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Khama, Masisi under pressure on job losses

The pressure is mounting for President Lt Gen Dr. Ian Khama Seretse Khama and his deputy Mokgweetsi Masisi to intervene against looming job losses at the BCL mine. Trade unions have joined the bandwagon in calling for the Office of the President to intervene in the crisis.

While the economy of the country is recovering from the 2008 economic downturn, unemployment rates have not picked, and job losses have continued, with the mining sector being hardly hit.  

Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) travelled to commemorate Labour Day in the beleaguered town of Selebi Phikwe, BOPEU assembled at Tsholofelo Park in Gaborone to petition Vice President Masisi against growing job losses and undesirable working conditions.

Just when everyone thought the P1.1 billion bailout of BCL by Barclays Bank of Botswana loan, underwritten by Government was a sigh of relief for workers, the mine management announced that at least 2000 employees will lose their jobs in a retrenchment exercise to be carried out soon.

Delivering the petition to Assistant Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, Philip Makgalemele, who was representing Masisi, Botswana Federation of Trade Unions (BFTU) President Bohithetswe Lentswe condemned government for making employees to pay a heavy price every time a quasi-government organisation is facing financial crisis.

“On many occasions there is a lot of recklessness in the manner in which businesses are conducted. Corruption and mismanagement of funds by management goes on undeterred,” he said.

“Whereas Government may do very little to prevent retrenchment made by the private companies, we believe it is a different story where a state enterprise is concerned. As a sole shareholder in enterprises, it is incumbent upon Government to ensure that such enterprises are firstly run properly to avoid maladministration and misuse of funds.”

Lentswe further called on Office of the President to impress upon Minister of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources Kitso Mokaila to urgently deal with the BCL Mine question.

“We would like to emphases that it is not desirable to lose such a large number of jobs for a community that depends on mining. Should the BCL Mine intentions be realised there is a great potential that we will witness an unprecedented suffering in the Town of Selebi Phikwe.”

Also speaking at the commemoration of the day in Gaborone was Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) First Deputy President Masego Mogwera who told the Assistant Minister that as long as government view employees as liabilities, the public service will never be productive.

“Workers are faced with challenges in the para state organs and public sector where government is constricting the budgets by 8 percent. It is the employee income which will be affected because they are considered a liability to the employer, while actually they are assets,” he said.

Mogwera also highlighted that laws which were anti-workers should not see the light of the day such as the Trade Dispute Amendment Bill which is currently before parliament should not be entertained.  

“Essentialisation of all workers with the view of preventing them from embarking in industrial action be condemned,” he stated.

Officiating on the day after receiving the pettion, Makgalelmele said in as much as workers are entilted to advocate for better working conditions, they should also understand the need to apply themselves fully and faithfully to their vocational responsiblities to ensure optimal productivity.

Makgalemele further remarked that the Trade Dispute Amendement bill, which is currently the bone of contention between government and unions was meant to introduce improvements in the trade dispute resolution system with the view of enhancing industrial harmony.

“We are always going to differ on issues , but that should never lead to an ‘us’ and ‘them’ attitude. On the contary it should lead to more engagement,” he said.

“The Trade Dispute Bill was tabled in the last session of Parliament, but was not finalised because some Members of Parliament felt that it should await the dertemination of a case filed by BOFEPUSU at High Court. “

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Government sitting on 4 400 vacant posts

14th September 2020
(DPSM) Director Goitseone Naledi Mosalakatane

Government is currently sitting on 4 400 vacant posts that remain unfilled in the civil service. This is notwithstanding the high unemployment rate in Botswana which has been exacerbated by the recent outbreak of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.

Just before the burst of COVID-19, official data released by Statistics Botswana in January 2020, indicate that unemployment in Botswana has increased from 17.6 percent three years ago to 20.7 percent. “Unemployment rate went up by 3.1 percentage between the two periods, from 17.6 to 20.7 percent,” statistics point out.

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FNBB projects deeper 50 basis point cut for Q4 2020

14th September 2020
Steven Bogatsu

Leading commercial bank, First National Bank Botswana (FNBB), expects the central bank to sharpen its monetary policy knife and cut the Bank Rate twice in the last quarter of 2020.

