The Permanent Secretary to the President Carter Morupisi had advised the Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) to address their concerns to the Minister of Presidential Affairs Eric Molale.
Morupisi was responding to a letter from BOFEPUSU in which the union had sought audience with Cabinet to discuss matters relating to conditions of service and salary negotiations.
BOFEUSU intended to extend an olive branch to government through Cabinet following a frosty relationship between two parties since the 2011 Civil Service strike that nearly brought the economy to its knees.
In a letter dated 21 July 2016, Permanent Secretary to the President Carter Morupisi informed BOFEPUSU Deputy Secretary General Ketlhalefile Motshegwa that ‘I wish to inform you that matters raised in your letter falls under the portfolio responsibility of the Minister for Presidential Affairs and Public Administration. You are therefore advised to address same for the attention of the Honourable Minister.”
Motshegwa this week took a swipe at Molale and his ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) saying the party should reign in the minister.
“The BDP has responsibility to account for Minister Eric Molale’s continued bullying of Trade Unions and disregard of the Public Service Bargaining Council. Since his days as Permanent Secretary, later as Permanent Secretary to the President, Minister Molale has always been and continues to be confrontational when dealing with Trade Unions,” said Motshegwa.
He added that Molale also “undermines social dialogue mechanism thereby undermining Freedom of Association and the right to Organise, The right to Organise and Collective Bargaining.”
According to Motshegwa, Molale’s role of giving mandate to those who represent the Government at the Bargaining Council continues to have a negative impact on the Bargaining Council and the Country.
“His influence and role in the Public Service has brought an era of bad relations between Trade Unions and Government and therefore impacting negatively on the democracy of the Country,” said Motshegwa.
He said in 2010 there were 1000 Permanent Secretaries and Directors and currently they are 2000.
“This is just a burden to the government because there are many Permanent Secretaries and Directors and productivity has gone down,” said Motshegwa.
Motshegwa observed that such officials are pegged at higher scales and they get a large slice of the wage bill.
“In yester years Permanent Secretaries were powerful and principled. They could stand their ground and objectively tender their advice to Government. Today it is different as those appointed to such positions are not necessarily the best in the civil service due to an entrenched culture of nepotism that reward bootlicking and sycophancy,” he lashed out.
He said the selection process and promotion process is riddled with what he called “corrupt connotations.”
“We have headship of civil of service that is willing to carry instructions of political masters no matter how absurd and ill advised they are. This is the kind of crop of Permanent Secretaries and Directors who will severely cost the BDP with their popular vote,” he aid
Salary negotiations between Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) and government have stalled due to reports that the government’s negotiation team at the Public Service Bargaining Council is failing to discharge its mandate. It is alleged that “the reasons for that are that they need a lot of time to get instructions from the powers that be.”
At the centre of the collapse of the public service 2016/17 salary negotiations are also reports that Presidential Affairs Minister Eric Molale has refused to meet BOFEPUSU leadership to discuss matters relating to the Public Service.
Motshegwa said it continues to be disrespected, disregarded and Labour laws violated in the Public Service under the leadership and influence of Molale.
“We had written to Cabinet seeking to address it on matters of Public Service for dialogue is fundamental in preserving democracy, peace and prosperity. We were however turned down by the Permanent Secretary to The President who wrote back saying that we should in turn meet Minister Molale as he is the one responsible for Public service ,” said Motshegwa.
He added that “We then wrote to Minister Molale based on MorupisiÔÇ║s correspondence. Minister Molale has since refused to meet leadership of BOFEPUSU. This depicts arrogance and unaccountable leadership that has no place in modern democracy.”
Motshegwa said “It can then be safely interpreted that Minister Molale’s onslaught on Trade Unions is endorsed and condoned by the BDP, for they seem to have placed much trust on him despite his dismal failure under his portfolio.”
Motshegwa said at the Bargaining Council employer representatives are always unreasonable and frustrating the Bargaining Council.
“In fact they are dedicated to kill the Bargaining Council so that Government alone can unilaterally decide on conditions of service of workers. This week they stalled 2016/17 salary negotiations indicating that they have no mandate to continue with the salary negotiations and further they are refusing to respond to the Trade Union proposal of 2017/18 salary negotiations,” he said.
Motshegwa further said “Government representatives at Public Service Bargaining Council are never productive as they go there without mandate, and they would be continuously be on the phone saying ┬½they are calling bagolo┬╗.
He added that “At this moment there is low morale in the Public Service due poor conditions of service of workers. There is also animosity and ins instability in the civil service.”
Motshegwa concluded thus; “If the BDP does not whip Minister Molale into the line then his conduct and actions will surely cost them as they will attract many enemies not only within civil service (but elsewhere).”
Molale’s mobile phone rang unanswered. Chief negotiator of the government, Kebonye Moepeng denied claims that they are unable to discharge their mandate saying “government’s side has clear mandate for negotiations.”
Asked to share the status of the negotiations she said “I can only share once negations are completed.”