The Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration Eric Molale lied to Parliament on Tuesday when he said his ministry consulted all stakeholders on the review of the Public Service Act of 2008. Presenting before the committee of supply of Parliament, Molale said that the bill on the review of the Public Service Act is now ready to be presented after they have consulted all the stakeholders. “In my last presentation I had indicated that he Bill on the review of the Public Service Act would be tabled before parliament in July 2017. However, after the Bill was gazetted in May 2017 a need arose to further engage in extended consultations with stakeholders. The process has been concluded and the Bill is now ready for presentation to this house,” said Molale. In an interview, President of Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) Johannes Tshukudu reacted with shock and anger at the statement by Molale. “If he was not an honourable Member of Parliament I would say he is telling a lie but due to his position I would prefer to say that he is stingy with the truth,” said the livid Tshukudu. The BOFEPUSU President said that Molale has never consulted them rather his assistant Thato Kwerepe met with them after they requested a meeting with where he promised to consult them. BOFEPUSU has in the past called for the halting of the tabling of the bill reasoning that proper consultation has not been done and recently Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) joined the chorus calling on the minister to consult further before tabling the bill. BOFEPUSU leader labelled Molale as anti-labour movement minister who is hell-bent to ensure that public sector unions collapse. “He doesn’t even know some us yet he boldly claim that he has met with us and is not the first time that he lied as he did the same in 2015 during the Public Service Day when he publicly revealed that he meet union leaders on a monthly basis,” hit out Tshukudu who is also the President of Botswana Teachers Union. Tshukudu said that one of the provisions they are against in the Public Service act Review is the one that empowers Permanent Secretary to the President to appoint the General Secretary of the Public Service Bargaining Council and that he/she shall be appointed from among employees of the Directorate of Public Service Management.
Tshukudu said that this will literally make PSBC a department of DPSM thus limiting its operation as the Act further states that only Public Officers can be representatives of trade unions admitted to the PSBC. BOFEPUSU is arguing that giving such power to the PSP, who is in fact a political appointee, is prejudicial to public servants because he alone, at the whims of his political master, the President, will effectively determine the fate of thousands of public servants without their input through their trade unions. This if implemented, Tshukudu said that it will be a regression on what they have achieved within the public service. In 1997 , Botswana ratified the the Right to Organize and Collective Bargaining Convention 98 which aims at protecting workers exercising the right to organize, preventing interference in workers and employers organizations and promoting voluntary collective bargaining. Tshukudu said that the amendment on the PSBC is in violation of the ILO convention. BOFEPUSU Acting Secretary General Mogomotsi Motshegwa concurred with Tshukudu saying that Molale never met with them. “We appealed to Minister Kwerepe as we were told he is the one who oversees the public service and we later appealed to Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi that we have not been consulted on the upcoming PSA amendments,” revealed Motshegwa. According to Motshegwa in November last year, Minister of Employment, Labour Productivity and Skills Development Tshenolo Mabeo called them to his office together with Director of DPSM Ruth Maphorisa to hear their displeasure. “DPSM Director was instructed to consult us on this serious matter and we are still waiting for her to consult us. We are now shocked to learn that the bill will be presented in parliament,” said the worried acting BOFEPUSU Secretary General. The conduct of Molale according to Motshegwa, exacerbate the already existing ugly labour relations in Botswana. Molale informed parliament that they have engaged a consultancy company to come up with a remuneration system. “The consultancy is to establish remuneration system for Botswana that will set the parameters for salary structure and the basis for reviews in relation to the budget,” he stated. In reaction, Tshukudu said that they are waiting for the report on the consultancy company and DPSM has promised to furnish them with it by the beginning of March this year.