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BCA staff want 35% salary rise

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.

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Jackdish Shah loses interest in BDP

17th May 2022

As the preparations for the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) congress are about to kick off, reports on the ground suggest that the party’s Deputy Treasurer Jackdish Shah will not defend the position in August as he contemplates relocation.

According to sources, the businessman who joined the BDP Central Committee in 2015 at the 36th Congress held in Mmadinare is ready to leave the party’s politburo. It is said he long made up his mind not to defend the position last year. A prominent businessman, Shah, when he won the position to assist Satar Dada in 2015 was expected to improve the party’s financial vibrancy. By then the party was under the leadership of Ian Khama.

According to close sources, Shah long decided not to contest because he has fallen out of favour with the party leadership. It is said he took the decision after some prominent businessmen who are BDP members and part of football syndicate decided to push him out and they used their proximity to President Mokgweetsi Masisi to badmouth him hence the decision.

“The fight at the Botswana Football Association (BFA) and Botswana Football League (BFL) has left him alone in the desert and some faces there used their close access to the President to isolate him,” said a source. Media reports say, Shah does not see eye to eye with BFA President MacLean Letshwiti who is also Masisi’s buddy hence the decision.

BFL Chairman Nicholas Zackhem is said to be not in good terms with Shah, who at one point Chaired the then Botswana Premier League (BPL). “He is seriously considering quitting because of what is unfolding at the team (Township Rollers) which is slowly not making financial gains and might be relegated and he wants to sell while it is still worth the investment,” said a highly placed source.

Shah is a renowned businessman who runs internet providing company Zebra net, H &G, game farm in Kasane, cattle farm in Ghanzi region and lot of properties in Gaborone. He also has two hotels in USA, his advisors have given him thumbs up on the possible decision of relocating provided he does not sell some of the investments that are doing well.

Asked about whether he will be contesting Shah could not confirm nor deny the reports. It is said for now it is too early as a public decision will have to be taken after the national council meeting and prior to the national congress. “As a BDP Central Committee member he cannot make that announcement now,” a BDP source said.

BDP is expected to assemble for the National Council during the July holidays while the National Congress is billed for August. It is then that the party will elect a new CC members. The last time BDP held elective congress was at Kang in 2019. The party is yet to issue writ.

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Govt ignores own agreements to improve public service

17th May 2022

The government has failed to implement some commitments and agreements that it had entered into with unions to improve conditions of public servants.

Three years after the government and public made commitments aimed at improving conditions of work and services it has emerged that the government has ignored and failed to implement all commitments on conditions of service emanating from the 2019 round of negotiations.

In its position paper that saw public service salaries being increased by 5%, the government the government has also signalled its intention to renege on some of the commitments it had made.
“Government aspires to look into all outstanding issues contained in the Labour Agreement signed between the Employer and recognised Trade Union on the 27th August 2019 and that it be reviewed, revised and delinked by both Parties with a view to agree on those whose implementation that can be realistically executed during the financial years 2022/23, 2023/24 and 2024/25 respectively,” the government said.

Furthermore, in addition to reviewing, revising and de-linking of the outstanding issues contained in the Collective Labour Agreement alluded to above and taking on a progressive proposal, government desires to review revise, develop and implement human resource policies as listed below during the financial year 2022/23,2023/24,2024/25

They include selection and appointment policy, learning and development policy, transfer guidelines, conditions of service, permanent and pensionable, temporary and part time, Foreign Service, expatriate and disciplinary procedures.

In their proposal paper, the unions which had proposed an 11 percent salary increase but eventually settled for 5% percent indicated that the government has not, and without explanation, acted on some of the key commitments from the 2019/2020 and 2021/22 round of negotiations.  The essential elements of these commitments include among others the remuneration Policy for the Public Service.

The paper states that a Remuneration Policy will be developed to inform decision making on remuneration in the Public Service. It is envisaged that consultations between the government and relevant key stakeholders on the policy was to start on 1st September 2019, and the development of the policy should be concluded by 30th June 2020.

The public sector unions said the Remuneration Policy is yet to be developed. The Cooperating Unions suggested that the process should commence without delay and that it should be as participatory as it was originally conceived. Another agreement relate to Medical Aid Contribution for employees on salary Grades A and B.

The employer contribution towards medical aid for employees on salary Grades A and B will be increased from 50% to 80% for the Standard Option of the Botswana Public
“Officers’ Medical Aid Scheme effective 1st October 2019; the cooperating unions insist that, in fulfilling this commitment, there should be no discrimination between those on the high benefit and those on the medium benefit plan,” the unions proposal paper says.

Another agreement involves the standardisation of gratuities across the Public Service. “Gratuities for all employees on fixed term contracts of 12 months but not exceeding 5 years, including former Industrial class employees be standardized at 30% across the Public Service in order to remove the existing inequalities and secure long-term financial security for Public Service Employees at lower grades with immediate effect,” the paper states.

