Wednesday, August 10, 2022

AB breaches own regulations on employees’ political activism

Air Botswana (AB) has been accused of breaching its own General Regulations barring employees from active political participation, on the pretext of protecting confidentiality of employees.

Angry AB employees are unhappy with the airline’s executive management’s failure to apply regulations barring employees from active political participation to the letter.

The employees are concerned that in contravention of its own standing regulations, the executive management has not taken action against the airline’s engineer, Langston Motsete, who contested and lost last year’s Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Mahalapye West primaries to Bernard Bolele.

The BDP primaries were held in the aftermath of the resignation of former vice-president Mompati Merafhe on account of ill-health.

Citing section 7.13 of the corporation’s July 2005 General Regulations on political activities that bar employees from active political participation, angry employees took a swipe at executive management slamming its failure to steadfastly implement the regulations as setting a bad precedent that has potential to haunt the national carrier in the future if other employees engage in active political participation hoping that action cannot be taken against them.

Section 7.13.1 provides that the corporation does not debar employees of the corporation from membership of any political party by reason of their employment. However, by virtue of their employment with the corporation, employees are not permitted to take active role in politics.

Section 7.13.2 stipulates that employees may vote at election if they are eligible to vote, and may attend but not speak at political meetings.

Section 7.13.3 states that no employee shall:

(a) Publicly speak or demonstrate for or against any politician or political party
(b) Be neither active member nor hold office in any political party or association
(c) Speak in public on any political matter, except in the course of his official duties
(d) Publish his views on political matters in writing
(e) Take an active part in support of any candidate in an election
(f) Hold political office in any Local Government body, except where the office is held ex officio
(g) Do anything by word or deed which is calculated to further the interests of any political party or association
(h) If any employee is in doubt whether an association is a political association within the meaning of the General Regulations, he/she will consult the General Manager

In terms of the foregoing regulations, the airline’s employees are concerned that despite Motsete’s active political participation, no disciplinary action was taken and in their view, a contravention of the General Regulations should have earned him (Motsete) a summary dismissal.

“Is Motsete exempt from the application of the General Regulations governing other employees? If not, why has management not taken action against him in terms of the applicable regulations? Will it be wrong for other employees to actively participate in politics in the future? Is this not setting bad precedent?”, asked concerned employees who equate management’s failure to act on the issue as a flagrant violation of the airline’s General Regulations.

They pointed out that initially when management was asked to clarify the issue and promised to institute an investigation, it should have afterwards honoured its undertaking that appropriate action was taken against Motsete.

“It would seem as if this engineer is being given some special treatment that other employees are not accorded when they breach General Regulations. A lot of employees who in the past contravened General Regulations were fired. What is the purpose of the regulations if they cannot be upheld? Executive management is sleeping on the job as evidenced by this particular violation that has not been acted upon. I just hope in the future when we partake in active political participation, the same management will not change stance and fire us”, said an employee who preferred not to be named for fear of victimization.

He wondered whether if some employee in the future publicly engaged in opposition politics, he would not be taken to task over breach of General Regulations. “May be the interpretation is only limited to opposition politics and in this particular instance no action was taken because Motsete participated on the ruling party ticket”, said another disgruntled political aspirant within the corporation.

Contacted for comment, AB Marketing Manager Thapelo Moribame refused to answer save to say “the issue regarding Mr. Langston Motsete’s participation in political party activities was addressed as per Air Botswana policy regarding such issues. However, since this is an employee relations matter that is dealt with confidentially, details of action taken cannot be shared with a third party”.

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