He says Batswana are giving birth at an alarming rate
President Lt Gen Ian Khama has revealed that his government has noticed that high birthrate is straining the national budget. The President was speaking at an inhouse meeting with public servants in the Kweneng region.
Khama took swipe at ‘Botswana’s high birth rate, almost blaming it for the strained budget. Botswana has a birth rate of 21.34 births/1,000 population.
“Batswana are giving birth at an alarming rate and our budget can’t keep up with the high birthrate. High birthrate means more clinics and classrooms which means more teachers and nurses and that means money,” the President said.
Government scales down civil service The President also revealed that his government is also scaling down the public service hence retiring and resigning public servants will not be replaced. As a result any hope of the unemployed youth taking over from retiring civil servants have been dashed.
Botswana’s unemployement rate is estimated at around 17 percent, a figure that many say is incompatible with the Botswana’s economic status owing to its small population. The President, revealed in an inhouse meeting with Kweneng public servants that his government desperately wants to cut down the public service.
“We are already doing it and we will not be firing or retrenching anyone but we have instead opted not to replace voluntary exits like those resigning and retiring,” he said at Ntsweletau Primary School on Thursday.
Khama was responding to a question relating to ‘acute shortage of staff hence poor service delivery’ by the public servants. He pointed out: “You see I did not retrench you during the economic meltdown despite your irritable toyi-toying and frequent calls for regime change because I was mindful of your situations and lives,” he added.
Khama said the country’s budget is burdened hence the decision to trim down the public service, a move he ascribed to slow developments in the country. “We have a wage bill of 16/17 million Pula from a 54 billion budget. You are five percent of the population which is hundred and thirty thousand. So we have to balance this because if we irrationally hike your salaries other components will suffer,” he said.
Khama who has been blamed for making overiding statements and remarks in relation to salary negotiations treaded carefully on the matter. “You see we have made our proposal to the Public Service Bargaining Council and we are ready to effect it by the 1st of April. As you may be aware the PSBC is ongoing and as you know them they might refuse the offer but its up to them,” he said to the deafening silence of his audience.
Khama also had words of caution for teachers when he heared them say they have stopped participating in extra curriculum activities as adviced by their unions.
“Thats unkind.You did not suffer the injustices you are subjecting the innocent students in your younger school days but you will agree with me that the conditions that the then teachers worked under during those times were worse than yours today.You are making life difficult for us,” he said.
Khama against teachers’ overtime demands Khama revealed that he told his Vice President, Mokgweetsi Masisi who was tasked with turning the Ministry of Education and Skills Development woes around that the fifteen percent overtime allowance demanded by the teachers is too much and will not be realised. “We have about 26 000 teachers in Botswana and and you can imagine how much we will need if each is to get that overtime allowance, it will increase th wage bill,” he remarked.
Khama continued: “My position is simple, I told the authorities that we should leave the teachers to work for eight hours then hire other coaches who will be responsible for extra curriculum activities.”
He said that apart from from their demands, he feels that teachers are being overworked. “Imagine having to work after a normal school day, then be forced to go to the grounds, weekends and having to travel longer trips, its exhausting hence lets rest them.”
The President was however quick to add that he knows that his decision will rub some the wrong way. “I know that other teachers will not be happy at this because they want to increase income. Some even cook the books and this wories us because the overtime bill then goes up and that is an indirect salary increase that is not budgeted for,” he said.
His remark has rubbed Botswana Federation fo Public Service Union (BOFEPUSU) the wrong way as he predicted. In a brief interview, the Federation’s Secretrary General, Tobokani Rari said the decision does not pass the common sense test as it doesn’t solve anything but rather raises more questions than answers.
“If there is no money to pay the teachers overtime, where will government get the money to pay the said coaches? What we are saying is that let the teachers be remunerated as per the provisions of the Employment Act which stipulates that any work beyond the stipulated 8 hours a day should be compensated,” he said.
Rari added that the decision to engage outside coaches will haunt the government at a later stage as teachers have been trained to work with and nurture kids. He said children will eventually get abused by untrained coaches.
On downsizing of the public service, Rari said the already leaking public service is going down to the drain. “This raises questions of whether the government has been having people it doesn’t need. But at the end of it all, it is the public that will suffer poor service,” he said.
Despite being hailed and still regarded as a hero who saved many lives through his decision to crash the BF5 fighter Jet around the national stadium on the eve of the 2018 BDF day, the deceased Pilot, Major Clifford Manyuni’s actions were treated as a letdown within the army, especially by his master-Commander of the Air Arm, Major General Innocent Phatshwane.
Manyuni’s master says he was utterly disappointed with his Pilot’s failure to perform “simple basics.”
