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.”
The government of Botswana has reportedly approved the dream of hosting African Cup of Nations in 2027 with Namibia as co-host, following a proposal to cabinet by Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sports and Culture Development, Tumiso Rakgare.
WeekendSport learns that the organizing committee dreaming to host the tournament is preparing to hand their hefty book to Confederation of African Football (CAF) when bidding stage comes into open. Botswana Football Association (BFA) has, to this date, managed to win the confidence of the government, and all thoughts around the African football prestigious tournament are given serious attention with acceleration of construction of 10 mini stadia across the country, sources have said.
Furthermore, reports in Namibia state that the Botswana government has approached them with a proposal to co -host the 2027 edition of African tournament. “I can confirm that the minister of sport in Botswana has written to our minister but these are still early days and no decision has been made yet,” Audrin Mathe, an executive director in the Ministry of Sport was quoted by Namibia Sun this week. Meanwhile, Rakgare has said: “It is still an internal issues but yes, we are interested in hosting with Namibia.”
All the while, BFA president who also sits in CAF national executive committee is expected to embody a more emotive promise about the ability of African Cup in Botswana and how it can benefit the citizenry and by extension, the Southern region. With Zimbabwe having come out clean about their intentions to bid for 2034 World Cup, there has been a growing feeling that Botswana should try her luck, and therefore Botswana delegation will be hopeful to walk a fine line.
Although, the commercial potential of a Botswana AFCON Cup is a compelling factor in their favour, following the relative uncertainty of many African countries ( due to political instability, extent of corona virus ) and state of insecurity, BFA is minded not make that their thrust of the case. Hence the concentration on providing a home from home for all teams among Botswana’s diverse population and the opportunity to use the proceeds to advance legacy projects around Africa. The feeling on the ground is that the move might be bold, and some association influential players believe that it will be a matter of upgrading Maun stadium, Masunga and Serowe stadium.
An idea is also harbored that another stadium will be built in around Gaborone to boost the existing National Stadium with the Lobatse and Francistown stadia also expected to play pivotal role. All the while, a more than P20 million operational budget is said to be needed to travel the African countries in convincing them that Botswana is more suitable to host with its security and economy very much stable.
Botswana passes the mark when it comes to transportation, accommodation and hotel facilities. The fact that CAF normally want a country that has hosted youth tournaments before enables Botswana to score points in that it has hosted before. The only problem that might mark Botswana down is road infrastructure. BFA will consider roping in an experienced sport person and the high profile of former players like Diphetogo Selolwane is anticipated to appear for the thoughts building around the bid, and his name will be seen as watershed moment.
The southern region, however, might be dealt a devastating blow following the catastrophe that hit Angola when they hosted the 2010 edition. The Togo team was shot by rebels and panic erupted. However, the field is open and the ever shifting sands of CAF internal politics make the race hard to call and feed fears of horse trading and backroom deals.
Public Servants should brace themselves for some changes as the government is in an overdrive mode to overhaul the public sector. The government has also set the tone for the looming changes as it has added the public sector to its looming list of major and sweeping reforms.
This is contained in a savingram from the Permanent Secretary to the President (PSP) Emmah Peloetletse’s office showing how the government intends to “take stock” of all reforms in the public sector through the establishment of an inventory. Peloetletse’s savingram addressed to various ministries and the Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) reveals that the government is working around the clock to implement some changes in the Public Service.
The savingram reminded Permanent Secretaries of various ministries and DPSM that the public sector reforms unit (PSRU) at the Office of the President is mandated with Coordinating Reforms across the Public Service. “This essentially entails providing the strategic guidance and facilitation in the implementation of reforms across the Public Service. In this endeavour the Unit has in the past with Technical Assistance from European Union developed a template for documenting Reforms in the Public Service and documented ten (10) major reforms across the Public Service,” reads the savingram in part. It added that “The Unit has lately rolled out the Change Management Framework in an effort to facilitate effective and efficient management of change in the Public Service.”
According to the savingram, it has been noted that for a variety of reasons the use of the template for documenting reforms has not been universally used across the Botswana Public Service. It further states that to facilitate the documentation of the reforms it is essential that an inventory of the various reforms across the Public Service (Central Government, Local Government and State Owned Entities) is established.
“By this correspondent we are seeking your assistance in populating the attached template to provide basic information on the various reforms. The PSRU will, through the various Coordination of focal Persons facilitate the full documentation of the reforms once the inventory is established,” the savingram further stated. The copy of the template among others calls on the focal persons to fill out them form under several headings; they include title of reform, start date, reform objectives, reform components, reform components, progress status.
