Members of Parliament from across the political divide Friday saluted Gaborone Central MP, Dumelang Saleshando, for the brilliant contribution towards constructive development and welfare of Batswana with some MPs labeling him a visionary and progressive leader capable of taking the country to greater heights.
Contributing to a motion he moved last Friday which called for the government to set up a mandatory national pension scheme for all workers, Saleshando’s long time arch-rival following the 2004 elections, Margaret Nasha, said she was overwhelmed by the soundness and target of the motion, detecting only a few limitations.
“This motion sounds very good, particularly in these hard and trying times. Batswana must be taught the importance of saving. The notion ‘bojang jwa pitse ke jo bo maleng’ is dangerous and must be discouraged at all costs. We must learn that there is always tomorrow and prepare for any eventuality,” said Nasha.
She suggested for an immediate commission and task force to thoroughly investigate and advise the government, considering the significance of the initiative, imploring the suggestion all employers and employees would be required by law to contribute to pension, including the lowly paid domestic workers and labourers.
The local minister, however, expressed concerns over the implementation of the noble initiative, particularly pertaining to the lowly paid individuals, arguing that, at the moment, the domestic workers and labourers were paid a minimum wage of P408 which could possibly render their contribution to the pension scheme a fiasco owing to the meager salaries they hardly receive.
“Presently, government requires the employers to pay domestic workers and labourers a minimum wage and nobody knows whether this is carried out. It is against this background that one wonders whether the scheme would be possible to all workers when evidence is abundant that employers even today are still cheating the lowest paid individuals.”
To compound the problem further, Nasha noted that even the MPs were not into any sustainable pension schemes, preferring to take their accrued money in lumps every five years.
“They (MPs) argue that the sum they get through pension is insignificant preferring to take the total sum every five years. A commission must be initiated to thoroughly investigate and teach all of us the importance of saving,” she stressed as she endorsed the motion.
Although still smarting from the controversial ejection of contesting under the BDP ticket in the coming national elections, the embattled Tonota South MP, Pono Moatlhodi managed to exude exuberance, applauding the youthful Saleshando for brilliance and vision.
“By coming up with such a motion, Saleshando displayed a sense of maturity, brilliance and vision. He is proving to the electorates that he is the real representative; the ears and the eyes of Gaborone Central voters,” noted the maverick Moatlhodi.
He observed that the employers, especially those from the private companies, have the propensity to cheat and pay their employees below standard wages. He said that the motion came at an opportune time when most employees in the country were facing a bleak future after retirement.
“Government must know life is indefinite. Today employees are robust and vibrant, putting food on the table and the next day they are impotent, unable to put food on the table.”
South East North MP, Olebile Gaborone, also contributed and embraced the motion arguing Batswana “must always prepare for the hard times”.
Gaborone is not worried about the implementation of the project and argues that “pension industries are there to assist and see that all our workers are rescued from calamity”.
He calls for the immediate implementation of the scheme but cautions the government against the delay of the project on the mere premise that the “government is still considering the scheme”.
Gaborone said that such excuses were rife within government and called on the government to shed the behaviour.
For his part, Lobatse MP, Nehemia Modubule, accused the government of failing to take heed of sound contributions from the opposition, arguing that a sound proposition from Saleshando was on the wall for everyone to see and that its significance requires endorsement.
He accused the government of unnecessary spending, which he said could have easily been avoided, insisting that for the government to avoid unnecessary spending and reliance by former employees for basic necessities, it should endorse the motion.
Modubule said that the industrial class was mostly vulnerable to abject poverty after retirement since they are subject to five-year gratuity.
Like all the MPs who contributed, Modubule embraced the motion, calling on the government to be snappy with the implementation and not to relax.
Kgatleng East MP, Isaac Mabiletsa, and Kanye East MP, Calvin Batsile, called for the legislators to agitate for significant parliamentarians pensions, arguing that the beneficiaries and packages were directed to one person – the president.
While they are representatives of people, the MPs said they were prone to abject poverty after office.
“We must take a leaf out of our heroes who are currently languishing in dilapidating poverty. They put their electorates first, forgetting that tomorrow they too needed to eat. Today they are as if they never participated in these halls of this parliament. They are almost forgotten,” noted Mabiletsa.
By the time of going to press, the motion was still being debated but with all the hallmarks to pass through.