Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) was expected to serve government with court paper over the termination of the contract for unions to run Government Employees Motor Vehicle and Residential Property Advance Scheme (GEMVAS).
Addressing members of the media on Friday, BOFEPUSU deputy Secretary General Ketlhalefile Motshegwa said that they have instructed their attorneys Rantao Kewagamang Attorneys to file an urgent application to stop government through ministry of Finance to take the scheme from them. They believe that one of the reasons that UNIGEM was contracted by the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning was on the basis that the scheme would be administered by an entity formed by the very same beneficiaries of the scheme.
BOFEPUSU believes that good governance dictates that there has to be an open tender to allow all interested parties to participate as dictated by Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Board Policy (PPADB) and Procedures but seems government has resolved to take the scheme away from them. GEMVAS was outsourced to public sector unions through the company UNIGEM (PTY) Ltd in which public sector unions hold equal shareholding. BOFEPUSU Secretary General Tobokani Rari rebutted allegations that UNIGEM funded BOFEPUSU to campaign against Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) candidates ahead of the 2014 general elections. “BOFEPUSU does not own shares at UNIGEM. Only unions do and it is wrong for people to insinuate that they funded political campaigns last year,” he said.
Rari said initially government wrote a letter to them to notice them that their contract to administer GEMVAS will come to an end in May this year and will open to tenders but later somersaulted to say they will administer it. According to BOFEPUSU chief scribe this is totally against government policy of outsourcing noting that they were ready to tender for the scheme, “now instead of outsourcing government is insourcing.”
BOFEPUSU believes that government is waging an unholy economic war against the unions and wants to close all the valves that are sustaining them.
One of the worrying factors for BOFEPUSU is that government has no capacity to run the scheme and Rari revealed that they (government) are trying to poach UNIGEM employees by giving them appointment letters. Veteran unionist and BOFEPUSU labour secretary Johnson Motshwarakgole put the blame on the doorstep of Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi revealing that they know he is the one behind nonrenewable of GEMVAS. “He has vowed that we will never be allowed to run GEMVAS and is hell-bent on crippling unions,” he said.
The GEMVAS scheme is regarded as a lucrative and its book value is close to P500 million and is expected to grow after government increased salaries of public service workers.
Motshegwa also revealed that he has received a letter from his employees notifying him that he has gone AWOL and suppose to report at Francistown City Council for disciplinary hearing on Monday. “This is really surprising because Motshegwa was seconded to Botswana land board and Local Authority Health Workers Union (BLLAHWU) as per the agreement with DPSM,” said Rari.
He said that if at all FCC was concerned they could have contacted DPSM who are the principal employers of Motshegwa adding that government is trying to silence unionist who are very vocal.