Salary negotiations for public servants are yet to start under less than a month before Minister of Finance and Economic Development Kenneth Matambo makes his annual budget speech to the nation.This publication has gathered that the negotations which were to start in December 2018 failed to take off as the parties- public sector trade unions and the employer represented by Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) - could not meet.
This seems to have been the culture for years between the two parties to fail to agree on salary increment and conditions of service for public servants before the budgeting process gets underway. In most cases negotiations have been carried over to the next financial year. Trade unions have accused the DPSM of stalling to have the negotiations kickstarted.
However, President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi has expressed his wish for the unions and DPSM to conclude their negotiations before the delivery of the 2019/2020 budget. The president said this on New Year’s Eve when receiving a report on the Review of Salaries Conditions of Service and Entitlements for the Political Leadership, Justices of Court of Appeal and High Court, Members of Ntlo ya Dikgosi and Councilors.
The report was presented by the commission chairperson Justice Monametsi Gaongalelwe. The president assured public servants and union leaders that government has left some space in the budget within which to maneuver but the space cannot be as big as everyone would want.
DPSM Director Goitseone Mosalakatane could not be reached for comment as her mobile phones were not going through. Her supervisor Permanent Secretary to the President Carter Morupisi said he had not much information regarding the negotiations and Mosalakatane would be better place to talk about the issue.
“I do not have their timetable for the negotiations but in our recent meeting she told me that they should be meeting soon with the trade union party regarding the negotiations. It might be before end of this week but I am not very sure about the date because I do not have sufficient information on that,” said Morupisi in an interview.
Botswana Federation of Public, Parastatal and Private Sector Unions Deputy Secretary General Ketlhalefile Motshegwa confirmed that negotiations were scheduled to start in December last year. “As trade unions we wanted negotiations to start on the 21st of December 2018, but DPSM said they are not ready. So, we are still waiting for them to tell us as when they are ready,” said Motshegwa in an interview. Regarding the statement made by the president, the BOFEPUSU spokesperson said Dr Masisi has a propensity to announce things which his ministries and the DPSM operate parallel to.
He indicated that earlier during the State of the Nation Address, the president stated that the unions have been given a Report of Pemandu Consultancy which government commissioned to look into conditions of service of public officers.
“This was all lies, as up to now we have not been given the report. When we confronted the DPSM in our last meeting with them over this misleading announcement by the president, they could only apologise saying they do not know how the statement found the day,” he revealed.
The unionist stated that they have been promised the report before end of December 2018 but nothing has happened. Motshegwa said currently as unions they cannot share with third parties their proposals to the employer regarding increment and conditions of service.He however indicated that public servants in Botswana are currently living under severe, unpalatable and unberable conditions of service in a country so rich.
He said this was so mostly for lower scales employees some of whom though working are painfully poor and constituting the working poor. According to Motshegwa this is immoral and it’s a shame on the leaders of this country in that they have failed to instil dignity in the lives of the people despite the country being blessed with abundance of resources.
“Workers are creators of wealth of this country but sidelined to the periphery when it comes to economic distribution. It so happens that politicians always brag about how there has been developments in this country. What is disturbing is that the hard work of working people is not recognised as the national economic gains of their efforts does not translate or come with any meaningful reward for them.
“This is much driven and influenced by a capitalist system riddled with selfishness, massive corruption, a system with no regard for social justice and thus has created economic disparities, poverty and breeding many social ills,” Motshegwa said.
He pointed out that it is to that effect that as public sector trade unions they urge Government to be serious about improving the conditions of service of workers. There is need to addresses current salaries which are failing against the many economic dynamics inclduing the burden of inflation, he explained.
He added that there is urgent need for conditions of service to be reviewed for purpose of dignity at work.