Immigration Officers stationed at border posts around the country are owed overtime from February to June 2019 amounting to a whooping P 11,889,071.95. This is said to have discouraged the staff to the point that the quality of service they provide has declined, with employees no longer motivated despite being expected to continue working beyond normal hours. The revelations were made in Parliament by the Minister of Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs Ngaka Ngaka, while responding to a question posed by Mochudi East MP, Moagi Bright Molebatsi. Molebatsi had asked the minister to state how much overtime is owed to Immigration Department staff at all the border posts and when workers will be paid their overtime arrears. He expressed shock at the development because government has long taken a decision to reverse the planned cancellation of overtime.
Last year, government shocked many when it threatened to cancel overtime allowances in all government departments to cut the civil service wage bill. The decision to discontinue overtime allowances was informed amongst others by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) 2011 mission report presented to the ministry of finance and economic planning. IMF recommended to government to reduce the public service wage bill as a share of GDP as it remains rather high compared to other countries, therefore deemed unsustainable.
Ngaka said the reason for overtime non-payment is because overtime budget was not provided for the ministry employees during the current financial year. He failed to explain why that is the case. He, however, revealed that the ministry has since sourced funds through savings to only process payment of overtime for the period February to April 2019 amounting to P7 million.
Ngaka said the P7 million pula overtime will be paid in August while the remaining overtime arrears will be paid at a later stage as strategies are being formulated to secure the funds.“The ministry continues to engage the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development for possible supplementary budget that will enable timely payment of all the outstanding overtimes. We will engage the employees so that they understand what could be causing the delay in their overtime payments this year,” said Ngaka.
Molebatsi expressed concern that the employees are owed five months of their overtime allowances and yet still expected to deliver on their duties beyond normal working hours by government.
He argued that this is unfair to the rights, livelihood and welfare of the workers adding that there is possibly no way the workers can work to the best of their ability when owed five months in overtime. “I still can’t still understand why the ministry could have not have drawn a budget for overtime. Why is overtime not paid while in other ministries or departments it is done? This issue is seriously depressing the employees and soon they will embark on a go-slow. The money for overtime should always be budgeted for,” Molebatsi said.
Molebatsi said government should stop making employees to work extra hours if they are aware in the first place that they don’t have money to pay them overtime.
He said one way or another, immigration staff at the border posts is being treated as slaves noting that this reflects a continuous gross violation of the public workers’ rights by the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) government. Moreover, Molebatsi said the delay in paying overtime has a significant impact on the increase of the government wage bill at the end of the year, hence saying paying overtime quickly will reduce the expenditure.