The Botswana Federation of Public, Private and Parastatal Sectors Union (BOFEPPPUSU) will hold a “special congress” to consult members on the much-talked about 3% that was not awarded to its affiliates.
The union federation, through the High Court, interdicted the awarding of the 3% to “all” government employees but court could only accede to interdict the increment to only its members (BOFEPUSU). The contentious development was reached following government’s resolution to grant the 3% increment to public servants in April last year (2015). The increment was provided by the President Lt. Gen. Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama’s administration – outside the ambit of the Bargaining Council.
It is understood that the move has since created a rift, acrimony and hostility between BOFEPPPUSU members who on one hand are not awarded the increment and non-BOFEPPPUSU members as well as the non-unionised who were provided with the increment. Weekend Post understands that the bone of contention advanced by the union federation is focused on the fight for the independence of the Public Servants Bargaining Council and to ensure that the bargaining power is not eroded. If anything, and to ensure the power remains, BOFEPPPUSU says it remains ready to forfeit the 3% increment.
Last week, the union dealt a heavy blow at the High Court as the presiding Acting Judge Godfrey Radijeng ruled that the matter in which they wanted to instruct government to go back to the salary negotiations is “not urgent.” Although he did not go into the merits of his judgement delivery, it is strongly believed that a similar matter seeking for the “scope of the PSBC” currently before Justice Tshepo Motswagole of the High Court – due for next year February – may have triggered the judgement.
This publication has gathered that the federation leadership met over the weekend following the judgement and arrived at a decision to the effect that: “there is need to thoroughly brief and consult members” on the matter and that “there will be a special congress for the federation on 17th December 2016.” It is understood that following the Special Congress, there shall be thorough consultation with the structures during the 1st and the 2nd weeks of January 2017.
Speaking to Weekend Post this week Secretary General of BOFEPPPUSU, Tobokani Rari confirmed that indeed the federation is undertaking a special congress this weekend. “Yes, leadership met over the weekend and took a decision to undertake a special congress to brief leaders of structures of various unions affiliated to BOFEPPPUSU to brief them out on the outcome of the court case which sought to instruct government back to the salary talks and the ruling’s implications as well as way forward,” Rari told this publication.
Rari stated that the purpose of the special congress is primarily for the union leadership to report what transpired at the salary negotiations table particularly with regard to the contentious 3% increment and the recent court cases. The unionist emphasized the need and importance of getting a mandate from the members on critical issues that they are facing. “We now need to go back to them to get a fresh mandate,” he said boldly as the union is continuing to face countless battles at court.
According to Rari, initially the members have given them a go-ahead and legitimate mandate to ignore the 3% salary raise and instead ordered them to channel their energies on fighting for the “bargaining power” to avoid future repeating’s of the unilateral increments prone to government. “If the BOFEPPPUSU members also want the 3% provocative salary rise – although awarded outside PSBC – they should say so as well. If they also want to protect and preserve the power and integrity of the Bargaining Council they should point that as well at the special congress and we will implement the mandate as is. We are simply servants of the union members.”
The BOFEPPPUSU SG insisted that the Trade Unions are run by mandates from the people and therefore the members should do the talking and leadership only implements their (members) aspirations. The special congress will be attended by members of the Executive, chairpersons of regions and branches from the affiliate members.
BOFEPPPUSU affiliates include Botswana Teachers Union (BTU), Botswana Sectors of Educators Trade Union (BOSETU), Botswana Landboard and Local Authorities & Health Workers Union (BLLAHWU), National Amalgamated Central, Local & Parastatal Manual Workers Union (NACLPMWU). Union federation to appeal recent judgement to force gov’t back to the salary talks
Rari said they have resolved to appeal the case in which they sought to instruct government parties to come back at the PSBC to continue negotiating for the public servants salary increase and conditions of service. He also pointed out that the federation, having met its lawyers in which they had lengthy discussions about legal possibilities; consequently the leadership ended up with an informed decision and resolved to appeal the matter. The BOFEPPPUSU SG said the notice of appeal has been registered with the Court of Appeal on Wednesday to start with the process of appealing.
“We have absolutely nothing to lose by appealing the matter. If the Court of Appeal does not uphold the High court ruling we will continue negotiating the salaries. If we lose the appeal we will have to remain with the predicament of waiting for case before Justice Motswagole on scope next year February,” he said.
He also added that if members at the special congress agree that the members be awarded the 3% then it won’t stop the bargaining process for salaries of 2016/17 that are also pending. “The appeal will still remain relevant,” Rari maintained.
