I wish to have space in your paper to express the working class frustrations we are made to undergo including harassment and non-respect to our Union Branch Committee by the regime that is supposed to be heading our generation SBU at Morupule B Power station including xenophobic remarks he continues to subject to all and sundry. It is sad.
The Director has no respect for the union operations and respect for its existence; not once has he bothered to address our branch committee on issues that affect our welfare ever since installed our director.
He continues to show disdain for Batswana every time we comment on best way to run the plant in the interest more of the nation now and in the long term.
Every time one is brave to comment, he is ever told how he/she ran Morupule A down ; this so powerful man forgets he was part of the director decision and influence whilst at Transmission to close down the plant that had two turbines and two boilers available to have run economically had he not done such which was all influenced in part by their selfish interest to cash on commission from funds that were to buy HFO rather preferring to run the high cost ever diesel plant.
It this very powerful man who has taken our roles as citizens to ensure effective Morupule B operations and surrendering it to expatriates like him who continuously run machinery to fail under disguise of production to satisfy his ego less safety and reliability hence the continuous shutdowns worse than when run by CNEEC. Hence the continued and unimproved services even after two years of his cronies operation.
It is him who issued scrupulous tenders running into more than millions of pulas per month circumventing tender regulations to his suspicious cronies as it happened to an all shocking vacuum cleaner truck that was manned by only two persons, ever packed running sometimes not more than ten days a month whilst the bulk of the supposed truck job was done by local and temporal labourers.
These people were employed for more than twelve months but treated as casuals thanks to this cruel and heartless director who cares less about citizens’ employment yet they were doing a critical job. Our union clarion call to the attention of this powerful man was as usual; “what did you do at Morupule A which is shut down”. When more pressure came from finance people about duplication of duties (‘his’ and Steag hired truck and people), the citizens were sacrificed in lieu of this powerful truck. And no sooner after the termination was done another set of labourers were employed and no one dared ask a thing.
How the truck was engaged through Steag instead of directly through BPC as the payer anyway gives a clear conflict of interest between this director, Steag and truck owner. The salaries for the forty labourers including overtime at the worst case scenario was never Pula One Hundred thousand per month at any given time and but rather 1.5 million pula per month on this monster.
We as the union do not have any platform to engage this powerful director for he is god himself and the only persons are his Steag people to whom he has abdicated his accountability, the welfare of Botswana Power Corporation generation facility and has no respect for citizens. He even brags that he does not care for he is marketable even if our government fires him. It is under the powerful director’s authority that we saw him get his blessed Steag set specifications for our plant simulator and then tender for its supply; and it only happens in generation SBU and only in BPC and most probably only here in Botswana more particular under such leadership of his kind and things are normal.
It is only under the directorship of this all-powerful man that purchasing has no rules; how he justified purchase of motors in excess of millions of Pulas to the Board when CNEEC has admitted to poor quality of installed ones and agreed to replacement with proper quality bits logic, it can only raise eye brows. At least the powerful director can learn a thing from his supposedly ‘useless’ Morupule A engineers as he calls them; all large motors are still in very good running state at that plant as at the time of his station closure influence and should still run. There is still no motor spare of such capacity to date at Morupule A for it is not necessary.
Thanks to the blank cheque you issued to your Steag ‘engineers who are mostly in all honesty (truth hurts) clueless when it comes to managing Plant maintenance. And how does he explain to the Board some of the scrupulous price changes and has he ever bothered to investigate some of his cronies’ international trips to supplier country regarding such, particularly his technically impaired staff. Just saying!
Yes, he pushes anybody anyhow and gets angry at questioning the competencies of some of his all-powerful Steag engineers and the relevance of their being here when they don’t have the requisite skills and competencies as per the expectations when the nation was told Steag was bringing expert skills. It is open knowledge that some of the Steag ‘engineers’ as they mostly are called are literally on the job training but our members told to be understudying them.
It only happens under the directorship of the all-powerful man from our neighbor where power generation facility is no better than ours that; we have the largest number of engineers against artisans or operators the whole world. And mostly freshers from school who would be monitoring what citizens are doing in the interest of their country and would be first to rush to the all-powerful director to report what they did. The citizen would never dare come closer to share the problem and how was solved with this powerful director lest he curse the day he was born.
Truth hurts; It is true that when your Steag was offered contract, it has or should have elements of manpower capacity and their competencies. It is only you and you alone who knows Steag staff competencies and you alone but finds it strange citizen managers appreciate steag staff ones whilst Steag has the audacity to do such to even those who have been training them for the past two years when they first came here; some of them extremely blank. You see this normal and we will not be surprised they report you untruths about citizens to ensure their continued stay here.
It only happens under you that a company coming from outside Botswana employs even the lowest foreign cadres in such fields as data collector, cleaner, driver and even ordinary artisans when we have an abundance of such in our national market; you fail to admit some of these guys are incompetent hence mostly in training hence always crowding together rather than with citizens to impart the alleged skills you claim they have-WHY!!!!!
