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Industrial Court 'toys' with broadening litigation scope

MPHO MOKWAPE
Industrial Court PIC. File
The Industrial Court of Botswana is tabling the idea of broadening its scope of litigation for easy accommodation.

The court reckons that the review of its jurisdiction will give enough advantage to labour litigation by the use of law and equity, which is currently only on dispute of rights.

The Minister of Employment, Labour Productivity and Skills Development, Tshenolo Mabeo on his delivery of the recurrent and development budget for 2018-2019 said it was time to evaluate the court’s jurisdiction, as the law was diverse.

“The court’s jurisdiction is only limited to disputes of rights. The scope of labour law is diverse and calls for a review of the court’s jurisdiction to broaden it enough to advantage labour litigation by use of law and equity,” he explained.

Mabeo said the court would engage all parties in order to establish consensus with government and all stakeholders on the way forward.

On the backdrop of the idea was that there was a noticeable increase in the number of appeals and reviews of arbitration awards entering the court system.

The minister noted that the implementation of the Trade Disputes Act No.6 of 2016 had eased the referral of cases to the court as they were now routed and finalised at the office of the Commissioner of Labour in line with the Act.

However, it had increased the number of appeals and reviews of arbitration entering the court system, an issue that needed monitoring going forward.

On other issues to improve the delivery of justice and fight delay of cases, the court

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seeks to introduce among others automation of cases.

This includes kickstarting the process of automation through the introduction of electronic case records management systems (CRMS) for the current financial year requesting a total of P10-13million.

“It is a labour intensive project that is expected to run in two phases with its completion projected to be in the financial year between 2019-2020 at the estimated cost of P10 million to P13 million at the current prices,” Mabeo said.

Meanwhile, on the recurrent and development budget, Mabeo requested over P42m, standing at P43,310,130 for the recurrent budget, while for development budget he sought P3m. The development budget is requested at a decrease of 45% from the previous budget.

The budget is expected to cover the local area network, court recording, cabling for Maun circuit court and establishment of a semi-permanent court in Kanye and the first phase of introducing CRMS.

On the recurrent budget, Mabeo explained that it was needed as the expenditure stood at 69% against the budget allocation.

“The under-expenditure on the recurrent was attributed to some vacancies that were not filled and will be filled in due course. The other attributing factor is the delay in the procurement process to replace a vehicle,” he said.

Moreover, Mabeo mentioned that other projects had a bearing on the level of expenditure like the Maun circuit cabling and the local area network overhaul of which the procurement process had commenced.



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