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Salary negotiations in another deadlock

The salary negotiations between government and Botswana Federation of Public and Private Sectors Union (BOFEPPUSU) have this week suffered another blow.


Weekend Post has established that the talks have reached a new deadlock hardly 2 weeks following the commencement of Public Service Bargaining Council (PSBC) proceedings. This comes after the union party tabled their proposal of a whopping 10.5% salary increment as well as improved conditions of service for their membership during the first sitting of the talks.


In return it is understood that government has flatly declined to counter the union proposal, sparking debates that they may be on agenda to delay the talks further with a purpose to render the PSBC irrelevant and consequently continue with unilateral increments.
Government has recently unilaterally increased public servants salaries by 3%, citing the union court battles as procrastinating. In the court battle, BOFEPPUSU was in dispute with Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) over who should sit or not sit in the PSBC. This happened subsequent to the BOPEU’s withdrawal from union federation affiliation.  


“Yes it is true that government party has this week stalled 2016/17 salary negotiations indicating that they have no mandate to continue with the salary negotiations and further they are refusing to respond to the Trade Union proposal of 2017/18 salary negotiations,” BOFEPUSU Deputy Secretary General, Ketlhalefile Motshegwa, told Weekend Post on Friday in an interview.


Motshegwa further lambasted the government representatives at PSBC highlighting that they are never productive. He said the government party aways go to the meeting without mandate, and “they would be continuously on the phone saying "they are calling bagolo". Motshegwa meant that they are calling “top” government officials or politburo.


“At the Bargaining Council, employer representatives are always unreasonable and frustrating the Bargaining Council. In fact they are dedicated to kill the Bargaining Council so that Government alone can unilaterally decide on conditions of service of workers,” the unionist expressed their frustrations.


At this moment, he further pointed out that there is low morale in the Public Service and there are poor conditions of service of workers, and in addition there is animosity and instability in the civil service stemming probably to the delayed talks.
The PSBC operates on a 50/50 representation from government and recognised public service trade unions (BOFEPUSU under acting jointly agreement). Government is currently represented by 8 and union party 8 as well. The PSBC was established by section 50 and 51 of the Public Service Act to negotiate between the employer and public service unions.  


Union put blame on BDP, Molale for dysfunctional PSBC
Union party has blamed the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration, Eric molale for interfering as well as influencing the government party in the PSBC.  


Motshegwa has stated that since Molale’s days as Permanent Secretary, later as Permanent Secretary to the President, he has always been and continue to be confrontational against Trade Unions and undermine social dialogue mechanism thereby undermining Freedom of Association and the right to Organise, as well as Collective Bargaining.


“The Bargaining Council continues to be disrespected, disregarded and Labour laws violated in the Public Service under the mentorship and influence of Minister Eric Molale,” the BOFEPPUSU leader pointed out.  
According to Motshegwa, they had written to Cabinet seeking to address it on matters of Public Service for dialogue is fundamental in preserving democracy, peace and prosperity.


“But we were however turned down by the Permanent Secretary To The President (PSP), Carter Morupisi, who wrote back saying that we should in turn meet Minister Molale as he is the one responsible for Public service. We wrote to Minister Molale based on Morupisi's correspondence and Minister Molale has since refused to meet leadership of BOFEPPUSU.”  


This, the unionist continued, “depicts arrogant and unaccountable leadership that has no place in modern democracy. It can then safely be interpreted that Minister Molale 's onslaught against Trade Unions is endorsed and condoned by the BDP, for they seem to have placed much trust on him despite his dismal failure in his portfolio.”


He said the BDP has responsibility to account for Minister Eric Molale’s continued bullying of Trade Unions and disregard of the Public Service Bargaining Council. “If Botswana Democratic Party does not whip Minister Molale into the line then his conduct and actions will surely cost them as they will attract many enemies not only within civil service,” he added.   


