FRANCISTOWN: The Botswana Federation of Public, Private and Parastatal Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) has called on the Minister of Finance and Economic Development Thapelo Matsheka to apologise for the sudden announcement of government plans to rightsize.
Matsheka announced during the budget speech for the 2021-2022 financial year early last week that the government will soon embark on a process to review the size of the public sector.
Matsheka said the review process, which will take place during the 2021-2022 financial year is meant to help the government achieve fiscal sustainability. He added that the government will also abolish 50% of vacant posts as of April 2021 in a bid to reduce its wage bill.
BOFEPUSU secretary-general Tobokani Rari told The Monitor that the announcement has caused panic and confusion among civil servants. In context, many interpreted Matsheka’s remarks as an indication that the public service is not of the right size, either that it's unnecessarily bloated with some services not needed or that some public servants’ duties possibly being duplicated.
“The employer has not been engaged trade unions as representatives of employees on this matter and as such it’s our strong view that minister Matsheka should go back to Parliament and withdraw those sentiments and apologise to the nation and the public service,” Rari said.
Rari noted that for the finance minister to make such an announcement at Parliament, unions should have been fully engaged in the process of establishing
“It came as a surprise to us when the minister of finance made that announcement during the budget speech. It was quite unfortunate and we feel the minister became overzealous to an extent of encroaching into a territory that is not his. This is a matter that borders on employees' welfare and conditions of service and it is a matter that would have to be dealt with by the employer and the employees,” he said.
Rari noted that the view of the federation is that for any decision regarding the rightsizing of the public service to be arrived at; a thoroughly transparent process of auditing the structure of the public should be carried out.
He added, “The auditing process should be done with the involvement of workers themselves and in this case, their representatives being their trade unions. The consultation should be honest and meaningful as this could later result in the layoff of some employees. This exercise is the same as that of restructuring that usually takes place in the private sector.”