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Sunday, 03 December 2023

Khama betrayed unions – Court


The courts continues to paint the state President,  Lt Gen Ian Khama Seretse Khama as a leader who habitually abuses his presidential powers by way of making decision that violates the laid down rules.

Just a week after the court of appeal declared that the President has no power to stop foreign prisoners from accessing free anti retroviral drugs, the High court this week announced that the President had no right to increase public service salaries without the consent of the bargaining council back in 2014.

Justice Michael Leburu of the Lobatse High Court said that when Khama announced that the civil service would get a salary increment during a kgotla meeting in 2014, he was acting against the law.

“In conclusion, it is declared as follows. The conduct of the respondents, in unitarily awarding a 4% salary and allowances increase, outside the Public Service bargaining council to union members, whilst negotiations were ongoing constituted a breach of the duty to negotiate in good faith as defined in the Procedure for meetings and negotiations, of the Public Services Bargaining Council,” Leburu made the ruling.

This is despite the fact that the Public Service Act grants the President general directions to any subject under this act.

Section 12 of the Act reads that, “the exercise of any powers or the performance of any duties under this Act shall be subject to such general directions of the President as the President may consider.”

Nonetheless, Leburu indicated that this point was not pleaded or that it was not argued that the President invoked his power under this section when he unilaterally announced the salary increment.

In March, 2014, President Khama announced at a kgotla meeting that there would be a 4% salary increase for public servants with effect from April 2014. He however indicated that despite the increase, the salary negotiations would continue at the bargaining council.

At the time of the announcement, salary negotiations had begun at the bargaining council. Khama’s contention then was that it was not fair for non-unionised public service and members of the disciplined forces to await the conclusion of the salary negotiations.

The Public service unions under the Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) accused him and his government especially the Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) of betrayal and failing to negotiate in good faith. DPSM became the co-accused because it then issued a directive announcing the increment in respect of certain public officers.

Also increased were a number of allowances. The following Month, April, DPSM issued a directive which amended the terms of conditions of employment such as the salary advance scheme, Self Help Housing Agency (SHHA) Scheme and others while negotiations on those terms had not been concluded by the bargaining council.

“The starting point is that the parties agreed, amongst others and in no uncertain terms that bypassing the negotiation process and also engaging in unilateral action, such as the unilateral alteration of the terms and conditions before negotiations have been concluded, was a breach of a duty to bargain in good faith,” Leburu pointed out before concluding that the DPSM had also breached the duty to negotiate in good faith when it amended the said conditions of service outside the bargaining council.

The judge says, the duty to bargain in good faith exists in order to promote and facilitate a meaningful collective bargaining and it is central to sound industrial relations. Any conduct that unduly weakens the bargaining process amounts to breach of the duty.

“In my judgement, a unilateral salary increase to union members whilst negotiations are ongoing is a classic form of bypassing the negotiation process. It is a form of bypass in that the terms and conditions of service squarely fall within the remit and purview of the Bargaining Council, as established by the Public Service Act,” Leburu pointed out.

The Bargaining Council was introduced in 2010 by the Public Service Act. The main purpose of the Council is to negotiate terms and conditions of employment in the public service and Leburu says when the legislature enacted the law, it did so for the peace, order and good government of the country.

“The legislature in its usual wisdom, conferred power on the Public Service Bargaining Council for purposes of collective bargaining. The exercise of such a power by the council, promotes the objectives of the Act, namely, recognition of trade unions and collective bargaining. Where power is granted to a specific authority, that authority itself should as a matter of general proposition, exercise the power so granted,” Leburu further stated.

Furthermore, the constitution according to Leburu makes it abundantly crisp that despite the powers granted to the President, Parliament also has the power to confer functions on other persons or authorities other than the President. In the present case the powers were given to the Bargaining Council to negotiate and agree on the terms and conditions of service.

“To that extent, the 1st respondent (President) cannot through the exercise of his executive powers override the obligations that the government has undertaken in terms of the Public service Act. Put differently the 1st respondent cannot disregard, through the exercise of his executive powers, contractual obligations that the government has undertaken and firmly bound itself unto,” Leburu noted.

Another case which is testing the Presidential powers is yet to be heard before court in a matter in which the Law society of Botswana (LSB) wants the court to declare whether or not President Khama was acting lawfully when he refused to appoint a local attorney as the Judge of the High court, following recommendation by the Judicial Service Commission.

