The Minister of Youth Sports and Culture Thapelo Olopeng on Monday shocked Parliament when he denied that some employees of Botswana National Youth Council (BNYC) had been fired from work.
Responding to a question from Mochudi West Member of Parliament (MP) Gilbert Mangole, Olopeng was at pains to admit that BNYC employees had been fired from work, rather maintaining that the youth organization was going through a restructuring exercise.
Mangole wanted the Minister to explain why the employment contracts of some BNYC employees had been terminated.
Olopeng immediately denied that any employees of BNYC had been terminated.
“We haven’t terminated any contracts for BNYC staff. We are simply restructuring BNYC. The process is on-going,” he said.
In response, Mangole asked why a number of employees from BNYC have in their possession letters terminating their contracts at the end of February.
“Are you saying that there is no one whose job is on the line as we speak now?” he asked.
Olopeng was unable to explain why he had denied that BNYC had terminated employees’ contracts when there were some who had in their possession letters terminating their contracts.
“I wouldn’t say that no one is going to lose their jobs or not because the restructuring exercise is on-going as we speak,” said Olopeng.
The Telegraph can confirm that BNYC recently issued letters terminating the employment contracts of at least 35 employees.
The affected employees are now threatening to take legal action against the embattled youth organisation.
In a petition dated 4th February and addressed to the BNYC Chairperson Louis Sibanda, the staff members state that, “the executive committee’s decision is tainted with illegality to the extent that it is pursuance of an instruction from the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture which instruction violates the Council independence…..”
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) MP for Francistown West Ignatius Moswaane also asked the Minister of Youth Sports and Culture whether he was aware that the BNYC was not fulfilling its mandate to represent the interests of the youth in general.
Olopeng responded: “I am aware that the Botswana National Youth Council is experiencing challenges in fulfilling its mandate of representing the interests of the youth.”
He further said his Ministry has met with the BNYC Board and District Youth Council representatives to deliberate on the mandate and provide guidance and direction.
“The restructuring is intended to re-align the operations of BNYC and the District Youth Committees to those of the Ministry,” he said.