Some vendors have been misled Vendors thrive on households goods and fresh produce
Despite the previous false allegations that the Tobacco Control Bill will lead to several 20 000 vendors across the country losing their jobs, several local vendors have expressed that they are ready for the bill and because vendors sell mostly household goods
“This is something that we openly accept and receive as street vendors, the problem is some of our counterparts were misled and made to believe that we will not be allowed to sell cigarettes on our stalls.
Some of us got to understand that the bill states that we have to be licensed to sell cigarettes, we are not supposed to sell them to children under the age of 18 years of age and eliminating the selling of single sticks. We understand that this agenda is meant to develop a healthy nation but not take us down,” said Mbimbi Tau a vendor who operates from Mogoditshane.
The Tobacco Control Bill has been passed in several countries and street vendors are operating properly without any challenges faced. Tau further mentioned that there is no way that the Tobacco Control Bill will affect their business operations, all they have to do as vendors are to get the required documentation and do what the bill requires.
Another vendor Busani Selalame who operates from Gaborone Bonnington North was not shy to express his support towards the Tobacco Control Bill, “the problem is that some people within our sector have been misled and now they think that the bill is meant to take our operations down and completely stop selling cigarettes.
I support the fact that we are not supposed to sell cigarettes to children who are under the age of 18 years of age this has always been wrong, as parents we should be cautious of such and ensure that our children are disassociated with cigarettes,” said Selalame.
The Tobacco Control Bill prohibits advertising, promotion and sponsorship by the tobacco industry to prevent messages, cues, and other inducements to begin using tobacco, especially among the youth, to reassure users to continue their use, or that otherwise undermine quitting.
Renowned economist Bakang Ntshingane is of the view that since vendors sell household goods and fresh produce they are likely to keep on making profits despite what the Tobacco Control Bill comes with. He further stated that the Tobacco Control Bill will not be of harm on the local economy since the country does not manufacture or produce any tobacco related products.
BancABC Botswana, the BSE-listed bank today announced its half year results for the six months ended 30 June 2021, against a subdued economic backdrop, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and related lockdowns.
BancABC has remained resilient in the current operating environment as business activity increased in the first half of 2021, with Real GDP up by 0.7% in the first quarter compared to a contraction of 4.6% in the previous quarter. Commenting on the results, Managing Director Kgotso Bannalotlhe said, “Currently, economic activity is relatively stable.
While COVID-19 placed significant pressure on the economy and our overall business, BancABC Botswana has shown remarkable resilience amid a tough operating environment. While the bank operates in an environment that is seeing a rise in COVID-19 infections, it is encouraging that the business has maintained a healthy capital adequacy ratio as well as being successful in improving total expenses with focus on cost containment across the board.”
The retail segment saw an increase in customer deposits this year, signalling an improvement from the previous period and strengthening the current funding mix. This segment has built great momentum and continues to advance its digital strategy, through various products such as the mobile banking app, SARUMoney, as well as enhanced product offerings such as the introduction of fash cash. The Bank has invested in its digital capabilities to ensure a seamless and hassle-free banking experience for all its customers.
The commercial segment was successful in reducing the cost of funding. In addition, Treasury and Global Markets performed well, doubling from the previous comparative period. The current year performance across the bank’s different segments is testament to the bank’s strong income lines, aiding the Bank’s resilience during this time.
“The Bank experienced slow loan book growth due to a constrained economic environment, however, we remain optimistic that as the economy recovers, credit appetite amongst the Bank’s customer-base will increase. In addition, we reported good non-interest revenue, driven by increased trading income on the back of improved margins and volumes. Our outlook remains positive as we expect momentum across the different segments to improve over time,” said Ratang Icho-Molebatsi, BancABC Botswana Finance Director.
In April 2021, BancABC Botswana’s ultimate holding company, Atlas Mara Limited, as well as ABC Holdings Limited and Access Bank Plc announced an agreement to a proposed acquisition of 78.15% of BancABC Botswana. The transaction presented an opportunity for BancABC Botswana’s strong retail banking operation to merge with Access Bank’s wholesale banking capabilities, augmenting itself as one of Africa’s leading banks.
“The transaction provides significant scope for revenue diversification and growth in the corporate and SME banking segment. Increased access to trade finance, treasury, international payments and loans through the wider distribution network offered by Access Bank’s presence in the key trade corridors that connect Africa to the rest of the world, presents solid opportunities for BancABC Botswana”, commented Icho-Molebatsi “With the transaction, BancABC Botswana’s customers stand to benefit from best-in-class digital platforms and product suites, leveraging Access Bank’s group IT infrastructure as well as other fintech solutions”, said Bannalotlhe.
