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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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Veteran journalist Karima Brown succumbs to COVID-19

4th March 2021
Karima-Brown

South Africa’s veteran journalist and broadcaster, Karima Brown has died on Thursday morning from COVID-19 related complications.

Media reports from the neighbouring country say Brown had been hospitalized and on a ventilator.

Brown anchored eNCA’s The Fix and was a regular political analyst on the eNCA channel.

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Botswana imports in numbers

1st March 2021
Botswana-imports

For so many years, Botswana has been trying to be a self-sufficient country that is able to provide its citizens with locally produced food products. Through appropriate collaborations with parastatals such as CEDA, ISPAAD and LEA, government introduced initiatives such as the Horticulture Impact Accelerator Subsidy-IAS and other funding facilities to facilitate horticultural farmers to increase production levels.

Now that COVID-19 took over and disrupted the food value chain across all economies, Botswana government introduced these initiatives to reduce the import bill by enhancing local market and relieve horticultural farmers from loses or impacts associated with the pandemic.

In more concerted efforts to curb these food crises in the country, government extended the ploughing period for the Southern part of Botswana. The extension was due to the late start of rains in the Southern part of the country.

Last week the Ministry of Agriculture extended the ploughing period for the Northern part of the country, mainly because of rains recently experienced in the country. With these decisions taken urgently, government optimizes food security and reliance on local food production.

When pigs fly, Botswana will be able to produce food to feed its people. This is evident by the numbers released by Statistics Botswana on imports recorded in November 2020, on their International Merchandise Trade Statistics for the month under review.

The numbers say Botswana continues to import most of its food from neighbouring South Africa. Not only that, Batswana relies on South Africa to have something to smoke, to drink and even use as machinery.

According to data from Statistics Botswana, the country’s total imports amounted to P6.881 Million. Diamonds contributed to the total imports at 33%, which is equivalent to P2.3 Million. This was followed by food, beverages and tobacco, machinery and electrical equipment which stood at P912 Million and P790 Million respectively.

Most of these commodities were imported from The Southern African Customs Union (SACU). The Union supplied Botswana with imports valued at over P4.8 Million of Botswana’s imports for the month under review (November 2020). The top most imported commodity group from SACU region was food, beverages and tobacco, with a contribution of P864 Million, which is likely to be around 18.1% of the total imports from the region.

Diamonds and fuel, according to these statistics, contributed 16.0%, or P766 Million and 13.5% or P645 Million respectively. Botswana also showed a strong and desperate reliance on neighbouring South Africa for important commodities. Even though the borders between the two countries in order to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus, government took a decision to open border gates for essential services which included the transportation of commodities such as food.

Imports from South Africa recorded in November 2020 stood at P4.615 Million, which accounted for 67.1% of total imports during the month under review. Still from that country, Botswana bought food, beverages and tobacco worth P844 Million (18.3%), diamonds, machinery and fuel worth P758 Million, P601 Million and P562 Million respectively.

Botswana also imported chemicals and rubber products that made a contribution of 11.7% (P542.2 Million) to total imports from South Africa during the month under review, (November 2020).

The European Union also came to Botswana’s rescue in the previous year. Botswana received imports worth P698.3 Million from the EU, accounting for 10.1% of the total imports during the same month. The major group commodity imported from the EU was diamonds, accounting for 86.9% (P606.6 Million), of imports from the Union. Belgium was the major source of imports from the EU, at 8.9% (P609.1 Million) of total imports during the period under review.

Meanwhile, Minister of Finance and Economic Development Thapelo Matsheka says an improvement in exports and commodity prices will drive growth in Sub-Saharan Africa. Growth in the region is anticipated to recover modestly to 3.2% in 2021. Matsheka said this when delivering the Annual Budget Speech virtually in Gaborone on the 1st of February 2021.

He said implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA), which became operational in January 2021, could reduce the region’s vulnerability to global disruptions, as well as deepen trade and economic integration.

“This could also help boost competition and productivity. Successful implementation of AfCFTA will, of necessity, require Member States to eliminate both tariffs and non-tariff barriers, and generally make it easier to do business and invest across borders.”

