Ban Public Servants From Private Business

In a motion that is still under discussion in Parliament, Nata-Gweta Member of Parliament (MP) Polson Majaga has pleaded with government to ban civil servants from engaging in private businesses.

The motion calls for government to rescind as a matter of urgency its decision to allow public servants service employees to partake in business activities whilst still in the civil service. Back in 2015 the government issued a directive allowing public servants to own businesses outside their everyday work. Then, it was reported that Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions and Business Botswana were against the move saying it was likely to open the door to corruption.

Presenting the motion, Majaga said he has realised that the arrangement is a strategy for some senior government officials to benefit from tenders using inside information.

He said Batswana are worried about the turn of events as corruption is rife within the public service.

Majaga also said the move has led to conflict of interest amongst a majority of civil servants as they have also created networks across districts and sub-district councils in his area thereby helping each other to benefit unfairly.

He added that they are also failing to manage conflicts when they arise, because of conflict of interest, something that worries members of the public.

“I have seen it fit for me to bring this motion here because Parliament is the one that makes laws and also have the right to amend laws. It also represents people’s rights, their voices hence the reason to have brought this motion here because I represent people and their concerns,” Majaga said.

“Corruption is breeding at a high speed amongst councils where most of Batswana’s livelihoods are because some senior officers have been positioning themselves, networking with fellow colleagues in other districts to benefit from those tenders.”

He suggested that government should rather look into other ways that it can improve civil servants’ condition of service like increasing their salaries.

“Early this year we have seen some civil servants’ salaries adjusted through “Ntlole” and that is what the government could do. Gongwe le bone baka ja bo thakadu jaaka batho ba jele bo ntlole rather than allowing them to engage in business while working. I do not have anything bad against civil servants, some of them are the ones who voted me to be here, but we should not allow them to be conflicted and fuel corruption that we are trying to curb as the country.

The concern is high especially in my area, I have received reports of corruption from Nata Senior School, Sowa Junior School that I have once brought in Parliament through questions to the minister but hit a snag. I think the government had allowed that with good faith but it can revisit the decision before it is too late,” Majaga said.

Majaga added that government could also consider giving civil servants better packages like early exits so that they can retire and engage in business whilst not conflicted.

He went on to state that there could be other initiatives meant specifically for the elderly like what has been done with the youth who have their own funds.

The MP for Okavango, Kenny Kapinga supported the motion stating that it was an important one that touches on the issue of corruption that is debilitating the country.

He revealed that he was a public servant when civil servants were offered that opportunity.

“We were able to see a political leadership that was busy eating from tenders, business that they were conducting with the same government that they were leading.

The pressure from below was being felt that if we continue eating like this and we leave behind the public servants of whom we rely on there will be insurrection and therefore for us to mitigate this possible insurrection let us also give them a bite of the cherry and say to them you are also free to engage in business, that is where that thing came from and it has created a problem,” Kapinga said.

He stated that in his area there are some senior council officials who are engaged in security business and those companies go for months without paying their employees. Kapinga said when trying to intervene they will be complaining to the same people whose loyalty is divided.

“We cannot resolve for them not engage in business but it is a cause for concern if they engage in business with the organisation that employs them. Doing so we will be putting them in a compromising position, where will their loyalty lie,” Kapinga said.

The motion will be further debated in Parliament this coming Friday.

Editor's Comment
What about employees in private sector?

How can this be achieved when there already is little care about the working conditions of those within the private sector employ?For a long time, private sector employees have been neglected by their employers, not because they cannot do better to care for them, but because they take advantage of government's laxity when it comes to protecting and advocating for public sector employees, giving the cue to employers within the private sector...

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