Sixty Botswana Defence Force nurses have taken the former Minister of Defence Justice and Security, Ramadeluka Seretse and Commander of Botswana Defence Force (BDF) Gaolathe Galebotswe to court demanding explanation on why they should not be entitled to overtime allowance. The case is before Francistown High Court Judge Phadi Solomon.
Seretse is cited as second First Respondent while the Commander of the Botswana Defence Force, Lt General Galebotswe is cited as the Second Respondent.
According to the particulars of the case, in 1998, the Presidential Commission made recommendations to the then President Festus Mogae and he accepted some of the recommendations and directed that the nurse’s overtime allowance be paid. The President directive was communicated through the Public Service Management Directive number 18 of 1998. The directive does not exclude BDF nurses from being entitled to the overtime allowance.
After failure by the employer to pay the nurses overtime allowance, in 2012, the BDF nurses took the case before former Francistown High Court Judge, Moses Chinhengo who dismissed the case on the basis that it was to be resolved by the Defense Council. However the Defence Council during the same year 2012 also dismissed the case without giving any sound reason why the nurses should not be entitled to the allowance.
The aggrieved BDF nurses soldiers have issued an application before court through their lawyer, Tshekiso Tshekiso, seeking the court to resolve issues of fact to establish on whether the Defence Council ever convened prior to the lodging of the case to deal with the issue of the BDF nurses allowances. The nurses are also seeking the court to determine on whether former Francistown High Court Judge, Moses Chinhengo is determinative in the issues raised in current application regarding the allowance.
Regarding the issues of law to be resolved, the applicants are further seeking amongst others to establish on whether the rules of natural justice should have applied before the Defence Council, whether the Defence Council ever met and agreed to sanction any of the allowances referred to in Public Service Management and whether the council is bound to disclose the reasons behind its decision.
“On the issues of law to be resolved during trial, the application seeks to establish whether the applicant’s claim is res judicata(is still going on) and whether court should substitute its decision for that of the Defence Council, whether the applicants are entitled to overtime allowance and whether there is a justifiable legal basis for excluding BDF nurses from enjoying the allowance,” reads part of the application.
The nurses are also seeking to establish if the Defence Council is bound by the Directives of the President of the Republic of Botswana on issues of allowances.
It is also the applicants contention that they were never afforded an opportunity to appear in person or otherwise before the Defence Council to motivate their application.
During trial both parties are expected to file a separate list and summary of witnesses and are expected to rely on exhibits already filed and to file further exhibits if they need to do so. Objections to witnesses or exhibits will also be raised upon receipt of list of witnesses and further exhibits if there is any. Trial will commence on the 24th of May in 2016.
The respondent is represented by Wananani Sibanda from the Attorney General (AG) Chambers.