Umbrella for Democratic Change’s (UDC) Vice President, Ndaba Gaolathe, has informed parliament that if his party had its way, public servant salaries will be increased by 17% with immediate effect and set on a path for creating a highly productive and incentivised workforce.
Gaolathe, who was standing in for Leader of Opposition, Duma Boko, in Parliament this week, contended that if such decision is taken, salary increases in the ensuing years would decline and plans will be put in place to set a transparent manner for adjusting salaries based on inflation, performance and exceptional skill.
“The decision to deny public servants salary adjustments and other concessions around working conditions over unreasonable stretches of years cannot be based on reason,” he said: “Somehow our Government system manages to portray and treat the workers and unions of this country as a thorn in the flesh. The laws keep changing to muzzle and limit the rights of workers, particularly public servants.”
Gaolathe told the house that there is an economic fallacy doing the rounds that for a country to develop, it is necessary to ensure that labour costs are kept at a bare minimum. “The reality is that there is a compelling counter-arguments based on the efficiency wage theory, that labour that feels well appreciated, incentivized and trained will more than compensate based on higher productivity,” he said.
Gaolathe’s contention was that, Labour should be embraced as an important stakeholder in the development process without whom it is not possible to working environments that nurture economic transformation, “In the same way, Government is not always right, labour and the unions are not always right, but it is a symbiotic relationship with them that holds up strong economies,” he stated.
Gaolathe further said, “German workers are some of the most productive in the world and their involvement in business is pervasive in positive ways. An important part of their mandate is to instil and ensure the lifelong training of workers and to guarantee worthwhile working conditions without hampering the success of business activity.”
To cater for salary increment, Gaolathe proposed amendments to the Development Budget, without changing the overall amount, as per the rules: “This means we need to cut what we believe are not pressing needs, including expenses on military aircraft, and Directorate of Intelligence expenses,” he said.
The formation of Botswana Oil and Mineral Development Company has been viewed with suspicion by the former Botswana Institute for Development Policy Analysis (BIDPA) think tank as suspicious. He said he smells a rat because because government has always claimed that it is not its role to invest in enterprise. “It is not clear what the guidelines for managing these entities are and there are real fears that these could be funnels for financial leakage in favour of the political elite. Guiding legislation is necessary to attend to these gaps,” he noted.
In the wake of the rising unemployment among the youth and graduates, Gaolathe has opined that the current ecosystem consisting of Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA) and Botswana Development Corporation (BDC) has failed to deliver the goods. “It is strange that the employment and industry targets of these major entities are not known,” he said. In view of the status quo, Gaolathe proposed for the establishment of a system of special sector “Funds” to make capital available and attract technical skills to the sectors that the nation has already identified as potential economic engines such as mineral beneficiation, agriculture/meat products and services. “These funds or holding companies would seek technical and other partners with whom to develop major export-oriented businesses,” he added.
He said these funds would be managed by competent managers including by the Botswana Development Corporation if they motivate their candidacy satisfactorily. “The funds will have financial targets, employment targets and other targets on the basis of which the country will monitor progress on the agreed development objectives,” he explained.
Gaolathe further indicated that Botswana needs to realize that there is an urgent need to take some drastic steps necessary to set up a few large farms, few large food processing plants, few mineral beneficiation factories, few meat processing plants and a few component parts manufacturing plants.
“These large enterprises are necessary to create an ecosystem into which the small scale sector can thrive and in turn create mass opportunities for our people,” he said. “Botswana can excel in fish production, fish processing, beef processing, flower production, grain production, grain/food processing, services, technology, component part manufacturing, hunting and mineral beneficiation,” Ndaba pointed out.
With the right strategic partnerships and nurturing of a business friendly environment, Ndaba added, Botswana can generate hundreds of thousands of jobs in a space of five years, compared to about three thousand jobs created per year in recent times, against a pool of more than fifteen thousand graduate entrants into the market.
INTRODUCTION OF HOME GROWN BANKS AND CITIZEN EMPOWERMENT
With Botswana’s financial sector, the banking sector in particular is still being dominated by foreign banks Gaolathe has hinted at need for Botswana to start a process of grooming homegrown banks and financial institutions through a variety of policy instruments. “First, we must lessen the barriers to entry and allow for a second tier banking system to subsist with a first tier system. This should overtime give indigenous banks the history, and credibility to elevate to the first tier,” he said.
Gaolathe has said the way pension fund management contracts are awarded to citizen-owned asset managers is a clear mechanism available to Botswana as he noted that Botswana is fortunate to have experienced citizen portfolio managers who have worked successfully at the most prestigious financial institutions in the world.
“Importantly, the size of the pension fund resources mainly of Government workers and parastatals is the same size as the entire banking sector,” he observed: “This is an opportunity to align the use of these funds to the country’s development objectives including the modernizing of infrastructure and strategic investments in the clusters that form Botswana’s economic strategy. Almost 60 billion Pula of these resources are available for this strategic purpose.”
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.