Gov’t parties in PSBC clueless about labour relations?
Motshegwa said that in year 2010 there were 1000 Permanent Secretaries and Directors and today there are 2000. He added that this is just a burden to the expenditure because still with many Permanent Secretaries and Directors productivity has gone down.
“It is people at this scales who get large slice of the wage bill. In yester years Permanent Secretaries were powerful and principled. They could stand their ground and objectively tender their advice to Government.”


According to BOFEPPUSU DSG there are confrontational and inexperienced Permanent Secretaries who are clueless about Labour relations and contemporary trends of workplace democracy and “these are the kind of robots like Permanent Secretaries and Directors who simply carry Minister Eric Molale’s instructions without even putting their own conscience.”  


Motshegwa maintained that Molale’s role in mandate giving to those who represent the Government at the Bargaining Council continue to spell bad for the Bargaining Council and the Country. He added that his influence and role in the Public Service has brought an era of bad relations between Trade Unions and Government and therefore negatively impacting on the democracy of the Country.


“Today,” he pointed out, “it is different as those appointed to such positions are not necessarily the best in the civil service due to an entrenched culture of nepotism that reward bootlicking and sycophancy.”  The selection process and promotion process, he said, is riddled with corrupt connotations.


“We have headship of civil service that is willing to carry instructions of political masters no matter how absurd and ill-advised they are.  This is the kind of crop of Permanent Secretaries and Directors who will severely cost the BDP with their popular vote.”
On his part, BDP Secretary General, Botsalo Ntuane, defended BDP and refuted claims of interference in the works of PSBC as a political party.


“I think sometimes BDP is given unfair treatment. I sit in all key decision making meetings of the party and the PSBC has never been discussed,” Ntuane defended his party. He further insisted that, “the BDP does not participate in PSBC. It’s a forum for unionists and government officials and we are not privy to their deliberations.”

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Plight of GBV amid Covid-19

26th November 2020
16-days-of-activism

The United Nation’s UNiTE campaign has marked the beginning of 16 days of activism against Gender-based Violence which will end in December 10 2020, under the global theme, “Orange the world: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect!”

The UN Secretary-General’s UNiTE by 2030 to End Violence against Women campaign (UNiTE campaign), managed by UN Women — is a multi-year effort aimed at preventing and eliminating violence against women and girls around the world.

The UN Women’s generation equality campaign emphasises the call for global action to bridge funding gaps, ensure essential services for survivors of violence during the COVID-19 crisis, focus on prevention, and collection of data that can improve life-saving services for women and girls.

Furthermore, the UN Secretary General’s report maintains that this year is like no other. Even before Covid-19 hit, violence against women and girls had reached pandemic proportions.

Globally, according to United Nations, 243 million women and girls were abused by an intimate partner in the past year.

Meanwhile, less than 40 percent of women who experience violence report it or seek help.

Evidently they suggest that as countries implemented lockdown measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus, violence against women, especially domestic violence, intensified- in some countries, calls to helplines have increased five-fold.

“In others, formal reports of domestic violence have decreased as survivors find it harder to seek help and access support through the regular channels. School closures and economic strains left women and girls poorer, out of school and out of jobs, and more vulnerable to exploitation, abused, forced marriage, and harassment,” said the UN.

According to the UN, in April 2020 as the pandemic spread across the world, the UN Secretary-General called for “peace at home”, and 146 member states responded with their strong statement of commitment.

“In recent months 135 countries have strengthened actions and resources to address violence against women as part of the response to Covid-19. Yet, much more is needed,” said the report.

Moreover, they submit that as today, although the voices of activists and survivors have reached a crescendo that cannot be silenced or ignored, ending violence against women will require more investment, leadership and action.

“It cannot be sidelined; it must be part of every country’s national response, especially during the unfolding COVID-19 crisis,” contended the UN report.

For the 16 Days of Activism, UN Women handed over the mic to survivors, activists and UN partners on the ground, to tell the story of what happened after COVID-19 hit.

According to Dubravka Šimonovic, special rapporteur on violence against women, there is urgent need to end pandemic of femicide and violence against women.

