ALL SMILES AFTER ALL: Negotiating parties at the Public Service Bargaining Council have agreed a 6 percent salary hike, among other perks for public servants at salary scale D1 and below. It was a happy ending for the union and government parties on Thursday. BOFEPUSU, the Federation for public unions welcomed the conclusion of the negotiations.
Public Service Bargaining Council (PSBC) has finally concluded the salary talks and agreed on an increase of 6% across board for mostly lower cadre employees who are on salary Grades D1 and below.
“The Council has resolved that a salary increase of 6% be awarded to all employees on salary grades D1 and below for the financial year 2015/16 effective 1st April 2015,” stated PSBC General Secretary Patlala Ulaula.
In relation to Conditions of service, the Bargaining Council resolved that employees on salary Grades D1 and below will be entitled to full pay for the duration of their studies (in service training) effective 1st April 2015.
A new allowance for Housing and Upkeep has been introduced and will also effect on 1st April 2015.
The applicable rates for the allowance include a P200 monthly fee for those on D1 to C3 scale. Those on C4 notch will get a monthly allowance of P250 and B1 scale to B5 will be awarded P280 while P330 will be reimbursed to those on A1 to A3.
However, with regard to Remote Area Service Allowance (RASA), it was decided that the employer party (government) should engage the trade union party further in dealing with the implementation challenges of the allowance. The Council also noted that, in matters of overtime allowance, management should ensure that overtime is effectively managed and that payment thereof is in compliance with the law that regulate overtime.
“This came after the council observed that trade union’s demand was in line with the existing policy as stipulated in section 12 (1) – (6) of the Public service Regulations of 2010,” states the resolution paper on the negotiations. The management was also advised that they should administer effectively the challenges relating to implementation of leave encashment.
Meanwhile the parties deferred other items pending further research and investigation by the parties and there was in agreement that they will be brought back to the Council at a time to be determined by them.
These included, “payment of entertainment allowance to all officers on salary Grade D1, enhancement of subsistence allowance, pension contribution for employees on salary grades A to A3 and lastly medical aid contribution for employees on salary grades B1 and below.”
Furthermore, it was noted that negotiations on the proposed salary adjustment for all public service employees for the subsequent years should be undertaken between the months of September and October each year in order to align the public service negotiations with the government budgeting cycle.
Kebonye Moepeng represented employer party and Ketlhalefile Motshegwa was standing on behalf of unions and the agreement was facilitated by Tsetsele Fantan. As an independent facilitator, Mrs Fantan was appointed to preside over the negotiation meetings and assist parties to reach an agreement on the current negotiations.
Other government employees not covered by the negotiations are said to be also affected by the increase except the housing and upkeep allowance.
According to the General Secretary of the Bargaining Council Patlala Ulaula, the negotiations were held in an environment of mutual respect and a spirit of ‘give and take’ which led to an amicable conclusion of 2014/16 negotiations. “The Council would like to take this opportunity to thank the public service employees for their patience during the negotiation process,” he said.
The trade union party submitted their proposal for negotiations on salary and conditions of service for the year 2015/16 on 25 November 2015 in accordance with the provisions of the rules of procedures for meetings and negotiations.
The employer party also submitted her counter proposal to the trade union’s submission for negotiations on salary and conditions of service for the said year as according to the rules.
The negotiations commenced on the 25th February 2015 following several postponements due to disagreements between negotiating parties.
However soon after the negotiations concluded on Thursday afternoon, April 2, 2015, the union leaders expressed delight at the positive attitude of government towards the civil service this time around.
The Secretary General of the Botswana Federation of Public Service Unions (BOFEPUSU), Tobokani Rari said that the positive attitude has bestowed the reputation of the national bargaining council contrary to what has been happening for the past years where the employer was rigid and uncooperative.
“We proposed 15% and they proposed 4% but we ended up at 6% an indication that the the bargaining was in good faith. Our view is that there is a greater achievement beyond salary increase and that is the restoration of a mature bargaining council,” Rari expressed his satisfaction.
He further said they are particularly happy at the structuring of the housing and upkeep allowances because by its introduction the employer has addressed what the union has been complaining about for years.
“This differential increment where the low-earning workers are getting something high than the high-earning workers have been addressed in this allowance and we hope and pray for more,” Rari further pointed out.
