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BOFEPUSU sorting its bargaining problem in court

Dispute of interest Botswana Public Employees Union’s (BOPEU) secession from the Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) has rocked the start of Public Service Bargaining Council’s (PSBC) 2016/2017 wage talks.

BOFEPUSU, on Monday this week hauled the Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) before the Industrial court on an urgent application seeking relief, following the collapse of bargaining council’s 17 December 2015 talks and its subsequent indefinite adjournment.

BOFEPUSU states in court papers that after it submitted its proposal for wage increment, a meeting was called on the 17th of December where procedures applicable to the wage negotiations were to be discussed. At the meeting DPSM proxies contended whether the Public Service Bargaining Council was properly constituted in light of BOPEU’s withdrawal from the trade union federation.

The DPSM proxies further stated and put forward a precondition that they can only discuss procedures applicable to the 2016/2017 wage negotiations so long as the issues of whether or not the Council was properly constituted had been exhaustively discussed and a way forward on the issue agreed on. On the parallel vein BOFEPUSU could not concede ground outlining details that the BOPEU factor could not be advanced as a precondition for the start of wage talks because it was never in the meeting’s agenda.

BOFEPUSU chief executive and union old hand, Johnson Motshwarakgole argues in court papers that BOPEU’s decision to terminate its affiliation to BOFEPUSU did not take away BOFEPUSU’s right to bargain with DPSM because the ‘acting jointly arrangement’ which BOFEPUSU invoked to get admission into the bargaining council with BOPEU has not been terminated.

He continues that even if BOPEU had pulled out of the ‘acting jointly arrangement’, BOFEPUSU will still have a right to continue bargaining on behalf of their members because they still represent at least two-thirds of the total workforce well in excess of the constitutionally required one-third.

Motshwarakgole continues that “termination of membership to a Council follows a process and it is not automatic and must follow the process laid down in order for it to be effective. Until such time as that process has been followed the Council remains properly constituted.”

He further observed that the imposition of an unreasonable precondition constitutes a form of bad faith bargaining and reiterated that BOFEPUSU has a right to bargain in good faith with DPSM; a right enshrined in the Public Service Act No.30 of 2008, Trade Unions and Employers’ Organisation Act, the constitution of the Bargaining Council as well as the Procedures for Meetings and Negotiations of 2015.

Motshwarakgole further warned in court documents that, “the right to engage with DPSM in good faith wage talks will be rendered hollow if its conduct is to continue unabated and that DPSM’s unfair precondition effectively amounts to a refusal to negotiate as well as adding that the prejudice BOFEPUSU stands to endure as a result of DPSM’s unlawful conduct will be so immense that it cannot be quantified.”

In a strongly worded responding affidavit, the  DPSM Director, Ruth Maphorisa, argues that it only was reasonable that DPSM requested the inclusion of the agenda tagged ‘Parties to the Council’, relating to BOPEU’s withdrawal from the trade union federation because her department had received 2 letters from BOPEU indicating its disaffiliation from BOFEPUSU with immediate effect. Maphorisa also accused BOFEPUSU of, “ventilating the ‘Parties to the Council’ agenda through a court application whilst excluding BOPEU.” She continued that, “It is curious to note that the issue of ‘Parties to the Council’ revolves around the actions of BOPEU and yet it is not party to the proceedings either as an applicant or as a respondent.”

However DPSM’s counsel Tefo Bogosi reasoned that BOFEPUSU had waived its right to negotiate and it ceased to exist on the 31st of October 2015 as per the collectively taken PSBC (Bargaining Council) resolution number 3 of April 2015 by submitting wage proposal to the PSBC on the 23rd of November; nearly a month after the agreed period which states that wage negotiations should be executed year after year in the months of October and September so as to align them to the national budget process.

Bogosi also continued to argue that BOFEPUSU’s court argument is a dispute of interest and not a dispute of right-a prospect that could force it to take the path of industrial action to extract concession.

However presiding Justice Diratsagae Molomo advised Bogosi to deal with facts and not technicalities of law. Justice Molomo also advised the sparring PSBC partners in the day-long trial to be pragmatic and keep in thought the enormity of the case with possibly 90 000 thousand civil servants caught in the crosshairs.

Molomo remarked that, “We should avert cases like that happened in 2011 and we (the courts) should not be seen as a place where things like what happened are made easy to reoccur.” Diratsagae advised.

The parties opted for a settlement agreement that will see a verification exercise of the federation’s collective membership being carried out on the 11th January to establish whether BOFEPUSU meets the one-third threshold to negotiate on behalf of the union membership.

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Khan: Boko, Masisi are fake politicians

18th January 2021
Masisi & Boko

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.

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Ookeditse rejects lobby for BPF top post

18th January 2021
LAWRENCE-OOKEDITSE

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.

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BDP cancels MPs retreat

18th January 2021
President Masisi

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.

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