The Botswana Teachers Union (BTU) is prepared to take the government head on in court over the contentious issue of Levels of Operations (LOO). The Union is of the view that the issue has disenfranchised thousands of primary school teachers with regard to their promotion and progression to higher scales.
The Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) this week made it clear that the matter will not be resolved before an evaluation conducted by government officials to determine whether LOO extends to Primary School Senior Teachers or not.
BTU Secretary General, Ibo Kenosi this week told this publication that the union has decided to recall its members who had formed part of Task Force that was to carry out evaluation assessment on Primary School Senior Teachers.
Kenosi has written a letter to Ruth Maporisa, Director of DPSM informing her that it was never the intention or purpose of LOO arrangement that entitlement will be based on job evaluation assessments.
“The requirement for a job evaluation assessment is an additional requirement that was never part of the original content of the LOO scheme,” reads the letter seen by this publication.
It further reads: “This additional requirement is unlawful and irregular and BTU does not accept it.”
Following the meeting between unions representing teachers and the Ministry of Education and Skills Development (MoESD) officials last week, the three parties agreed to refer the issue regarding LOO to DPSM since it is dealing with promotions.
LOO was introduced in 2013 as a Remuneration Levelling Ground Dispensation and sought to promote social labour justice by recognising the need to level the payment structure of a more homogenous value chain job, so that all government employees are not disadvantaged.
BTU is however disappointed by the segregated implementation of the policy since it did not benefit primary school teachers but rather disenfranchised thousands of them from promotions and progressing to C1 scale. “This phenomenon is not only discriminatory to primary school teachers against the whole of the public service, but it also discriminates them against each other within the wider education sector,” states the position paper prepared by BTU.
Currently, primary school teachers still earn lower than junior secondary and senior secondary teachers even when they hold equal or better still higher qualifications than them. Junior secondary teachers and senior secondary teachers however earn equal salaries for similar posts as long as their qualifications are the same.
According to Kenosi, as long as government pays nurses and doctors equal salaries for equal qualifications regardless of whether they are deployed at clinics or primary hospitals, the same should apply in the teaching fraternity.
The BTU Secretary General is convinced that what is happening currently is confirmation that government undermines primary education and its importance, hence its continued refusal to allow teachers at primary to enjoy the same salary benefits as those at secondary level. “Government is negotiating in bad faith and it is evident that the officials are not worried about primary teachers as their employees,” he said.
The position paper submitted by BTU to DPSM states that findings from EFA (2000), UNESCO (2004), World Bank (2006) and the World Skill Competition Assessment Committee (2008) affirm that no level of education is more critical than the other.
The paper however states that despite this, in terms of labour needs and complexity of delivery, pre-primary and primary are the most laborious and intellectual commandeering, hence demanding a more inspired but committed teacher-force in a competitively well remunerated labour environment peculiar to the teaching profession.
The BTU position paper notes that at junior and senior secondary levels, School Heads were moved from D3 and D2 respectively to an all D1 scale in recognition of the critical role they all play at management levels, as result no one was disenfranchised on account of level of delivery of education. Deputy School heads, Head of Departments (HODs) and senior teachers at both junior and secondary progressed to a higher scale.
However, the BTU position paper contends that the above scenario exposed the primary school teachers’ situation and contravenes the spirit of LOO because of the disempowering hierarchy. Under the LOO, at primary level, the School Head, Deputy School Head, HODs and senior teachers earn less than their counterparts at secondary level, irrespective of qualifications.
BTU states that the current state of affairs is diminishing more so that many of these senior teachers are more qualified than their secondary level counterparts. “Unlike at secondary levels, there are no financial segregated rewards and delinking of positions at senior teacher level. In the worst of scenarios newly appointed senior teachers may earn less than teachers who progressed to C1 earlier than them,” contends the paper.
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.