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Saleshando warns UDC on AP, BPF

Dumelang Saleshando

Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leader, Dumelang Saleshando has warned the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) that failure to resolve existing conflicts could dissuade other opposition parties from joining forces. 

Addressing the media this week, the Leader of Opposition in Parliament said it is important for the leadership of the UDC to admit that there are problems with the coalition.

Saleshando said admitting problems, as opposed to being in denial, will lead to resolutions that will keep the coalition in good shape as it engages other opposition parties.

Brotherly relationship that existed between Saleshando and UDC President, Duma Boko as well as the rank and file members in the build-up to 2019 elections has frantically collapsed.

Disagreements on UDC governance issues and the democratisation of the UDC has drawn the two opposition leaders to parallels.

The fallout between Saleshando and Boko is so dire that the two leaders have not spoken to each other in ages. “I do not remember the last time I talked to Boko on the phone. Certainly it is not this year,” said Saleshando.

Saleshando and BCP leadership recently snubbed the UDC press conference addressed by Boko, indicating that they were not informed about issues that were to be discussed.

“There is a problem and all of us should come with extinguishers to douse the inferno, failure which would bring down the confidence of the people on UDC.”

The UDC is currently in negotiations to lure other opposition parties, Alliance for Progressives (AP) and Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) to the umbrella.

The talks began last year preluded by a Memorandum of Understanding on impending by-elections.

However, with the current demoralising state and shape of the UDC, Saleshando warned that: “The UDC should introspect and have a conflict resolution mechanism, we should agree as to what to do when we hold diverging views. We have not had that but the time is now to see how we solve our bickering.”

This would assist the party to transit from the muddy waters they find themselves in, according to BCP leader who is also a legislator for Maun West.

However, despite the ill-treatment that BCP has suffered recently at the hands of other coalition partners, Saleshando is adamant that his party, remains part and parcel of the umbrella project.

“We are not leaving the UDC, but the members (BCP) in my recent nationwide tours have told me that they are aware of the differences in the UDC and to my belief we as the UDC leadership should also admit that indeed the relationship has soured,” he said.

“The trust is gone. So we should address that, or else it would make us un-attractive and I will not be surprised if other opposition parties shun being part of the UDC when the talks begin.”

Currently the UDC has no code of conduct or ethics committee to deal with members irrespective of party position and this is a concern. The UDC set up is a coalition and not a political party and as such matters are left to contracting parties to instill discipline among members.

Some within the opposition have been advocating for the formation of the UDC Advisory Committee to ensure that the party adheres to all NEC portfolios.

Furthermore, another suggestion has been to engage UDC conveners to give parental guidance on critical governance matters in the party. This is meant to ensure that meetings are called frequently and resolutions taken by the NEC are implemented. These are some of the qualms other parties have in the UDC.

All the while Saleshando insists that the best conflict resolution mechanism would be for the party to come out of the closet first and discuss the problem besieging us.

“No need to engage outsiders, it is us who are aware of the problems and we should try and reach understanding of our differences then we should see if it is possible to cure it, failure in which that is when we can engage others,” Saleshando said at a media briefing hosted at Avani hotel.

The BCP leader together with his party will not be bullied into submitting to the Umbrella. He says as far as they are concerned, what they are seeing now is not what they signed for in 2017 when they joined UDC. “No party is entitled to the UDC leadership and we agreed that in after 2019 elections there will be congress and if we can do what has been agreed the party will regain its appeal. We agreed when we joined that after every three years the leadership will have to seek mandate renewal from the members and it is not happening, this is not what we signed for. But it is not a deal breaker.”

Veteran politicians have also in the past warned that the fights could collapse the UDC. “Yes to a certain extent I think these bickering and defections might affect the negotiations but it would be up to all the parties to see the bigger picture,” says Gilson Saleshando. When this ‘senseless’ bickering played out early this year, AP’s Secretary General says Dr. Phenyo Butale was not much bothered and opted to play a wait and see game. “We are not sure of the extent of how long this (bickering) will go. But we are focused, our eyes are on the ball, we want united opposition going to 2024 as you know that we have already signed memorandum of agreement with others.”

Meanwhile BCP did not honor the past UDC NEC meeting due to various reasons, but they will be part of today (Saturday) meeting in Palapye. “We have been directed by our members that going to the meeting we should not bury our heads in the sand like an ostrich but face the current problems we face because we do not trust each like we used to, so we will be party to the meeting,” Saleshando confirmed.

