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BOPEU, BOFEPUSU smoke peace pipe

Botswana Federation of Public Sector Union (BOFEPUSU) and its affiliate Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) have mended relations following weeks of turbulent relationship and public spats in the eve of 2014 general elections.

BOFEPUSU Secretary General Tobokani Rari told BOPEU delegates this week that BOFEPUSU and BOPEU leadership have met and ironed out their differences and agreed that going forward what played out in the public should never be allowed to happen again. “We would like to apologise to BOFEPUSU and BOPEU members because we did injustice to them by exchanging words in public domain,” said Rari to the ululation of the BOPEU delegates.

BOFEPUSU and BOPEU engaged in a bitter exchange of words in the media following the decision by majority of BOFEPUSU affiliates to endorse Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) ahead of the past general elections. BOPEU was of the view that although it was involved, particularly its president Andrew Motsamai in cajoling the opposition parties to form a united formation at the height of the 2011 public servants strike, the leadership was not given a mandate by its membership to endorse any political party.

BOFEPUSU and other affiliates namely; Botswana Sector of Educators Trade Union (BOSETU), Botswana Land Boards, Local Authorities and Health Workers Union (BLLAHWU), Botswana Teachers Union (BTU) and National Amalgamated, Local and Central Government and Parastatal Workers Union (NALCGPWU) were of the view that having inspired the formation of the UDC, they were compelled to endorse the party and urge their membership to vote in their favour.

Subsequent to the unfolding events Masego Mogwera, the BOFEPUSU President and BOPEU Vice President issued her press release in her capacity as the BOFEPUSU president denouncing public announcement made by her union colleagues in regard to BOFEPUSU’s endorsement to UDC and distancing the union from the ‘hit list’ engineered by other BOFEPUSU leaders to urge their members not to vote parliamentary candidates who were perceived as “anti-workers.”

Rari issued a counter statement in which he reminded Mogwera about the resolution reached by majority of BOFEPUSU affiliates to endorse UDC. At that meeting which the resolution to endorse UDC was reached, it is reported that BOPEU leadership walked out of the meeting when the issue was raised, as they contended that their union will always remain ‘apolitical’ and will never endorse any political party.

The two parties have agreed that the public spats were unnecessary and both agreed on continue working together. It was feared that BOPEU could pull out of the BOFEPUSU and instead court rival union Botswana Federation of Trade Unions (BFTU). “BOFEPUSU will respect the decisions of its affiliates,” stressed Rari.

The convention also discussed the issue of political participation in which Dr Patrick Molutsi, the Acting Chief Executive Officer of the Human Resource Development Council (HRDC) was invited to make a presentation.

Molutsi, a former University of Botswana academic, submitted arguments supporting BOPEU’s position towards political affiliation saying aligning to a certain political formation may derail the unions. He also noted that there is likelihood of victimization as the employer will influence government policy against unions.

Molutsi’s arguments are backed by government’s decision to declare some employees essential service in 2011 following the industrial strike. The motion which was passed in parliament prevented a section of workers including teachers not to participate in future strikes as they now fall on essential service category.

Molutsi said although in some countries this approach has worked well, he contends that the move is likely to create instability in the union. Molutsi mentioned political parties like Labour Party in the United Kingdom and Social Democratic Party (SDP) in Sweden as few parties which have succeeded in these regard.

According to Molutsi, the 2011 Public Servant Strike helped the unions to publicise themselves as it raised awareness the entire country. He observed that since the strike the public now understands what union stands but also noted that the strike was used against them by government. “We saw the unemployed being turned against the workers,” he said.

Molutsi is of the view that the position taken by BOFEPUSU is untenable from the strategic point of view as long as the trade unions are still weak and divided. “The political education of workers is low and other political parties have supporter among the unions too,” he said.

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Over 2 000 civil servants interdicted

6th December 2022

Over 2,000 civil servants in the public sector have been interdicted for a variety of reasons, the majority of which are criminal in nature.

According to reports, some officers have been under interdiction for more than two years because such matters are still being investigated. Information reaching WeekendPost shows that local government, particularly councils, has the highest number of suspended officers.

In its annual report, the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) revealed that councils lead in corrupt activities throughout the country, and dozens of council employees are being investigated for alleged corrupt activities. It is also reported that disciplined forces, including the Botswana Defence Force (BDF), police, and prisons, and the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) have suspended a significant number of officers.

