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BOCONGO Executive Director jumps ship

Botswana Council of Non-Governmental Organisations’ (BOCONGO) Executive Director, Bagaisi Mabilo this week quit her plum post at the organisation.

The decision to dump BOCONGO comes in the wake of a board proposal of a transformation to change the organisation’s name, constitution, mission, and mission as well as objective statements of the organisation.

It is understood that some organisation members and staff are against the transformation as they believe they were not satisfactorily consulted while on the other hand the board chairman, Oscar Motsumi, insists that they were consulted from inception of the proposed concept. 

This has led to an almost irreparable relationship between the current board and the Secretariat as well as some member organisations of BOCONGO. Amid the mayhem Mabilo was suspended a fortnight ago for extending contracts of staff members against the board’s will and resolution.

WeekendPost has established that Mabilo’s current contract was to expire on the 31st March 2017 but she opted to leave before then due to the turmoil currently engulfing the umbrella organisation.

Initially she had desired to complete her contract having executed the 2015/16 financial audit and having prepared for the October 27th 2016 scheduled Annual General Meeting (AGM).

“Sadly with the recent turn of events, I have to make a painful but necessary decision to tender my resignation prior to the end of my contract,” Mabilo said in her resignation letter this week.

According to Mabilo, this will also protect her professional integrity and allow for any investigations to be carried out, and at the same token she stressed that she will always avail herself should there be anything she needs to answer.

In earnest, the outgoing Executive Director, pointed out that what motivates her resignation emanates from the July 2015 letter, which she wrote to the board stating concerns relating to the “abuse of authority by the board Chairman”.

She highlighted that there was harassment, interference in management matters which has never been addressed resulting in escalation of matters and deterioration of the working relationship.

“I have repeatedly been set up to fail in executing my mandate as the Executive Director, first by forcing me to dismiss staff, and assigning me tasks I cannot singlehandedly manage, and deliberately not given sufficient time to implement my mandate and report to the board as I should quarterly. These issues were discussed at length in my submission at the April 29th 2016 board meeting,” Mabilo asserted in her resignation letter.

She alluded to that fact that although there was a BOCONGO Governance Manual which is a policy of the organisation since 2013, and while the current board was orientated on it in 2014, and subsequently in 2016 for new members, they have disregarded it.

“The board has not complied with its policies in particular, with regards to matters of the making decisions as a collective board, restricting itself to governance functions. Prioritisation of some board member functions have not risen above management and operational directives, a serious hindrance and breach to the governance organisational development achieved over the years I have worked with BOCONGO.”

This, she said has resulted in deteriorating staff morale, violation of employee rights and poor governance of the organisation.

She further explained that she “felt victimised and threatened by the Board Chairman Mr. Motsumi, after having provided details for his lack of full declaration of conflict of interest in a matter where the chairman wanted to use his influence in a tender committee to appoint a preferred acquaintance whom he had instructed me to work with at tender conceptualisation.”

According to Mabilo, the tender committee and the board has been provided with information on the issue and this resulted in a meeting amongst the tender committee members where she learnt that the tender was immediately cancelled. 

Immediately after alerting the board of the issue, she continued to point out that she then received a threatening mail from the chairman, who then organised a closed door board session whose quorum was questionable, and eventually a suspension and disciplinary hearing.

“My concern has always been that every time these closed sessions convene, there is no documentation of the legality of that meeting to make decisions that are binding to the organisation especially that issues of quorum and full participation of board members is always minimal and in most cases never form a quorum. Such actions continue to perpetuate non conducive and hostile conditions of service for me where decisions change willy-nilly.”

She said a methodical pursuit to dismiss her through a process that defeats and obstruct natural justice was deployed through the leadership of the board chairman and participation of the board. She mentioned that she had to endure a lack of procedural, unfair and intimidating disciplinary hearing where a lawyer instead of a labour practitioner services were procured on a labour matter. 

“In my opinion this process is flawed as it is not clear what the terms of reference for the lawyers were, as I was never furnished with these, and the outcome of the hearing evidently did not consider evidence that I had provided and was biased to favour the chairperson.”

