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.
Botswana has made improvements on preventing and ending arbitrary deprivation of liberty, but significant challenges remain in further developing and implementing a legal framework, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention said at the end of a visit recently.
Head of the delegation, Elina Steinerte, appreciated the transparency of Botswana for opening her doors to them. Having had full and unimpeded access and visited 19 places of deprivation of liberty and confidentiality interviewing over 100 persons deprived of their liberty.
She mentioned “We commend Botswana for its openness in inviting the Working Group to conduct this visit which is the first visit of the Working Group to the Southern African region in over a decade. This is a further extension of the commitment to uphold international human rights obligations undertaken by Botswana through its ratification of international human rights treaties.”
Another good act Botswana has been praised for is the remission of sentences. Steinerte echoed that the Prisons Act grants remission of one third of the sentence to anyone who has been imprisoned for more than one month unless the person has been sentenced to life imprisonment or detained at the President’s Pleasure or if the remission would result in the discharge of any prisoner before serving a term of imprisonment of one month.
On the other side; The Group received testimonies about the police using excessive force, including beatings, electrocution, and suffocation of suspects to extract confessions. Of which when the suspects raised the matter with the magistrates, medical examinations would be ordered but often not carried out and the consideration of cases would proceed.
“The Group recall that any such treatment may amount to torture and ill-treatment absolutely prohibited in international law and also lead to arbitrary detention. Judicial authorities must ensure that the Government has met its obligation of demonstrating that confessions were given without coercion, including through any direct or indirect physical or undue psychological pressure. Judges should consider inadmissible any statement obtained through torture or ill-treatment and should order prompt and effective investigations into such allegations,” said Steinerte.
One of the group’s main concern was the DIS held suspects for over 48 hours for interviews. Established under the Intelligence and Security Service Act, the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) has powers to arrest with or without a warrant.
The group said the “DIS usually requests individuals to come in for an interview and has no powers to detain anyone beyond 48 hours; any overnight detention would take place in regular police stations.”
The Group was able to visit the DIS facilities in Sebele and received numerous testimonies from persons who have been taken there for interviewing, making it evident that individuals can be detained in the facility even if the detention does not last more than few hours.
Moreover, while arrest without a warrant is permissible only when there is a reasonable suspicion of a crime being committed, the evidence received indicates that arrests without a warrant are a rule rather than an exception, in contravention to article 9 of the Covenant.
Even short periods of detention constitute deprivation of liberty when a person is not free to leave at will and in all those instances when safeguards against arbitrary detention are violated, also such short periods may amount to arbitrary deprivation of liberty.
The group also learned of instances when persons were taken to DIS for interviewing without being given the possibility to notify their next of kin and that while individuals are allowed to consult their lawyers prior to being interviewed, lawyers are not allowed to be present during the interviews.
The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention mentioned they will continue engaging in the constructive dialogue with the Government of Botswana over the following months while they determine their final conclusions in relation to the country visit.
Standard Chartered Bank Botswana (SCBB) has informed the government that it will not be accepting new loan applications for the Government Employees Motor Vehicle and Residential Property Advance Scheme (GEMVAS and LAMVAS) facility.
This emerges in a correspondence between Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance Boniface Mphetlhe and some government departments. In a letter he wrote recently to government departments informing them of the decision, Mphetlhe indicated that the Ministry received a request from the Bank to consider reviewing GEMVAS and LAMVAS agreement.
He said: “In summary SCBB requested the following; Government should consider reviewing GEMVAS and LAMVAS interest rate from prime plus 0.5% to prime plus 2%.” The Bank indicated that the review should be both for existing GEMVAS and LAMVAS clients and potential customers going forward.
Mphetlhe said the Bank informed the Ministry that the current GEMVAS and LAMVAS interest rate structure results into them making losses, “as the cost of loa disbursements is higher that their end collections.”
He said it also requested that the loan tenure for the residential property loans to be increased from 20 to 25 years and the loan tenure for new motor vehicles loans to be increased from 60 months to 72 months.
Mphetlhe indicated that the Bank’s request has been duly forwarded to the Directorate of Public Service Management for consideration, since GEMVAS and LAMVAS is a Condition of Service Scheme. He saidthe Bank did also inform the Ministry that if the matter is not resolved by the 6th June, 2022, they would cease receipt of new GEMVAS and LAMVAS loan applications.
“A follow up virtual meeting was held to discuss their resolution and SCB did confirm that they will not be accepting any new loans from GEMVAS and LAMVAS. The decision includes top-up advances,” said Mphetlhe. He advised civil servants to consider applying for loans from other banks.
In a letter addressed to the Ministry, SCBB Chief Executive Officer Mpho Masupe informed theministry that, “Reference is made to your letter dated 18th March 2022 wherein the Ministry had indicated that feedback to our proposal on the above subject is being sought.”
In thesame letter dated 10 May 2022, Masupe stated that the Bank was requesting for an update on the Ministry’s engagements with the relevant stakeholder (Directorate of Public Service Management) and provide an indicative timeline for conclusion.
He said the “SCBB informs the Ministry of its intention to cease issuance of new loans to applicants from 6th June 2022 in absence of any feedback on the matter and closure of the discussions between the two parties.” Previously, Masupe had also had requested the Ministry to consider a review of clause 3 of the agreement which speaks to the interest rate charged on the facilities.
Masupe indicated in the letter dated 21 December 2021 that although all the Banks in the market had signed a similar agreement, subject to amendments that each may have requested. “We would like to suggest that our review be considered individually as opposed to being an industry position as we are cognisant of the requirements of section 25 of the Competition Act of 2018 which discourages fixing of pricing set for consumers,” he said.