The Ministry of Education and Skills Development has also recorded a good number of teachers who have implicated in love relationships with students, while some are accused of impregnating students both in primary and secondary school. Regional education officers have been tasked to investigate such matters and are believed to be far from completion as some students are dragging their feet in assisting the investigations to be completed.

This year, Mmadinare Senior Secondary reportedly had the highest number of pregnancies, especially among form five students who were later forcibly expelled from school. Responding to this publication’s queries, Permanent Secretary to the Office of the President Emma Peloetletse said, “as you might be aware, I am currently addressing public servants across the length and breadth of our beautiful republic. Due to your detailed enquiry, I am not able to respond within your schedule,” she said.

She said some of the issues raised need verification of facts, some are still under investigation while some are still before the courts of law.

Meanwhile, it is close to six months since the Police Commissioner Keabetwe Makgophe, Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) Tymon Katlholo and the Deputy Director of the DIS Tefo Kgothane were suspended from their official duties on various charges.

Efforts to solicit comment from trade unions were futile at the time of going to press.

Some suspended officers who opted for anonymity claimed that they have close to two years while on suspension. One stated that the investigations that led him to be suspended have not been completed.

“It is heartbreaking that at this time the investigations have not been completed,” he told WeekendPost, adding that “when a person is suspended, they get their salary fully without fail until the matter is resolved”.

Makgophe, Katlholo and Kgothane are the three most high-ranking government officials that are under interdiction.

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Masisi to dump Tsogwane?

28th November 2022

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and some senior government officials are abuzz with reports that President Mokgweetsi Masisi has requested his Vice President, Slumber Tsogwane not to contest the next general elections in 2024.

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African DFIs gear to combat climate change

25th November 2022

The impacts of climate change are increasing in frequency and intensity every year and this is forecast to continue for the foreseeable future. African CEOs in the Global South are finally coming to the party on how to tackle the crisis.

Following the completion of COP27 in Egypt recently, CEOs of Africa DFIs converged in Botswana for the CEO Forum of the Association of African Development Finance Institutions. One of the key themes was on green financing and building partnerships for resource mobilization in financing SDGs in Africa

A report; Weathering the storm; African Development Banks response to Covid-19 presented shocking findings during the seminar. Among them; African DFIs have proven to be financially resilient, and they are fast shifting to a green transition and its financing.

COO, CEDA, James Moribame highlighted that; Everyone needs food, shelter and all basic needs in general, but climate change is putting the achievement of this at bay. It is expensive for businesses to do business, for instance; it is much challenging for the agricultural sector due to climate change, and the risks have gone up. If a famer plants crops, they should be ready for any potential natural disaster which will cost them their hard work.

According to Moribame, Start-up businesses will forever require help if there is no change.

There is no doubt that the Russia- Ukraine war disrupted supply chains. SMMEs have felt the most impact as some start-up businesses acquire their materials internationally, therefore as inflation peaks, this means the exchange rate rises which makes commodities expensive and challenging for SMMEs to progress. Basically, the cost of doing business has gone up. Governments are no longer able to support DFIs.

Moribame shared remedies to the situation, noting that; What we need is leadership that will be able to address this. CEOs should ensure companies operate within a framework of responsible lending. They also ought to scout for opportunities that would be attractive to investors, this include investors who are willing to put money into green financing. Botswana is a prime spot for green financing due to the great opportunity that lies in solar projects.

Technology has been hailed as the economy of the future and thus needs to be embraced to drive operational efficiency both internally and externally.

Executive Director, bank of Industry Nigeria, Simon Aranou mentioned that for investors to pump money to climate financing in Africa, African states need to be in alignment with global standards.

Do what meets world standards if you want money from international investors. Have a strong risk management system. Also be a good borrower, if you have a loan, honour the obligation of paying it back because this will ensure countries have a clean financial record which will then pave way for easier lending of money in the future. African states cannot just be demanding for mitigation from rich countries. Financing needs infrastructure to complement it, you cannot be seating on billions of dollars without the necessary support systems to make it work for you. Domestic resource mobilisation is key. Use public money to mobilise private money. He said.

For his part, the Minster of Minister of Entrepreneurship, Karabo Gare enunciated that, over the past three years, governments across the world have had to readjust their priorities as the world dealt with the effects and impact of the COVID 19 pandemic both to human life and economic prosperity.

The role of DFIs, during this tough period, which is to support governments through countercyclical measures, including funding of COVID-19 related development projects, has become more important than ever before. However, with the increasingly limited resources from governments, DFIs are now expected to mobilise resources to meet the fiscal gaps and continue to meet their developmental mandates across the various affected sectors of their economies. Said Gare.

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