Political stunt or govt policy?
Unmarried officers cry discrimination
'How is such announcement different from the Khama administration?'
A war of words has erupted between civil servants following a recent announcement by the Permanent Secretary to the President (PSP) Carter Morupisi, that going forward government will expedite transfers for married officers who wish to join their spouses.
Unmarried civil servants are accusing government of preferential treatment for a section of the public service and/ or discrimination based on marital status. The singles argue that such biased conduct by the employer is unlawful because marriage is not a requirement of the law but a personal choice and preference. "Conditions of service, which govern the employer/ employee relationship cannot be controlled by circumstances which are purely personal, like whether I want to be married or to remain single," complains Lorato Rabasima, a teacher in Kgalagadi South.
Those in support of the instruction dismiss the singles argument that they will be transferred to urban centres or major towns and cities with better amenities. They ask a rhetorical question; are married spouses only stationed in urban centres with better services and amenities?
Although he does not oppose the proposal to unite families, public sector trade unionist Tobokani Rari is concerned at the conduct of the employer in making the announcement without consulting employee representatives. Rari, who is the Secretary General for BOSETU and BOFEPUSU, concurs that although considerations can be made on social issues, they do not form part of contract of employment and should not be central to the conditions of service.
He warned that the issue should be approached with caution after consulting stakeholders to find the best solution going forward. He said Morupisi’s pronouncement of a major decision that alters the conditions of service for civil servants in a Kgotla follows the same strategy used by the Ian Khama regime to undermine trade unions. “How then are we breaking away from the past practice by Khama where the law was made in Kgotla meetings? This sounds more like a populist political stunt,” said Rari, adding that transfer or promotion policies and procedures are negotiable issues.
Rari said although the employer has the power to transfer or promote officers s/he must do so following procedures that have been negotiated and agreed upon with both parties. “That position has never been agreed with trade unions. Does the stance adopted by Morupisi comply with the Public Service Act and national transfer policies? Decisions made should always be harmonised with existing law to avoid setting a bad precedent. As it is the position adopted is susceptible to abuse,” cautions Rari.