“For now the BCP will not leave the UDC contrary to reports. We will give our best shot. We came far and we cannot give up now,” he said.

BCP is expected to convene for their elective congress later this year to introspect and rope in new Central Committee members.

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Govt ignores own agreements to improve public service

17th May 2022
Govt

The government has failed to implement some commitments and agreements that it had entered into with unions to improve conditions of public servants.

Three years after the government and public made commitments aimed at improving conditions of work and services it has emerged that the government has ignored and failed to implement all commitments on conditions of service emanating from the 2019 round of negotiations.

In its position paper that saw public service salaries being increased by 5%, the government the government has also signalled its intention to renege on some of the commitments it had made.
“Government aspires to look into all outstanding issues contained in the Labour Agreement signed between the Employer and recognised Trade Union on the 27th August 2019 and that it be reviewed, revised and delinked by both Parties with a view to agree on those whose implementation that can be realistically executed during the financial years 2022/23, 2023/24 and 2024/25 respectively,” the government said.

Furthermore, in addition to reviewing, revising and de-linking of the outstanding issues contained in the Collective Labour Agreement alluded to above and taking on a progressive proposal, government desires to review revise, develop and implement human resource policies as listed below during the financial year 2022/23,2023/24,2024/25

They include selection and appointment policy, learning and development policy, transfer guidelines, conditions of service, permanent and pensionable, temporary and part time, Foreign Service, expatriate and disciplinary procedures.

In their proposal paper, the unions which had proposed an 11 percent salary increase but eventually settled for 5% percent indicated that the government has not, and without explanation, acted on some of the key commitments from the 2019/2020 and 2021/22 round of negotiations.  The essential elements of these commitments include among others the remuneration Policy for the Public Service.

The paper states that a Remuneration Policy will be developed to inform decision making on remuneration in the Public Service. It is envisaged that consultations between the government and relevant key stakeholders on the policy was to start on 1st September 2019, and the development of the policy should be concluded by 30th June 2020.

The public sector unions said the Remuneration Policy is yet to be developed. The Cooperating Unions suggested that the process should commence without delay and that it should be as participatory as it was originally conceived. Another agreement relate to Medical Aid Contribution for employees on salary Grades A and B.

The employer contribution towards medical aid for employees on salary Grades A and B will be increased from 50% to 80% for the Standard Option of the Botswana Public
“Officers’ Medical Aid Scheme effective 1st October 2019; the cooperating unions insist that, in fulfilling this commitment, there should be no discrimination between those on the high benefit and those on the medium benefit plan,” the unions proposal paper says.

Another agreement involves the standardisation of gratuities across the Public Service. “Gratuities for all employees on fixed term contracts of 12 months but not exceeding 5 years, including former Industrial class employees be standardized at 30% across the Public Service in order to remove the existing inequalities and secure long-term financial security for Public Service Employees at lower grades with immediate effect,” the paper states.

The other agreement signed by the public sector unions and the government was the development of fan-shaped Salary Structure. The paper says the Public Service will adopt a best practice fan-shaped and overlapping structure, with modification to suit the Botswana context. The Parties (government and unions) to this agreement will jointly agree on the ranges of salary grades to allow for employees’ progression without a promotion to the available position on the next management level.

“The fan-shaped structure is envisaged to be in place by 1st June 2020, to enable factoring into the budgetary cycle for the financial year 2021/22,” the unions’ proposal paper states. It says the following steps are critical, capacity building of key stakeholders (September – December 2019), commission remuneration market survey (3 months from September to November 2019), design of the fan-shaped structure (2 to 3 months from January to March2020) and consultations with all key stakeholders (March to April 2020).

The unions and government had also signed an agreement on performance management and development: A rigorous performance management and reward system based on a 5-point rating system will be adopted as an integral part of the operationalization of the new Remuneration System.

Performance Management and Development (PMD) will be used to reward workers based on performance. The review of the Performance Management System was to be undertaken in order to close the gaps identified by PEMANDU and other previous reports on PMS between 1st September 2019 and 30th June 2020 as follows; internal process to update and revise the current Performance Management System by January 2020.

A job evaluation exercise in the Public Service will also be undertaken to among others establish internal equity, and will also cover the grading of all supervisory positions within the Public Service.
Another agreement included overtime Management. The Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) was to facilitate the conclusion of consultations on management of overtime, including consideration of the Overtime Management Task Team’s report on the same by 30th November 2019.

