UDC proposes 17 % public servant salary increment
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.”
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Pep Stores donates sanitary towels to Popagano JSS
The Guidance and Counseling unit at Popagano Junior Secondary School received a donation of 790 sanitary towels from Pep stores on Thursday.
When presenting the donation, Mareledi Thebeng, the Dinokaneng Area Manager, highlighted their belief in giving back to the community, as their existence depends on the communities they serve. Thebeng pointed out that research indicates one in four girls miss school every day due to the lack of basic necessities like sanitary towels. Therefore, as a company, they strive to assist in alleviating this situation. She expressed hope that this donation would help ensure uninterrupted learning for girls.
Upon receiving the donation on behalf of the students, Charity Sambire, the President of the Student Representative Council, expressed her gratitude. Sambire specifically thanked Pep Store for their generous gift, speaking on behalf of the students, especially the girl child.
She conveyed their sincere appreciation for Pep Store’s compassion and quoted the adage, “Blessed is the hand that gives.” Sambire expressed the students’ hope for Pep Stores’ prosperity, enabling them to continue supporting the students. As a gesture of gratitude, the students pledged to excel academically.
During her speech, Motlalepula Madome, the Senior Teacher in Guidance and Counseling, highlighted that many students at the school come from disadvantaged backgrounds where parents struggle to provide basic necessities. Consequently, some students miss school when they experience menstruation due to this lack.
Madome emphasized the significance of the donation in preventing the girl child from missing lessons and its potential to improve the school’s overall results. She expressed the school’s gratitude and expressed a desire for continued support from Pep Stores.
Popagano Junior Secondary School, situated in the Okavango District, holds the second position academically in the North West region. Despite its location, the school has been dedicated to achieving excellence since 2017
Botswana misses out critical PAP committee meeting
The Pan African Parliament (PAP) committee on gender, family, youth and people with disability in its sitting considered, adopted and recommended to the plenary session the preliminary report on the framework for the model law on gender equality.
According to the last week’s media release from PAP which is sitting with its various committees until June 2nd, the committee is following up the PAP initiative to draw up a model law on gender equality to enable national governments to harmonize, modernize and standardize their legislations to address local needs is set to be discussed in Plenary.
However, what is concerning is the fact that Botswana which is a member state missed the deliberations. Kgosi Mosadi Seboko who sat in the committee representing Botswana has since been ejected by parliament and this is a huge blow for a nation that is still battling equity and gender balance.
“Although PAP has no legislative powers it makes model laws for member states to adopt. PAP also develops protocols to be ratified by countries. The input of countries at Committee state is extremely critical. It now means the voice of Botswana is missing the discussions leading up to development of protocols or model laws,” said one of Botswana’s representative at PAP Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang who is attending the current session.
While Botswana is missing, the committee meeting took place on the sidelines of the Sixth PAP second ordinary Session being held under the African Union Theme of the Year for 2023, “The Year of AfCFTA: Accelerating the Implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area” in Midrand, South Africa and will run up to 2 June 2023. Chairperson of the Committee, Hon Mariam Dao-Gabala expressed satisfaction with preliminary processes undertaken so far towards the formulation of the Model Law,” a release from the PAP website reads.
“The law should be suitable to all countries whatever the predominant culture or religion is. The aim is to give an opportunity to women to participate in the economic, political and social development of the continent. Women are not well positioned and face a lot of obstacles. We are introducing the idea of equity in the Law because we cannot talk about equality without equity,” said Hon Mariam Dao-Gabala in the press statement.
The release has stated that among issues to be covered by the Model Law is the migratory movements of women. The Committee proffered that this has to be addressed at the continental level to ensure that migrant women enjoy all their rights and live with dignity in their destination country. The members of the Gender Committee undertook consultations to consolidate the contributions of the various stakeholders that will be the logical framework format for the Model Law.
BDP MPs demand review of Ministers performance
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) backbenchers were left frustrated when State Minister Kabo Morwaeng failed to furnish them with reports from various ministries at a party retreat held last month.
The two-day retreat of BDP MPs at Notwane Farms was held to discuss the implementation and progress of government projects in line with the party’s 2019 general elections manifesto, in order to assert themselves and press the President to take action against ineffective members of his cabinet. They believed that the laxity of these members could cost them the elections next year.
To accomplish this, the party had requested that each ministry submit their reports to the State Ministry, as it was the most senior ministry. These reports were expected to be assessed at the retreat to evaluate service delivery and the implementation of the party manifesto.
The ministries submitted their performance reports to the Ministry as agreed, but Masisi and the MPs did not have the opportunity to review them. This was the main agenda of the retreat, but when it commenced, and many were anticipating the reports, they were nowhere to be found.
“Minister Morwaeng told us (MPs) that he forgot to prepare them, and as a result, there was nothing to discuss. He said he would share those reports in our WhatsApp group. To us, that was an insult because it is a very serious matter, and we needed to discuss it and see which ministry is failing and how it can be assisted to ensure that service delivery is met,” revealed one MP to WeekendPost.
Reliable sources have informed this publication that one of the reasons why the reports were not shared is due to the poor performance of the State Ministry. It is said that the Minister decided not to share the reports because it would portray him as incompetent, especially since President Masisi was present and seeking suggestions from MPs.
It is understood that the Ministry of Lands and Water Affairs, as well as the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, performed well, while the Ministry of Health and the State Ministry performed poorly.
The MPs are primarily concerned about the lack of correlation between the ministries’ recurrent and development budgets.
“You would notice that in some cases, a ministry would spend their recurrent budget accordingly, but when you look at their development expenditure, it is at 15 percent. That’s the money that should ensure that people receive services and amenities, and we wanted to advise ministers to communicate with bureaucrats to address this,” added the MP.
Without the reports, and with the expected agenda now in tatters, it is said that President Masisi asked MPs to come up with suggestions on how to win public confidence to secure victory in the next elections. It was at this point that backbenchers asked President Mokgweetsi Masisi to crack the whip on ineffectual ministers who had failed to fulfill their mandates. MPs expressed their concerns to the President, particularly regarding the state of affairs at the hospitals.
“There is a serious shortage of medicines and personnel in our areas, especially in rural areas. We have been complaining about this situation for some time, but there seems to be no change,” one MP told WeekendPost.
“The state of our roads and infrastructure is in disrepair. What irks us the most is that we have been complaining about these things for some time, but there has been no change. We demand progress.”
The issue of poor delivery and the significant deficit in the ruling party’s election promises is so severe that President Masisi had his ministers sign performance agreements and annual performance plans. The President effectively read them the riot act, informing them that they would be fired if they continued to fall short in delivering on their mandates.
He told journalists at a press conference that he recently had a serious engagement with Minister of Health Minister Dr. Edwin Dikoloti and Assistant Minister of Health Sethomo Lelatisitswe regarding the deplorable state of affairs at public health facilities.