The Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) has expressed shock at the Administration of Justice’s decision to assimilate one of its bench clerks to the position of executive clerk thereby elevating her from C scale to D salary scale.
Documents in possession of this publication show that the matter arose from a decision by the Administration of Justice’s attempt to assimilate a Principal Bench Clerk on C1 to the position of executive bench clerk on D3 salary scale and excluded other bench clerks.
In a savingram addressed to the then Registrar of the High Court Michael Motlhabi, DPSM Director Goitseone Mosalakatane states that their analysis of the issue reveals that the core duty and responsibility of Bench Clerks is provision of interpretation services, and that this service is provided at different courts. Furthermore, she said, the deployment of Bench Clerks to perform the role is what distinguishes one level from another.
“Close scrutiny of the Bench Clerk, Senior Bench Clerk, Principal Bench Clerk and Chief Bench Clerk Job Effectiveness Descriptions, make reference to Bench Clerk services provided at Magistrate Court or Regional Magistrate Court as the primary purpose of the job,” she said.
Mosalakatane said the Executive Bench Clerk however provides interpretation services at the Hon. Judges’ mini chamber.
“It is not stated in any Bench Clerk Job effectiveness description where two different levels both serve in the Judges Mini Chamber. In view of the above, it is not clear whether a Magistrate Court is treated as the equivalent of a Hon. Judges mini Chamber,” she said.
The DPSM director states further that where incumbents occupying different positions are stationed at the Judge’s mini chamber, “as you posit, that would be due to a deliberate management decision, where consequences of the decision were not taken into consideration.”
She further informed Motlhabi that, “We concur with you that the decision is highly likely to lead to litigation hence the looming litigation of Bench Clerks.”
Mosalakatane also stated that, “ Our understanding therefore is that the issue at hand is that of inappropriate implementation of the policy document. In your savingram, you request assimilation of a certain officer who is at the level of C1 and performing duties of D3 level.”
She added: “Kindly be informed that Assimilation is usually carried out on the basis of assessment of complexity of work or any changes to work, and not on qualifications or performance of incumbents.”
This, Mosalakatane said, means that an individual cannot be singled out to be assimilated, whilst leaving other incumbents in the same position.
“It may also be inferred that the issue is that of progression as opposed to assimilation, since qualifications are highlighted as the main reason for progression to the D3 position. Kindly also be advised that if the issue is promotion/progression, normal promotion procedures that exist in the Public Service must be followed,” said Mosalakatane.
She said another anomaly that, “we detect is that it appears your Office, upon approval of the Executive Bench Clerk Job, did not put in place robust measures to retool the incumbents (equip them with Diploma/ Degree in Translation and Court Interpreting) to make them eligible for the job albeit having full knowledge of the limited qualifications that your staff has.”
She advised that the following might be carried out to resolve the issue and avoid setting a precedence that may have implications on similar cadres in the Administration of Justice which may be unmanageable moving forward; review deployment of Bench Clerks across the Courts if what is currently stated in the job effectiveness descriptions is not workable for the Administration of Justice.
“Hence a comprehensive review of the job of Bench Clerks to properly assign duties to the right levels with requisite qualifications would be required. Compensate all Bench Clerks who have been performing the duty at the Judges’ Chambers from the time of implementation of the job of Executive Bench Clerk graded D3,” she said.
Motlhabi who is currently a High Court judge had written to the DPSM requesting for the assimilation of a principal bench clerk on C1 salary scale to the position of executive bench clerk on D3 salary scale to the position of executive bench clerk on D3 salary scale.
“The officer holds a post graduate Diploma in Translation & Interpreting. She is currently deployed at Gaborone High Court serving at Hon. Justice Radijeng mini chamber,” Motlhabi stated.
He said the justification for assimilation is based on the approved JED for Executive Bench Clerk on D3 salary scale which states that
He said in addition to the BA Humanities degree, the said officer also holds a post graduate Diploma in Translation & Interpreting.
“The position of the AOJ is that all other Bench Clerks deployed at the Hon. Judges’ mini Chambers who are not on D3 salary scale, hold a Degree in Humanities and do not have either a diploma or a degree qualification stated in the new JED do not qualify for assimilation into the D3 position as per the new Job Effectiveness Descriptions (JED),” he said.
The department took a decision to subject all the pay scales of the Bench Clerk Cadre to a job profiling or evaluation exercise. Court records show that the consequence of this exercise was that JEDs were developed.
The JEDs and the job profiling, court documents show, produced the following Organisational Structure for the Bench Clerks Cadre and scales: Clerk I – D1, Senior Executive Bench Clerk II – D2, Executive Bench Clerk – D3, Chief Bench Clerk – D4, Principal Bench Clerk – C1, Senior Bench Clerk – C2; and Bench Clerk – C3.