Further, with Access Bank expanding its footprint into Botswana, it will position the Bank to deliver a more complete set of banking solutions to Batswana across the country”, concluded Bannalothle.
Last Friday, the board of Directors of the African Development Bank Group authorised a $137 million (P1.5 billion) loan to support Botswana’s Post COVID-19 pandemic economic recovery.
The funds, extended under the Bank Group’s Botswana Economic Recovery Support Program, will be used to enact multi-sector reforms that will increase spending efficiency, create jobs and drive inclusive growth.
The project has three components: enhancing domestic resource mobilisation and mitigating fiscal risks to enhance macroeconomic performance and create fiscal space for spending on social safety nets; supporting private sector-led agriculture and industry to bolster productivity and value addition and increase job opportunities, and offering business development services to micro and small enterprises to advance social protection and gender equity. The three components are expected to reinforce one another.
“The African Development Bank is providing support for reforms to enhance private sector-led agriculture and transformation of the industrial sector,” said Leila Mokadem, Director General of the Southern Africa Regional Development and Business Delivery Office. “Agriculture value addition can serve as a springboard for industrialisation and job creation,” she added.
The project aligns with the Bank Group’s Ten-Year Strategy (2013-2022) and its High Five strategic priorities, particularly Industrialise Africa and Improve the quality of life of the people of Africa. The African Development Bank observed that Botswana has a very low risk of debt distress and a positive medium-term growth outlook. However, a lack of economic diversification exposes the country to significant vulnerabilities.
The Bank Group’s active portfolio in Botswana amounts to UA 57.7 million ($81.9 million) and comprises four projects. The financial sector accounts for the largest share of the portfolio by industry (97.1%), followed by agriculture (1.7%) and industry (1.2%). In the past, the African Development Bank partnered with various Botswana government agencies to accelerate economic growth.
On the 21st of February 2020, the bank signed a thematic Line of Credit (LoC) of P900 Million for a 10-year tenor with Botswana Development Corporation (BDC), a wholly state-owned investment agency. This was during that time, the single largest transaction of its nature to ever take place in Botswana.
The LoC was penned to support the BDC’s long-term strategy to scale up its investments in critical sectors, including manufacturing, transport and service sectors, with the overall objective of supporting the transformation and industrialisation of the Botswana economy. BDC eyed a more comprehensive socio-economic benefit with this partnership, including attracting investments into the economy and employment creation.
The African Development Bank is a multilateral development finance institution. It has an overarching objective to spur sustainable economic development and social progress in its regional member countries (RMCs) through mobilising and allocating resources for investment and providing policy advice and technical assistance to support development efforts.
This transaction was poised to support further BDC’s focus on safeguarding its balance sheet to ensure financial sustainability whilst fulfilling its mandate as the Botswana Government’s principal investment arm.
The COVID-19 pandemic has landed massive blows on Botswana; apart from claiming more than 2300 lives thus far, the contagious plague has exacerbated existing growth challenges. The effects of the pandemic have led to an estimated real gross domestic product (GDP) contraction of 7.9% in 2020, according to the World Bank, worse than that of the 2009 global financial crisis.
The contraction reflects the impact that reduced global demand, travel restrictions and social distancing measures have had on output in crucial production and export sectors, including the diamond industry and tourism.
Botswana’s fiscal deficit is set to widen to 11.3% of GDP in FY2020/21, from 5.6% in FY2019/20, reflecting a sharp decline in mineral revenues, a sticky public sector wage bill, and the impact of the COVID-19 spending. Similarly, the current account deficit is estimated to have widened to 8 percent of GDP in 2020 following the sharp decline in diamond exports.
Developments in the global diamond industry will significantly impact the short-term recovery, given Botswana’s dependence on the commodity. While recovery is expected in 2021 due to a favourable outlook for the diamond industry, the economic impact of COVID-19 is likely to be deep and long-lasting. The P1.5 billion African Development Bank loan comes after the World Bank approved a P2.5 billion boost for Botswana early this year.
The Programmatic Economic Resilience and Green Recovery Development Policy Loan (DPL) will support the implementation of Botswana’s Economic Recovery and Transformation Plan and is designed to strengthen COVID-19 pandemic relief while bolstering resilience to future shocks.
In August, Botswana received the International Monetary Fund (IMF) 189 Special Drawing Rights allocation worth P3 billion. The IMF SDR is a non-currency asset that Botswana can convert into hard currency by trading it with other IMF member countries.