and, thereby placed oil markets into a contango, i.e., a market structure where near-term prices trade at a discount to future contracts.

It also presents significant risks one of Botswana’s main drivers of economic growth, diversification and foreign exchange earnings. According to the Financial Times (February 13, 2020), Chinese tourists spent $130 billion overseas in 2018. Regardless of whether the growth materializes, the projected domestic growth rate would not transform the economy to a high-income one.

Progress towards reduction of unemployment, to a target of single digit, and poverty and achieving inclusive growth has also been relatively slow, the Stanbic Bank Botswana Review says.

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OP leases Orapa House

21st September 2020
Orapa House

Ministry of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration (MOPAGPA) has through the Office of the President (OP) proposed to avail Orapa House for use by private training institutions as well as research institutions involved in the area of technology development.

For a very long time the monumental building located in the heart of the city has been a white elephant, despite government purchasing it for nearly P80 million from De Beers in 2012.

However, government has now identified a productive use for the iconic building. “The overall vision is for the building to be transformed into a hub for digital technology research and development to be carried-out by institutions, such as; Limkokwing University, BIUST, BITRI and other relevant stakeholders.”

The decision was taken as government traverse a new path of transforming the economy from a mineral led economy to a knowledge based economy through the promotion of research and innovation. However, the facility will need major maintenance to be carried-out in order to meet the requirements of the proposed change in use.

“The work will include provision of laboratories, work stations, production areas and seminar rooms; audio visual centre, high speed internet connectivity, exhibition areas and offices,” reads the proposal note for the development.

These developments will be done through the refurbishment and maintenance of the main building, workshop, and ablution block, gate house, parking area, grounds, and access control and security service.

“There will be minimal modifications to the structure as it stands. The project is estimated to cost approximately P50, 000, 000,” says the report. In this regard, it is said, the initial scope of the OP facility will be modified to accommodate the envisaged digital technology research and development hub.

With funds needed to improve the building, OP has requested that; “the 2020/21 annual budget provision for Orapa House will need to be increased by P37,500,000 from P2,500,000 to P40,000,000 to kick start the maintenance works.” Funds will be sourced from the projects that have been delayed due to Covid-19 protocols during the 2020/21 financial year.

The building has been a thorny issue for government for years. Initially, OP was expected to move there but the move never materialised. At one point it was a question of whether the Office of the President and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development were planning to override a decision by Parliament which rejected the proposal to buy Orapa House under the belief that government may be buying its own property. The building was to be bought at a negotiated cost of P79 million.

Again in 2012, Government had wanted to buy Orapa House for a negotiated P79m but the Finance and Estimates Committee of Parliament had rejected the request because of the inconsistencies realised in the supporting documents of the proposed procurement. The valuation of the building was put at P74 million.

The Ministry of Lands and Housing had initially offered De Beers P73, 000,000 as the purchase price. However, De Beers countered with P85, 000,000. On negotiation and converging of the minds, the selling price was finally agreed at P79, 000,000.

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Sad state of Brigades: dumped and ignored!

21st September 2020
Brigades

Auditor General, Pulane Letebele, has expressed discontentment at the worrying and deteriorating state of brigades in the country.

In an audit inspection which was carried out at Tshwaragano Brigade in Gabane, a number of observations showed weaknesses and shortcomings in the conduct of the financial affairs of the institution.

According to Letebele’s report, former students of the brigade had been engaged to carry out maintenance works on the school premises, comprising of painting, tiling, plumbing and electrical works, which covered the period from July 2017 to June 2018.

Although the agreed maintenance period had elapsed, the works had not been completed because of unavailability of funds and this situation had persisted up till the time of inspection in November 2019.

Auditor General says arrangements should have been made in time for funds to be available to complete these relatively minor works even before the works commenced.

Various contractors had been engaged for clearing the bush and for the supply of concrete stones, pit and river sand and hiring equipment for digging the trench towards the construction of an auto mechanics workshop, the report said.

It stated that the cost of services and supplies provided totalled P117 949.80. However, despite the services and the supplies having been paid for, the construction works had not commenced for a long period afterwards, resulting in the trench filling back in.

The audit inquiries had not elicited satisfactory responses as both the institution and the Ministry had not accepted the responsibility for the project, although orders for the provision for the supplies had been made. For their part, the Ministry had stated that they had sub warranted funds for the purchase of porta cabins.

Letebele indicated that it is therefore confusing that a project which is critical to the functioning of an institution such as this one would commence without a well-defined plan.

Furthermore, the accounting and maintenance of records for the supplies items were not of the standard prescribed by the Supplies Regulations and Procedures in that the supplies ledger cards, the main accounting records for Government assets, were not properly maintained for the recording of receipts and issues.

This had resulted in significant discrepancies between physical and ledger balances, while in other instances the supplies items had not been recorded at all.

The report says 24 of the 91 new computers found in the computer laboratory at Kumakwane ABC campus were not recorded anywhere, as were the other computers in the storeroom which could not be counted due to the disorderly storage conditions.

The institution had entered into a contract agreement with a security company for the provision of security services at Tshwaragano Brigade, ABC and Horticulture campuses at Kumakwane for a 2-year period which ended in June 2018, WeekendPost learnt.

After the contract expired in June 2018, an extension was granted till the 30th September 2018. Since then, there has been no security service coverage for the institution to-date. According to Auditor General, in the face of prevailing crimes, it is of paramount importance that government properties be protected by provision of security services at all times.

At Tlokweng Brigade, it was noted that the kitchen staff were working under difficult conditions as the kitchen facilities and equipment, such as the cold room, tilting pot, food warmers and solar power for hot water were dysfunctional. The kitchen roof was leaking and men’s restrooms was not working. All these need to be brought to a reasonable and functional state of repair.

The kitchen staff should use a purpose-designed Rations Ledger for the recording of receipts and issues of foodstuffs to reflect the usage of those items. As far back as 2014 the Department of Buildings and Engineering Services had found that the house occupied by the bursar was uninhabitable on account of structural defects, the report said.

A site visit during the audit had established that the house was indeed unfit for occupation as there were cracks on the walls, power switches were not working and the roof was leaking. On a sadder note, there were a number of finished items of clothing, such as dresses, shirts, and jackets from students’ practical exercises from the Fashion Design Textiles Workshop.

Auditor General shared her take on this, saying: “I have not been able to ascertain the policy on the disposal of products from these practicals. A trace of 103 green acid-proof overalls which had been purchased in August 2018 had indicated that there was no record of these items having been recorded or issued, nor were they available in stock. I was not able to obtain any explanation for this situation.”

Kgatleng brigade was also audited and inspected by Auditor General who observed that the brigade has 26 institutional houses at Bokaa, both old campus and new campus. Some of these houses are very old and dilapidated, with two declared uninhabitable. The condition of the houses is a clear indication of lack of care and maintenance of these properties.

At the time of the audit, there was no contractor engaged for the provision of security guard services at the new campus, after expiry of the previous one in July 2019.  It is hoped that steps would be taken to safeguard the security of the premises and government properties against any acts of hooliganism.

In August 2019, there was a break-in at the electrical and at the plumbing maintenance workshops and a number of high value items, such as drilling machines, bolt cutters, spanners and cables, were stolen. The break-in and theft were reported to the police.

“However, at the time of writing this report I was not aware of the outcome of the police investigation, nor of any loss report submitted in terms of the Supplies Regulations and Procedures,” Letebele said.

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