Former National Coordinator for the embattled Botswana National Youth Council (BNYC), Goitse Mpolokang has spoken out about a filthy mess at the organisation which has led to government seeking to dissolve the organisation.
He placed at the centre of the controversy, the contentious security organ, the Directorate of Intelligence Security Services (DISS), the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, and the ruling Botswana Democratic Party in an untidy state of affairs at the organisation which is now facing extinction, unless the High Court intervenes.
Mpolokang spoke to this publication in an exclusive interview following the victorious High Court ruling against his former employer who unlawfully dismissed him from work in 2012. The former National Coordinator had been at logger heads with the BNYC and its board after resisting attempts of maladministration in the organisation. “The board wanted to use BNYC to advance personal and political gains for the ruling party,” he said. “I resisted that because I wanted things to be done correctly.”
He told this publication that when it became clear that there were people like him in the organisation who wanted to object to the status quo, in favour of good governance, plans were orchestrated to toss them out. “Because of my stand as somebody who wanted things to be done in a proper manner, I was perceived as an obstacle,” he added. “They even thought I was influencing the other structures of the BNYC.”
In 2012, reports became rife in the media that Mpolokang had been involved in elections’ improper conduct. Mpolokang was accused of taking sides at the election of executive committee members.
BNYC then announced the organisation was undergoing a restructuring exercise in which assurance was made that despite the exercise, no employee was going to lose his job. However, following the restructuring exercise Mpolokang and four others were told that their employment was terminated since the posts which they previously held were phased out.
In the letter dated 2nd February 2012, the former National Coordinator was told that his contract will be terminated within 30 days, a decision he challenged at the Department of Labour and won. BNYC was charged P500 for contravening the employment law.
Mpolokang was then restored to the organisation in a new post as Events Officer, reporting directly to the Executive Director. The Department of Labour also ruled that no employee of BNYC should be dismissed from work for that year’s financial year on the basis of restructuring or financial constraints.
A few months later, BNYC attempted another restructuring exercise that was halted by an urgent application before the Industrial Court by Mpolokang and other affected employees. A settlement agreement was reached in which BNYC undertook not to proceed with the retrenchment exercise.
However, subsequent to the Industrial Court order of the 15th of August 2012, BNYC employees individually received on the 26th of September 2012 letters terminating their contracts of employment with immediate effect.
On that fateful day, Mpolokang remembers that BNYC Acting Executive Director, Tiny Tamasiga-Gontse who was in-charge of the organisation in place of then suspended Benjamin Raletsatsi ordered them to vacate immediately, the premises along with their personal possessions.
When they objected to being treated unfairly, and appealed for more time to remove their personal stuff from computers, DIS stormed in and confiscated computers. Mpolokang with four others were then thrown out of the premises. “We were surprised because we were being treated like criminals, yet we were employees and court had ruled in our favour,” recalled Mpolokang.
On the day the quartet was dismissed, the then Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture was to address a staff meeting at BNYC head office. “Because they did not want us to be part of the meeting, we were swiftly called at lunch time and informed about our dismissal from work,” stated Mpolokang. “We were then ordered to leave the premises immediately and removed by the DIS without any further engagement with management.”
Mpolokang and Tipati Gutcha who challenged their dismissal emerged victorious when High Court Judge Dr Zein Kebonang ruled in their favour last week. Judge Kebonang said that BNYC’s position that they were entitled to terminate the employees’ contracts at will and for no reason at all, was in his view untenable. “Just cause requires that there must be a fair and honest cause or reasons for terminating an employment contract,” he stated. “In my view, the termination of one’s employment at will, without any basis, lacks good faith and amount to a less favourable treatment.”
Judge Kebonang also ordered that BNYC pays the applicants the balance of their contracts as damages. “This is what they would have contractually been entitled to receive but for the termination and I accordingly so order,” ruled Kebonang.
Mpolokang revealed that the latest events at BNYC are as a result of greediness from the ruling party and their associates. “It is clear that BDP wants to use BNYC as a training ground for its cadres,” he said. “They want each and every structure of the BNYC to be controlled by BDP faithfuls.”
The former BNYC National Coordinator also opined that BNYC was used for looting and excessive corruption for the few individuals, therefore undermining its core mandate as a youth advocating organisation. “They felt it was infiltrated by the members of the opposition, hence they want to destroy it,” he added. “I think it is best youth form a new organisation which will affiliate with other international organisations.”
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and some senior government officials are abuzz with reports that President Mokgweetsi Masisi has requested his Vice President, Slumber Tsogwane not to contest the next general elections in 2024.
The impacts of climate change are increasing in frequency and intensity every year and this is forecast to continue for the foreseeable future. African CEOs in the Global South are finally coming to the party on how to tackle the crisis.
Following the completion of COP27 in Egypt recently, CEOs of Africa DFIs converged in Botswana for the CEO Forum of the Association of African Development Finance Institutions. One of the key themes was on green financing and building partnerships for resource mobilization in financing SDGs in Africa
A report; “Weathering the storm; African Development Banks response to Covid-19” presented shocking findings during the seminar. Among them; African DFI’s have proven to be financially resilient, and they are fast shifting to a green transition and it’s financing.
