Parliament has deferred a motion that calls for government to rescind as a matter of urgency its decision to allow public servants to partake in business activities whilst still in the civil service.
The decision followed a debate by Members of Parliament (MPs) on the motion that was tabled by Nata/Gweta legislator, Polson Majaga. A majority of the MPs supported the motion stating that if indeed it was true, then it is something that needed to be investigated as it is alleged bodes on the issue of corruption.
Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration, Kabo Morwaeng said the motion concerns the workers of the country hence should be further investigated.
“The decision to allow public officers to participate in private business was announced as part of the package of reviewed conditions of service for public officers with a view to augment their income,” Morwaeng said when making an input on the motion.
“This condition of service was introduced in good faith to allow for public servants to generate extra income with the hope of promoting empowerment and creating potential for business growth and job creation.”
Morwaeng said in addition there was an expectation that it would assist in curbing some behaviours that may have been caused by low incomes. He added the decision was taken in consultation with public service trade unions.
He said, as it is now a pre-existing condition of service it cannot be withdrawn without public servants’ trade unions being consulted or engaged as the case may be.
“The trade unions and employee organisations act and trade disputes act enabled employers in the country to form unions, which will be recognised by employers, through the formation of recognition of unions employees were afforded a platform through which they could collectively bargain with an employer for such things as remuneration and other terms and conditions of employment.”
He added that government as the employer has recognition agreements with several public service
Morwaeng stated that the labour law review committee, together with the technical assistance of International Labour Organisation (ILO) experts, is currently deliberating on the various pieces of labour legislations of which the public service act is one of them. He said one of the issues under discussion relates to government employees engaging in private business hence it would be proper for this important structure to complete its work without hindrance or durance.
“It would not be proper for Parliament to pass this motion, it will undermine the very law that this Parliament had passed that were designed to benefit workers. It may give rise to potential litigation by trade unions seeking to protect their organisational rights, which were granted by this house,” Morwaeng said.
He added it would derail the work of the labour law review committee and it would have the potential of motivating employee organisations to report Botswana to the ILO.
He stated that in the meantime government is establishing the ethics and integrity directorate to instill an ethical and integrity culture to effectively address issues of public officers’ conflict of interest.
Francistown East MP, Buti Billy and Ngami MP Kainangura Hikuama shared the same sentiments stating that there should be proper consultation with public service trade unions.