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BOFEPUSU challenges Presidential powers

BOFEPUSU Secretary General, Tobokani Rari

The President’s power to determine conditions of service and salary adjustment for the public service would be reaffirmed by the Court of Appeal in Gaborone later this Month or early February as the Botswana Federation of Public Service Unions (BOFEPUSU) seeks clarity of labour laws.


The federation has hired an advocate attorney from the neighbouring South Africa to help them settle the matter.


 “There seems to be confusions as to whether there are two centres of power with respect to issues of adjusting conditions of public service, whether the President has the power on the other hand and the National Bargaining Council given the same powers on the other. It is an issue of law which we want the court to clarify,” confirmed BOFEPUSU Secretary General, Tobokani Rari.


The confusion on the Presidential powers came about after President Ian Khama Seretse Khama and later the Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) made pronouncement to the effect that there was going to be a salary increment ahead of last year’s general elections. Although many public service employees welcomed the four percent salary adjustment, BOFEPUSU was not happy because at the time of the announcement the national Bargaining Council was on and the negotiations were not yet finalised.


According to Rari, the case is of great importance to the public service because it would be testing labour laws that have not been tested before.


“If the court finds out that indeed there are two centres of power, then we have to reaffirm our participation in the bargaining council and that would mean a lot in the bargaining process in this country.  So we believe it is a big case,” Rari added.
The union has already submitted its proposal for salary and condition of service adjustment to the bargaining council ahead of national budget expected next Month.


Another case that will be heard before the appeal’s court on the same date is that of the government withdrawal of the secondment of Secretary Generals of BOFEPUSU member unions from their respective union offices. The Secretary Generals involved include that of the Botswana Sector of Educator’s Union (BOSETU), Botswana Teacher’s Union (BTU) and Botswana Landboards, Local Authorities and Health Workers union (BLLAHWU) who according to DPSM had to be withdrawn from their current offices as they had allegedly violated public service rules and uttered political statements.


 The government appealed the matter after the High court ruled in favour of the union last year.


Since the two months historical public service strike of 2011, which caused close to 300 permanent job losses of some of the strikers, BOFEPUSU has been resolving their differences with their employer, DPSM, through the courts instead.


Rari has admitted in this week’s interview that the courts have been more effective as they had reshaped the country’s labour laws and that the union’s management wrongly handled its political involvement in last year’s general elections.


“Civil servants are a homogenous group, bound by a common interest. They acted together in unison when they went on strike and when they voted in the last general elections. It was a lesson that you cannot antagonise employees,” Rari further contended.

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MoESD Steps in for Learners with Acute and Multiple Disabilities

29th February 2024

In an era where the advocacy for the rights and inclusion of marginal groups, especially individuals beset with profound and multiple impairments, grows more fervent, the Ministry of Education and Skills Development is actively devising schemes to integrate these individuals comprehensively.

Embarking on a pioneering venture, heralded by the Minister Douglas Letsholathebe, the establishment of a novel facility designated for individuals faced with disabilities is on the horizon, set to inaugurate in Maun by mid-2024.

This forthcoming entity, bestowed with the title “Maun Center for Learners with Severe and Multiple Disabilities,” is set to emerge as a sanctuary for those grappling with intense and diverse disabilities in the expanse of the Ngamiland District. Its mission extends beyond serving as a haven; it aims to elevate educational standards and secure outstanding scholastic achievements for this special cohort.

With palpable optimism, Dr. Letsholathebe heralds that this sanctuary, a collective effort of the ministry’s allies, is constructed and awaits its ceremonial launch in the June of 2024, marking a significant epoch in the winter season.

“Construction of the Maun Center for Learners with Severe and Multiple Disabilities has concluded, now in the stewardship of my Ministry. We are poised for its operational unveiling come June 2024,” Dr. Letsholathebe revealed, signaling a new chapter of assurance.

The Government of the Republic of Botswana is steadfast in elevating the status of individuals with disabilities, fostering an environment where their rights are fervently protected and upheld.

Echoing this commitment, the recent adoption of the Persons Living with Disabilities Act marks a historic stride. Its foremost objective is the establishment of the National Disability Coordinating Office alongside the National Disability Council, aligning with the mandates of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). This movement is expected to significantly influence the integration of disability-centric issues.

Moreover, this legislative framework is set to fortify ongoing initiatives, increasing the economic participation of disabled individuals, thereby enhancing their living conditions and steering them towards securing a life marked by dignity and fulfillment.

 

 

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Unemployment hits People living with disability hard

29th February 2024

In light of historical evidence, individuals bearing disabilities have consistently encountered significant obstacles in securing employment, often finding themselves at the margins of the workforce. Constraints to equitable employment opportunities compared to their non-disabled counterparts were a common plight.

