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Public Service Act, 2008 amendments: a review (Part II)

Ndulamo Anthony Morima
EAGLE WATCH

Last week, we discussed the proposed amendments, namely: (a) forms of misconduct, (b) the enactment of rules of procedure to be followed in disciplinary matters by the Permanent Secretary to the President (PSP), and not to Public Service Bargaining Council (PSBC), and (c) that when reduction of salary is imposed as a punishment the consent of the employee shall not be required.

We also discussed the proposed amendments (d) that disputes, or appeals thereto, between public servants and the employer will be referred to the Commissioner of Labour in terms of the Trade Disputes Act, 2003 instead of the PSBC and (e) that a person holding “a management post” (and not “in senior management of the public service”) shall not engage in a strike or action short of a strike.

In this article, we discuss the following proposed amendments, namely: (a) that the General Secretary of the PSBC, shall be appointed by the PSP from amongst employees of the Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) and (b) that only Public Officers can be representatives of trade unions admitted to the PSBC.

We also discuss the proposed amendments (c) that government can confer a benefit on an employee notwithstanding ongoing negotiations, (d) that recognition will entitle a union to one seat at the PSBC and (e) that those suspended from duty will not be guaranteed full salary, but nothing less than half their salary.

We also discuss the proposed amendments (f) that the misconduct of engaging in an amorous or sexual relationship affects all public officers as opposed to teachers only as is currently the case and (g) the proposal to amend the Act by increasing punishments for certain offences.     

First, the proposal to amend the Act to the effect that the General Secretary of the PSBC, shall be appointed by the PSP from amongst employees of the Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM). Currently, in terms of clause 4.1.15 of the constitution of the PSBC the General Secretary is appointed by the PSBC itself.

I disagree with this proposed amendment because it is effectively going to transform the PSBC into a government department since the Secretary, if an appointee of the PSP under DPSM’s employ, will no doubt have allegiance to the PSP, not the PSBC. This is exacerbated by the proposed amendment to have DPSM as the Secretariat for the PSBC.

Second, the proposal to amend the Act to the effect that only Public Officers can be representatives of trade unions admitted to the PSBC. I agree with this proposed amendment because I am unable to see the circumstances where it can be compelling for a person who is not a Public Officer to represent a trade union in the PSBC. Also, one cannot effectively represent public officers if he or she is not himself or herself a Public Officer.

BOFEPUSU’s argument that trade unionists like Johnson Motshwarakgole and Ketlhalefile Motshegwa have been targeted with what the federation views as a drastic departure from ILO standards as well as local case law, which has authoritatively pronounced on the issue is not persuasive since trade unionism is not about individuals, but about the collective. Certainly, there are enough public servant trade unionists who can ably represent public servants in the PSBC.

Third, the proposal to amend the Act to the effect that government can confer a benefit on an employee notwithstanding ongoing negotiations. I agree with this proposed amendment with respect to ununionised employees since they should not suffer prejudice because of negotiations between government and the trade unions they are not members of. Besides, a trade union has no locus standi with respect to non-union members.

I, however, agree with BOFEPUSU that if a benefit is conferred on a union member notwithstanding ongoing negotiations that would “… run contrary to the spirit of negotiating in good faith. The hallmark of negotiating in good faith is that an employer must not take any steps averse to the party negotiating on behalf of its members…”

Fourth, the proposal to amend the Act to the effect that recognition will entitle a union to one seat at the PSBC. BOFEPUSU is opposed to this, arguing that “… the implication of this provision is simply that a union like the National Amalgamated Local, Central Government and Parastatal Workers Union (NALCGPWU) which has more than 20,000 members will have the same voice as a union like Trainers and Allied Workers Union (TAWU) which has less than 200 members.”

I agree with the proposed amendment. When trade unions attend the PSBC they should attend as one unit and should have agreed on issues to be discussed. Therefore, one representative per union is sufficient. In Parliament and Councils, for example, each constituency or ward has one representative regardless of the population of the constituency or ward.

Fifth, the proposal to amend the Act to the effect that those suspended from duty will not be guaranteed full salary, but nothing less than half their salary. I disagree with this proposed amendment because it contravenes the principle that everyone should be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Why put an employee under financial prejudice which may even deny him or her the right to represent him or herself effectively because he or she cannot afford engaging an attorney, for example, due to financial hardship?

Sixth, the proposal to amend the Act to the effect that the misconduct of engaging in an amorous or sexual relationship affects all public officers as opposed to teachers only as is currently the case.

