Minister of Agriculture Ralotsia and other Members of the Parliament
Following the University of Botswana (UB)’s staff salary boost earlier this year in April, their equivalents at Botswana College of Agriculture (BCA) which is an associate institution of UB, this week withheld release of students’ results for this academic year until their salary variations have been addressed.
WeekendPost has established that everything has now come to a standstill at the solitary Agricultural College as after the lecturers had wrapped up marking the students’ examinations and, at a drop of a hat, executed an elongated resolution that was taken aback – that they be halted.
The suppression of the students’ grades which were in line for publication on Monday emanates from the Governing Council’s pronouncement in June this year that “BCA staff members be reimbursed the 35% that comprise of 20% transport allowance and 15% housing allowance.”
According to the memo from the College’s Services Manager titled, ‘Decisions of the Governing Council’ and passed to this publication, the Governing Council resolved that the remuneration cut across the board of staff basic salaries and to be back dated with effect from 1st April 2015.
The influential pivotal BCA governing council consists of among others, former Ministry of Agriculture Permanent Secretary Dr. Marcus C. Chimbombi; UB Vice Chancellor Prof. Thabo T. Fako; Mrs. C. Koketso; Prof. M. Modisi; Mr O. Mphahudi; Dr. C. Sydes; Prof. H.K. Siphambe; Dr. H.K. Sigwele; Mr D. Ratsatsi; Prof. E B Khonga; Dr N. Batisani; Dr. U. Batlang; Mr. E Mbambo; and Dr. R G Chabo.
This publication has gathered that subsequent to the Governing Council meeting of 22 June 2015 which moved to approve the 35% windfall, the staff members on the other hand also decided that they will reserve the discharge of students’ results if the Council resolution is not implemented.
According to the petition, delivered to the Council, which Weekend Post is also in possession of; staff members warned that “failure to effect the Governing Council's decision of paying the overdue allowances will precipitate dire consequences including industrial action that will result in withholding this semester's examinations results and even withholding our core services to the college.”
The concerned group representing the BCA staff members insisted in the petition that in spite of the positive decision, seven months have elapsed without implementation of the decision which they say is a flagrant violation of the employment act of the country.
The BCA staff has maintained that subsequent failure by BCA management who are caught between the devil and deep blue sea, to implement the Governing Council's decision has exhausted BCA staff member's patience which they have exercised over this lengthy period.
Consequently, the management was urged at the eleventh hour to “exercise due diligence towards this sensitive matter that has greatly impacted our economic status to the lowest level being the lowest paid staff in an academic institution in Botswana.”
It is extensively believed that the new emolument structure will be unswerving and consistent with that of their UB counterparts.
Earlier this year, former Assistant Minister of Education Kgotla Autlwetse had informed parliament that UB pays average lecturers between P16,975 and P29,164 per month, while Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST) pays theirs P32,060 monthly.
“The University of Botswana pays senior lecturers between P25,546 to P32,525 per month, while BIUST pays their senior lecturers P39,695 per month,” Autlwetse had told parliament then. He also informed the national assembly that associate professors at UB get remunerated between P30,936 and P35,532 per month, while BIUST pays them P49,969.
Reports indicate that law makers expressed deep reservations about UB and BIUST salary disparities and there was a general concern that only the BIUST academic staff was entitled to lucrative allowances including the housing allowance at the expense of their colleagues of the same ranking at UB.
As a result, UB was compensated with 35% enhancement allowances to their salaries in lieu of calming them down. As a result, the remunerations ended up being put at par with their BIUST counterparts.
In the meantime BCA, racing against the clock, did not want to be asleep at the switch and advocated for such developments as well which the governing council approved, however increments at that college were never implemented.
“So you see when UB applied these salary growths, it was supposed to be automatic and that they also apply to BCA lectures,” an immaculate source who sits on the board at the College (BCA) highlighted.
He said it is a bitter pill to swallow that staff members have written to the school board, Permanent Secretary, and Ministry to address the issue but almost a year on it’s still pending while adding that the withholding of students’ results may upset registration into the next academic year.
Recently, Minister of Education Dr. Unity Dow was also forced to intervene at the College following students’ demonstrations for what they termed “unconducive learning environment.”
Meanwhile Minister of Agriculture, Patrick Ralotsia told this publication on the sidelines of parliamentary proceedings on Wednesday that he is aware that staff members at BCA have not been paid their dues yet. He asserted, however that he was expecting to meet with BCA management to try to calm the waters and eventually resolve the matter which has clearly gotten out of hand.
Acting BCA Principal Dr. Mataba Tapela had not responded to e-mail inquiries on the issue at the time of going to press.
It is understood that the management has been caught off guard as they had shifted focus to the impending transformation of the institution from a College to fully fledged University, along the way forgetting other pressing subjects.
While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.
Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.
Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.
Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.
Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”
“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.
He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.
He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.
According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.
There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.
Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.
“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication. The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.