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.
An international report complied in South Africa dubbed ‘Legal Gender Recognition in Botswana’ says that the transgender and gender non-conforming people in Botswana live a miserable life. The community experiences higher levels of discrimination, violence and ill health.
In this report, it has been indicated that this is because their gender identity, which does not conform to narrowly define societal norms, renders them more vulnerable. Gender identity is a social determinant of health, which means that it is a factor that influences people’s health via their social context, their communities and their experiences of social exclusion. The Ministry of Health and Wellness has recognized this, and transgender people are considered a vulnerable population under the Botswana Second National Strategic Framework for HIV and AIDS 2010-2017.
In a recent study that shed light on the lived experiences of transgender and gender non-conforming people in Botswana, transgender persons often experience discrimination because of their gender identity and expression. The study was conducted by the University of Cape Town, LEGABIBO, BONELA, as well as Rainbow Identity Association and approved by the Health Ministry as well as the University of Botswana.
Of the 77 transgender and gender non-conforming people who participated in the study, less than half were employed. Two thirds, which is approximately 67% said that they did not have sufficient funds to cover their everyday needs. Two in five had hidden health concerns from their healthcare provider because they were afraid to disclose their gender identity.
More than half said that because of their gender identity, they had been treated disrespectfully at a healthcare facility (55%), almost half (46%) said they had been insulted at a healthcare facility, and one quarter (25%) had been denied healthcare because of their gender identity.
At the same time, the ‘Are we doing right’ study suggests that transgender and non-conforming people might be at higher risks of experiencing violence and mental ill-health, compared to the general population. More than half had experienced verbal embarrassment because of their gender identity, 48% had experienced physical violence and more than one third (38%) had experienced sexual violence.
The study showed that mental health concerns were high among transgender and gender non-conforming people in Botswana. Half of the transgender and gender non-conforming study participants (53%) showed signs of depression. Between one in four and one in six showed signs of moderate or severe anxiety (22% among transgender women, 24% among transgender men and 17% among gender non-conforming people).
Further, the study revealed that many had attempted suicide: one in three transgender women (32%), more than one in three transgender men (35%) and three in five gender non-conforming people (61%).
International research, as well as research from Botswana, suggests that not being able to change one’s gender marker has a negative impact on access to healthcare and mental health and wellbeing. The study further showed that one in four transgender people in Botswana (25%) had been denied access to healthcare. This is, at least in part, linked to not being able to change one’s gender marker in the identity documents, and thus not having an identity document that matches one’s gender identity and gender expression.
In its Assessment of Legal and Regulatory Framework for HIV, AIDS and Tuberculosis, the Health Ministry noted that “transgender persons in Botswana are unable to access identity documents that reflect their gender identity, which is a barrier to health services, including in the context of HIV. In one documented case, a transwoman’s identity card did not reflect her gender identity- her identity card photo indicated she was ‘male’. When she presented her identity card at a health facility, a health worker called the police who took her into custody.”
The necessity of a correct national identity document goes beyond healthcare. The High Court of Botswana explains that “the national identity document plays a pivotal role in every Motswana’s daily life, as it links him or her with any service they require from various institutions. Most activities in the country require every Motswana to produce their identity document, for identification purposes of receiving services.”
According to the Legal Gender Recognition in Botswana report, this effectively means that transgender, whose gender identity and expression is likely to be different from the sex assigned to them at birth and from what is recorded on their identity document, cannot access services without risk of denial or discrimination, or accusations of fraud.
In this context, gays and lesbians advocacy group LEGABIBO has called on government through the Department of Civil and National Registration to urgently implement the High Court rulings on gender marker changes. As stated by the High Court in the ND vs Attorney General of Botswana judgement, identity cards (Omang) play an important role in the life of every Motswana. Refusal and or delay to issue a Motswana with an Omang is denying them to live a complete and full-filing life with dignity and violates their privacy and freedom of expression.
The judgement clarified that persons can change their gender marker as per the National Registrations Act, so changing the gender marker is legally possible. There is no need for a court order. It further said the person’s gender is self-identified, there is no need to consult medical doctors.
LEGABIBO also called on government to develop regulations that specify administrative procedure to change one’s gender marker, and observing self-determination process. Further, the group looks out for government to ensure members of the transgender community are engaged in the development of regulations.
“We call on this Department of Civil and National Registration to ensure that the gender marker change under the National Registration Act is aligned to the Births and Deaths Registry Act to avoid court order.
Meanwhile, a gay man in Lobatse, Moabi Mokenke was recently viciously killed after being sexually violated in the streets of Peleng, shockingly by his neighbourhood folks. The youthful lad, likely to be 29-years old, met his fate on his way home, from the wearisome Di a Bowa taverns situated in the much populated township of Peleng Central.
CEO of Khato Civils Mongezi Mnyani has come out of the silence and is going all way guns blazing against the company’s adversaries who he said are hell-bent on tarnishing his company’s image and “hard-earned good name”
Speaking to WeekendPost from South Africa, Mnyani said it is now time for him to speak out or act against his detractors. Khato Civils has done several projects across Africa. Khato Civils, a construction company and its affiliate engineering company, South Zambezi have executed a number of world class projects in South Africa, Malawi and now recently here in Botswana.
About ten (10) Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) parliamentary candidates who lost the 2019 general election and petitioned results this week met with UDC Vice President, Dumelang Saleshando to discuss the way forward concerning the quandary that is the legal fees put before them by Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) lawyers.
For a while now, UDC petitioners who are facing the wrath of quizzical sheriffs have demanded audience with UDC National Executive Committee (NEC) but in vain. However after the long wait for a tete-a-tete with the UDC, the petitioners met with Saleshando accompanied by other NEC members including Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang, Reverend Mpho Dibeela and Dennis Alexander.