Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) has proposed a 13.5% salary increment for civil servants under its mandate in the 2016/2017 salary negotiations.
In its 2016 salary negotiation proposal submitted to the Public Service Bargaining Council (PSBC) on the 23rd of November 2015, BOFEPUSU states that the increment which will thrust government’s wage bill up to P1.6 billion is affordable as inflation since 2009 has increased by an astounding 43.7% with an 8% annual upsurge.
BOFEPUSU salary increment proposal in possession of WeekendPost also states that at the same time civil servants salaries were adjusted by a total 16% with the last increments done in 2010, 2011 and 2012 respectively with 10 and 3% each and without any increment in 2009 due to constraints associated with the financial down turn as well as in 2013 due protracted talks at PSBC.
BOFEPUSU says that it has calculated the wage bill of employees falling under the Public Service Act of 2008(PSA) to top the staggering figure of P12 billion and therefore the 13.5% increment will result in a wage bill pegged at P1,6 billion.
It also continues that the negotiations should be done to benefit only employee’s governed by the Public Service Act (2008) and that it wants its increment negotiations to exclude Members of Parliament, Councilors, and Dikgosi since they got up to 40% salary increments, atop a 6% hike that was negotiated for public service employees during the 2015/2016 salary negotiations.
Warns against Economic Stimulus Program (ESP)
BOFEPUSU also gives an ominous warning to government on going against the grain of counsel from Western think tanks, including Brookings Institute which it terms one of the best think tanks in the world as well as the National Development Plan 9(NDP 9) on its careening laser focus on infrastructural development. BOFEPUSU states, “It has been reported that Botswana is one of 10 Sub-Saharan countries that has surpassed the threshold for the domestic bankrolling of infrastructure. The acceptable limit is 5-6% while Botswana earmarks 7.1-8% of its GDP.”
BOFEPUSU also states that it is aware that government intends to draw funds from its foreign reserves to bankroll infrastructure development despite several warnings on its over-commitment on infrastructural development at the negligence of social and economic needs of households.
BOFEPUSU also continues to justify the 13.5% increment by citing that the economic stimulus program which it says will result in money being injected into the economy and it believes that the employees will not be forgotten considering their appreciation of the global financial tumult during the 2008 period and enduring long periods without any increment.
The powerful trade union bloc also says that; the fact that inflation is presently at its lowest in decades, having fallen below Bank of Botswana’s long term objective of 3-6% this actually means that real wages are being left at risk and therefore a significant salary increment will be a much needed shot in the arm for households and consequently stimulate small business sector growth. BOFEPUSU also discouraged government against its intended reduction of the wage bill through ways that will not see protection of real wages as it is already a dispiriting factor for civil service employees. It goes on to state that it is alive to the fact that its wage increment proposition coincides with a time when there is need for fiscal restraint. It continues to warn that government’s large wage bill is related to the fact that government is a major employer as there is inadequate new employment in the private sector before proposing that efforts to reduce wage bill may not always be achieved by way of freezing wages of workers already employed.
Calls for scaling back spending on Security, Defense and Social Safety Nets
BOFEPUSU further proposes that in terms of overall expenditure a reduction in non-productive expenditure should be put in place such as those used in social safety nets. It goes on to say that to achieve these goals other areas to give less priority in less spending are Security and Defense and that efforts should be put in place to increase employment creation as a sustainable way of poverty eradication, rather that increasing spending on unproductive activities that contribute to a culture of dependency.
BOFEPUSU’s approximations also indicate that the country is on a track of pre-economic crisis growth levels and that government’s efforts to reduce the economy’s dependency on mining is bearing fruit. It also states that government has to bear in mind the escalation in prices of utilities such as electricity, medical aid, postal charges as well as residential rentals all which have recently rocketed skywards as well as the country’s economic system as an unregulated open market economy, exacerbates the problem as price increments for business will always transfer costs to consumers.
Introduction of 10% housing allowance for all civil servants
BOFEPUSU also proposes that in the 2016/2017 financial year, a housing allowance of 10% be introduced for all public service employees as it is no secret that financial institutions take delight and find it easy to advance funding to those with housing allowance. It also proposes that the current housing and upkeep allowance be considered a right to salary to its current beneficiaries and that a real housing allowance linked to salary be introduced. However it also proposes that for officers staying in government accommodation should have their housing allowance be scrapped off while those who do not stay in pool houses be eligible for the housing allowance.
Former Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Member of Parliament for Gaborone North, Haskins Nkaigwa has confirmed his departure from opposition fold to re-join the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).
Nkaigwa said opposition is extremely divided and the leadership not in talking terms. “They are planning evil against each other. Nothing much will be achieved,” Nkaigwa told WeekendPost.
“I believe my time in the opposition has come to an end. It’s time to be of value to rebuilding our nation and economy of the country. Remember the BDP is where I started my political journey. It is home,” he said.
“Despite all challenges currently facing the world, President Masisi will be far with his promises to Batswana. A leader always have the interest of the people at heart despite how some decisions may look to be unpopular with the people.
“I have faith and full confidence in President Dr Masisi leadership. We shall overcome as party and nation the current challenges bedevilling nations. BDP will emerge stronger. President Masisi will always have my backing.”
Nkaigwa served as opposition legislator between 2014-2019 representing Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) under UDC banner. He joined BMD in 2011 at the height public servant strike whilst Gaborone City Deputy Mayor. He eventually rose to become the mayor same year, after BDP lost majority in the GCC.