Ahead of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, she emphasizes that as the world grapples with the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and its negative impact on women, a pandemic of femicide and gender-based violence against women is taking the lives of women and girls everywhere.

Therefore, she is calling on all States and relevant stakeholders worldwide to take urgent steps to prevent the pandemic of femicide or gender related killings of women, and gender-based violence against women, through the establishment of national multidisciplinary prevention bodies or femicide watches/observatories on violence against women.

These bodies should be mandated to 1) collect comparable and disaggregated data on femicide or gender-related killings of women; 2) conduct an analysis of femicide cases to determine shortcomings, and recommend measures for the prevention of such cases, and 3) ensure that femicide victims are not forgotten by holding days of remembrance.

“Data this mandate has collected since 2015 through my Femicide Watch initiative corroborates the data available from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, and indicates that among the victims of all intentional killings involving intimate partners, more than 80% of victims are women.  Many of these femicides are preventable. Since 2015, a growing number of States have either established femicide watches or observatories, and in an increasing number of countries, it is the independent human rights institutions, civil society organizations, women’s groups and/or academic institutions that have established femicide watches or observatories,” she argued.

GBV in Botswana

UNFDP (United Nations Population Fund) Botswana cites that, locally over 67 percent of women have experienced abuse, which is over double the global average.

“Gender-based violence undermines the health, dignity, security and autonomy of its victims, yet it remains shrouded in a culture of silence and normalization. Victims of violence, the majority of which are women and girls, can suffer sexual and reproductive health consequences, including forced and unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections including HIV, and even death,” indicated UNFDP

In his 2020 State of the Nation Address (SONA) he delivered on Monday 9th November at the Gaborone International Convention Centre (GICC), President Mokgweetsi Masisi said government is concerned about the snowballing of GBV incidences, saying, they have prioritized drafting of a Sexual Offenders Bill to be tabled during the sitting of the 12th Parliament.

“The Bill will establish a Sex Offenders’ Registry to record and publicise names and particulars of all persons convicted of sexual offences. To date twelve districts have set up the District Gender Committees in Chobe, Kweneng, Kgatleng, Kgalagadi, Maun, Serowe, Selibe-Phikwe, North East, Bobirwa Sub District, Mabutsane Sub District, Goodhope Sub District as well as Mahalapye Sub District. These committees will promote gender equality and women’s empowerment, and also address gender based violence,” Masisi said.

The President highlighted that the Botswana Police Service, which has been dealing a lot with GBV cases has taken swift action and introduced a Toll-Free number for reports on gender based violence. He further indicated that the Police will establish a Gender and Child Protection Unit

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Transgender persons in Botswana live a miserable life

23rd November 2020
Transgender persons

An international report complied in South Africa dubbed ‘Legal Gender Recognition in Botswana’ says that the transgender and gender non-conforming people in Botswana live a miserable life. The community experiences higher levels of discrimination, violence and ill health.

In this report, it has been indicated that this is because their gender identity, which does not conform to narrowly define societal norms, renders them more vulnerable. Gender identity is a social determinant of health, which means that it is a factor that influences people’s health via their social context, their communities and their experiences of social exclusion. The Ministry of Health and Wellness has recognized this, and transgender people are considered a vulnerable population under the Botswana Second National Strategic Framework for HIV and AIDS 2010-2017.

In a recent study that shed light on the lived experiences of transgender and gender non-conforming people in Botswana, transgender persons often experience discrimination because of their gender identity and expression. The study was conducted by the University of Cape Town, LEGABIBO, BONELA, as well as Rainbow Identity Association and approved by the Health Ministry as well as the University of Botswana.

Of the 77 transgender and gender non-conforming people who participated in the study, less than half were employed. Two thirds, which is approximately 67% said that they did not have sufficient funds to cover their everyday needs. Two in five had hidden health concerns from their healthcare provider because they were afraid to disclose their gender identity.

More than half said that because of their gender identity, they had been treated disrespectfully at a healthcare facility (55%), almost half (46%) said they had been insulted at a healthcare facility, and one quarter (25%) had been denied healthcare because of their gender identity.