Mabilo also stated that she believes the desire to implement the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) seminar had ulterior moves, and therefore she unknowingly became a hindrance to achieving plans of “some comradeship members of the board” as they refer to themselves, who would stand to benefit from the seminar.

During the disciplinary hearing, Mabilo was charged with failure to organise the seminar despite the board having instructed her to do so.

With all the developments, she explained that “at the end of the day this is done at the expense of membership who has not approved the actual strategy that is sought to be implemented, proposing significant organisational and structural changes, for example, constitution and membership and secretariat structure.”

“Therefore, I find myself caught up in between implementing board instruction that go against membership authorisation,” she highlighted.

According to Mabilo, the current relationship between her and the chairman as well as the board is “irreparable” and therefore she concluded that “I would like to serve a month notice and close out my contract with BOCONGO.”

BOCONGO Chairman, Oscar Motsumi, declined to comment on the matter and only stated that, “Like I have said before in your last instalment, the Employer/Employee issues are private and confidential and cannot be discussed with third parties.”

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Details emerge in suspected Batswana poachers in Namibia

28th June 2022
suspected Motswana poacher arrested

New details about a suspected Motswana poacher arrested in Namibian and his accomplice who is on the run were revealed when the suspect appeared in court this week.

The Motswana Citizen who was shot and wounded by Namibia’s anti poaching unit is facing criminal charges under criminal case number (CR NO 10/06/2022) which was registered at the Divundu Police Station in the Mukwe constituency of the Kavango East Region on 10 June 2022.

It is alleged that a patrol team laid an ambush after discovering a giraffe’s fresh carcass in a snare wire and hanging biltong.  According to the Charge Sheet, the suspect Djeke Dihutu, aged 40 years, is charged with contravening and transgressions of Nature Conservation Ordinance andcontravening Immigration Act 07 in Mahango Wildlife Core Area, Bwabwata National Park. Dihutu’s first court appearance was on the 17th of June 2022, Rundu and it was postponed to the 07 July 2022. He is currently hospitalized in hospital under Police Guards.

Commenting on this latest development, the Namibian Lives Matter Movement National Chairperson Sinvula Mudabeti applauded the Namibian Anti Poaching Unit for its compliance with what it called the universal instrument on the Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials adopted by the United Nations General Assembly resolution 34/169.

“We are aware that the duties of the police carry a great deal of risk, but our police has shown that they have a moral calling and obligation to protect even foreigners suspected of serious crimes on Namibian soil,” said Mudabeti.

According to him, whereas the Botswana Police Service, the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) and Directorate of Intelligence Service (DIS) have “very low moral ethics, integrity, accountability and honesty, the Namibian security agencies has shown very high levels of ethical leadership in the discharge of their duties even under duress.”

He said Namibian’s anti poaching unit has exercised one very important value, that is, the use of force only when it is reasonable and necessary. Mudabeti said this is in harmony with international best practices as enshrined in Article 2 of the UN instrument on law enforcement conduct, “In the performance of their duty, law enforcement officials shall respect and protect human dignity and maintain and uphold the human rights of all persons.

Our police have protected the life of a Botswana poacher and accorded him dignity, which is very foreign to our Botswana counterparts,” he said. He said article 3 of the same instrument above, calls for Law enforcement officials to use force only when strictly necessary and to the extent required for the performance of their duty.

“This provision emphasizes that the use of force by law enforcement officials should be exceptional; while it implies that law enforcement officials may be authorized to use force as is reasonably necessary under the circumstances for the prevention of crime or in effecting or assisting in the lawful arrest of suspected offenders, no force going beyond that was used by our Police,” he said.

Furthermore, Mudabeti said, whereas the universally accepted norm of the law of proportionality ordinarily permits the use of force by law enforcement, it is to be understood that such principles of proportionality in no case should be interpreted to authorize the use of force which is disproportionate to the legitimate objective to be achieved.

“Our police have used force proportional to the situation at hand. Great work indeed! Article 6 urges law enforcement officials to ensure the full protection of the health of persons in their custody and, in particular, shall take immediate action to secure medical attention whenever required,” he said.

