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.
An international report complied in South Africa dubbed ‘Legal Gender Recognition in Botswana’ says that the transgender and gender non-conforming people in Botswana live a miserable life. The community experiences higher levels of discrimination, violence and ill health.
In this report, it has been indicated that this is because their gender identity, which does not conform to narrowly define societal norms, renders them more vulnerable. Gender identity is a social determinant of health, which means that it is a factor that influences people’s health via their social context, their communities and their experiences of social exclusion. The Ministry of Health and Wellness has recognized this, and transgender people are considered a vulnerable population under the Botswana Second National Strategic Framework for HIV and AIDS 2010-2017.
In a recent study that shed light on the lived experiences of transgender and gender non-conforming people in Botswana, transgender persons often experience discrimination because of their gender identity and expression. The study was conducted by the University of Cape Town, LEGABIBO, BONELA, as well as Rainbow Identity Association and approved by the Health Ministry as well as the University of Botswana.
Of the 77 transgender and gender non-conforming people who participated in the study, less than half were employed. Two thirds, which is approximately 67% said that they did not have sufficient funds to cover their everyday needs. Two in five had hidden health concerns from their healthcare provider because they were afraid to disclose their gender identity.
More than half said that because of their gender identity, they had been treated disrespectfully at a healthcare facility (55%), almost half (46%) said they had been insulted at a healthcare facility, and one quarter (25%) had been denied healthcare because of their gender identity.
At the same time, the ‘Are we doing right’ study suggests that transgender and non-conforming people might be at higher risks of experiencing violence and mental ill-health, compared to the general population. More than half had experienced verbal embarrassment because of their gender identity, 48% had experienced physical violence and more than one third (38%) had experienced sexual violence.
The study showed that mental health concerns were high among transgender and gender non-conforming people in Botswana. Half of the transgender and gender non-conforming study participants (53%) showed signs of depression. Between one in four and one in six showed signs of moderate or severe anxiety (22% among transgender women, 24% among transgender men and 17% among gender non-conforming people).
Further, the study revealed that many had attempted suicide: one in three transgender women (32%), more than one in three transgender men (35%) and three in five gender non-conforming people (61%).
International research, as well as research from Botswana, suggests that not being able to change one’s gender marker has a negative impact on access to healthcare and mental health and wellbeing. The study further showed that one in four transgender people in Botswana (25%) had been denied access to healthcare. This is, at least in part, linked to not being able to change one’s gender marker in the identity documents, and thus not having an identity document that matches one’s gender identity and gender expression.
In its Assessment of Legal and Regulatory Framework for HIV, AIDS and Tuberculosis, the Health Ministry noted that “transgender persons in Botswana are unable to access identity documents that reflect their gender identity, which is a barrier to health services, including in the context of HIV. In one documented case, a transwoman’s identity card did not reflect her gender identity- her identity card photo indicated she was ‘male’. When she presented her identity card at a health facility, a health worker called the police who took her into custody.”
The necessity of a correct national identity document goes beyond healthcare. The High Court of Botswana explains that “the national identity document plays a pivotal role in every Motswana’s daily life, as it links him or her with any service they require from various institutions. Most activities in the country require every Motswana to produce their identity document, for identification purposes of receiving services.”
According to the Legal Gender Recognition in Botswana report, this effectively means that transgender, whose gender identity and expression is likely to be different from the sex assigned to them at birth and from what is recorded on their identity document, cannot access services without risk of denial or discrimination, or accusations of fraud.
In this context, gays and lesbians advocacy group LEGABIBO has called on government through the Department of Civil and National Registration to urgently implement the High Court rulings on gender marker changes. As stated by the High Court in the ND vs Attorney General of Botswana judgement, identity cards (Omang) play an important role in the life of every Motswana. Refusal and or delay to issue a Motswana with an Omang is denying them to live a complete and full-filing life with dignity and violates their privacy and freedom of expression.
The judgement clarified that persons can change their gender marker as per the National Registrations Act, so changing the gender marker is legally possible. There is no need for a court order. It further said the person’s gender is self-identified, there is no need to consult medical doctors.
LEGABIBO also called on government to develop regulations that specify administrative procedure to change one’s gender marker, and observing self-determination process. Further, the group looks out for government to ensure members of the transgender community are engaged in the development of regulations.
“We call on this Department of Civil and National Registration to ensure that the gender marker change under the National Registration Act is aligned to the Births and Deaths Registry Act to avoid court order.
Meanwhile, a gay man in Lobatse, Moabi Mokenke was recently viciously killed after being sexually violated in the streets of Peleng, shockingly by his neighbourhood folks. The youthful lad, likely to be 29-years old, met his fate on his way home, from the wearisome Di a Bowa taverns situated in the much populated township of Peleng Central.
CEO of Khato Civils Mongezi Mnyani has come out of the silence and is going all way guns blazing against the company’s adversaries who he said are hell-bent on tarnishing his company’s image and “hard-earned good name”
Speaking to WeekendPost from South Africa, Mnyani said it is now time for him to speak out or act against his detractors. Khato Civils has done several projects across Africa. Khato Civils, a construction company and its affiliate engineering company, South Zambezi have executed a number of world class projects in South Africa, Malawi and now recently here in Botswana.
About ten (10) Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) parliamentary candidates who lost the 2019 general election and petitioned results this week met with UDC Vice President, Dumelang Saleshando to discuss the way forward concerning the quandary that is the legal fees put before them by Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) lawyers.
For a while now, UDC petitioners who are facing the wrath of quizzical sheriffs have demanded audience with UDC National Executive Committee (NEC) but in vain. However after the long wait for a tete-a-tete with the UDC, the petitioners met with Saleshando accompanied by other NEC members including Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang, Reverend Mpho Dibeela and Dennis Alexander.