He added that,“In this way,clients would still have the opportunity to shop around for more favourable pricing and the other Banks, may if they wish to, similarly, individually approach your office for a review of their pricing to the extent that they deem suitable for their respective organisations.”
Masupe also stated that: “On the issue of our request for the revision of the Interest Rate, we kindly request for an increase from the current rate of prime plus 0.5% to prime plus 2%, with no other increases during the loan period.” The Bank CEO said the rationale for the request to review pricing is due to the current construct of the GEMVAS scheme which is currently structured in a way that is resulting in the Bank making a loss.
“The greater part of the GEMVAS portfolio is the mortgage boo which constitutes 40% of the Bank’s total mortgage portfolio,” said Masupe. He saidthe losses that the Bank is incurring are as a result of the legacy pricing of prime plus 0% as the 1995 agreement which a slight increase in the August 2018 agreement to prime plus 0.5%.
“With this pricing, the GEMVAS portfolio has not been profitable to the Bank, causing distress and impeding its ability to continue to support government employees to buy houses and cars. The portfolio is currently priced at 5.25%,” he said. Masupe said the performance of both the GEMVAS home loan and auto loan portfolios in terms of profitability have become unsustainable for the Bank.
Healso said, when the agreement was signed in August 2018, the prime lending rate was 6.75% which made the pricing in effect at the time sufficient from a profitable perspective. “It has since dropped by a total 1.5%. The funds that are loaned to customers are sourced at a high rate, which now leaves the Bank with marginal profits on the portfolio before factoring in other operational expenses associated with administration of the scheme and after sales care of the portfolio,” said the CEO.
The Global Gender Gap Index, a report published by the World Economic Forum annually, has indicated that Botswana is among countries that fare badly when it comes to representation of women in legislative bodies.
The latest Global Gender Gap Index, published last week, benchmarks the current state and evolution of gender parity across four key dimensions (Economic Participation and Opportunity, Educational Attainment, Health and Survival, and Political Empowerment). It is the longest-standing index which tracks progress towards closing these gaps over time since its inception in 2006.
This year, the Global Gender Gap Index benchmarked 146 countries. Of these, a subset of 102 countries have been represented in every edition of the index since 2006, further providing a large constant sample for time series analysis.
Botswana ranks number 66 overall (out of 146 countries), with good rankings in most of the pillars. Botswana ranks 1st in Health and Survival, 7th in the Economic Participation and Opportunity, 22nd in Educational Attainment, and 129th in Political Empowerment.
The Global Gender Gap Index measures scores on a 0 to 100 scale and scores can be interpreted as the distance covered towards parity (i.e. the percentage of the gender gap that has been closed). The cross-country comparisons aim to support the identification of the most effective policies to close gender gaps.
The Economic Participation and Opportunity sub-index contains three concepts: the participation gap, the remuneration gap and the advancement gap. The participation gap is captured using the difference between women and men in labour-force participation rates. The remuneration gap is captured through a hard data indicator (ratio of estimated female-to-male earned income) and a qualitative indicator gathered through the World Economic Forum’s annual Executive Opinion Survey (wage equality for similar work).
Finally, the gap between the advancement of women and men is captured through two hard data statistics (the ratio of women to men among legislators, senior officials and managers, and the ratio of women to men among technical and professional workers).
The Educational Attainment sub-index captures the gap between women’s and men’s current access to education through the enrolment ratios of women to men in primary-, secondary- and tertiary-level education. A longer-term view of the country’s ability to educate women and men in equal numbers is captured through the ratio of women’s literacy rate to men’s literacy rate.
Health and Survival sub-index provides an overview of the differences between women’s and men’s health using two indicators. The first is the sex ratio at birth, which aims specifically to capture the phenomenon of “missing women”, prevalent in countries with a strong son preference. Second, the index uses the gap between women’s and men’s healthy life expectancy.
This measure provides an estimate of the number of years that women and men can expect to live in good health by accounting for the years lost to violence, disease, malnutrition and other factors. Political Empowerment sub-index measures the gap between men and women at the highest level of political decision-making through the ratio of women to men in ministerial positions and the ratio of women to men in parliamentary positions. In addition, the reported included the ratio of women to men in terms of years in executive office (prime minister or president) for the last 50 years.
In the last general elections, only three women won elections, compared to 54 males. The three women are; Nnaniki Makwinja (Lentsweletau-Mmopane), Talita Monnakgotla (Kgalagadi North), and Anna Mokgethi (Gaborone Bonnington North). Four women were elected through Specially Elected dispensation; Peggy Serame, Dr Unity Dow, Phildah Kereng and Beauty Manake. All female MPs — save Dow, who resigned — are members of the executive.
Overall, Botswana has 63 seats, all 57 elected by the electorates, and six elected by parliament. Early this year, Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) secretary general and Gaborone North MP, Mpho Balopi, successfully moved a motion in parliament calling for increment of elective seats from 57 to 61. Balopi contented that population growth demands the country respond by increasing the number of MPs.
In Africa, Botswana play second fiddle to countries like Rwanda, Namibia, South Africa, Burundi, and Zimbabwe who have better representation of women, with Rwanda being the only country with more than 50 percent of women in parliament.
The low number of women in parliament is attributed to Botswana’s current, electoral system, First-Past-the-Post. During the 9th parliament, then MP for Mahalapye East tabled a motion in parliament in which she sort to increase the number of Specially Elected MPs in parliament to augment female representation in the National Assembly.
The motion was opposed famously, by then Specially Elected MP, Botsalo Ntuane, who said the citizens were not in favour of such a move since it dilute democracy, instead suggesting the Botswana should switch to Proportional-Representation-System. Botswana is currently undergoing Constitutional Review process, with the commission, appointed in December, expected to deliver the report to President Mokgweetsi Masisi by September this year.