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BOFEPUSU accuses politicians of self-enrichment

CHAKALISA DUBE LEBOGANG MOSIKARE
Unionists during the May Day celebration in Francistown PIC: KEOAGILE BONANG
FRANCISTOWN: The acting president of Botswana Federation of Public, Private and Parastatal Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) Olebile Molamu has criticized politicians and private business for enriching themselves.

He accused politicians and a Zimbabwean businessman of falling in the category of people who might be working to enrich themselves unfairly during the May Day festivities on Wednesday.

Molamu said while BOFEPUSU may not be against the salary increases for members of parliament, councillors and Dikgosi, the process of doing so lacks decency. It violates known corporate governance standard practices.

“There is no doubt that it is unethical for MPs to review their own salary adjustments. That also amounts to direct conflict of interest. As BOFEPUSU, we take this very seriously and call for a situation in which an independent body would be established to consider the remuneration of the political officers,” he said.

Molamu added: “We are further worried that in spite of the fact that government was reluctant in going beyond the four percent and 10 percent increment for the public service under the pretext that any high figure would lead to a budget deficit. In increasing the salaries of politicians, this principle seems to have been ignored. The decision raises questions about the honesty and sincerity of government during the negotiation process”.

It will be remiss of BOFEPUSU, Molamu not to note that over the past five years, corruption has found its roots into this country.

“Corruption in our view is the one that has resulted in Botswana being black listed by the international financial institutions.

This has come at a price in that some international banks and financial institutions now reject the financial assets that come from Botswana. Such dire consequences have already been felt by the BPOPF. This scenario that we find ourselves in, is quite worrisome and indeed disturbing,” said Molamu. He added that while Masisi has committed his administration to fighting corruption, BOFEPUSU is of the view that enough is not being done save for some few grandstanding overtures where the media is being called when suspects are being searched and later released.

“We are worried your Excellency that your attempts to fight corruption is being applied selectively.” Molamu also took a pot shot at Masiyiwa over the sale of MTN-Mascom shares to Econet Wireless.

Masiyiwa is the founder and executive chairman of diversified international Telecommunications, Media and Technology group Econet Wireless.

“We note that BPOPF holds 40 percent of shares in Mascom and that Botswana Public Officers Pension Fund (BPOPF) belongs to the public servants as it manages their pensions. Our strong view is that public servants own 40 percent of shares in Mascom through the BPOPF, and as such we as the public servants need to guard jealously against any acts that may jeopardise Mascom as our investment,” he said.

BOFEPUSU’s view, Molamu added, is that MTN needs to respect BPOPF as a partner in terms of shareholding and allow BPOPF to exercise its pre-emptive rights in purchasing the MTN shares that it (MTN) is offloading, rather than bringing Econet as a minority shareholder to buy the shares.  “We feel that this conduct by MTN is disrespectful of BPOPF to say the least. Mascom is a profitable entity, which we feel workers of this country through BPOPF should take control of rather than letting the 53 percent MTN shares to be bought by a foreigner. We are

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worried that it looks like the Office of the President of the Republic is interfering in this transaction and we call upon your office, your Excellency, to allow Mascom and the BPOPF as independent entities to deal with this matter lest we suspect that you have vested beneficial interests,” he said.

Regarding the pension fund, Molamu stated that BOFEPUSU is deeply worried that “a lot of vultures are hovering over the pension fund which is the only future investment for public service employees”.

“We would like your government to move decisively to protect the pension fund by dealing with corruption in general and the corrupt practices within the government enclave carried out by some government ministers and the politically connected,” said Molamu.

On changes in the pay structure of the armed forces, the BOFEPUSU president said they not opposed to the development progressive development. He commended government for decision. However, he raised concerned that such a move might be pre-emptive on the negotiation process that is about to commence on the PEMANDU report. “We are quite alive to the fact that the armed forces are not within the bargaining unit of the trade unions, however government should be aware of the fact that courts have held that changing conditions of service of those outside the Bargaining unit while there are negotiations that are to be held on similar condition does not only prejudice the negotiation process but also is pre-emptive to the process,” said Molamu.

“We therefore hold that government should not have jumped the gun by changing the pay structure of the armed forces before the negotiations are concluded.

This is the same conduct that we have condemned during former president Ian Khama’s administration,” he asserted.

Molamu called on government to resuscitate the Public Service Bargaining Council (PSBC).
“As you are well aware His Excellency, when you got into office you promised that one of the things that would be top in your priorities would be the resuscitation of the PSBC. His Excellency, you would further recall that you even put up a timeline that the PSBC should have been up and by the end of September 2018. Even as we celebrate this day, that promise has not been fulfilled. We hold you against your word your Excellency, and demand that the PSBC should be up and running as early as yesterday,” he said.

“The last time we had an engagement with the DPSM on this issue, there was a dispute over the legality of the participation of one of the unions, to which DPSM promised to avail some information but to no avail up until now.”

He also expressed displeasure that workers in retail shops, the chain stores, Chinese restaurants and shops, the filling stations, media houses, private security services and others are lowly paid.

“We talk here His Excellency of salaries as low as P800.00 per month. This is as a result of the absence of a research based Minimum Living Wage (MLW) that would have taken into consideration all factors as per the International Labour Organisation (ILO) guidance on the calculation of living wages. Failure to do so indicates lack of commitment to protect Batswana from being exploited.” 



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