The Permanent Secretary to the President, Eric Molale, this week moved swiftly to try and neutralize Daniel Kwelagobe’s influence in the civil service.
Molale, under instruction from the Office of the President, ordered Director of the Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) Pearl Matome to reverse all decisions she was influenced to take in disfavor of some trade unions by Kwelagobe.
Matome was also told that consultation on the recently adopted Public Service Act be revisited to enable all the trade unions which were marginalized, to make their input. The same was ordered of the proposed public service early exit policy, which inside sources claim Cabinet was largely misinformed about the extent of consultations on it.
Union members who were present at the meeting say Matome was also instructed to personally inform all government departments to immediately facilitate the check off facility for BOGOWU, and to stop all unauthorized deduction of subscriptions of industrial class employees and other public servants to unions that they do not belong to, and or have not asked to be paid.
Various opinions have been expressed in an attempt to explain the Office of the President’s sudden interest in trade union issues.
Those close to Khama alliance claim maladministration and favouritism at the DPSM. They argue that Kwelagobe had become too powerful and abused his influence, ordering Matome around to tow his line on every decision without question, to the extent that he seemed to miss out on the authority of the OP over the public service.
However, information passed to the Sunday Standard reveals that the spark that ignited the fire started on the 29th February, 2009, when Botswana Government Workers Union (BOGOWU), a rival of the National Amalgamated Local and Central Government and Parastatal Workers Union, also known as Manual Workers Union, registered a dispute with the Commissioner of Labour concerning what they described as unfair labour practices by the employer.
“The substance of the dispute was that DPSM has consistently marginalized BOGOWU in spite of us being a recognized public service union representing a sizable part of the industrial class employees in Government,” said Kaboda Phillip, Secretary General of BOGOWU.
Although Phillip was evasive regarding the current state of the dispute, sources inside Government have intimated that the PSP has asked BOGOWU to withdraw the matter in reciprocation to the action taken against the DPSM Director.
BOGOWU is a breakaway union from the manual workers union which is believed to be sympathetic to Kwelagobe. Head of the Manual Workers Union, Johnson Motshwarakgole, is Kwelagobe’s cousin.