Matsheka, who is also a Member of Parliament for Lobatse, an ailing town which houses the struggling biggest meat processing company in the country- Botswana Meat Commission, (BMC), said the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) recognizes the need to prioritize the key processes required for the implementation of the AfCFTA.

“The revised SACU Tariff Offer, which comprises 5,988 product lines with agreed Rules of Origin, representing 77% of the SACU Tariff Book, was submitted to the African Union Commission (AUC) in November 2020. The government is in the process of evaluating the tariff offers of other AfCFTA members prior to ratification, following which Botswana’s participation in AfCFTA will come to effect.”

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Sheila Tlou: On why women don’t get votes

1st March 2021
Sheila Tlou

BARAPEDI KEDIKILWE

Women continue to shadow men in politics – stereotypes such as ‘behind every successful man there is a woman’ cast the notion that women cannot lead. The 2019 general election recorded one of Botswana’s worst performances when it comes to women participation in parliamentary democracy with only three women elected to parliament.

Botswana’s former Minister of Health, Professor Sheila Tlou who is currently the Co-Chair, Global HIV Prevention Coalition & Nursing Now and an HIV, Gender & Human Rights Activist is not amused by the status quo. Tlou attributes this dilemma facing women to a number of factors, which she is convinced influence the voting patterns of Batswana when it comes to women politicians.

Professor Tlou plugs the party level voting systems as the first hindrance that blocks women from ascending to power. According to the former Minister of Health, there is inadequate amount of professionalism due to corrupt internal party structures affecting the voters roll and ultimately leading to voter apathy for those who end up struck off the voters rolls under dubious circumstances.

Tlou also stated that women’s campaigns are often clean; whilst men put to play the ‘politics is dirty metaphor using financial muscle to buy voters into voting for them without taking into consideration their abilities and credibility. The biggest hurdle according to Tlou is the fallacy that ‘Women cannot lead’, which is also perpetuated by other women who discourage people from voting for women.

There are numerous factors put on the table when scrutinizing a woman, she can be either too old, or too young, or her marital status can be used against her. An unmarried woman is labelled as a failure and questioned on how she intends on being a leader when she failed to have a home. The list is endless including slut shaming women who have either been through a divorce or on to their second marriages, Tlou observed.

The only way that voters can be emancipated from this mentality according to Tlou is through a robust voter education campaign tailor made to run continuously and not be left to the eve of elections as it is usually done. She further stated that the current crop of women in parliament must show case their abilities and magnify them – this will help make it clear that they too are worthy of votes.

And to women intending to run for office, Tlou encouraged them not to wait for the eleventh hour to show their interest and rather start in community mobilisation projects as early as possible so that the constituents can get to know them and their abilities prior to the election date.

Youthful Botswana National Front (BNF) leader and feminist, Resego Kgosidintsi blames women’s mentality towards one another which emanates from the fact that women have been socialised from a tender age that they cannot be leaders hence they find it difficult to vote for each other.

Kgosidintsi further states that, “Women do not have enough economic resources to stage effective campaigns. They are deemed as the natural care givers and would rather divert their funds towards raising children and building homes over buying campaign materials.”

Meanwhile, Vice President of the Alliance for Progressives (AP), Wynter Mmolotsi agrees that women’s participation in politics in Botswana remains a challenge. To address this Mmolotsi suggested that there should be constituencies reserved for women candidates only so that the outcome regardless of the party should deliver a woman Member of Parliament.

Mmolotsi further suggested that Botswana should ditch the First Past the Post system of election and opt for the proportional representation where contesting parties will dutifully list able women as their representatives in parliament.

On why women do not get elected, Mmolotsi explained that he had heard first hand from voters that they are reluctant to vote for women since they have limited access to them once they have won; unlike their male counterparts who have proven to be available night or day.

The pre-historic awarding of gender roles relegating women to be pregnant and barefoot at home and the man to be out there fending for the family has disadvantaged women in political and other professional careers.

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