It is only under your regime in the whole of Africa where we have such; of the total Production section, there are close to sixty Steag engineers doing mostly basic plant operations, which is Senior operator or operator against ten local engineers who are Shift Engineers, a total of at least fifty two maintenance engineers against fourteen local engineers. The result is commotion and collision over authorities in all these as the structures are top heavy under your regime.
How does one collect knowledge from such huge number of people whose role sometimes they even confess do not know but all here to gain experience. When asked questions about this drama Sir, you get so agitated and angry; develop hate, scorn and wish the questioner demonic death by your looks whilst pretend to appreciate the questions; the poor sole would receive your radiation hate impact which is more painful later. Our union has on numerous instances questioned your lieutenants on your intended succession plan to no avail safe for the useless training programs offered by Steag trainees turned trainers thanks to your Steag relationship. The caliber of supposedly artisans is mostly disastrous and your company should have recruited locals who do better.
It remains your closely guarded secret as to HR issues pertaining to you Steag/ BPC relations hence you continue to accept employees be trained under the shabby Steag training program. We only went through your program as we were threatened you would fire us as that program was your lifeline irrespective of its uselessness. That is why you found it normal that our crème-de-LA crème production engineers are said to have failed this useless program; to justify your friends’ continued stay here whilst you pass your accountability to them.
You have issued your Steag team blank cheque authorization certificates without requisite tests against the Corporation Safety Regulations hence the continued accidents to both man and machinery and you maintain your blind eye watch for it is your team mates. We know that if it was a local, you would dismiss him/her without even investigating. Your friends always blame their incompetency and noncompliance to regulations to system error or something; count how many reports you have swept under the carpet and that’s human blood on your hands sir. Your friends have not facilitated authorization of citizens not even provisional as you did for your Steag team; and you do not wonder why.
This is strange. We know you are preparing them for a coop in the station; but behold and beware, our union will fight this with all its might, what we gave you last time when you failed to address our economic plied whilst you continue splashing money indiscriminately to Steag through its mostly liability engineers and suppliers was nothing. We need to be told of Steag HR role in our welfare as a matter of urgency; information you the great director has endorsed about our welfare behind our union representation for so long thinking we may never get to know. Trust us Sir, if it contracts what we have signed with BPC, it not our Conditions of Service but yours and your Steag.
As I conclude, and having pumped sense into the powers that be over our economic hardships, we now call upon the August Board to dig deep into their economic acumen which we so much trust and value over the huge Steag staff complement in all levels and the relevance thereof c.f the their wage bill as passed to you for authorization. We sincerely belief this powerful director is giving our respectful Board a ‘Hear No Evil See No Evil’ feedback as regards his Steag. We have come to respect and feel honored to note our Board of Directors have us at heart after all and this, trust us, has got us all the reason to get back to deliver as promised in our honour and the Board. At least you have participated and gone through Chimurenga, so we trust you will withstand the heat soon as you have always boasted.
Finally; Note; Workers Power is Mightier and Greater Than Your Human authority. Whilst privileged to lead, know God can take that away but Working Class Struggle Continues. MOTSEI BODULA (Concerned Citizen and Employee)
Botswana has made improvements on preventing and ending arbitrary deprivation of liberty, but significant challenges remain in further developing and implementing a legal framework, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention said at the end of a visit recently.
Head of the delegation, Elina Steinerte, appreciated the transparency of Botswana for opening her doors to them. Having had full and unimpeded access and visited 19 places of deprivation of liberty and confidentiality interviewing over 100 persons deprived of their liberty.
She mentioned “We commend Botswana for its openness in inviting the Working Group to conduct this visit which is the first visit of the Working Group to the Southern African region in over a decade. This is a further extension of the commitment to uphold international human rights obligations undertaken by Botswana through its ratification of international human rights treaties.”
Another good act Botswana has been praised for is the remission of sentences. Steinerte echoed that the Prisons Act grants remission of one third of the sentence to anyone who has been imprisoned for more than one month unless the person has been sentenced to life imprisonment or detained at the President’s Pleasure or if the remission would result in the discharge of any prisoner before serving a term of imprisonment of one month.
On the other side; The Group received testimonies about the police using excessive force, including beatings, electrocution, and suffocation of suspects to extract confessions. Of which when the suspects raised the matter with the magistrates, medical examinations would be ordered but often not carried out and the consideration of cases would proceed.
“The Group recall that any such treatment may amount to torture and ill-treatment absolutely prohibited in international law and also lead to arbitrary detention. Judicial authorities must ensure that the Government has met its obligation of demonstrating that confessions were given without coercion, including through any direct or indirect physical or undue psychological pressure. Judges should consider inadmissible any statement obtained through torture or ill-treatment and should order prompt and effective investigations into such allegations,” said Steinerte.
One of the group’s main concern was the DIS held suspects for over 48 hours for interviews. Established under the Intelligence and Security Service Act, the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) has powers to arrest with or without a warrant.
The group said the “DIS usually requests individuals to come in for an interview and has no powers to detain anyone beyond 48 hours; any overnight detention would take place in regular police stations.”
The Group was able to visit the DIS facilities in Sebele and received numerous testimonies from persons who have been taken there for interviewing, making it evident that individuals can be detained in the facility even if the detention does not last more than few hours.
