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Gov’t changes approach on unions

The government has undertaken to improve its ways of dealing with labour unions in the National Development 11.

Minister of Employment, Labour Productivity and Skills Development, Tshenolo Mabeo told parliament this week that, “during the NDP 11, government will ensure that there is harmonious and peaceful industrial relations to promote socio-economic growth and development through the amended Trade Dispute Act.”

It was the first time a widely conciliatory approach was outlined by a high raking government Minister since the 2014 general election where the labour union bloc of BOFEPPPUSU (then BOFEPUSU) helped sway the election to the opposition.
Perhaps testament to government’s resolve; Mabeo’s Ministry was also recently rechristened Ministry of Employment, Labour Productivity and Skills Development.

He stated that in order to achieve that goal, besides the amendment of the Trade Disputes Act, “government will also seek to amend other Acts of parliament such as the Workers Compensation Act, Trade Unions and Employers Organisations Act, the Employment Act, as well as strengthen the labour inspection system in the country.”

He further said that government will also establish an independent dispute resolution structure, establishment of a national tripartite social dialogue structure. The Minister who is also Member of Parliament for Thamaga-Kumakwane constituency further said that this overhaul will also include the development of a national employment policy, the development of a national broad-based occupational pension, national policy on HIV/TB and employment, as well as development of a national occupational health and safety policy.

Furthermore, Mabeo said that the national occupational health and safety policy will guide the development of an efficient occupational health and safety service delivery, enactment of a clear, comprehensive and harmonized legal and regulatory framework for all sectors of the economy.

He further stated that “it will provide for accessible and equitable compensation and rehabilitation of workers and enhanced awareness education and training at all levels.” However, the amendment of Acts such as the Trade Unions and Employment Acts are likely to be a magnet for controversy.

The recent amendment of the Trade Disputes Act which was initially enacted to help resolve industrial disputes amicably was vehemently opposed by the unions and opposition parties who saw it as government’s encroachment into the rights of workers. Government had tried to amend the Act at least four times and the efforts culminated in the amendment of the schedule of the Act which made teaching services, veterinary services, diamond sorting, cutting and selling services essential service.

This meant that these workers were exempt from taking part in the last resort measure of industrial action as their professions are deemed too important to go out of provision. The attempt to amend the Act miscarried in parliament in 2011 as Members of Parliament (MPs) unanimously rejected it. It was speculated that BDP MPs had not deliberated beforehand over how they will vote.

The government last year came up with a Trade Disputes bill to make teaching services, state broadcasting services and immigration and customs services essential and its numbers in parliament prevailed. Section 46 (1)of the bill read: “The following are designated essential service – Air Traffic Control Services ,Botswana Vaccine Laboratory Services, Bank of Botswana, Diamond Sorting, Cutting, and Selling Services, Electricity Services, Fire Services ,Health Services, Operational and Maintenance Services of Railways, Sewerage Services, Water Services, Veterinary Services in Public Service, Teaching Services, Government, Broadcasting Service, Immigration & Customs Services; and Services necessary to the operation of any of the forgoing services.

Section 47 then stated, “No, Employee in essential services shall take part in a strike; and no employer in essential services shall take part in a lockout. BDP was also among the parties such as the American Embassy and opposition parties that were debriefed by BOFEPPUSU and Botswana Federation of Trade Unions (BFTU) on the bill.

Calls for the improvement of relations with the labour unions have also had backing inside the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP). Botsalo Ntuane, who is now the ruling BDP Secretary General rose to the position on a reform platform which also included extending the peace pipe to the labour unions. This was in the wake of a disastrous 2014 general election in which BOFEPPPUSU played a crucial role in the momentous election by endorsing the opposition coalition, Umbrella for Democratic Change.

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Gov’t shy to shame failing ministers

22nd February 2021

Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration, Kabo Morwaeng together with Permanent Secretary to the President (PSP) Elias Magosi, this week refused to name and shame the worst performing Ministries and to disclose the best performing Ministries since beginning of 12th parliament including the main reasons for underperformance.

Of late there have been a litany of complaints from both ends of the aisle with cabinet members accused of providing parliament with unsatisfactory responses to the questions posed. In fact for some Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) backbenchers a meeting with the ministers and party leadership is overdue to address their complaints. Jwaneng-Mabutsane MP, Mephato Reatile is also not happy with ministers’ performance.

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Bokamoso, Gov’t in P10M womb removal suit

22nd February 2021

Bokamoso Private Hospital is battling a P10 million legal suit for a botched fibroids operation which resulted in a woman losing an entire womb and her prospects of bearing children left at zero.

The same suit has also befallen the Attorney General of Botswana who is representing the Ministry of Health and Wellness for their contributory negligence of having the unlawful removal of a patient, Goitsemang Magetse’s womb.

According to the court papers, Magetse says that sometimes in November 2019, she was diagnosed with fibroids at Marina Hospital where upon she was referred to Bokamoso Private Hospital to schedule an appointment for an operation to remove the fibroids, which she did.

Magetse continues that at the instance of one Dr Li Wang, the surgeon who performed the operation, and unknown to her, an operation to remove her whole womb was conducted instead.
According to Magetse, it was only through a Marina Hospital regular check-up that she got to learn that her whole womb has been removed.

“At the while she was under the belief that only her fibroids have been removed. By doing so, the hospital has subjected itself to some serious delictual liability in that it performed a serious and life changing operation on patient who was under the belief that she was doing a completely different operation altogether. It thus came as a shock when our client learnt that her womb had been removed, without her consent,” said Magetse’s legal representatives, Kanjabanga and Associates in their summons.

The letter further says, “this is an infringement of our client‘s rights and this infringement has dire consequences on her to the extent that she can never bear children again”. ‘It is our instruction therefore, to claim as we hereby do, damages in the sum of BWP 10,000,000 (ten million Pula) for unlawful removal of client’s womb,” reads Kanjabanga Attorneys’ papers. The defendants are yet to respond to the plaintiff’s papers.

What are fibroids?

Fibroids are tumors made of smooth muscle cells and fibrous connective tissue. They develop in the uterus. It is estimated that 70 to 80 percent of women will develop fibroids in their lifetime — however, not everyone will develop symptoms or require treatment.

The most important characteristic of fibroids is that they’re almost always benign, or noncancerous. That said, some fibroids begin as cancer — but benign fibroids can’t become cancer. Cancerous fibroids are very rare. Because of this fact, it’s reasonable for women without symptoms to opt for observation rather than treatment.

Studies show that fibroids grow at different rates, even when a woman has more than one. They can range from the size of a pea to (occasionally) the size of a watermelon. Even if fibroids grow that large, we offer timely and effective treatment to provide relief.

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Masisi warned against a sinking Botswana

22nd February 2021
Ndaba GAolatlhe

The Alliance for Progressives (AP) President Ndaba Gaolathe has said that despite major accolades that Botswana continues to receive internationally with regard to the state of economy, the prospects for the future are imperilled.

Delivering his party Annual Policy Statement on Thursday, Gaolathe indicated that Botswana is in a state of do or die, and that the country’s economy is on a sick bed. With a major concern for poverty, Gaolathe pointed out that almost half of Botswana’s people are ravaged by or are about to sink into poverty.  “Our young people have lost the fire to dream about what they could become,” he said.

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