Government’s ill-fated scarce skill policy continues to draw more controversy with the Botswana Land Board, Local Authorities and Health Workers Union (BLLAHWU) now agitating for expanding the scarce skill cadre within organisations that it represents. At its recent meeting with the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, the union identified several groups who are not getting scarce skill allowance when they actually qualify for it in terms of the government’s own policy.
The first is that of bye-law officers who, in terms of their job description, have to perform prosecutorial duties. The guidelines explicitly state that civil servants who perform such duties should be paid the allowance. The second group is that of park officers. A Public Service Management directive issued in 2008 states that both architecture and engineering technicians should be paid attraction and retention allowance at 15 percent. However, this allowance has not been paid to the technicians despite the fact that the Parks Division falls under the Department of Architecture and Buildings.
Likewise, a 20009 savingram from Ministry of Local Government‘s Establishment Secretary stated that professionals and technicians holding landscape, architecture, horticulture and parks qualifications must be paid scarce skill allowance ranging between 15 percent and 40 percent. Such allowance has still not been paid. The third group is that of housing officers and technicians. Currently, scarce skill allowance is paid to holders of BSc Real Estates, BA Land Reforms and Rural Development, BTech Land Management and BSc Land Economy at the rate of 30 percent. BLLAHWU’s position is that the same allowance should be paid to Diploma holders too especially those operating under the Self-Help Housing Agency (SHHA) who also happen to be scarce. While it may have been motivated by good intentions, the scarce skill allowance has been hugely problematic in its implementation.
Outside of the government departments that BLLAHWU represents, there is another group of civil servants who are also not benefitting from the allowance when they should be ÔÇô police prosecutors who don’t hold any academic qualifications in law. Prosecutorial work in the Botswana Police Service is mainly done across three ranks: sergeant, sub-inspector and inspector. Those with either a diploma or degree in law get scarce skill allowance. However, there are many more police officers without such qualifications who do prosecutorial work and on the basis of what BLLAHWU says about bye-law officers, should also be getting that allowance. The union’s Secretary General, Ketlhalefile Motshegwa, says that on the basis of established government policy, such officers qualify for the allowance.
“The problem they have though is that they don’t have a union which can speak on their behalf,” he adds. As all other officers in the arms of force, police officers are not allowed to belong to a trade union. BLLAHWU also wants all officers based at landfills to be paid dirty allowance which is currently paid to sewerage and sewerage treatment plant attendants.