Moreover, while arrest without a warrant is permissible only when there is a reasonable suspicion of a crime being committed, the evidence received indicates that arrests without a warrant are a rule rather than an exception, in contravention to article 9 of the Covenant.
Even short periods of detention constitute deprivation of liberty when a person is not free to leave at will and in all those instances when safeguards against arbitrary detention are violated, also such short periods may amount to arbitrary deprivation of liberty.
The group also learned of instances when persons were taken to DIS for interviewing without being given the possibility to notify their next of kin and that while individuals are allowed to consult their lawyers prior to being interviewed, lawyers are not allowed to be present during the interviews.
The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention mentioned they will continue engaging in the constructive dialogue with the Government of Botswana over the following months while they determine their final conclusions in relation to the country visit.
Standard Chartered Bank Botswana (SCBB) has informed the government that it will not be accepting new loan applications for the Government Employees Motor Vehicle and Residential Property Advance Scheme (GEMVAS and LAMVAS) facility.
This emerges in a correspondence between Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance Boniface Mphetlhe and some government departments. In a letter he wrote recently to government departments informing them of the decision, Mphetlhe indicated that the Ministry received a request from the Bank to consider reviewing GEMVAS and LAMVAS agreement.
He said: “In summary SCBB requested the following; Government should consider reviewing GEMVAS and LAMVAS interest rate from prime plus 0.5% to prime plus 2%.” The Bank indicated that the review should be both for existing GEMVAS and LAMVAS clients and potential customers going forward.
Mphetlhe said the Bank informed the Ministry that the current GEMVAS and LAMVAS interest rate structure results into them making losses, “as the cost of loa disbursements is higher that their end collections.”
He said it also requested that the loan tenure for the residential property loans to be increased from 20 to 25 years and the loan tenure for new motor vehicles loans to be increased from 60 months to 72 months.
Mphetlhe indicated that the Bank’s request has been duly forwarded to the Directorate of Public Service Management for consideration, since GEMVAS and LAMVAS is a Condition of Service Scheme. He saidthe Bank did also inform the Ministry that if the matter is not resolved by the 6th June, 2022, they would cease receipt of new GEMVAS and LAMVAS loan applications.
“A follow up virtual meeting was held to discuss their resolution and SCB did confirm that they will not be accepting any new loans from GEMVAS and LAMVAS. The decision includes top-up advances,” said Mphetlhe. He advised civil servants to consider applying for loans from other banks.
In a letter addressed to the Ministry, SCBB Chief Executive Officer Mpho Masupe informed theministry that, “Reference is made to your letter dated 18th March 2022 wherein the Ministry had indicated that feedback to our proposal on the above subject is being sought.”
In thesame letter dated 10 May 2022, Masupe stated that the Bank was requesting for an update on the Ministry’s engagements with the relevant stakeholder (Directorate of Public Service Management) and provide an indicative timeline for conclusion.
He said the “SCBB informs the Ministry of its intention to cease issuance of new loans to applicants from 6th June 2022 in absence of any feedback on the matter and closure of the discussions between the two parties.” Previously, Masupe had also had requested the Ministry to consider a review of clause 3 of the agreement which speaks to the interest rate charged on the facilities.
Masupe indicated in the letter dated 21 December 2021 that although all the Banks in the market had signed a similar agreement, subject to amendments that each may have requested. “We would like to suggest that our review be considered individually as opposed to being an industry position as we are cognisant of the requirements of section 25 of the Competition Act of 2018 which discourages fixing of pricing set for consumers,” he said.
He added that,“In this way,clients would still have the opportunity to shop around for more favourable pricing and the other Banks, may if they wish to, similarly, individually approach your office for a review of their pricing to the extent that they deem suitable for their respective organisations.”
Masupe also stated that: “On the issue of our request for the revision of the Interest Rate, we kindly request for an increase from the current rate of prime plus 0.5% to prime plus 2%, with no other increases during the loan period.” The Bank CEO said the rationale for the request to review pricing is due to the current construct of the GEMVAS scheme which is currently structured in a way that is resulting in the Bank making a loss.
“The greater part of the GEMVAS portfolio is the mortgage boo which constitutes 40% of the Bank’s total mortgage portfolio,” said Masupe. He saidthe losses that the Bank is incurring are as a result of the legacy pricing of prime plus 0% as the 1995 agreement which a slight increase in the August 2018 agreement to prime plus 0.5%.
“With this pricing, the GEMVAS portfolio has not been profitable to the Bank, causing distress and impeding its ability to continue to support government employees to buy houses and cars. The portfolio is currently priced at 5.25%,” he said. Masupe said the performance of both the GEMVAS home loan and auto loan portfolios in terms of profitability have become unsustainable for the Bank.
Healso said, when the agreement was signed in August 2018, the prime lending rate was 6.75% which made the pricing in effect at the time sufficient from a profitable perspective. “It has since dropped by a total 1.5%. The funds that are loaned to customers are sourced at a high rate, which now leaves the Bank with marginal profits on the portfolio before factoring in other operational expenses associated with administration of the scheme and after sales care of the portfolio,” said the CEO.