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19 Bokamoso Private Hospital nurses graduate at Lenmed Nursing College

28th November 2023

The graduation of 19 nurses from Bokamoso Private Hospital at Lenmed Nursing College marks a significant milestone in their careers. These nurses have successfully completed various short learning programs, including Adult Intensive Care Unit, Emergency Nursing Care, Anaesthetic & Recovery Room Nursing, Anaesthetic Nursing, and Recovery Room Nursing. The ceremony, held in Gaborone, was a testament to their hard work and dedication.

Lenmed Nursing College, a renowned healthcare group with a presence in South Africa, Botswana, Mozambique, and Ghana, has been instrumental in providing quality education and training to healthcare professionals. The Group Head of Operations, Jayesh Parshotam, emphasized the importance of upskilling nurses, who are at the forefront of healthcare systems. He also expressed his appreciation for the partnerships with Bokamoso Private Hospital, the Ministry of Health, and various health training institutes in Botswana.

Dr. Morrison Sinvula, a consultant from the Ministry of Health, commended Lenmed Health and Lenmed Nursing College for their commitment to the education and training of these exceptional nurses. He acknowledged their guidance, mentorship, and support in shaping the nurses’ careers and ensuring their success. Dr. Sinvula also reminded the graduates that education does not end here, as the field of healthcare is constantly evolving. He encouraged them to remain committed to lifelong learning and professional development, embracing new technologies and staying updated with the latest medical advancements.

Dr. Gontle Moleele, the Superintendent of Bokamoso Private Hospital, expressed her excitement and pride in the graduating class of 2023. She acknowledged the sacrifices made by these individuals, who have families and responsibilities, to ensure their graduation. Dr. Moleele also thanked Lenmed Nursing College for providing this opportunity to the hospital’s nurses, as it will contribute to the growth of the hospital.

The certificate recipients from Bokamoso Private Hospital were recognized for their outstanding achievements in their respective programs. Those who received the Cum Laude distinction in the Adult Intensive Care Unit program were Elton Keatlholwetse, Lebogang Kgokgonyane, Galaletsang Melamu, Pinkie Mokgosi, Ofentse Seboletswe, Gorata Basupi, Bareng Mosala, and Justice Senyarelo. In the Emergency Nursing Care program, Atlanang Moilwa, Bakwena Moilwa, Nathan Nhiwathiwa, Mogakolodi Lesarwe, Modisaotsile Thomas, and Lorato Matenje received the Cum Laude distinction. Kelebogile Dubula and Gaolatlhe Sentshwaraganye achieved Cum Laude in the Anaesthetic & Recovery Room Nursing program, while Keletso Basele excelled in the Anaesthetic Nursing program. Mompoloki Mokwaledi received recognition for completing the Recovery Room Nursing program.

In conclusion, the graduation of these 19 nurses from Bokamoso Private Hospital at Lenmed Nursing College is a testament to their dedication and commitment to their profession. They have successfully completed various short learning programs, equipping them with the necessary skills and knowledge to excel in their respective fields. The collaboration between Lenmed Nursing College, Bokamoso Private Hospital, and the Ministry of Health has played a crucial role in their success. As they embark on their careers, these nurses are encouraged to continue their professional development and embrace new advancements in healthcare.

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BNF secures 15 constituencies in UDC coalition, wants more

28th November 2023

The Botswana National Front (BNF) has recently announced that they have already secured 15 constituencies in the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) coalition, despite ongoing negotiations. This revelation comes as the BNF expresses its dissatisfaction with the current government and its leadership.

The UDC, which is comprised of the BNF, Botswana Peoples Party (BPP), Alliance for Progressives (AP), and Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF), is preparing for the upcoming General Elections. However, the negotiations to allocate constituencies among the involved parties are still underway. Despite this, the BNF Chairman, Patrick Molotsi, confidently stated that they have already acquired 15 constituencies and are expecting to add more to their tally.

Molotsi’s statement reflects the BNF’s long-standing presence in many constituencies across Botswana. With a strong foothold in these areas, it is only natural for the BNF to seek an increase in the number of constituencies they represent. This move not only strengthens their position within the UDC coalition but also demonstrates their commitment to serving the interests of the people.

In a press conference, BNF Secretary General, Ketlhafile Motshegwa, expressed his discontent with the current government leadership. He criticized the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) for what he perceives as a disregard for the well-being of the Batswana people. Motshegwa highlighted issues such as high unemployment rates and shortages of essential medicines as evidence of the government’s failure to address the needs of its citizens.