This is a welcome amendment because by engaging in such relationships with students, for example, other public servants cause the same harm to students that teachers do.

Seventh, the proposal to amend the Act by increasing penalties. It is submitted that penalties, i.e. fines and imprisonment terms have to be proportionate and fair and an employee’s salary has to be taken into consideration in imposing a fine, for example. For instance, if two employees who earn P 6,000.00 and P 27,000.00 per month are convicted of the same offence, it is disproportionate to fine each of them P 30,000.00. While the punishment will be severe for the employee earning P 6,000.00, it will be a slap on the hand for the employee earning P 27,000.00.

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The Daring Dozen at Bari

8th December 2020
JEFF---Batswana-smoke-unit

Seventy-seven years ago, on the evening of December 2, 1943, the Germans launched a surprise air raid on allied shipping in the Italian port of Bari, which was then the key supply centre for the British 8th army’s advance in Italy.

The attack was spearheaded by 105 Junkers JU88 bombers under the overall command of the infamous Air Marshal Wolfram von Richthofen (who had initially achieved international notoriety during the Spanish Civil War for his aerial bombardment of Guernica). In a little over an hour the German aircraft succeeded in sinking 28 transport and cargo ships, while further inflicting massive damage to the harbour’s facilities, resulting in the port being effectively put out of action for two months.

Over two thousand ground personnel were killed during the raid, with the release of a secret supply of mustard gas aboard one of the destroyed ships contributing to the death toll, as well as subsequent military and civilian casualties. The extent of the later is a controversy due to the fact that the American and British governments subsequently covered up the presence of the gas for decades.

At least five Batswana were killed and seven critically wounded during the raid, with one of the wounded being miraculously rescued floating unconscious out to sea with a head wound. He had been given up for dead when he returned to his unit fourteen days later. The fatalities and casualties all occurred when the enemy hit an ammunition ship adjacent to where 24 Batswana members of the African Pioneer Corps (APC) 1979 Smoke Company where posted.

Thereafter, the dozen surviving members of the unit distinguished themselves for their efficiency in putting up and maintaining smokescreens in their sector, which was credited with saving additional shipping. For his personal heroism in rallying his men following the initial explosions Company Corporal Chitu Bakombi was awarded the British Empire Medal, while his superior officer, Lieutenant N.F. Moor was later given an M.B.E.

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A Strong Marriage Bond Needs Two

8th December 2020

Remember: bricks and cement are used to build a house, but mutual love, respect and companionship are used to build a HOME. And amongst His signs is this: He creates for you mates out of your own kind, so that you may find contentment (Sukoon) with them, and He engenders love and tenderness between you; in this behold, there are signs (messages) indeed for people who reflect and think (Quran 30:21).

This verse talks about contentment; this implies companionship, of their being together, sharing together, supporting one another and creating a home of peace. This verse also talks about love between them; this love is both physical and emotional. For love to exist it must be built on the foundation of a mutually supportive relationship guided by respect and tenderness. As the Quran says; ‘they are like garments for you, and you are garments for them (Quran 2:187)’. That means spouses should provide each other with comfort, intimacy and protection just as clothing protects, warms and dignifies the body.

In Islam marriage is considered an ‘ibaadah’, (an act of pleasing Allah) because it is about a commitment made to each other, that is built on mutual love, interdependence, integrity, trust, respect, companionship and harmony towards each other. It is about building of a home on an Islamic foundation in which peace and tranquillity reigns wherein your offspring are raised in an atmosphere conducive to a moral and upright upbringing so that when we all stand before Him (Allah) on that Promised Day, He will be pleased with them all.

Most marriages start out with great hopes and rosy dreams; spouses are truly committed to making their marriages work. However, as the pressures of life mount, many marriages change over time and it is quite common for some of them to run into problems and start to flounder as the reality of living with a spouse that does not meet with one’s pre-conceived ‘expectations’. However, with hard work and dedication, couples can keep their marriages strong and enjoyable. How is it done? What does it take to create a long-lasting, satisfying marriage?

Below are some of the points that have been taken from a marriage guidance article I read recently and adapted for this purposes.

POSITIVITY
Spouses should have far more positive than negative interactions. If there is too much negativity — criticizing, demanding, name-calling, holding grudges, etc. — the relationship will suffer. However, if there is never any negativity, it probably means that frustrations and grievances are not getting ‘air time’ and unresolved tension is accumulating inside one or both partners waiting to ‘explode’ one day.