Mudabeti said the Botswana poacher was immediately taken to hospital whereas the Nchindo brothers who were captured on Namibian soil, beaten, tortured and executed while pleading to be taken to the hospital we left to die.

“The Namibian Doctor gave evidence in court that Sinvula Munyeme’s lungs showed signs of life (during the autopsy) and that he could have survived if he was accorded immediate medical assistance in time but was left to die while BDF soldiers looked and possibly ignored his cry for help,” he said.

Mudabeti said unlike in Botswana where there are no clear separation of powers between the BDF, Botswana Police Service, Department of Intelligence and their Directorate of Public Prosecutions,” we have a system that allows for checks and balances and allows our people and foreigners who are found on the wrong side of the law to be accorded the right to a fair trial.”

He said Botswana citizens are treated with dignity when apprehended in Namibia and not assaulted, tortured and executed. “We are a civilized country that respects international law in dealing with non-Namibian criminals. The Namibian Police have not mistreated the Botswana poacher but have given him the benefit of the doubt by allowing due processes of the law to be followed,” he said.

He added that, “We are a peace loving nation that has not repaid Botswana by the evil that Botswana has done to Namibia by killing more than 37 innocent and unarmed Namibians by the trigger happy BDF.” He concluded that, “Our acts of mercy in arresting Botswana citizens should never be mistaken for cowardice.”

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Gov’t, Unions clash over accommodation

28th June 2022
accomodation

The government has reportedly taken a decision to terminate provision of pool housing and subsidy for civil servants as it attempts to trim the public service wage bill.

This emerges in a dispute that is currently before the Labour Office headquarters lodged by unions representing thousands of civil servants across the country. This publication understands that the decision to cease providing pool housing and rental subsidy for public officers is part of proposals that government put on the table during its negotiations with public service unions in order for it to adjust salaries.

A letter from Labour Office addressed to the Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) shows that the directorate is cited as the First Respondent. The letter is titled, “Dispute lodged: Cessation of provision of pool housing and subsidy for pubic officers.”

“This serves as a notification and requirement to a mediation hearing,” the letter informed DPSM. According to the letter, the Botswana Teachers Union (BTU), Botswana Sectors of Educators Trade Unions (BOSETU) Botswana Nurses Union (BONU) and Botswana Land Board &Local Authorities &Health workers Union (BLLAHW) who lodged the complaint are cited as the Applicant.

“Please come for mediation hearing. The hearing will be conducted by Mr Lebang. The hearing is scheduled for date/time 29th June 2022, 09: 00HOURS at Block 8 District Labour Office, Gaborone. Please bring all relevant documents,” reads the letter in part.

According to a document described as a proposal paper on the negotiations on salaries and other conditions of employment of public officers by the employer (government), the government did not only propose to stop providing accommodation to civil servants but also put a number of proposals on the table.

The proposal papers states that the negotiations (which have since been concluded) cover three government financial years; 2022/23, 2023/24 and 2024/25. The government proposed an across the board salary adjustments as follows; 3% for the financial year 2022/23 effective 1st April 2022, across the board salary adjustment of 3.5% for the financial year 2023/24 effective 1st April 2023 subject to performance of the economy and across the board salary adjustment of 4% for the financial year 2024/25 effective 1st April 2024 subject to performance of the economy.

The government also proposed phasing out of retention and attractive (Scarce Skills) Allowance with a view to migration towards clean pay, renegotiate and set new timelines for all outstanding issues contained in the Collective Labour Agreement, executed by the employer and trade unions on the 27th August 2019, to ensure proper sequencing, alignment and proper implementation.
The government also proposed to freeze public service recruitment for the 2022/23 financial year and withdraw the financial equivalence of P500 million attached to vacancies from Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs).

Another proposal included phasing out of commuted overtime allowance and payment of overtime in accordance with the law and review human resource policies during the financial year 2022/23, 2023/24 and 2024/25.

The government argued that its proposals were premised on affordability and sustainability adding that it was important to underscore that the review of salaries and conditions of service for public officers was taking place at a time when there were uncertainties both in the global and domestic economies.