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Health Expert rejects ‘death rates’ links to low population growth

17th May 2022
Health-Expert

A public health expert, Dr Edward Maganu who is also the former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health has said that unlike many who are expressing shock at the population census growth decline results, he is not, because the 2022 results represents his expectations.

He rushed to dismiss the position by Statistics Botswana in which thy partly attributes the low growth rates to mortality rates for the past ten years. “I don’t think there is any undercounting. I also don’t think death rates have much to do with it since the excessive deaths from HIV/AIDS have been controlled by ARVs and our life expectancy isn’t lower than it was in the 1990s,” he said in an interview with this publication post the release of the results.

Preliminary results released by Statistics Botswana this week indicated that Botswana’s population is now estimated to be 2,346,179 – a figure that the state owned data agency expressed worry over saying it’s below their projected growth. The general decline in the population growth rate is attributed to ‘fertility’ and ‘mortality’ rates that the country registered on the past ten years since the last census in 2011.

Maganu explained that with an enlightened or educated society and the country’s total fertility rate, there was no way the country’s population census was going to match the previous growth rates.
“The results of the census make sense and is exactly what I expected. Our Total Fertility Rate ( the average number of children born to a woman) is now around 2.

This is what happens as society develops and educates its women. The enlightened women don’t want to bear many children, they want to work and earn a living, have free time, and give their few children good care. So, there is no under- counting. Census procedures are standard so that results are comparable between countries.

That is why the UN is involved through UNFPA, the UN Agency responsible for population matters,” said Maganu who is also the former adviser to the World Health Organisation. Maganu ruled out undercounting concerns, “I see a lot of Batswana are worried about the census results. Above is what I have always stated.”

Given the disadvantages that accompany low population for countries, some have suggested that perhaps a time has come for the government to consider population growth policies or incentives, suggestions Maganu deems ineffective.

“It has never worked anywhere. The number of children born to a woman are a very private decision of the woman and the husband in an enlightened society. And as I indicated, the more the women of a society get educated, the higher the tendency to have fewer children. All developed countries have a problem of zero population growth or even negative growth.

The replacement level is regarded as 2 children per woman; once the fertility level falls below that, then the population stops growing. That’s why developed countries are depending so much on immigration,” he said.

According to him, a lot of developing countries that are educating their women are heading there, including ourselves-Botswana. “Countries that have had a policy of encouraging women to have more children have failed dismally. A good example is some countries of Eastern Europe (Romania is a good example) that wanted to grow their populations by rewarding women who had more children. It didn’t work. The number of children is a very private matter,” said Maganu

For those who may be worried about the impact of problems associated with low growth rate, Maganu said: “The challenge is to develop society so that it can take care of its dependency ratio, the children and the aged. In developed countries the ratio of people over 60 years is now more than 20%, ours is still less than 10%.”

The preliminary results show that Mogoditshane with (88,098) is now the biggest village in the country with Maun coming second (85,293) and Molepolole at third position with 74,719. Population growth is associated with many economic advantages because more people leads to greater human capital, higher economic growth, economies of scale, the efficiency of higher population density and the improved demographic structure of society, among many others.

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Minister Mmusi’s team triumphs in Gabane-Mmankgodi

17th May 2022
Kagiso Mmusi

Gabane-Mmankgodi Member of Parliament Kagiso Mmusi, who is also the Minister of Justice looks set to retain his place as ruling party, Botswana democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary candidate for the constituency after his team triumphed at the party’s branch congress held recently.

Mmusi’s team, as expected sailed through by claiming all executive positions of chairperson, secretary, treasurer, vice chairman, and vice treasurer.

Despite reports doing rounds that Mmusi’s team was defeated, the victorious chairperson of the Women Wing branch, Pinkie Mmusi confirmed that they stand with the area Member of Parliament.

For the position of branch chairperson, Baby Chalengwa defeated Tshepo Thobega with 51 votes to 44 votes. On the other hand the branch chairperson, Chalegwa also confirmed their solidarity with the area Member of Parliament.

The anti-Mmusi’s camp has been working hard to prepare for his dethronement in the run-up to the 2024 general election, but it appears the Minister of Justice is holding his ground and will be a tough opponent to dispose at the party primary elections.

Since Minister Mmusi’s name is regularly linked with the Vice Presidency for the future, some within the party use this against him to label him as a power hungry politician. However, Mmusi’s supporters have pointed out that the MP has never spoken on the subject and is only focused on delivering as a legislator and Minister.

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