The BNF’s dissatisfaction with the current government is a reflection of the growing discontent among the population. The Batswana people are increasingly frustrated with the lack of progress and the failure to address pressing issues. The BNF’s assertion that the government is playing with the lives of its citizens resonates with many who feel neglected and unheard.

The BNF’s acquisition of 15 constituencies, even before the negotiations have concluded, is a testament to their popularity and support among the people. It is a clear indication that the Batswana people are ready for change and are looking to the BNF to provide the leadership they desire.

As the negotiations continue, it is crucial for all parties involved to prioritize the interests of the people. The allocation of constituencies should be done in a fair and transparent manner, ensuring that the voices of all citizens are represented. The BNF’s success in securing constituencies should serve as a reminder to the other parties of the need to listen to the concerns and aspirations of the people they aim to represent.

In conclusion, the BNF’s acquisition of 15 constituencies, despite ongoing negotiations, highlights their strong presence and support among the Batswana people. Their dissatisfaction with the current government leadership reflects the growing discontent in the country. As the UDC coalition prepares for the upcoming General Elections, it is crucial for all parties to prioritize the needs and aspirations of the people. The BNF’s success should serve as a reminder of the importance of listening to the voices of the citizens and working towards a better future for Botswana.








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Children’s summit to discuss funding of NGOS

21st November 2023

One of the key issues that will be discussed by the Childrens’ Summit, which will be hosted by Childline Botswana Trust on 28th – 30th November in Gaborone, will be the topical issue of financing and strengthening of civil society organizations.

A statement from Childline Botswana indicates that the summit will adopt a road map for resourcing the children’s agenda by funding organizations. It will also cover issues relating to child welfare and protection; aimed at mobilizing governments to further strengthen Child Helplines; as well as sharing of emerging technologies to enhance the protection of Children and promotion of their rights.

According to Gaone Chepete, Communications Officer at Childline Botswana, the overall objective of the summit is to provide a platform for dialogue and engagement towards promoting practices and policies that fulfil children’s rights and welfare.

“Child Helplines in the region meet on a bi-annual basis to reflect on the state of children; evaluate their contribution and share experiences and best practice in the provision of services for children,” said Chepete.

The financing of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) by the state or its functionaries has generated mixed reactions from within the civil society space, with many arguing that it threatened NGOs activism and operational independence.

In February 2019, University of Botswana academic Kenneth Dipholo released a paper titled “State philanthropy: The demise of charitable organizations in Botswana,” in which he faulted then President Lieutenant General Seretse Khama Ian Khama for using charity for political convenience and annexing the operational space of NGOs.

“Civil society is the domain in which individuals can exercise their rights as citizens and set limits to the power of the state. The state should be developing capable voluntary organizations rather than emaciating or colonizing them by usurping their space,” argued Dipholo.

He further argued that direct involvement of the state or state president in charity breeds unhealthy competition between the state itself and other organizations involved in charity. Under these circumstances, he added, the state will use charity work to remain relevant to the ordinary people and enhance its visibility at the expense of NGOs.

“A consequence of this arrangement is that charitable organizations will become affiliates of the state. This stifles innovation in the sense that it narrows the ability of charitable organizations to think outside the box. It also promotes mono-culturalism, as the state could support only charitable organizations that abide by its wishes,” said Dipholo.

In conclusion, Dipholo urged the state to focus on supporting NGOs so that they operate in a system that combines philanthropic work and state welfare programs.

He added that state philanthropy threatens to relegate and render charitable organizations virtually irrelevant and redundant unless they re-engineer themselves.

Another University of Botswana (UB) academic, Professor Zibani Maundeni, opined that politics vitally shape civil society interaction; as seen in the interactions between the two, where there is mutual criticism in each other’s presence.

Over the years, NGOs have found themselves grappling with dwindling financial resources as donors ran out of money in the face of increased competition for financing. Many NGOs have also been faulted for poorly managing their finances because of limited strategic planning and financial management expertise. This drove NGOs to look to government for funding; which fundamentally altered the relationships between the two. The end result was a complete change in the operational culture of NGOs, which diminished their social impact and made them even more fragile. Increased government control through contract clauses also reduced NGOs activism and autonomy.

However, others believe that NGOs and government need each other, especially in the provision of essential services like child welfare and protection. Speaking at the Civil Society Child Rights Convention in 2020, Assistant Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Setlhabelo Modukanele said government considers NGOs as critical partners in development.

“We recognize the role that NGOs play a critical role in the country’s development agenda,” said Modukanele.

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