Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Systems collapse is a wake-up call as government fails to honour salary increment

Public trust in government is running low.We are living through a pandemic. And for the grace of God, Botswana has up to now been saved the worst.Yet what is clear is that our government has not used the time to prepare for the worst.As it is now, it looks like situation is likely to get worse because of events totally out of anybody’s control.The ongoing covid-19 is already challenging the deep beliefs, deep convictions and long held terms of relations between people and their governments.It is clear that after Covid-19, there is no going back to old ways.This week Botswana government released a muddled information on what situation obtains about paying public servants their agreed salary increases.

Whether or not Botswana Government is going to honour its word to increase the salaries and wages of public servant remains totally unclear.Statements were issued and withdrawn. And by midweek it was clear nobody in government really knew what is happening.Just over a week ago, the whole of government and members of parliament went into quarantine.We are seeing the effects and results of that.The whole state apparatus is on auto pilot.And it shows.The president, his deputy and ministers are now forced to run a country and government by skype.In the time of a pandemic, clarity, like transparency matters.Transparency, honesty and clarity by those power allows for a smooth flow of information across the public.

Most importantly it allows for trust, which is absolutely important if victory against pandemics are to be won.WHO advises that public trust in the time of pandemic is an absolute necessity.Nobody gets out of the pandemic by telling lies. One needs empathy, one needs trust.And these can only be achieved by staying genuine and even with the public.A majority of civil servants believe that the government is not being honest with them.

It is also true that a good majority of civil servants want the government to succeed. Almost all of the them are patriotic.Resultant controversy risks eroding whatever goodwill had accrued to government as part of efforts that the public were seeing.What government is trying to do is going to end up costing government much more than it is worth.In Botswana suppliers and contractors are known to charge government as much as four times more than due price, sometimes more.That is exactly what is going to happen with the food baskets.

Serving public servants are not alone in their confusion.Retired public servants are in a worse situation.After serving their country in absolute loyalty, many retired public servants are today unsure of just what is happening to their retirement benefits.Many go for months without accessing their money.Others even go to their graves before receiving their pension benefits.

This issue should be addressed by those in power.For far too long money due to Botswana Public Officers Pension Fund have been stolen with abandon, yet we have never heard a voice from those in power.Nobody has been sent to jail over it. And much worse the looting continues.

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The Telegraph October 21

Digital edition of The Telegraph, October 21, 2020.