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Public servants salaries hiked by 3%

President Lt. Gen. Dr. Ian Khama’ s administration has unilaterally increased salaries of Public Servants by 3% effective 1st of April 2016. The increment comes notwithstanding that currently Botswana Federation of Public Sectors Union (BOFEPUSU) has appealed an Industrial Court ruling which was in favour of Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) that barred them from sitting and continuing in the Public Service Bargaining Council (PSBC).

According to Public Service Management Directive No.4 of 2016 adjustment of salaries “addressees are informed that government has decided a salary increase of 3% across board. This increase of the public service includes members of the Botswana Defence Force (BDF), Botswana Police, Prisons Service and Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC).”

Since the matter is still at the Court of Appeal and therefore has rendered the Bargaining Council dysfunctional – Council has since halted business – pending finalization of the dispute.

“It is really surprising that when the matter is still at the courts of law, the government takes this decision to increase salaries of public servants which is mandate of the PSBC,” BOFEPUSU Secretary General Tobokani Rari told WeekendPost.

That government has implemented the 3% without regard to court process, he said goes to show that the Executive undermines the Judiciary. “This means that the Executive is somehow pre-empting what the judiciary will implement and so this is undermining and interference to the Judiciary.”

He told this publication that by by-passing PSBC, “the government has defied both the provisions of Public Service Act on duties of PSBC, and, Justice Michael Leburu’s judgement that nobody has the right to interfere on duties of PSBC on salary and Conditions of Service.”

According to Rari, the Industrial Court judgement by Judge Tebogo Maruping has declared that salary negotiations should not continue. “PSBC should decide on salary increment and currently the courts have a case and should adjudicate on it.”

Rari insisted that right now there is nothing at PSBC because the matter is still at the courts. Until we find out if PSBC has been dismantled by the CoA that’s when this unilateral increment could have been the right decision, he said. “Let’s say PSBC has been dismantled, then that’s when government has powers to increase. In that case it’s okay, but we are not at that stage yet.”

“The question is, what if the case can restore BOFEPUSU in case CoA Judges agree with us and what is going to happen next if government awarded this 3%?” Rari asked rhetorically.

Rari remembered that it is not the first time that Khama unilaterally announced the government workers salary increment at the expense of the Bargaining Council despite Justice Leburu’s previous rulings.

“Judge Leburu ruled that Parliament has given an entity established through a Parliament Act to decide on salary increases and conditions of service. If you remember the government’s argument was that if the salary negotiations take long and the President has powers to increase salaries of workers willy-nilly, and Justice Leburu cautioned that they will be preaching statutes and rendering the Bargaining Council powerless, and there will be two centres of power,” he said.

Meanwhile the unionist concluded that the public will make their own conclusions of whether BOPEU may be conniving with the government on the case they launched at the Industrial Court which ended up delaying and, later appealed at the CoA in which a one-sided decision was taken to bypass the temporarily dysfunctional Bargaining Council.

“Public and Workers should look at the turn of events from the beginning to now. As for me I reserve my comment.”

For his part, BOPEU President, Andrew Motsamai admitted that the PSBC is currently in limbo owing to their in-fighting as unions.

“We hope that our issues will be resolved because it’s the Bargaining Council that could have negotiated instead of government,” he pointed out.

Motsamai highlighted to WeekendPost that they could be raising the issue of whether it was procedural or not for President Khama to increase government employees’ salaries only if they had a functioning PSBC.

“I cannot say if it’s legal or not, and whether it’s wrong or not as employees expect an increase even though PSBC is in limbo,” he justified. “What is it that the employer is supposed to do when the PSBC is not functional?” he asked.

BOPEU president said he hopes that going forward they will be able solve their issues to make employees happy.

When commenting on the 3% increment, Motsamai stated that it’s disappointing as the workers deserve more than that. “We are not happy with 3% but if employees have something its better – while we are sorting out our issues.”

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African countries call on WHO to increase funding

2nd February 2023

Minister of Health Dr Edwin Dikoloti says Africa member states call on World Health Organization (WHO) to ensure equitable resource allocation for 2024-2025. Dr Dikoloti was speaking this week at the WHO Executive Board Meeting in Geneva, Switzerland.

He said countries agreed that there is need to address the budget and funding imbalances by increasing the programme budget share of countries and regions to 75% for the next year.

“The proposed budget for 2024-2025 marks an important milestone as it is the first in Programme Budget in which country offices will be allocated more than half of the total budget for the biennium. We highly welcome this approach which will enable the organization to deliver on its mandate while fulfilling the expectations for transparency, efficiency and accountability.”

The Botswana Health Minister commended member states on the extension of the General Programme of Work (GPD 13) and the Secretariat work to monitor the progress towards the triple billion targets, and the health-related SDGs.

“We welcome the Director’s general proposed five priorities which have crystalized into the “five Ps” that are aligned with the GPW 13 extension. Impact can only be achieved through close coordination with, and support to national health authorities. As such, the strengthening of country offices is instrumental, with particular focus on strengthening national health systems and on promoting more equitable access to health services.”