Nkaigwa had been a member of Botswana National Front (BNF), having joined from Alliance for Progressives (AP) in 2019.
Botswana has received assistance worth over P100 million from Japanese government since 2019, making the latter of the largest donors to Botswana in recent years.
The assistance include relatively large-scale grant aid programmes such as the COVID-19 programme (to provide medical equipment; P34 million), the digital terrestrial television programme (to distribute receivers to the underprivileged, P17 million), the agriculture promotion programme (to provide agricultural machinery and equipment, P53million).
“As 2020 was a particularly difficult year, where COVID-19 hit Botswana’s economy and society hard, Japan felt the need to assist Botswana as our friend,” said Japan’s new Ambassador to Botswana, Hoshiyama Takashi.
“It is for this reason that grants of over P100 million were awarded to Botswana for the above mentioned projects.”
Japan is now the world’s fourth highest ranking donor country in terms of Official Development Assistance (ODA).
From 1991 to 2000, Japan continued as the top donor country in the world and contributed to Asia’s miracle economic development.
From 1993 onwards, the TICAD process commenced through Japan’s initiative as stated earlier. Japan’s main contribution has been in the form of Yen Loans, which are at a concessional rate, to suit large scale infrastructure construction.
“In Botswana, only a few projects have been implemented using the Yen Loan such as the Morupule “A” Power Station Rehabilitation and Pollution Abatement in 1986, the Railway Rolling Stock Increase Project in 1987, the Trans-Kalahari Road Construction Project in 1991, the North-South Carrier Water Project in 1995 and the Kazungula Bridge Construction Project in 2012,” said Ambassador Hoshiyama.
“In terms of grant aid and technical assistance, Japan has various aid schemes including development survey and master planning, expert dispatch to recipient countries, expert training in Japan, scholarships, small scale grass-roots program, culture-related assistance, aid through international organizations and so on.”
In 1993, Japan launched Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) to promote Africa’s development, peace and security, through the strengthening of relations in multilateral cooperation and partnership.
TICAD discuss development issues across Africa and, at the same time, present “aid menus” to African countries provided by Japan and the main aid-related international organizations, United Nations (UN), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Bank.
“As TICAD provides vision and guidance, it is up to each African country to take ownership and to implement her own development following TICAD polices and make use of the programmes shown in the aid menus,” Ambassordor Hoshiyama noted.
“This would include using ODA loans for quality infrastructure, suited to the country’s own nation-building needs. It is my fervent hope that Botswana will take full advantage of the TICAD process.”
Since then, seven conferences where held, the latest, TICAD 7 being in 2019 at Yokohama. TICAD 7’s agenda on African development focused on three pillars, among them the first pillar being “Accelerating economic transformation and improving business environment through innovation and private sector engagement”.
“Yes, private investment is very important, while public investment through ODA (Official Development Assistance) still plays an indispensable role in development,” the Japanese Ambassador said.
“For further economic development in Africa, Japan recognizes that strengthening regional connectivity and integration through investment in quality infrastructure is key.”
Japan has emphasized the following; effective implementation of economic corridors such as the East Africa Northern Corridor, Nacala Corridor and West Africa Growth Ring; Quality infrastructure investment in line with the G20 Principles for Quality Infrastructure Investment should be promoted by co-financing or cooperation through the African Development Bank (AfDB) and Japan.
Japan also emphasized the establishment of mechanisms to encourage private investment and to improve the business environment.
According to the statistics issued by Japan’s Finance Ministry, Japan invested approximately 10 billion US dollars in Africa after TICAD 7 (2019) to year end 2020, but Japanese investment through third countries are not included in this figure.
“With the other points factored in, the figure isn’t established yet,” Ambassador Hoshiyama said.
The next conference, TICAD 8 will be held in Tunisia in 2022. This will be the second TICAD summit to be held on the African continent after TICAD 6 which was held in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2016.
According to Ambassador Hoshiyama, in preparation for TICAD 8, the TICAD ministerial meeting will be held in Tokyo this year. The agenda to be discussed during TICAD 8 has not yet been fully deliberated on amongst TICAD Co-organizers (Japan, UN, UNDP, the World Bank and AU).
“Though not officially concluded, given the world situation caused by COVID-19, I believe that TICAD 8 will highlight health and medical issues including the promotion of a Universal Health Coverage (UHC),” said Hoshiyama.
“As the African economy has seriously taken a knock by COVID-19, economic issues, including debt, could be an item for serious discussion.”
The promotion of business is expected to be one of the most important topics. Japan and its partners, together with the business sector, will work closely to help revitalize private investment in Africa.
“All in all, the follow-up of the various programs that were committed by the Co-Organizers during the Yokohama Plan of Actions 2019 will also be reviewed as an important item of the agenda,” Ambassador Hoshiyama said.
“I believe that this TICAD follow-up mechanism has secured transparency and accountability as well as effective implementation of agreed actions by all parties. The guiding principle of TICAD is African ownership and international partnership.”
Directorate on Intelligence Services (DIS) Director General, Brigadier Peter Magosi is said to be hell-bent and pushing President Mokgweetsi Masisi to reshuffle his cabinet as a matter of urgency since a number of his ministers are conflicted.
The request by Magosi comes at a time when time is ticking on his contract which is awaiting renewal from Masisi.
This publication learns that Magosi is unshaken by the development and continues to wield power despite uncertainty hovering around his contractual renewal.