The savingram echoes President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s announcement last year during his state of the nation address that as a nation Botswana has set itself a lofty goal of becoming a high income country by 2036 and has come up with a list of reforms among them digitisation of government infrastructure. He said the path to achieving this goal dictates that, Botswana takes deliberate steps that will transform its institutions; the way Batswana think and the way they act.
“It is with this in mind, that I presented a Reset Agenda in May 2021, with the following priorities: Save Botswana‘s population from COVID-19, by implementing a series of life saving measures that include a successful and timely vaccination programme, Adherence to COVID-19 health protocols remains key and align Botswana Government’s machinery to the Presidential Agenda, to ensure that the national transformation agenda will be embodied in the public service of the day,” said Masisi. He added that, “this will come with significant Government reforms in all public institutions. We need greater agility and responsiveness like never before in the delivery of public services.”
The Presidential COVID-19 Task Force reportedly meddled in the awarding of tenders for COVID-19, a new Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report has revealed.
The Committee expressed concern that it has noted that there are two centres for covid procurement being the Ministry of Health and the Covid Task team in the Office of the President. The report says the Committee questioned the Accounting Officer on why the COVID 19 task team is usurping the powers of the Ministry of Health by engaging in covid procurement when the Ministry of Health is the one which has the experience and mandate of dealing with the pandemic. The report says clarification was also sought on why direct appointment is the preferred method for covid procurement.
“In her response the Accounting Officer stated that the task team was mainly engaged in the procuring of quarantine facilities and was assisting the Ministry of Health due to the heavy workload brought about by the COVID 19 pandemic,” the report says. The report says the Accounting Officer further stated that direct procurement was used because COVID 19 was treated as an emergency and that procurement was mainly from companies that have been traditionally used by the Ministry of Health.
“This however, is not the case as there has been report of new companies being awarded COVID -19 contracts. The use of direct procurement method should only be used in exceptional cases as it’s a non-competitive method which increases the risk of inflated pricing and close relations with particular suppliers to the detriment of others,” the report says.
It says since most covid procurement fell under emergency, there is need for openness and transparency regarding the procurement. The PAC recommended that in order to ensure transparency and accountability all COVID 19 related procurement should be periodically published in the PPADB website giving full details of the companies receiving procurement contracts and the beneficial owners of the companies.
It says with the passage of time the impact of covid is no longer unexpected so direct awards should gradually be abandoned as the medium and long-term needs of the pandemic can now be predicted. “Judgement should be used even during direct awards to ensure that prices are not higher than the market prices,” the report says.
In a related matter, the report says the Central Medical Stores (CMS) was unable to cater for the required quantities of medical supplies with order fulfilments of about 35% resulting in shortages and insufficient drugs to Athlone Hospital and the surrounding clinics. “In his submission the Accounting Officer had indicated that CMS was unable to supply the exact quantities required by the hospital and surrounding clinics due to the fact that supplies from CMS have to be rationed in order to cover other facilities around the country,” says the report.
The committee expressed concern about the inadequate supply of drugs to government facilities which puts the lives of patients at risk due to non- availability of essential supplies. It recommended that the Ministry identifies and prioritise measures that need to be taken to ensure that there is adequate supply of essential medicines which are needed in the public health system.
Meanwhile the report says the Ministry of Health and Wellness coordinates the operations and functions of some institutions which receive government subventions and secondment of staff from the government. These institutions include 10 NGO’s, two mission Hospitals, three mission clinics and two schools of Nursing.
It says in its endeavour to enhance efficiency and effectiveness of government support to NGOs the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development developed some Policy Guidelines for Financial Support to Non- Governmental Organisations. According to the PAC report, the guidelines were meant to ensure that there is consistency, accountability and transparency in administering public funding to NGOs. However, the Ministry of Health did not comply with the very important guidelines.
“The main areas of non-compliance were the following: (i) There was no Evaluation Committee to vet proposals from NGOs, in some instances NGOs had formed part of the evaluation forum when their requests were being considered,” the report says. It says there was continued funding of NGOs even when they failed to submit narrative and financial progress reports; and (iv) Continued funding of NGOs that failed to submit audited financial statements and management letters as required. The Committee expressed concern at the lapses in the administration of grants by the Ministry despite the large sums of public money awarded to these NGOs.