Sunday, September 19, 2021

Cabinet freezes all hiring in government

Cabinet has adopted a far-reaching decision to freeze all new recruitment inside government with the exception of two ministries.

As a result, the Directorate of Public Service Management has written a letter to among others the Commander of the Botswana Defence and the Commissioner of Prisons notifying them of a cabinet decision that effectively freezes all hiring in the public service.

This comes barely a week after both the BDF and the Department of Prisons had advertised vacant posts within their ranks.

If implemented in full, the directive from cabinet will have far reaching ramifications across the public service in both staffing and productivity.

A letter from DPSM, written at the instance of cabinet instructs that vacancies be withdrawn from Ministries, Departments and Agencies recurrent budgets to cater for supplementary estimates.

The letter states that the country has been facing fiscal challenges which have been accentuated by the emergence and spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Botswana Defence Force is run not through the Public Service Act but through the BDF Act.

“Since funds for the vacancies will be reinstated in the next financial year 2021/2022, Ministries, Departments and Agencies are advised to discontinue recruitment into such vacancies until 1st April 2021. Those who are already at an advanced stage of the recruitment process are advised to withhold appointments until further notice. This takes effect immediately,” says a savingram from DPSM in part.

Technically, it also means that across the public service, henceforth there shall be no Acting Appointments for vacant posts as money for such posts is not available.

Exemptions have however been made only for the Ministries of Basic Education and also that of Health and wellness.

A former senior civil servants who is versed with human resources inside government has told Sunday Standard that the decision by cabinet would at the very least cause disruptions  inside government.

Attempts by Sunday Standard to get in touch with Minister for Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, Kabo Morwaeng could only go as far as extracting a response from his private secretary as the minister was engaged.

The Private secretary, Ame Makoba said DPSM derives its mandate from the Public Service Act, whose governance is only limited to public service employees that are not in the disciplines forces (also known as civilians), he added.

“The BDF and Prisons, whose adverts you refer to, have separate Acts which apply to their recruitment of personnel. However, it is known that there are some civilians serving within the disciplined forces,” he said.

He continued that the said DPSM communication referred to “was/may not have been referring to non-civilian members of the BDF and Prisons department. Recruitment in that context is governed by Acts that have nothing to do with DPSM,” said Makoba.

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