“Let not some men among you laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor let some women laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor defame nor be sarcastic to each other, nor call each other by (offensive) nicknames.” (49:11)

We all have our individual faults though we may not see them nor want to admit to them but we will easily identify them in others. The key is balance between the two extremes and being supportive of one another. To foster positivity in a marriage that help make them stable and happy, being affectionate, truly listening to each other, taking joy in each other’s achievements and being playful are just a few examples of positive interactions.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “The believers who show the most perfect faith are those who have the best character and the best of you are those who are best to their wives”

UNDERSTANDING

Another characteristic of happy marriages is empathy; understanding your spouses’ perspective by putting oneself in his or her shoes. By showing that understanding and identifying with your spouse is important for relationship satisfaction. Spouses are more likely to feel good about their marriage and if their partner expresses empathy towards them. Husbands and wives are more content in their relationships when they feel that their partners understand their thoughts and feelings.

Successful married couples grow with each other; it simply isn’t wise to put any person in charge of your happiness. You must be happy with yourself before anyone else can be.  You are responsible for your actions, your attitudes and your happiness. Your spouse just enhances those things in your life. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers.”

COMMITMENT

Successful marriages involve both spouses’ commitment to the relationship. The married couple should learn the art of compromise and this usually takes years. The largest parts of compromise are openness to the other’s point of view and good communication when differences arise.

When two people are truly dedicated to making their marriage work, despite the unavoidable challenges and obstacles that come, they are much more likely to have a relationship that lasts. Husbands and wives who only focus on themselves and their own desires are not as likely to find joy and satisfaction in their relationships.

ACCEPTANCE

Another basic need in a relationship is each partner wants to feel valued and respected. When people feel that their spouses truly accept them for who they are, they are usually more secure and confident in their relationships. Often, there is conflict in marriage because partners cannot accept the individual preferences of their spouses and try to demand change from one another. When one person tries to force change from another, he or she is usually met with resistance.

However, change is much more likely to occur when spouses respect differences and accept each other unconditionally. Basic acceptance is vital to a happy marriage. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “It is the generous (in character) who is good to women, and it is the wicked who insults them.”
“Overlook (any human faults) with gracious forgiveness.” (Quran 15:85)

COMPASSION, MUTUAL LOVE AND RESPECT

Other important components of successful marriages are love, compassion and respect for each other. The fact is, as time passes and life becomes increasingly complicated, the marriage is often stressed and suffers as a result. A happy and successful marriage is based on equality. When one or the other dominates strongly, intimacy is replaced by fear of displeasing.

It is all too easy for spouses to lose touch with each other and neglect the love and romance that once came so easily. It is vital that husbands and wives continue to cultivate love and respect for each other throughout their lives. If they do, it is highly likely that their relationships will remain happy and satisfying. Move beyond the fantasy and unrealistic expectations and realize that marriage is about making a conscious choice to love and care for your spouse-even when you do not feel like it.

Seldom can one love someone for whom we have no respect. This also means that we have to learn to overlook and forgive the mistakes of one’s partner. In other words write the good about your partner in stone and the bad in dust, so that when the wind comes it blows away the bad and only the good remains.

Paramount of all, marriage must be based on the teachings of the Noble Qur’an and the teachings and guidance of our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). To grow spiritually in your marriage requires that you learn to be less selfish and more loving, even during times of conflict. A marriage needs love, support, tolerance, honesty, respect, humility, realistic expectations and a sense of humour to be successful.

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Chronic Joblessness: How to Help Curtail it

30th November 2020
Motswana woman

The past week or two has been a mixed grill of briefs in so far as the national employment picture is concerned. BDC just injected a further P64 million in Kromberg & Schubert, the automotive cable manufacturer and exporter, to help keep it afloat in the face of the COVID-19-engendered global economic apocalypse. The financial lifeline, which follows an earlier P36 million way back in 2017, hopefully guarantees the jobs of 2500, maybe for another year or two.

It was also reported that a bulb manufacturing company, which is two years old and is youth-led, is making waves in Selibe Phikwe. Called Bulb Word, it is the only bulb manufacturing operation in Botswana and employs 60 people. The figure is not insignificant in a town that had 5000 jobs offloaded in one fell swoop when BCL closed shop in 2016 under seemingly contrived circumstances, so that as I write, two or three buyers have submitted bids to acquire and exhume it from its stage-managed grave.

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