The other agreement signed by the public sector unions and the government was the development of fan-shaped Salary Structure. The paper says the Public Service will adopt a best practice fan-shaped and overlapping structure, with modification to suit the Botswana context. The Parties (government and unions) to this agreement will jointly agree on the ranges of salary grades to allow for employees’ progression without a promotion to the available position on the next management level.

“The fan-shaped structure is envisaged to be in place by 1st June 2020, to enable factoring into the budgetary cycle for the financial year 2021/22,” the unions’ proposal paper states. It says the following steps are critical, capacity building of key stakeholders (September – December 2019), commission remuneration market survey (3 months from September to November 2019), design of the fan-shaped structure (2 to 3 months from January to March2020) and consultations with all key stakeholders (March to April 2020).

The unions and government had also signed an agreement on performance management and development: A rigorous performance management and reward system based on a 5-point rating system will be adopted as an integral part of the operationalization of the new Remuneration System.

Performance Management and Development (PMD) will be used to reward workers based on performance. The review of the Performance Management System was to be undertaken in order to close the gaps identified by PEMANDU and other previous reports on PMS between 1st September 2019 and 30th June 2020 as follows; internal process to update and revise the current Performance Management System by January 2020.

A job evaluation exercise in the Public Service will also be undertaken to among others establish internal equity, and will also cover the grading of all supervisory positions within the Public Service.
Another agreement included overtime Management. The Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) was to facilitate the conclusion of consultations on management of overtime, including consideration of the Overtime Management Task Team’s report on the same by 30th November 2019.

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Health Expert rejects ‘death rates’ links to low population growth

17th May 2022

A public health expert, Dr Edward Maganu who is also the former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health has said that unlike many who are expressing shock at the population census growth decline results, he is not, because the 2022 results represents his expectations.

He rushed to dismiss the position by Statistics Botswana in which thy partly attributes the low growth rates to mortality rates for the past ten years. “I don’t think there is any undercounting. I also don’t think death rates have much to do with it since the excessive deaths from HIV/AIDS have been controlled by ARVs and our life expectancy isn’t lower than it was in the 1990s,” he said in an interview with this publication post the release of the results.

Preliminary results released by Statistics Botswana this week indicated that Botswana’s population is now estimated to be 2,346,179 – a figure that the state owned data agency expressed worry over saying it’s below their projected growth. The general decline in the population growth rate is attributed to ‘fertility’ and ‘mortality’ rates that the country registered on the past ten years since the last census in 2011.

Maganu explained that with an enlightened or educated society and the country’s total fertility rate, there was no way the country’s population census was going to match the previous growth rates.
“The results of the census make sense and is exactly what I expected. Our Total Fertility Rate ( the average number of children born to a woman) is now around 2.

This is what happens as society develops and educates its women. The enlightened women don’t want to bear many children, they want to work and earn a living, have free time, and give their few children good care. So, there is no under- counting. Census procedures are standard so that results are comparable between countries.

That is why the UN is involved through UNFPA, the UN Agency responsible for population matters,” said Maganu who is also the former adviser to the World Health Organisation. Maganu ruled out undercounting concerns, “I see a lot of Batswana are worried about the census results. Above is what I have always stated.”

Given the disadvantages that accompany low population for countries, some have suggested that perhaps a time has come for the government to consider population growth policies or incentives, suggestions Maganu deems ineffective.

“It has never worked anywhere. The number of children born to a woman are a very private decision of the woman and the husband in an enlightened society. And as I indicated, the more the women of a society get educated, the higher the tendency to have fewer children. All developed countries have a problem of zero population growth or even negative growth.

The replacement level is regarded as 2 children per woman; once the fertility level falls below that, then the population stops growing. That’s why developed countries are depending so much on immigration,” he said.

According to him, a lot of developing countries that are educating their women are heading there, including ourselves-Botswana. “Countries that have had a policy of encouraging women to have more children have failed dismally. A good example is some countries of Eastern Europe (Romania is a good example) that wanted to grow their populations by rewarding women who had more children. It didn’t work. The number of children is a very private matter,” said Maganu

For those who may be worried about the impact of problems associated with low growth rate, Maganu said: “The challenge is to develop society so that it can take care of its dependency ratio, the children and the aged. In developed countries the ratio of people over 60 years is now more than 20%, ours is still less than 10%.”

The preliminary results show that Mogoditshane with (88,098) is now the biggest village in the country with Maun coming second (85,293) and Molepolole at third position with 74,719. Population growth is associated with many economic advantages because more people leads to greater human capital, higher economic growth, economies of scale, the efficiency of higher population density and the improved demographic structure of society, among many others.

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