Sunday, July 3, 2022

Parliament breaks ranks with Khama

Parliament this week broke ranks with President Ian Khama and his Cabinet, isolating them as the stumbling block to ending the ongoing public sector strike.

A special meeting of parliamentarians declared on Friday that the ongoing public sector strike has evolved into a national crisis and needs to be resolved.

It is understood that the meeting tried to press for Parliament to be convened with a hope to amend the Appropriation Bill to incorporate their resolution for a civil service salary hike and reinstatement of fired essential services workers.

It was hoped this would force president Khama to either sign the amended bill into law or dissolve Parliament. The plan was, however, torpedoed by MPs Ramadeluka Seretse and Prince Maele of the Botswana Democratic Party.

The meeting, which was attended by Minister Phandu Skelemami, Assistant ministers Keletso Rakhudu, Vincent Seretse and Gloria Somolekae, opposition legislators and the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) backbenchers then appointed a committee of MPs led by Speaker of the National Assembly, Margaret Nasha, to meet with President Ian Khama and the leadership of the Botswana Federation of Trade Unions (BOFEPUSU). Leader of the Opposition, Botsalo Ntuane, MP Dumelang Saleshando, and Abram Kesupile are expected to be part of the committee appointed by the meeting to meet with Khama.

Through a press statement released on Friday following the meeting, Speaker of the National Assembly Margret Nasha stated that MPs have acknowledged the compromise made by government and BOFEPUSU to this end by shifting from their original bargaining terms.

Parliament says it indorses the 3 percent salary increment agreed between Government and BOFEPUSU, however while the Union wants the money to be distributed in a pyramid fashion, parliament wants the money to be distributed equitably without any disturbance to government’s pay structure.

Parliament has also requested for the reinstatement of essential service workers who were recently sacked for allegedly failing to respect an Industrial Court judgment, which urged them to return to work. “That as part of the settlement, the Government is requested to set aside its decision to dismiss the striking workers who were classified essential services and that in a spirit of magnanimity ,the workers are requested to end the strike action,” the statement from Nasha reads in part.

Parliament has urged the Union, government officials and politicians to avoid inciting statements as a way of promoting peace and a ‘return to normalcy’.

Parliament, however, was unable to make a resolution on how to break the impasse on the ‘no work no pay’ policy.

Instead, the legislators advised the Union and government to further negotiate on the issue in search of a ‘mutually agreeable settlement’.

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