“Furthermore there is need to ensure that any collective labour agreement that is concluded does not breach the fiscal deficit target of 4% of GDP,” the proposal paper stated. The proposal paper further indicated that beyond salary adjustments, the Government of Botswana is of the view that a more comprehensive consideration “must be taken on the issue of remuneration in the public service by embracing principles such as total rewards compensation which involves taking a fully comprehensive and holistic approach to how our organization compensates employees for the work.”

The proposal paper also noted that, “Clearly, the increase in salaries and changes to other conditions of service which have monetary consequences will further increase the proportion of the budget taken by salaries, allowances and other monetary based conditions of services.”

“The consequential effect would be a reduction of the portion that can be used for other recurrent budget needs (e.g. maintenance of assets, consumable supplies such as medicines and books) and for development projects,” the proposal states.

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BPF NEC probes Serowe squabbles

28th June 2022
BPF

Opposition Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) National Executive Committee will in no time investigate charges party members worked with the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) membership to tip the scales in favour of the latter for Serowe Sub-council Chairmanship in exchange for deputy seat in a dramatic 11th hour gentleman’s deal, leaving the ruling party splinter under the political microscope.

In a spectacular Sub-council election membership last Thursday, the ruling BDP’s Lesedi Phuthego beat Atamelang Thaga with 14 votes to 12 for Serowe Sub-council Chairmanship coveted seat and subsequently the ruling party’s councilor Bernard Kenosi withdrew his candidacy in the final hour for the equally admired deputy chair paving the way for Solomon Dikgang of BPF, seen as long sealed ‘I scratch your back and you scratch mine’ gentleman’s agreement between the contenders.

Both parties entered the race with a tie of votes torn between 12 councillors each, translating for election race that will go down to the wire definitely. But that will not be the case as two BPF councilors shifted their allegiance to the ruling party during the first race for Chairmanship held in a secret ballot and no sooner was the election concluded then the ruling party answered back by withdrawing its candidacy for the deputy chair position to give BPF’s Dikgang the post on a silver platter unopposed.

BPF councilor Vuyo Notha confirmed the incident in an interview on Wednesday, insisting the party NEC was determined to “investigate the matter soon”. “During the race for the Chairmanship, two more BPF voted for alongside the ruling party membership. It was clear Dikgang voted alongside the BDP as immediately after the vote for Chairmanship was concluded, Kenosi withdraw his candidacy to render Dikgang unopposed as a payback,” Notha added.

As for the other vote, Makolo ward councilor will not be drawn for the identity preferring instead to say: “BPF NEC will convene all the councilors to investigate the matter soon and we will take from there.” Notha will also not be drawn to conclude may be the culprit councilors could have defected to the ruling party silently.

“If they are no longer part of us they should say so and a by-election be called,” was all he could say. As it stands now, the law forbids sitting Councilors and Parliamentarians from crossing the floor to another party as to do so will immediately invite for a new election as dictated by the law. Incumbent politicians will therefore dare not venture for the unknown with a by-election that could definitely cost their political life and certainly their full benefits.

Notha could also not be dragged to link the culprit councilors actions to BPF Serowe region Chairperson Tebo Thokweng who has silently defected to the ruling party and currently employed by the party businessman and former candidate for Serowe West Moemedi Dijeng as PRO for the highly anticipated cattle abattoir project in Serowe.

“As for Thokweng he has not resigned from the party but from the region’s chairmanship,” he said. WeekendPost investigations suggest Thokweng is the secret snipper behind the recruitment drive of the votes for the elections and is determined to tear the party dominance in Serowe and the neighbouring villages asunder including in Palapye going forward.

This publication’s investigations also show BPF’s Radisele and UDC’s Mokgware/Mogome councilors are under the radar of investigations for the votes-themselves associated with the workings and operations of Thokweng.

“NEC will definitely leave no stone unturned with their investigations to get into the bottom of the matter. Disciplinary actions will follow certainly,” Notha concluded, underscoring the need to toe the party line to set a good precedent. For the youthful councilor, the actions of his peers has set a wrong precedent which has to be dealt with seriously to deter future culprits.

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