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Gov’t defies Parliament on BNYC

BNYC Executive Director Benjamin Raletsatsi

Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture has not reinstated the former Botswana National Youth Council (BNYC) employees who were fired, despite parliament passing a motion which called for their immediate reinstatement pending investigations.


Recently, parliament passed a motion in which Francistown West Member of Parliament Ignatius Moswaane had requested that government suspend termination of contracts of some BNYC employees until investigations were completed. Following the controversial ongoing restructuring process, BNYC Executive Director Benjamin Raletsatsi wrote to 33 employees informing them that their contracts would not be renewed.


However, this publication has learnt that, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, Ntabeni Malikongwa had instructed Raletsatsi not to renew the contracts ending in February 2015 with the exception of some identified officers at BNYC Headquarters. This has raised tension within the BNYC with suggestion that Raletsatsi was being used by the PS.


According to the BNYC governance structure the Executive Secretary reports to the organizations’ Executive Committee which is elected every two years. The Executive Committee is currently headed by Benedice Louis Sibanda, who is the Chairperson.


The reinstatement of the employees was to take place after the motion was agreed by Parliament that government should re-employ them with immediate effect pending the investigation into the affairs of the organization. Opposition MPs had wanted parliament to set up a Special Select Committee to investigate the alleged corruption and maladministration instead of government itself conducting the investigation.


There are also new fears that with government being tasked with the investigation, the end result would prove to be futile.


Government had in the past been accused of not acting on motions agreed by parliament to investigate maladministration or alleged corruption within government organs. It is believed that Minister Thapelo Olopeng is behind the letter signed by Malikongwa on the 26th of January this year instructing the BNYC not to renew the contracts of the 33 employees as part of the restructuring.


Olopeng was however one of the MPs who supported the motion tabled by Moswaane. According to the presentation of alleged maladministration at BNYC by Moswaane, a number of events happened during the time when Shaw Kgathi was still the minister of Youth, Sports and Culture. Kgathi has since been moved to Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security following the 2014 general elections.


Disgruntled employees whose contracts were not renewed have threatened to drag the organisation to court if they are not reinstated within a reasonable time as per the endorsement by parliament. Although the motion to investigate corruption, and maladministration at BNYC was endorsed two weeks ago, key people who are implicated in the management of the organisation remain at the helm of their posts.


The Executive Director’s businesses have also been implicated in misuse of the organisation’s money. Evidence linking the above inference is verified by an event in which an invoice was sent to BNYC for payment of providing training, upon making a follow-up on the payment enquired, the person who had answered the phone was an employee at a Samsung Shop at the Rail Park Mall, owned by BNYC Executive Director, parliament heard few weeks ago.


According to information reaching this publication, scores of former BNYC employees who had their contracts terminated are currently servicing their loans which they acquired through the assistance of their employer. It is understood that BNYC facilitated the loans of its employees with BSB and Barclays a few years ago, with the belief that their contracts were performance based and they were almost guaranteed renewal since the employer never raised any discontent with their performance.


“We are of the view that the employer breached the contract, the termination was not based on performance. Performance issues were never raised before,” said a former employee whose name is withheld to protect their identity.


Contacted for comment, chairperson of the BNYC executive committee, Louis Sibanda could not comment on the issues surrounding termination of the contracts of 33 employees at BNYC on the basis that he was never part of the decision. “As the chairperson, I do not deal with the administration issues. The restructuring process was an instruction from the Ministry and they are the best people suited to have a say on the status of the employees whose contracts were terminated,” he said.

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