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Gloves off in the BEC amendment bill debate

The Secretary General of BOSETU, Tobokani Rari

The teaching Service unions, Botswana Sector of Educator’s Union (BOSETU) and the Botswana Teacher’s Union (BTU) are seeking audience with the Minister of Education and Skills Development, Unity Dow to discuss the validity and consequences of the Botswana Examination Council Amendment Bill which was published in August this year.

The Secretary General of BOSETU, Tobokani Rari has confirmed that they intend to submit a letter requesting a meeting with the Minister sometime next week.

The bill is expected to be discussed in the next session of Parliament that starts next Month hence the Unions want to engage the Minister soon before the Legislator in an effort to make the Minister see sense in their stand.

The motive of the Bill according to Rari, is to avoid remunerating teachers for supervising, assessment and marking external examinations and to force them into forced labour.


“The ulterior motive is to use teachers for free as cheap labour. The Ministry‘s ulterior motive is to overburden teachers with work that does not form part of their contract of employment. The Ministry is not saying the motive was to avoid labour unrest because the next question will be, who is the source of labour unrest especially during exam period!” BOSETU explains.


BOSETU believes that the jury would point to BEC as a source of labour unrest due to failure to pay or remunerate teachers for the work done by them.


“It is now settled labour law and  practice that, an employee’s duty to render service is the corollary of the employer’s duty to remunerate, hence, the maxim “ no work, no pay”. The reverse applies; “No pay, no work” that is, employees who have not been paid may legitimately refuse to work without breaching their contracts,” BOSETU hinted some of the points that may be discussed with the Minister.


BOSETU is expected to bring to the attention of the Minister, who is a former Judge of the High Court, that some of the clauses she has introduced are offensive to the country’s constitution and that laws made for ulterior purpose would be declared unconstitutional by courts of law.


“In terms of Section 86 of the Constitution Parliament makes laws for the peace, good order and good government of Botswana not to avoid negotiated determination at a collective bargaining table. The Court of Appeal has held that laws made for any other or ulterior purpose would be unconstitutional. Therefore, BOSETU strongly believe that Section 5A(2) of the Bill is unconstitutional on the basis of the aforegoing grounds,” BOSETU revealed.


The amendment bill would make exam invigilation, marking and assessment of course work mandatory for teachers employed by the government. Previously this work has caused conflict between teachers and the government when they could not agree on compensation rates.


The teachers are concerned that some sections of the bill want to take away the mandate of the BEC and place it on the shoulders of teachers. Currently, the invigilation’s of external examinations and assessment of course work constitute core mandate of BEC and the court has previously made a ruling to that effect.

The teachers mandate is to teach learners and mark internal examinations. Anything that constitutes the mandate of BEC can be done by teachers through collective bargaining agreements as it has been the case. However it is believed the current bill was introduced as a way of setting aside such a court ruling and to avoid conflict and strikes going forward.


Nonetheless, BOSETU maintains that even if the bill is to be passed into law it can never force co-operation between teachers and the employer.


“It is BOSETU’s position that while the legislation may end a dispute it cannot force cooperation, it cannot force creative and innovative thinking to find long term solutions to problems and it cannot force the necessary dialogue to create productive, flexible and adaptable work places. In BOSETU’s experience improving terms and conditions of a collective agreement nature by legislative intervention has a chilling effect on the long term collective bargaining relationship between the Ministry and teacher Trade Union’s especially BOSETU.”  


The bill is expected to be discussed in Parliament in the coming session of Parliament that begins next Month. However BOSETU’s biggest concern is that prior to the publication of the bill in the government gazette, there was virtually no consultation on the part of the Ministry to consult teacher unions to make input on behalf of their members as stakeholders on the Bill.

Failure to consult the teachers through Trade Unions is in BOSETU’s opinion, a fundamental omission which may result in the legislation being declared invalid by courts.

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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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