The bank expects a 25 basis point (bps) in the beginning of the last quarter, which is next month, and another shed by the same bps in December, making a total of 50 bps cut in the last quarter.  According to the bank’s researchers, the central bank is now holding on to 4.25 percent for the time being pending for more informed data on the economic climate.

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Food suppliers give Gov’t headache – report

14th September 2020
Food suppliers give Gov’t headache

An audit of the accounts and records for the supply of food rations to the institutions in the Northern Region for the financial year-ended 31 March 2019 was carried out. According to Auditor General’s report and observations, there are weaknesses and shortcomings that were somehow addressed to the Accounting Officer for comments.

Auditor General, Pulane Letebele indicated on the report that, across all depots in the region that there had been instances where food items were short for periods ranging from 1 to 7 months in the institutions for a variety of reasons, including absence of regular contracts and supplier failures. The success of this programme is dependent on regular and reliable availability of the supplies to achieve its objective, the report said.

There would be instances where food items were returned from the feeding centers to the depots for reasons of spoilage or any other cause. In these cases, instances had been noted where these returns were not supported by any documentation, which could lead to these items being lost without trace.

The report further stressed that large quantities of various food items valued at over P772 thousand from different depots were damaged by rodents, and written off.Included in the write off were 13 538 (340ml) cartons of milk valued at P75 745. In this connection, the Auditor General says it is important that the warehouses be maintained to a standard where they would not be infested by rodents and other pests.

Still in the Northern region, the report noted that there is an outstanding matter relating to the supply of stewed steak (283×3.1kg cans) to the Maun depot which was allegedly defective. The steak had been supplied by Botswana Meat Commission to the depot in November 2016.

In March 2017 part of the consignment was reported to the supplier as defective, and was to be replaced. Even as there was no agreement reached between the parties regarding replacement, in 51 October 2018 the items in question were disposed of by destruction. This disposal represented a loss as the whole consignment had been paid for, according to the report.

“In my view, the loss resulted directly from failure by the depot managers to deal with the matter immediately upon receipt of the consignment and detection of the defects. Audit inspections during visits to Selibe Phikwe, Maun, Shakawe, Ghanzi and Francistown depots had raised a number of observations on points of detail related to the maintenance of records, reconciliations of stocks and related matters, which I drew to the attention of the Accounting Officer for comments,” Letebele said in her report.

In the Southern region, a scrutiny of the records for the control of stocks of food items in the Southern Region had indicated intermittent shortages of the various items, principally Tsabana, Malutu, Sunflower Oil and Milk which was mainly due to absence of subsisting contracts for the supply of these items.

“The contract for the supply of Tsabana to all depots expired in September 2018 and was not replaced by a substantive contract. The supplier contracts for these stocks should be so managed that the expiry of one contract is immediately followed by the commencement of the next.”

Suppliers who had been contracted to supply foodstuffs had failed to do so and no timely action had been taken to redress the situation to ensure continuity of supply of the food items, the report noted.

In one case, the report highlighted that the supplier was to manufacture and supply 1 136 metric tonnes of Malutu for a 4-months period from March 2019 to June 2019, but had been unable to honour the obligation. The situation was relieved by inter-depot transfers, at additional cost in transportation and subsistence expenses.

In another case, the contract was for the supply of Sunflower Oil to Mabutsane, where the supplier had also failed to deliver. Examination of the Molepolole depot Food Issues Register had indicated a number of instances where food items consigned to the various feeding centres had been returned for a variety of reasons, including food item available; no storage space; and in other cases the whole consignments were returned, and reasons not stated.

This is an indication of lack of proper management and monitoring of the affairs of the depot, which could result in losses from frequent movements of the food items concerned.The maintenance of accounting records in the region, typically in Letlhakeng, Tsabong, and Mabutsane was less than satisfactory, according to Auditor General’s report.

In these depots a number of instances had been noted where receipts and issues had not been recorded over long periods, resulting in incorrect balances reflected in the accounting records. This is a serious weakness which could lead to or result in losses without trace or detection, and is a contravention of Supplies Regulations and Procedures, Letebele said.

Similarly, consignments of a total of 892 bags of Malutu and 3 bags of beans from Tsabong depot to different feeding centres had not been received in those centres, and are considered lost. These are also not reflected in the Statement of Losses in the Annual Statements of Accounts for the same periods.

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