At the same time, the ‘Are we doing right’ study suggests that transgender and non-conforming people might be at higher risks of experiencing violence and mental ill-health, compared to the general population. More than half had experienced verbal embarrassment because of their gender identity, 48% had experienced physical violence and more than one third (38%) had experienced sexual violence.

The study showed that mental health concerns were high among transgender and gender non-conforming people in Botswana. Half of the transgender and gender non-conforming study participants (53%) showed signs of depression. Between one in four and one in six showed signs of moderate or severe anxiety (22% among transgender women, 24% among transgender men and 17% among gender non-conforming people).

Further, the study revealed that many had attempted suicide: one in three transgender women (32%), more than one in three transgender men (35%) and three in five gender non-conforming people (61%).

International research, as well as research from Botswana, suggests that not being able to change one’s gender marker has a negative impact on access to healthcare and mental health and wellbeing. The study further showed that one in four transgender people in Botswana (25%) had been denied access to healthcare. This is, at least in part, linked to not being able to change one’s gender marker in the identity documents, and thus not having an identity document that matches one’s gender identity and gender expression.

In its Assessment of Legal and Regulatory Framework for HIV, AIDS and Tuberculosis, the Health Ministry noted that “transgender persons in Botswana are unable to access identity documents that reflect their gender identity, which is a barrier to health services, including in the context of HIV. In one documented case, a transwoman’s identity card did not reflect her gender identity- her identity card photo indicated she was ‘male’. When she presented her identity card at a health facility, a health worker called the police who took her into custody.”

The necessity of a correct national identity document goes beyond healthcare. The High Court of Botswana explains that “the national identity document plays a pivotal role in every Motswana’s daily life, as it links him or her with any service they require from various institutions. Most activities in the country require every Motswana to produce their identity document, for identification purposes of receiving services.”

According to the Legal Gender Recognition in Botswana report, this effectively means that transgender, whose gender identity and expression is likely to be different from the sex assigned to them at birth and from what is recorded on their identity document, cannot access services without risk of denial or discrimination, or accusations of fraud.

In this context, gays and lesbians advocacy group LEGABIBO has called on government through the Department of Civil and National Registration to urgently implement the High Court rulings on gender marker changes. As stated by the High Court in the ND vs Attorney General of Botswana judgement, identity cards (Omang) play an important role in the life of every Motswana. Refusal and or delay to issue a Motswana with an Omang is denying them to live a complete and full-filing life with dignity and violates their privacy and freedom of expression.

The judgement clarified that persons can change their gender marker as per the National Registrations Act, so changing the gender marker is legally possible. There is no need for a court order. It further said the person’s gender is self-identified, there is no need to consult medical doctors.

LEGABIBO also called on government to develop regulations that specify administrative procedure to change one’s gender marker, and observing self-determination process. Further, the group looks out for government to ensure members of the transgender community are engaged in the development of regulations.

“We call on this Department of Civil and National Registration to ensure that the gender marker change under the National Registration Act is aligned to the Births and Deaths Registry Act to avoid court order.

Meanwhile, a gay man in Lobatse, Moabi Mokenke was recently viciously killed after being sexually violated in the streets of Peleng, shockingly by his neighbourhood folks. The youthful lad, likely to be 29-years old, met his fate on his way home, from the wearisome Di a Bowa taverns situated in the much populated township of Peleng Central.

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Khato Civils fights back, dares detractors

23rd November 2020
Khato-civil

CEO of Khato Civils Mongezi Mnyani has come out of the silence and is going all way guns blazing against the company’s adversaries who he said are hell-bent on tarnishing his company’s image and “hard-earned good name”

Speaking to WeekendPost from South Africa, Mnyani said it is now time for him to speak out or act against his detractors. Khato Civils has done several projects across Africa. Khato Civils, a construction company and its affiliate engineering company, South Zambezi have executed a number of world class projects in South Africa, Malawi and now recently here in Botswana.

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