Botswana Teachers Union (BTU) has expressed optimism that the new Minister of Education and Skills Development, Dr Unity Dow will take the troublesome ministry to new heights despite the fact that her predecessors endured a niggling tenure with the unions.
BTU Secretary General, Ibo Kenosi revealed that, the teacher unions had a meeting with Dow where they outlined the concerns facing the teaching sector and she seemed engrossed in resolving some of the issues.
“The minister is positive about the issues that we relayed to her and has proposed for a meeting in the near future to discuss matters affecting the teaching fraternity in detail. We are hopeful she will be able to resolve these issues- she is an intelligent person- at least based on her professional background and her achievements,” he said.
Kenosi also stated that they had not been able to meet Dow’s predecessor Masisi during his tenure. Masisi had a short spell as the minister; his better time at the ministry was spent in acting capacity.
Dow was appointed a full cabinet minister by President Ian Khama in the cabinet re-shuffling which saw Member of Parliament for Moshupa-Manyana Mokgweetsi Masisi fully assuming the duties of vice presidency. Masisi was appointed Acting Minister of Education and Skills Development last in year in an unsual re-shuffle that saw the then Minister of Education Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi be given a special assignment outside cabinet with the expectation that she will return back to the ministry to execute her duties.
However, following the 2014 general elections, Venson-Moitoi was moved to Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Affairs.
The post Jacob Nkate era could be defined as the most difficult time in education as the union representing teachers and government were always at odds. By the time Venson-Moitoi bowed out of the ministry the relationship had not yet been restored.
The unveiling of events started in 2010, ahead of the Junior Certificate (JC) examination in which teachers refused to invigilate the examinations after they failed to reach an agreement over the payment. Parliament initiated a commission of inquiry after the results were released, with some doubting the credibility of the examination.
The committee chaired by former Permanent Secretary, Keetla Masogo, was tasked to investigate the examination scandal. Its mission was to establish the events leading to the conduct of the 2010 examinations, determine the extent to which the different stakeholders contributed towards the impasse, establish the appropriateness of their actions and recommend a sustainable solution to avoid a repeat of the debacle.
During the 2010 examination scandal, teachers refused to submit the coursework marks for students, resulting with marking which left out part of the critical final examination component, this further lent credence to those who doubted the credibility of the examinations.
While reeling from ignominy the of the examination scandal, the education sector had to endure an even more painful experience when teachers joined other civil servants to go on the 2011 Industrial Strike which was led by Botswana Federation of Public Sectors Union (BOFEPUSU) an umbrella union to all unions representing government employees. The strike which lasted three months saw students spending significant time not attending classes, hitting negatively on the 2011-2012 students result both for JC and BGCSE.
However, BTU is of the view that, although Venson-Moitoi presided over matters that led to crises during her tutelage she had her own achievements and proved that she had teachers’ interest at heart though she was not able to do enough. Kenosi said Venson-Moitoi was the first minister to heed to level of operation calls from the unions which called for same salary for similar qualification in the education sector.
Some of the problems which BTU leadership is expected to discuss with Minister Dow are shortage of accommodation for teachers, class sizes, resources in schools, hours of work in the teaching service, levels of operation implementation challenges, water crisis and status of sectoral engagements among other things. Kenosi revealed that 3100 qualified teachers are currently unemployed, yet the schools are staffed with unqualified temporary teachers.
BTU Publicity Secretary Tidimalo Maeletso warned that if negotiation with government regarding education sector fails, they would resort to other means including striking. Maeletso said failure to reach an agreement would lead to a situation similar to that of 2010, in which teachers refused to submit course work marks for final examination.
Botswana Police Service (BPS) has indicated concern about the ongoing trend where the general public falls victim to criminals purporting to be police officers.
According to BPS Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, the criminals target individuals at shopping malls and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) where upon approaching the unsuspecting individual the criminals would pretend to have picked a substantial amount of money and they would make a proposal to the victims that the money is counted and shared in an isolated place.
“On the way, as they stop at the isolated place, they would start to count and sharing of the money, a criminal syndicate claiming to be Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officer investigating a case of stolen money will approach them,” said Motube in a statement.
The Commissioner indicated that the fake police officers would instruct the victims to hand over all the cash they have in their possession, including bank cards and Personal Identification Number (PIN), the perpetrators would then proceed to withdraw money from the victim’s bank account.
Motube also revealed that they are also investigating a case in which a 69 year old Motswana woman from Molepolole- who is a victim of the scam- lost over P62 000 last week Friday to the said perpetrators.
“The Criminal syndicate introduced themselves as CID officers investigating a case of robbery where a man accompanying the woman was the suspect.’’
They subsequently went to the woman’s place and took cash amounting to over P12 000 and further swindled amount of P50 000 from the woman’s bank account under the pretext of the further investigations.
In addition, Motube said they are currently investigating the matter and therefore warned the public to be vigilant of such characters and further reminds the public that no police officer would ask for bank cards and PINs during the investigations.
Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leadership walked out of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting this week on account of being targeted by other cooperating partners.
UDC meet for the first time since 2020 after previous futile attempts, but the meeting turned into a circus after other members of the executive pushed for BCP to explain its role in media statements that disparate either UDC and/or contracting parties.
The Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crimes (DCEC), Tymon Katlholo’s spirited fight against the contentious transfers of his management team has forced the Office of the President to rescind the controversial decision. However, some insiders suggest that the reversal of the transfers may have left some interested parties with bruised egos and nursing red wounds.
The transfers were seen by observers as a badly calculated move to emasculate the DCEC which is seen as defiant against certain objectionable objectives by certain law enforcement agencies – who are proven decisionists with very little regard for the law and principle.