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BURS strike: New threats emerge

The standoff between Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) and Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU), which has led to the ongoing strike, has exposed the country to new threats as there are growing fears that drugs could be trafficked and ivory smuggled into the country, WeekendPost has learnt.

Although BURS officials have created an impression that the tax collecting agency has been able to cushion the undesirable consequences resulting from the strike, the reality is that the custom points country wide are non-functional and the country could be at risk of attracting undesirable elements in and out of the country.

This week, the busiest borders were non-functional with only few staff manning them. Of the 32 BURS employees based at the Ramatlabama border, only 3 were on duty, with the other 29 employees on strike. This meant that vehicles and mostly trucks passing through the border went through without having to pay customs as should be.

“It is obvious that with the current situation, everything can happen,” said a reliable source close to the developments. “It is not only about losing millions but the border has been exposed to bad business transactions including diamond smuggling.”     

BOPEU had intentionally targeted certain entry points where the volume of customs passing through them are voluminous and would hit the employer where it hurts most. Currently, the points which have the busiest customs transactions and employ a significant number of employees include Ramatlabama border, Tlokweng border, Ramokgwebana border, Gaborone head office and Airport unit among others.

BOPEU President Andrew Motsamai revealed in a press briefing that they have received reports from Zimbabwean border over the Ramokgwebana gate. Although he said they faced challenges initially in mobilising their members to go on strike, they have managed to lobby all employees engaged on the commercial side of the BURS to go on strike.

Ramokgwebana is earmarked as a strategic point of target, and reports from Zimbabwe indicate that there are frustrations and delays on the Botswana side, much to the pleasure of BOPEU.

Motsamai also told the media briefing that the employer continues to use all sorts of intimidation to scare the striking workforce.

BURS Commissioner General Ken Morris has written a letter to BOPEU accusing the union of violating the strike rules. Morris said members of BOPEU on strike are embarking on unlawful picketing at the BURS Head Office.

The BURS chief also said the conduct of BOPRU members is clearly aimed at intimidating those employees of BURS who are not on strike. BURS threatened to haul BOPEU to the courts if its members continue with the unlawful strike. “We advise that, should you and your members persist with the said conduct, we reserve our right to approach court for appropriate relief including an order declaring the strike unlawful,” reads the letter.  

BOPEU have since responded to the letter denying all accusations levelled against its members. In fact, BOPEU responded accusing BURS of trying to intimidate its employees who are on strike and instructing them to resume their duties. “Your office has deployed managers and Security and Law enforcement agencies with a view to intimidate our members who are on strike,” said Topius Marenga, BOPEU Secretary General.

Marenga has dared BURS to go court and stated that the submissions made by BURS are an effort to intimidate and threaten the union, further requesting that the revenue agency stop the intimidation. “If you cannot accede to our request, then we are more than ready to meet you in court,” he responded.

BOPEU had initially planned to go on strike two days per week but have since revised that to a full week strike for the first 14 days and thereafter indefinitely, subsequent to consultation with employees who are on strike.

BOPEU has also written to other unions, notably BOFEPUSU affiliates and Botswana Federation of Trade Unions (BFTU) seeking solidarity in the ongoing strike.

Motsamai revealed that the union also plans to use them during weekends to mount pressure on the employer. “We would urge them to specifically attend rallies at all ports of entry again with emphasis on the boarders prior to picketing days,” he said.

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6th February 2023

After falling to close the gap on Arsenal by losing to a record breaking goal by Kane at the Tottenham stadium.Manchester City now find themselves being charged by the Premier League with more than 100 breaches of its financial rules following a four-year investigation.

According to BBC , it has referred the club to an independent commission over alleged rule breaches between 2009 and 2018 , and also that Man-city has not been co-operating since the investigation which started in 2018 .

BBC further states that The commission can impose punishment including a fine , points deduction and expelling the club from the Premier league.

The alleged breaches include ,  breaching rules for requiring full details of manager remuneration,from 2009-2010, to 2012-2013 seasons when Roberto Mancini was in charge . Also player remuneration between 2010-2011 and 2015-2016.

The Premier league stated that City breached rules related to UEFA regulations , including Financial Fair Play , from 2013-2014 to 2017-2018 ,as well as Premier League rules on profitability and sustainability from 2014-2016 to 2017-2018

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South Korean Embassy aids students living with disabilities

6th February 2023

South Korean Ambassador in South Africa has donated e-learning equipment through Botswana Red Cross Society (BRCS) to Tlamelong Rehabilitation Centre in Tlokweng recently, in a bid to fine tune the student’s textile skills.  

When talking at the handing over ceremony, Chull-Joo Park, said they agreed with BRCS to give out e-learning equipment to better the training skills of students living with disabilities.

“With the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) equipment and job training skills, we will be able to help the students living with disabilities to do e-learning and to better their education and job training,” said Chull-Joo Park.

It was revealed that the South Korean Embassy approached BRCS with the intent to donate equipment and educational material that includes an embroidery machine, photo copier machine, tablets and interactive boards to be utilized by the trainees.

The industrial printer is a machine that works with embroidery machine to print designs for clothing and it will enable the learners to have more material available to them to facilitate learning.

Through this embroidery machine, students will be exposed to better technologies which ultimately improve the quality of materials they produce. It will also allow students to learn business skills and run profitable ventures.

Smart board gadgets will provide the students with an elevated learning process to be fostered by e-learning. The gadgets provide a more visual element to the learning process, which in turn improves learner mental retention.

Tlamelong Rehabilitation serves the marginalized and underserved less privileged persons living with disability in Botswana. The center offers boarding services, vocational training, social services, physiotherapy and rehabilitation services for young people living disabilities aged 18-35 from across the country over a period of two (2) years per cohort which has a maximum intake capacity of 35. BRCS through International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) have managed to create great working synergy with the South Korean Embassy in Pretoria based in South Africa to support or augment the National Society’s Rehabilitation Centre’s learning challenges.

For his part, BRSC Secretary General Kutlwano Mokokomani said they are delighted to convey their gratitude as BRSC to the South Korean Embassy for donation and they look forward to an enduring partnership for such worthy causes.

“South Korean Embassy’s great gesture will enable trainees to thrive, to fulfil their dreams to become a reality as this equipments will go a long way in creating great impact in the lives of trainees and their families. We wish to convey our sincere gratitude to the South Korean Embassy for their noble gesture of donating the E-learning equipments.”

BRCS offers rehabilitation services spread across three (3) areas in Botswana being Sefhare Stimulation center in Sefhare, Tshimologo stimulation center in Francistown and Tlamelong rehabilitation center in Tlokweng.

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DIS alleges plot to kill Masisi hatched in South Africa

6th February 2023

A dispute is brewing between Botswana and South Africa intelligence agencies over alleged mercenary training camps discovered in South Africa by the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS). 

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