Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) on behalf of government has been lining up own coffers with money paid as subscription fees by nurses upon registration.
The money was generally expected to be meant for the running of the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Botswana (NMCB) since its inception in 1996.
This surfaced from a letter in which the Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) demanded a response this week from Minister of Health, Reverend John Seakgosing, relating to their proposal for a meeting over a dispute lodged with the Commissioner of Labour over failure to treat the NMBCB staff like other government employees.
As a result, the Nursing Council finds itself financially incapacitated to finance its own operations, including staff payments.
Information passed to the Sunday Standard indicated that despite nearly fifteen years of continuous annual fees contributed by nurses through their subscription or licensing fees to the NMCB, the Council remains in a sorry financial state.
To make matters worse, it has emerged that the leadership of the Council was not even aware that, according to the Act establishing them, they were actually empowered through section 7(2) k to determine the terms and conditions of employees of the Council.
BOPEU’s claim that their members, who happen to be the aggrieved employees of the Council, have always been thrown from pillar to post by the Council whenever they demanded explanation as to why they could not be promoted nor offered equal incentive conditions like other government employees.
“Whenever they sought an explanation, they would be told that the funds allocated to the Council were prohibitively little to allow for any of the good things they demanded,” said one source close to the Council.
Registrar of NMCB, Khumo Modisaeman, denied any knowledge of an existing dispute involving her Council, before the Commissioner of Labour or any authority for that matter.
Andrew Motsamai, President of BOPEU, confirmed that they were handling the matter, although he was not keen to go into detail.
“Yes we are communicating with the relevant authorities, but currently, I am not in a position to say anything on the issue but you can contact other parties for their side of the story,” said Motsamai.
Interestingly, the common understanding of both MOH and the Council, seems to be that the staff of the Council were government employees like the rest, only that they are considered to have been seconded to the offices of the Council.
However, this misunderstanding was not sufficient to help Modisaotsile to escape the charge that many of her employees have been with the Council for many years, yet they had nothing to show for it.
In this context, the District Labour Office issued an advisory award that, to stop the blame game and find way forward, “Parties should before proceeding with any form of negotiations on terms of conditions of the employees of the Nursing Council, establish the position of the MOH regarding the said Council employees.”
Thus, efforts to meet the Minister were interpreted in terms of settling the matter amicably.
A letter from BOPEU addressed to the Minister of Health, read in part, “Take note that there were averments made by the PS in your ministry contending our members were in fact employees of the Ministry as opposed to the NMCB.”
Although the hearing happened in August, the first request for a meeting with the Minister by BOPEU was filed September while the one expected to be delivered this month would be the second.