Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) President, Andrew Motsamai has expressed confidence that the union will meet the threshold that will grant it membership at the Public Service Bargaining Council (PSBC) following the Court of Appeal (CoA) verdict last week.
The Court of Appeal last week granted both BOPEU and former mother body Botswana Federation of Public Sector Union (BOFEPUSU) affiliates under BOFEPUSU Acting Jointly Agreement the lee way to serve in the PSBC provided they meet the threshold after fresh verification of numbers.
Motsamai said in a press briefing this week that if a fresh determination is made using membership figures, BOPEU will meet the threshold.
Currently, National Amalgamated Local Central Government and Parastatals Workers Union (NALCGPWU) also known as Manual Workers Unions is the only union meeting the threshold to qualify to seat in the PSBC.
The CoA has also ordered that if BOPEU does not meet the threshold after the fresh determination, the 2016 Wage Negotiations shall resume with BOFEPUSU AJA as a sole party.
BOPEU was a member of PSBC through the BOFEPUSU AJA, but withdrew from the agreement following its decision to de-affiliate from BOFEPUSU in December last year.
However there are reports that indicate that the ongoing membership recruitment drive between the unions in the public service may lead to all unions failing to qualify due to dual membership.
Manual Workers Union membership may also be affected by the ongoing outsourcing government policy, which has seen a number of government employees losing their jobs.
“A lot of factors will come into play in determining the threshold, the issue of dual membership, members retiring from civil service and others have died,” said Motsamai.
Motsamai confirmed that BOPEU has been on a membership recruitment drive, and he has been informed the numbers are good enough to meet the threshold for participation in the PSBC.
The former BOFEPUSU Secretary General also highlighted that should BOPEU fail to meet the threshold it will consider the CoA ruling which stated that BOPEU may amalgamate with smaller unions for the purpose of meeting the threshold.
“We can confirm that, the emotions are still stirred up, some in the leadership are unable to see the woods for the trees. We would therefore wait for emotions to subside and await engagement on serious worker issues,” he said.
Should BOPEU meet the threshold, it will bring along its new allies in the Botswana Federation of Trade Unions (BFTU) among them Botswana Government Employees Union (BOGOU), Botswana Nurse Union (BONU) and Trainers and Allied Workers Unions (TAWU).
Motsamai said BOFEPUSU had tried to bully it during the case by insisting through its advocate that BOPEU must pay the costs of suit for BOFEPUSU.
“We are happy the Court of Appeal rejected this proposition to burden our union with cost as an attempt to bully us from pursuing justice. We have high regard for the courts and we will continue to uphold their rulings. In essence that is what the rule of law is all about,” he said.
BOFEPUSU had also argued that the withdrawal of BOPEU in the BOFEPUSU AJA essentially means it will not be admitted to the council because it does not meet the threshold to continue being in the PSBC. The CoA verdict however gives BOPEU a lifeline with an order of fresh determination.
While Motsamai has denied that the case between BOPEU and BOFEPUSU affiliates was about egos on their part, he ruled out the possibility of returning to the mother body as a gesture of mending relations.
He said the process which was undertaken to de-affiliate from BOFEPUSU was tedious, and only the congress has the power to do so.
Over 2,000 civil servants in the public sector have been interdicted for a variety of reasons, the majority of which are criminal in nature.
According to reports, some officers have been under interdiction for more than two years because such matters are still being investigated. Information reachingÂ WeekendPostÂ shows that local government, particularly councils, has the highest number of suspended officers.
In its annual report, the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) revealed that councils lead in corrupt activities throughout the country, and dozens of council employees are being investigated for alleged corrupt activities. It is also reported that disciplined forces, including the Botswana Defence Force (BDF), police, and prisons, and the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) have suspended a significant number of officers.
The Ministry of Education and Skills Development has also recorded a good number of teachers who have implicated in love relationships with students, while some are accused of impregnating students both in primary and secondary school. Regional education officers have been tasked to investigate such matters and are believed to be far from completion as some students are dragging their feet in assisting the investigations to be completed.
