Monday, July 15, 2024

MP’s square up over maternity leave for Special Constables

The Assistant Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Botlogile Tshireletso on Friday argued that it was ill-advised for government to control the natural act to give birth for women Special Constables.

Dumelang Saleshando, Member of Parliament for Gaborone Central, had tabled a motion calling for the urgent amendment of the Police Special Constables Regulations to provide for paid maternity leave for officers who have been re-appointed to serve beyond the initial six months of the first contract. Women Special Constables are not free to go on maternity leave as is the case with other female workers in the Public Service, as per the envisaged Police Special Constables Regulations. When presenting the motion, Salesahando argued that the right to give birth was recognized world over. He said the recent amended Public Service Act confers full payment for all during maternity leave.

“It is an anomaly to subject the other group to unpaid maternity leave. Women go through a noble act to give life. A person should not be punished for a natural act to give a new life,” he said.

Standing on a point of clarification, Tshireletso questioned the rationale of affording female Special Constables the right to go on maternity leave on limited time framework while other female workers in the Public Service will not go through the process.
“You cannot control the natural act to give birth,” she said.

In response, the Minister of Defense, Justice and Security Dikgakgamatso Seretse said the expected amendment of Police Special Constables Regulations will extend to two years of first contract, during which period the officers will be required to stay clear of pregnancy during the first year of contract.

“Female Special Constables will be dedicated to serving the nation’s security and must in the process avoid maternity leave,” he said.

Tshireletso argued such a move was discriminatory as nature knows no provisions and laws. When parrying allegations that his Ministry took too long to respond to concerns about the plight of female Special Constables, Seretse said his Ministry was not confined to the maternity leave problem alone, but deals with other matters afflicting the entire service.

“For example we have decided to extend the period of service to two years of first contract. During the first year of contract female Special Constables will be required not to go on maternity leave. The Regulations will be tabled in parliament this session,” he said.

Although acknowledging the motion by Saleshando, Tswapong North Member of Parliament Prince Maele called for an adjournment of the debate until the Special Constables Regulations have been tabled and discussed in parliament. He called on his colleagues to support the adjournment especially because Seretse had promised to table the Regulations in the current parliamentary session, much to the chagrin and disappointment of opposition MP’s.

Saleshando dismissed promises that Seretse will table the motion in the current sitting of parliament as false.

“Ask Malesu what his neighbor has done with the Information Bill,” he said, referring to the former Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration Mokgweetsi Masisi who sits next to Minister Dorcus Makgato- Malesu in parliament.

“Worse still the Minister will not be present in the next session as parliament resumes,” added Saleshando.

He said a string of Bills including the Declaration of Assets and Liabilities have been discussed and adjourned on the promise that they will be brought before parliament in future. The objection was defeated as the numerically strong ruling party MP’s supported the adjournment.

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