A substantial portion of employers harbor reservations about integrating people with disabilities into their workplaces, fearing potential complications. Only a select few are open to the idea of employing individuals with disabilities. Consequently, these individuals face heightened unemployment rates and a lack of social support, exacerbating their vulnerability to economic hardship. The International Labour Organisation (ILO), along with the nation of Botswana, champions the cause of workplace inclusion for people with disabilities.

Statistics from Botswana’s multi-topic survey for the fourth quarter of 2021 underscore the situation. The labor force comprising individuals with disabilities saw an uptick to 11,553 from 8,649 in just a year. Among these, 4,313 were males and 7,240 were females. The unemployed tally stood at 2,195, against 9,358 who were employed. A notable majority resided in Urban Villages, with the remainder spread across rural locales and cities.

During this quarter, individuals with disabilities accounted for approximately 1.3 percent (9,358 persons) of the overall 717,418 employed populace, marking a significant increase from the previous year. The distribution of employed persons with disabilities across various areas also saw changes, with urban regions employing a majority, followed by rural areas and cities.

The report further delves into the occupational landscape for people with disabilities, noting a predominant employment in service/sales roles over elementary positions – a contrast to the broader employment data.

Despite a reduction in unemployment figures for individuals with disabilities from the preceding year, the unemployment rate stands at a worrying 19.0 percent, with disparities between genders. Urban areas house the majority of the unemployed, with rural areas and cities following suit.

Unemployment across different age groups reveals a balanced distribution, highlighting a widespread issue across the demographic spectrum. This paints a vivid picture of the ongoing challenges and gradual progress within the sphere of employment for people with disabilities.

Majority of employers are still hesitant to employ people with disabilities because they believe they may bring problems in the workplace. Only a few employers are willing to hire workers with disabilities. This as a result makes people living with disability to be affected by high unemployment and insufficient social protection which then further increases their risk of poverty. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) is advocating for the inclusion of people with disability in the world of work and Botswana as a country too is advocating for their inclusion in the workplaces.

According to statistics Botswana, multi-topic survey quarter 4, 2021 labour force module report, the total labour force for people with disability was estimated at 11,553 persons, an increase of 2,904 persons over a period of twelve months (from 8,649 persons recorded in Q4 2020). From this total, 4,313 persons were males while 7,240 were females. In addition, 2,195 persons were unemployed whereas 9,358 persons were employed. Furthermore, the data showed the majority of labour force with disability were in Urban Villages (6,185), 3,708 were in rural areas and 1,661 in Cities & Towns.

 

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28th February 2024

The essence of community and local flair reigns supreme as St Louis Lager takes a bold step with its ambitious “Hype the Homegrown” Initiative, designed to bolster the visibility and support for local artists and home-based brands, weaving them into the fabric of mainstream success through revolutionary partnerships.

The launchpad for this endeavor has been set with a plethora of creative projects. Among them, a musical odyssey titled “The Journey,” featuring the fusion of local House and Pop virtuoso Hanceford Magapatona, widely celebrated as Han C. Enriching the project further are talents like the visionary Producer Flex the Ninja and the RnB Phenom, Priscilla K, whose track “Away” has captured hearts. This six-track EP, ripe with local genius, is up for grabs across all streaming services, inviting listeners to a world of Botswana’s finest.

But “Hype the Homegrown” transcends the bounds of musical exploration, delving into the realms of fashion and lifestyle, stitching a dynamic collaboration with Collections by B.K. Proctor. This venture, rooted in 100% local ownership by the trailblazing Rapper and Entrepreneur Bokang β€œBK” Proctor alongside Digital Maverick, Fifi Wale, showcases a vibrant melding of St Louis Lager and Collections by BK Proctor insignias across a series of street-savvy sneakers and tees. These exclusive pieces have hit the shelves at the Collections by BK Proctor boutiques within the bustling hubs of Gaborone Fairgrounds Mall, Grand Palm, and Toro Junction Mall in Francistown.

Unveiled by the marketing maestro of Kgalagadi Breweries Limited, Gaamanngwe Ramokgothwane, this initiative not only shines a spotlight on KBL’s enduring commitment to the arts but also underscores the wealth of creativity brewing within Botswana, deserving of grand stages and accolades. Ramokgothwane passionately advocates for a collective embrace of this homegrown brilliance, positioning “Hype the Homegrown” as not merely a campaign but a clarion call to action for institutions far and wide to champion and elevate local talent.

Echoing this sentiment, KBL’s steward Carlos Bernitt envisions a future where these artisans not only sparkle locally but also etch their mark on the global canvas, all through the unified backing of Batswana. With “Hype the Homegrown,” a legacy of innovation, creativity, and inspiration is in the making.

The Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Seipati Olweny, acknowledged this campaign as a turning point for the creative community. She stressed the indispensable role of local talent in crafting Botswana’s cultural tapestry and stimulating economic diversification, pledging unwavering support from the ministry towards this collective journey of uplifting local flair.

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