Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) has sent a clarion call to government and implored her to — as a matter of urgency — rescue the financially beleaguered Civil Aviation Authority of Botswana (CAAB).
When addressing members of the media in Gaborone this week, BOPEU President, Olefile Monakwe, said government should extend the same help to CAAB as it did with other ailing parastatals such as Botswan a Meat Commission (BMC) and Air Botswana (AB). Monakwe rubbished claims that government is broke, saying that if it is the case, it has to be evidenced across all its entities and not only limited to CAAB.
CAAB is said to be facing financial crisis and the authority indicated that it is working around the clock to secure funding. CAAB Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Kabo Phutietsile, announced early this year in May through a memorandum that the organisation will be with-holding employees’ allowances.
In the letter, Phutietsile said: “Employees are informed that some allowances due to staff shall not be paid during the May 2020 payroll as they are still in the approval process.” This decision attracted aggressive attention from labour unions, with Botswana Federation of Public, Private Parastatals Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU), condemning the decision saying it cannot be tolerated. BOFEPUSU’s Deputy Secretary-General, Ketlhalefile Motshegwa said it was a bad labour practice for CAAB to withhold payment benefits of employees.
Motshegwa said CAAB’s decision cannot be tolerated. He said as BOFEPUSU pointed out before, there must be measures in place to assist the workers by way of protecting their jobs and salaries. “It is the duty of the employers to continue paying employees. The federation is tremendously disquieted by unbaiting violation of workers’ rights in the private sector during (the coronavirus) COVID-19 pandemic,” Motshegwa said.
BOPEU President said they have engaged the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Transport and Communications, Alicia Mokone, who admitted that she was alive to the challenges facing the authority and efforts to rescue it are ongoing.
“The Union therefore, remains steadfast and unshaken that employees’ jobs at CAAB are protected and employees’ salaries paid accordingly without failure,” he said when updating the media about the unfolding events regarding the employer employee relations, especially on issues central to the their mandate, challenges and interventions they have tirelessly made in the quest for the protection of members’ rights and welfare.’’
BOPEU is a bargaining agent for CAAB duly recognized in terms of the Trade Union and Employers Organization Act and has a binding Collective Labour Agreement that governs the parties’ relationship in dealing with employment conditions of members at CAAB.
BOPEU CLASH WITH STATS BOTSWANA
Meanwhile, BOPEU lamented what it refers to as unflattering attitude meted on themselves by the Statistics Botswana management akin to what in the labour movement is aptly classified as ‘bargaining in bad faith.’
The Union says on or about the 14th August 2020, management submitted a position paper on salary negotiations for the financial year 2020/2021 proposing 10% salary adjustment across the board. On the 21st August 2020, BOPEU submitted its counter proposal, proposing a 10% salary adjustment for Band 5 to 8 and 12% for Band 9.
According to BOPEU President, the parties set the 26th August 2020 to commence its salary negotiations, which were going to deal mainly with Band 9 since for the other Bands parties were in agreement. To BOPEU’s dismay and shock, just before the commencement of negotiation, management of Statistics Botswana submitted what they referred to as a revised position paper on the 25th August 2020 and proclaimed to have made a mistake in their initial proposal.
As if that was not enough, management went ahead and adjusted the salaries of non-unionized staff by 6% for Band 5 to 8 and 10% for Band 9 as per the revised proposal before the parties could commerce out talks. Being overwhelmed by this decisions, the Union says it wrote a letter to Statistics Botswana on the 27th August 2020, expressing their displeasure regarding the Employer’s conduct and attitude.
The Union therefore, made a conscious decision to seek external redress and referred the matter to the Commissioner of Labour on the 3rd September 2020, seeking intervention on failure to negotiate in good faith and unilateral change of position paper for salary negotiations for the year 2020/2021 as well as non-compliance to the provision of the CLA. The mediation hearing is scheduled for the 19th November 2020.
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.