This year, Mmadinare Senior Secondary reportedly had the highest number of pregnancies, especially among form five students who were later forcibly expelled from school. Responding to this publicationâ€™s queries, Permanent Secretary to the Office of the President Emma Peloetletse said, â€śas you might be aware, I am currently addressing public servants across the length and breadth of our beautiful republic. Due to your detailed enquiry, I am not able to respond within your schedule,â€ť she said.
She said some of the issues raised need verification of facts, some are still under investigation while some are still before the courts of law.
Meanwhile, it is close to six months since the Police Commissioner Keabetwe Makgophe, Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) Tymon Katlholo and the Deputy Director of the DIS Tefo Kgothane were suspended from their official duties on various charges.
Efforts to solicit comment from trade unions were futile at the time of going to press.
Some suspended officers who opted for anonymity claimed that they have close to two years while on suspension. One stated that the investigations that led him to be suspended have not been completed.
â€śIt is heartbreaking that at this time the investigations have not been completed,â€ť he toldÂ WeekendPost, adding that â€śwhen a person is suspended, they get their salary fully without fail until the matter is resolvedâ€ť.
Makgophe, Katlholo and Kgothane are the three most high-ranking government officials that are under interdiction.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and some senior government officials are abuzz with reports that President Mokgweetsi Masisi has requested his Vice President, Slumber Tsogwane not to contest the next general elections in 2024.
The impacts of climate change are increasing in frequency and intensity every year and this is forecast to continue for the foreseeable future. African CEOs in the Global South are finally coming to the party on how to tackle the crisis.
Following the completion of COP27 in Egypt recently, CEOs of Africa DFIs converged in Botswana for the CEO Forum of the Association of African Development Finance Institutions. One of the key themes was on green financing and building partnerships for resource mobilization in financing SDGs in Africa
A report; “Weathering the storm; African Development Banks response to Covid-19” presented shocking findings during the seminar. Among them; African DFI’s have proven to be financially resilient, and they are fast shifting to a green transition and it’s financing.
COO, CEDA, James Moribame highlighted that; “Everyone needs food, shelter and all basic needs in general, but climate change is putting the achievement of this at bay. “It is expensive for businesses to do business, for instance; it is much challenging for the agricultural sector due to climate change, and the risks have gone up. If a famer plants crops, they should be ready for any potential natural disaster which will cost them their hard work.”
According to Moribame, Start-up businesses will forever require help if there is no change.
“There is no doubt that the Russia- Ukraine war disrupted supply chains. SMMEs have felt the most impact as some start-up businesses acquire their materials internationally, therefore as inflation peaks, this means the exchange rate rises which makes commodities expensive and challenging for SMMEs to progress. Basically, the cost of doing business has gone up. Governments are no longer able to support DFI’s.”
Moribame shared remedies to the situation, noting that; “What we need is leadership that will be able to address this. CEOs should ensure companies operate within a framework of responsible lending. They also ought to scout for opportunities that would be attractive to investors, this include investors who are willing to put money into green financing. Botswana is a prime spot for green financing due to the great opportunity that lies in solar projects. ”
Technology has been hailed as the economy of the future and thus needs to be embraced to drive operational efficiency both internally and externally.
Executive Director, bank of Industry Nigeria, Simon Aranou mentioned that for investors to pump money to climate financing in Africa, African states need to be in alignment with global standards.
“Do what meets world standards if you want money from international investors. Have a strong risk management system. Also be a good borrower, if you have a loan, honour the obligation of paying it back because this will ensure countries have a clean financial record which will then pave way for easier lending of money in the future. African states cannot just be demanding for mitigation from rich countries. Financing needs infrastructure to complement it, you cannot be seating on billions of dollars without the necessary support systems to make it work for you. Domestic resource mobilisation is key. Use public money to mobilise private money.” He said.
For his part, the Minster of Minister of Entrepreneurship, Karabo Gare enunciated that, over the past three years, governments across the world have had to readjust their priorities as the world dealt with the effects and impact of the COVID 19 pandemic both to human life and economic prosperity.
“The role of DFIs, during this tough period, which is to support governments through countercyclical measures, including funding of COVID-19 related development projects, has become more important than ever before. However, with the increasingly limited resources from governments, DFIs are now expected to mobilise resources to meet the fiscal gaps and continue to meet their developmental mandates across the various affected sectors of their economies.” Said Gare.