Manyuni was regarded as a hero through social media for his ‘colourful exploits’, but Phatshwane who recently retired as the Air Arm Commander, revealed to WeekendPost in an exclusive interview that while he appreciated Batswana’s outpouring of emotions and love towards his departed Pilot, he strongly felt let down by the Pilot “because there was nothing wrong with that Fighter Jet and Manyuni did not report any problem either.”
The deceased Pilot, Manyuni was known within the army to be an upwardly mobile aviator and in particular an air power proponent.
“I was hurt and very disappointed because nobody knows why he decided to crash a well-functioning aircraft,” stated Phatshwane – a veteran pilot with over 40 years of experience under the Air Arm unit.
Phatshwane went on to express shock at Manyuni’s flagrant disregard for the rules of the game, “they were in a formation if you recall well and the guiding principle in that set-up is that if you have any problem, you immediately report to the formation team leader and signal a break-away from the formation.
Manyuni disregarded all these basic rules, not even to report to anybody-team members or even the barracks,” revealed Phatshwane when engaged on the much-publicised 2018 incident that took the life of a Rakops-born Pilot of BDF Class 27 of 2003/2004.
Phatshwane quickly dismisses the suggestion that perhaps the Fighter Jet could have been faulty, “the reasons why I am saying I was disappointed is that the aircraft was also in good condition and well-functioning. It was in our best interest to know what could have caused the accident and we launched a wholesale post-accident investigation which revealed that everything in the structure was working perfectly well,” he stated.
Phatshwane continued: “we thoroughly assessed the condition of the engine of the aircraft as well as the safety measures-especially the ejection seat which is the Pilot’s best safety companion under any life-threatening situation. All were perfectly functional.”
In aircrafts, an ejection seat or ejector seat is a system designed to rescue the pilot or other crew of an aircraft in an emergency. The seat is propelled out of the aircraft by an explosive charge or rocket motor, carrying the pilot with it.”
Manyuni knew about all these safety measures and had checked their functionality prior to using the Aircraft as is routine practice, according to Phatshwane. Could Manyuni have been going through emotional distress of some sort? Phatshwane says while he may never really know about that, what he can say is that there are laid out procedures in aviation guiding instances of emotional instability which Manyuni also knew about.
“We don’t allow or condone emotionally or physically unfit Pilots to take charge of an aircraft. If a Pilot feels unfit, he reports and requests to be excused. We will subsequently shift the task to another Pilot. We do this because we know the risks of leaving an unfit pilot to fly an aircraft,” says Phatshwane.
Despite having happened a day before the BDF day, Phatshwane says the BDF day mishap did not really affect the BDF day preparations, although it emotionally distracted Manyuni’s flying formation squad a bit, having seen him break away from the formation to the stone-hearted ground. The team soldiered on and immediately reported back to base for advice and way forward, according to Phatshwane.
Sharing the details of the ordeal and his Pilots’ experiences, Phatshwane said: “they (pilots) were in distress, who wouldn’t? They were especially hurt by the deceased‘s lack of communication. I immediately called a chaplain to attend to their emotional needs.
He came and offered them counselling. But soldiers don’t cry, they immediately accepted that a warrior has been called, wiped off their tears and instantly reported back for duty. I am sure you saw them performing miracles the following day at the BDF day as arranged.”
Despite the matter having attracted wide publicity, the BDF kept the crash details a distance away from the public, a move that Phatshwane felt was not in the best interest of the army and public.
“The incident attracted overwhelming public attention. Not only that, there were some misconceptions attached to the incident and I thought it was upon the BDF to come out and address those for the benefit of the public and army’s reputation,” he said.
One disturbing narrative linked to the incident was that Manyuni heroically wrestled the ‘faulty’ aircraft away from the endangered public to die alone, a narrative which Phatshwane disputes as just people’s imaginations. “Like I said the Aircraft was functioning perfectly,” he responded.
A close family member has hinted that the traumatised Manyuni family, at the time of their son’s tragedy, strongly accused the BDF ‘of killing their son’. Phatshwane admits to this development, emphasising that “Manyuni’s mother was visibly and understandably in inconsolable pain when she uttered those words”.
Phatshwane was the one who had to travel to Rakops through the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS) aircraft to deliver the sad news to the family but says he found the family already in the know, through social media. At the time of his death, Manyuni was survived by both parents, two brothers, a sister, fiancée and one child. He was buried in Rakops in an emotionally-charged burial. Like his remains, the BDF fighter jets have been permanently rested.
A matter in which former President Lt Gen Ian Khama had brought before Broadhurst Police Station in Gaborone, requesting the State to charge Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) lead investigator, Jako Hubona and others with perjury has been committed to Headquarters because it involves “elders.”
Broadhurst Police Station Commander, Obusitswe Lokae, told this publication this week that the case in its nature is high profile so the matter has been allocated to his Officer Commanding No.3 District who then reported to the Divisional Commander who then sort to commit it to Police Headquarters.