Here is how one Permanent Secretary encapsulates the clear tension between democracy and bureaucracy in Botswana: “President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s Government is behaving like a state surrounded with armed forces in order to capture it or force its surrender. The situation has turned so volatile, for tomorrow is not guaranteed for us top civil servants.
These are the painful results of a personalized civil service in our view as permanent secretaries”. Although his deduction of the situation may be summed as sour grapes because he is one of the ‘victims’ of the reshuffle, he is convinced this is a perfect description of the rationale behind frequent changes and transfers characterising the current civil service.
The result of it all, he said, is that “there is too much instability at managerial and strategic levels of the civil service leading to a noticeable directionless civil service.” He continued: “Changes and transfers are inevitable in the civil service, but to a permissible scale and frequency. Think of soccer team coach who changes and transfers his entire squad every month; you know the consequences?”
The Tsunami has hit hard at critical departments and Ministries leaving a strong wave of uncertainty, many demoralised and some jobless. In traditional approaches to public administration, democracy gives the goals; and bureaucracy delivers the technical efficiency required for implementation. But the recent moves in the civil service are indicative of conflicting imperatives – the notion of separation between politicians and administrators is becoming blurred by the day.
“Look at what happened to Prisons and BDF where second in command were overlooked for outsiders, and these are the people who had sacrificially served for donkey’s years hoping for a seat at the ladder’s end. The frequency of the changes, at times affecting the same Ministry or individual also demonstrates some level of ineptitude, clumsiness and lack of foresight from those in charge,” remarked the PS who added that their view is that the transfers are not related to anything but “settling scores, creating corruption opportunities and pushing out perceived dissident and former president, Ian Khama’s alleged loyalists and most of these transfers are said to be products of intelligence detection.”
Partly blaming Khama for the mess and his unwillingness to let go, the PS dismissed Masisi for falling to the trap and failing to outgrow the destructive tiff. “Khama is here to stay and the sooner Masisi comes to terms with the fact that he (Masisi) is the state President, the better. For a President to still be making these changes and transfers signals signs of a confused man who has not yet started rolling his roadmap, if at all it was ever there. I am saying this because any roadmap comes with key players and policies,” he concluded.
The Ministry of Health and Wellness seems to be the most hard-hit by the transfers, having experienced three Permanent Secretaries changes within a year and a half. Insiders say the changes have everything to do with the Ministry being the centre of COVID-19 tenders and economic opportunities. “The buck stops with the PS and no right-thinking PS can just allow glaring corruption under his watch as an accounting officer. Technocrats are generally law abiding, the pressure comes with politically appointed leaders racing against political terms to loot,” revealed a director in the Ministry preferring anonymity.
The latest transfer of Kabelo Ebineng she says was also motivated by his firm attitude against the President’s blue-eyed Task Team boys. “The Task Team wants to own the COVID-19 pandemic and government interventions and always cry foul when the Ministry reasserts itself as mandated by law,” said the director who added that Masisi who was always caught between the crossfire decided on sacrificing Ebineng to the joy of his team as they (Task Team) were in the habit of threatening to resign citing Ebineng as the problem.
Ebineng joins the Office of the President as a deputy Coordinator (government implementation and coordination office).The incoming PS is the soft-spoken Grace Muzila, known and described by her close associates as a conformist albeit knowledgeable.
One of the losers in the grand scheme is Thato Raphaka who many had seen as the next PSP because of his experience and calm demeanour following a declaration of interest in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Secretary post by the current PSP, Elias Magosi.
But hardly ten months into his post, Raphaka has been transferred out to the National Strategy Office in what many see as a demotion of some sort. Other notable changes coming into OP are Pearl Ramokoka formerly with the Employment, Labour and Productivity Ministry coming in as a Permanent Secretary and Kgomotso Abi as director of Public Service Reforms.
One of the ousted senior officers in the Office of the President warned that there are no signs that the changes and transfers will stop anytime soon: “If you are observant you would have long noticed that the changes don’t only affect senior officers but government decisions as well. A decision is made today and the government backtracks on it within a week. Not only that, the President says this today, and his deputy denies it the following day in Parliament,” he warned.
Some observers have blamed the turmoil in the civil service partly to lack of accountable presidential advisers or kitchen cabinet properly schooled on matters of statecraft. They point out that politicians or those peripheral to them should refrain from hampering the technical and organizational activities of public managers – or else the party (reshuffling) won’t stop.
