Close to 50 lower cadre employees of the Statistics Botswana will lose their jobs, as the organisation is headed for broke. The now financially crippled SB is under the microscope as Parliament recently resolved that a special committee be set up to investigate allegations of maladministration and corruption at the institution.
Most of those who are being retrenched are lower cadre employees earning P3500 or less. The Statistics Botswana has been receiving negative reviews because of its alleged mishandling of funds and nepotism.
The drivers and cleaners are seen as an easy group to part with because financially they will not weigh heavily against the organisation in terms of packages as compared to senior employees who earn between P30 000 and P60 000 per month. Weekend Post has gathered that the lower cadres were informed of the retrenchment exercise this week and they were told that they will be taken through counselling. Government is generally working on a turnaround strategy aimed at outsourcing services such as cleaning and gardening among others.
Documents passed to this publication indicate that the employees who include messengers, drivers, handypersons, cleaners and switchboard operators are in the list of retrench staff and are serving their last month with the organisation. Ironically the institution has engaged temporary drivers to assist bridge the gap left by the fired workers, stocking speculation that they may be too broke to pay the benefits of the full time employees. It also shows that despite retrenching, there is a scarcity of the drivers as well as the cleaners.
In addition, the organisation is said to be entangled in possible privatisation of cleaning services – following the dismissal of the cleaners. Services such as cleaning have been viewed as non-essential and therefore always face the wrath of the hammer when organisations get financially drained as with Statistics Botswana.
Statistics Botswana is a parastatal organisation established under the Statistics Act by separating Central Statistics Office from the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning. The role of Statistics Botswana is multi– faceted and, as the pre – eminent agency it is responsible for the development and management of official statistics.
Its duties include and not limited to; the collection, processing, analysis, publishing and disseminating of official statistics in areas such as, commercial and industrial activities, agricultural social, economic, environmental, energy, communications and household conditions. It also advises government and other agencies on policies and procedures relating to statistics.
Sources close to the parastatal told this publication that due to looming privatisation of cleaning services; already associates of some management staff have lined themselves up for snatching the tenders fuelling previous concerns and accusation of nepotism at the organisation.
Statistician General Annah Majelantle was said to be out of office at the time WeekendPost made inquiries on the matter. Senior Stakeholder Relations Officer Themba Sibanda stated that, “It is not a retrenchment but rather the contracts of the employees have expired and therefore would not be renewed.”
He however chose to withhold the number of people facing the looming job losses at the institution.
Nevertheless, Statistician General Annah Majelantle earns a total of P61, 554.81 including entertainment allowances at P1,182.09, housing at P11,820.90, transport at P5,910.45 and communication at P1,071.20. In contrast a cleaner earns around P3, 520.58 at SB and this translates to the fact that the Statistician General wage could settle salaries of close to 15 cleaners/handypersons. The situation is not helped by reports that she fancies going to school to further her studies despite the organisation she heads going through financial constraints.
The employees who face the chop will end of this month join the unemployment statistics. Despite its middle-income status, Botswana continues to grapple with significant social challenges including unequal distribution of wealth, high levels of poverty, and unemployment.
The unemployment rate in Botswana increased to 20 percent in 2013 from 17.80 percent in 2010. It also averaged 18.42 percent from 1991 until 2013, reaching an all time high of 23.80 percent in 2006 and a record low of 13.90 percent in 1991. Currently, unemployment rate in Botswana sits at 17.8% and with the recent development, Statistics Botswana employees will become part of the statistics.
During the budget speech this year, Minister of Finance and Development Planning Kenneth Mathambo emphasized that government’s priorities going forward, with their slogan “moving Botswana forward” – will be among others creation of employment for the citizens and eradication of poverty. It remains to be seen whether the government’s effort will bear fruits.
The outgoing President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ian Kirby, shares his thoughts with us as he leaves the Bench at the end of this year.
WeekendPost: Why did you move between the Attorney General and the Bench?
Ian Kirby: I was a member of the Attorney General’s Chambers three times- first in 1969 as Assistant State Counsel, then in 1990 as Deputy Attorney General (Civil), and finally in 2004 as Attorney General. I was invited in 2000 by the late Chief Justice Julian Nganunu to join the Bench. I was persuaded by former President Festus Mogae to be his Attorney General in 2004 as, he said, it was my duty to do so to serve the nation. I returned to the Judiciary as soon as I could – in May 2006, when there was a vacancy on the High Court Bench.
Botswana’s civil society is one of the non-state actors that could save the country’s democracy from sliding into regression, a Germany based think tank has revealed. This is according to a discussion paper by researchers at the German Development Institute who analysed the effects of e-government usage on political attitudes In Botswana.
In the paper titled “E-government and democracy in Botswana: Observational and experimental evidence on the effects of e-government usage on political attitudes,” the researchers offer a strongly worded commentary on Botswana’s ‘flawed democracy.’ The authors noted that with Botswana’s Parliament structurally – and in practice – feeble, the potential for checks and balances on executive power rests with the judiciary.
Bangwato in Serowe — where Bamagwato Paramount Chief and former President Lt. Gen Ian Khama originates – disagree on whether they must send a delegation to dialogue with President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s family in Moshupa. Just last week, a meeting was called by the Regent of Bamagwato, Kgosi Sediegeng Kgamane, at Serowe Kgotla to, among others, update the tribe on the whereabouts of their Kgosi (Khama).
Further, his state of health was also discussed, with Kgamane telling the attendees that all is well with Khama. The main reason for the meeting was to deliberate on the escalating tension between Khama and Masisi — a three-year bloodletting going unabated.