COO, CEDA, James Moribame highlighted that; “Everyone needs food, shelter and all basic needs in general, but climate change is putting the achievement of this at bay. “It is expensive for businesses to do business, for instance; it is much challenging for the agricultural sector due to climate change, and the risks have gone up. If a famer plants crops, they should be ready for any potential natural disaster which will cost them their hard work.”
According to Moribame, Start-up businesses will forever require help if there is no change.
“There is no doubt that the Russia- Ukraine war disrupted supply chains. SMMEs have felt the most impact as some start-up businesses acquire their materials internationally, therefore as inflation peaks, this means the exchange rate rises which makes commodities expensive and challenging for SMMEs to progress. Basically, the cost of doing business has gone up. Governments are no longer able to support DFI’s.”
Moribame shared remedies to the situation, noting that; “What we need is leadership that will be able to address this. CEOs should ensure companies operate within a framework of responsible lending. They also ought to scout for opportunities that would be attractive to investors, this include investors who are willing to put money into green financing. Botswana is a prime spot for green financing due to the great opportunity that lies in solar projects. ”
Technology has been hailed as the economy of the future and thus needs to be embraced to drive operational efficiency both internally and externally.
Executive Director, bank of Industry Nigeria, Simon Aranou mentioned that for investors to pump money to climate financing in Africa, African states need to be in alignment with global standards.
“Do what meets world standards if you want money from international investors. Have a strong risk management system. Also be a good borrower, if you have a loan, honour the obligation of paying it back because this will ensure countries have a clean financial record which will then pave way for easier lending of money in the future. African states cannot just be demanding for mitigation from rich countries. Financing needs infrastructure to complement it, you cannot be seating on billions of dollars without the necessary support systems to make it work for you. Domestic resource mobilisation is key. Use public money to mobilise private money.” He said.
For his part, the Minster of Minister of Entrepreneurship, Karabo Gare enunciated that, over the past three years, governments across the world have had to readjust their priorities as the world dealt with the effects and impact of the COVID 19 pandemic both to human life and economic prosperity.
“The role of DFIs, during this tough period, which is to support governments through countercyclical measures, including funding of COVID-19 related development projects, has become more important than ever before. However, with the increasingly limited resources from governments, DFIs are now expected to mobilise resources to meet the fiscal gaps and continue to meet their developmental mandates across the various affected sectors of their economies.” Said Gare.
Letlhakeng:TotalEnergies Botswana today launched a Road Safety Campaign as part of their annual Stakeholder Relationship Management (SRM), in partnership with Unitrans, MVA Fund, TotalEnergies Letlhakeng Filling Station and the Letlhakeng Sub District Road Safety Committee during an event held in Letlhakeng under the theme, #IamTrafficToo.
The Supplier Relationship Management initiative is an undertaking by TotalEnergies through which TotalEnergie annually explores and implements social responsibility activities in communities within which we operate, by engaging key stakeholders who are aligned with the organization’s objectives. Speaking during the launch event, TotalEnergies’ Operations and HSSEQ, Patrick Thedi said, “We at TotalEnergies pride ourselves in being an industrial operator with a strategy centered on respect, listening, dialogue and stakeholder involvement, and a partner in the sustainable social and economic development of its host communities and countries. We are also very fortunate to have stakeholders who are in alignment with our organizational objectives. We assess relationships with our key stakeholders to understand their concerns and expectations as well as identify priority areas for improvement to strengthen the integration of Total Energies in the community. As our organization transitions from Total to Total Energies, we are committed to exploring sustainable initiatives that will be equally indicative of our growth and this Campaign is a step in the right direction. ”
As part of this campaign roll out, stakeholders will be refurbishing and upgrading and installing road signs around schools in the area, and generally where required. One of the objectives of the Campaign is to bring awareness and training on how to manage and share the road/parking with bulk vehicles, as the number of bulk vehicles using the Letlhakeng road to bypass Trans Kalahari increases. When welcoming guests to Letlhakeng, Kgosi Balepi said he welcomed the initiative as it will reduce the number of road incidents in the area.
Also present was District Traffic Officer ASP, Reuben Moleele, who gave a statistical overview of accidents in the region, as well as the rest of the country. Moleele applauded TotalEnergies and partners on the Campaign, especially ahead of the festive season, a time he pointed out is always one with high road statistics. The campaign name #IamTrafficToo, is a reminder to all road users, including pedestrians that they too need to be vigilant and play their part in ensuring a reduction in road incidents.
The official proceedings of the day included a handover of reflectors and stop/Go signs to the Letlhakeng Cluster from TotalEnerigies, injury prevention from tips from MVA’s Onkabetse Petlwana, as well as bulk vehicle safety tips delivered from Adolf Namate of Unitrans.
TotalEnergies, which is committed to having zero carbon emissions by 2050, has committed to rolling out the Road safety Campaign to the rest of the country in the future.