In the view expressed by some Permanent Secretaries, Elias Magosi, has not really been himself since joining the civil service; and has cut a picture of indifference in most critical engagements; the most notable been a permanent secretaries platform which he chairs. As things stand there is need to reconcile the imperatives of democracy and democracy in Botswana. Peace will rein only when public value should stand astride the fault that runs between politicians and public managers.
Former Permanent Secretary to the President, Carter Morupisi, is fighting for survival in a matter in which the State has charged him and his wife, Pinnie Morupisi, with corruption and money laundering.
Morupisi has joined a list of prominent figures that served in the previous administration and who have been accused of corruption during their tenure in office. While others have been emerging victorious, Morupisi is yet to find that luck. The High Court recently dismissed his no case to answer application.
United States President, Joe Biden, is faced with a decision to make relating to the Covid-19 vaccine intellectual property after 175 former world leaders and Nobel laurates joined the campaign urging the US to take “urgent action” to suspend intellectual property rights for Covid-19 vaccines to help boost global inoculation rates.
According to the world leaders, doing so would allow developing countries to make their own copies of the vaccines that have been developed by pharmaceutical companies without fear of being sued for intellectual property infringements.
“A WTO waiver is a vital and necessary step to bringing an end to this pandemic. It must be combined with ensuring vaccine know-how and technology is shared openly,” the signatories, comprising more than 100 Nobel prize-winners and over 70 former world leaders, wrote in a letter to US President Joe Biden, according to Financial Times.
A measure to allow countries to temporarily override patent rights for Covid related medical products was proposed at the World Trade Organization by India and South Africa in October, and has since been backed by nearly 60 countries.
Former leaders who signed the letter included Gordon Brown, former UK Prime Minister; François Hollande, former French President; Mikhail Gorbachev, former President of the USSR; and Yves Leterme, former Belgian Prime Minister.
In their official communication, South Africa and India said: “As new diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines for Covid-19 are developed, there are significant concerns [about] how these will be made available promptly, in sufficient quantities and at affordable prices to meet global demand.”
While developed countries have been able to secure enough vaccine to inoculate their citizens, developing countries such as Botswana are struggling to source enough to swiftly vaccine their citizens, something which world leaders believe it would work against global recovery therefore proving counter-productive.
Since the availability of vaccines, Botswana has been able to secure only 60 000 doses of vaccines, 30 000 as donation as from the Indian government, while the other 30 000 was sourced through COVAX facility. Canada, has pre-ordered vaccines in surplus and it will be able to vaccinate each of its citizens six times over. In the UK and US, it is four vaccines per person; and two each in the EU and Australia.
For vaccines produced in Europe, developing countries are forced to pay double what European countries are paying, making it more expensive for already financially struggling economies. European countries however justify the price of vaccines and that they deserve to buy them cheap since they contributed in their development.
It is evident that vaccines cannot be made available immediately to all countries worldwide with wealthy economies being the only success story in that regard, something that has been referred to as a “catastrophic moral failure”, head of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
The challenge facing developing countries is not only the price, but also the capacity of vaccine manufactures to be able to do so to meet global demand within a short time. The proposal for a patent waiver by India and South Africa has been rejected by developed countries, known for hosting the world leading pharmaceutical companies such US, European Union, the United Kingdom, and Switzerland.
According to the Financial Times, US business groups including pharmaceutical industry representatives, have urged Biden to resist supporting a waiver to IP rules at the WTO, arguing that the proposal led by India and South Africa was too “vague” and “broad”.
The individuals who signed the letter, including Nobel laureates in economics as well as from across the arts and sciences, warned that inequitable vaccine access would impact the global economy and prevent it from recovering.
“The world saw unprecedented development of safe and effective vaccines, in major part thanks to US public investment,” the group wrote. “We all welcome that vaccination rollout in the US and many wealthier countries is bringing hope to their citizens.”
“Yet for the majority of the world that same hope is yet to be seen. New waves of suffering are now rising across the globe. Our global economy cannot rebuild if it remains vulnerable to this virus.” The group warned that fully enforcing IP was “self-defeating for the US” as it hindered global vaccination efforts. “Given artificial global supply shortages, the US economy already risks losing $1.3tn in gross domestic product this year.”