According to Dr Dikoloti, the majority of countries with UHC index that is below the global median are in the WHO Africa region. “For that, we call on the WHO to enhance capacity at the regional and national levels in order to accelerate progress. Currently, the regional office needs both technical and financial support in order to effectively address and support country needs.”

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Botswana still weighing in on Maseko’s assassination

27th January 2023

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Lemogang Kwape says Botswana has not taken any position regarding the killing of a renowned human rights lawyer, Thulani Maseko, who was gunned down at his house in Mbabane, Eswatini.

In a brief interview with WeekendPost, Dr Kwape said Botswana has not yet taken any position regarding his death. He said the purported incident should be thoroughly probed before Botswana can form an opinion based on the findings of the inquiries.

“Botswana generally condemns any killing of human life by all means,” says Dr. Kwape. He wouldn’t want to be dragged on whether Botswana will support the suspension of Eswatini from SADC.

“We will be guided by SADC organ Troika if they can be an emergency meeting. I am not sure when the meeting will be called by Namibian president,“ he said.

However, the Namibian president Hage Geingob notes with deep concern reports coming out of Eswatini about the killing of Mr. Maseko. In a statement, he called upon the “Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini to ensure that the killing of Maseko is swiftly, transparently and comprehensively investigated, and that any or all persons suspected of committing this heinous crime are brought to justice.”

Maseko was chairperson of the Multi-Stakeholder Forum which was established as a coalition of non-State actors to advocate for a process of national political dialogue aimed at resolving the security and political challenges confronting the Kingdom.

“SADC expresses its deepest and heartfelt condolences to the family of Mr. Maseko, his friends, colleagues, and to the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini for the loss of Mr. Maseko. In this context, SADC further calls upon the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini to remain calm, exercise due care and consideration whilst the appropriate structures conduct the investigations and bring the matter to completion,” the statement says.

Geingob reiterated the need for peaceful resolution of the political and security challenges affecting the country.

Meanwhile political activists are calling on SADC to suspend Eswatini from the block including the African Union as well.

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Kopong Murder: Accused interferes with witnesses again!

27th January 2023

State prosecutor, Seeletso Ookeditse revealed before the Broadhurst Magistrate Jobbie Moilatshimo that the third accused involved in the murder of Barulaganye Aston, has interfered with the State witnesses again.

The second and third accused (Lefty Kosie and Outlwile Aston) were previously accused of interference when they were caught in possession of cellphones in prison. They were further accused of planning to kill the deceased’s brother, who is currently the guardian to the children of the deceased.

Ookeditse indicated that Outlwile had earlier went to challenge the magistrate’s decision of denying him bail at the High Court before Judge Michael Motlhabi.

“The third accused approached the High Court and made a bail application, which was dismissed on the same day,” Ookeditse said.

However, even after the High Court verdict on their bail application, the duo (Kosie and Aston) has once again applied for bail this week.

Ookeditse plead with the court to stop the accused from abusing the court process.

“Yesterday, Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) received papers of his bail application filed before the Broadhurst Magistrates Court. However, the papers do not speak to changed circumstances, therefore this back and forth about bail must be put to a stop,” said the State prosecutor.

While giving evidence before court, the Investigations Officer, Detective Inspector Quite Zhalamonto, said his investigations have proved that there is interference continuing regarding the accused trio.

He told the court that on the 12th of January 2023, he received a report from Thato Aston, who is the son of the accused and the deceased. The son had alleged to the Investigation Officer that he received a call from one Phillip Molwantwa.

According to Zhalamonto, Thato revealed that Molwatwa indicated that he was from prison on a visit to the Outlwile Aston and went on to ask where he was staying and where his siblings (Aston’s children) are staying.

“Thato revealed that Phillip went on to ask if he or his siblings saw their father murdering their mother, and he was referring to the crime scene. Thato told me that he, however, refused to answer the questions as he was afraid especially because he was asked about where him and his siblings stay,” said Zhalamonto.

Zhalamonto alluded to the court that he then went to Orange to confirm the communication between Thato and Molwantwa where he found the case.

“I have arrested Philip yesterday and when I interviewed him, he did not deny that he knows Aston and that he has indeed called Thato and asked questions as to where him and his siblings resides even though he failed to give reasons for asking such questions,” Zhalamonto told the court.

He further revealed that Molwantwa indicated that he had received a call from an unknown man who refused to reveal himself.

“Phillip told me that the unknown man said he was sent by the accused (Aston), and that Aston had instructed him to tell me to check if there was still some money in his bank accounts, and he also wanted to know where the kids were residing, the unknown man even asked him to meet at Main Mall” the Investigation Officer told the court.

He further informed the court that he is working tirelessly to identify the “unknown caller” and the route of the cell number.

Furthermore, the fourth accused, Kebaleboge Ntsebe, has revealed to the court through a letter that she was abused and tortured by the Botswana Police Services. She wrote in her letter that she suffered miscarriage as a result of being beaten by the police.

Ntsebe is on bail, while a bail ruling for Aston and Kosie will be delivered on the 6th of next month

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