The dissolved Botswana National Youth Council (BNYC) board was in agreement with the government decision to dissolve the council but differed on the modus operandi, documents passed to Mmegi this week suggest.
The dissolution of the BNYC could have cost P3,948,149.69 in gratuity due on August 2015 for the staff. But according to voluminous documents seen by Mmegi, the slight difference was when the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Culture (MYSC) deviated from the plan and moved ahead with some of the issues in the “plan disregarding the detailed plan and number of deliverables according to the implementation plan”.
On February 21, 2014 the then MYSC permanent secretary Jeff Siamisang wrote to BNYC executive director Benjamin Raletsatsi, reminding him “there shall be no filling of any vacant positions until the ministry advices otherwise. The BNYC will also propose how the restructuring can be done to cut down on the secretariat so that more funds are available for programmes as opposed to salaries of employees”.
Siamisang said the ministry would provide key performance indicators to the BNYC to guide on ministry performance expectations. “The BNYC shall reconcile operating and/or implementing through District Youth Council (DYCs) with implementation through affiliates. This should form part of the BNYC briefing to the minister on March 4, 2014,” said Siamisang.
On January 26, 2015 the current MYSC permanent secretary Lewis Malikongwa wrote to Raletsatsi about the ongoing restructuring of the BNYC in an attempt to achieve realignment to the ministry and refocusing its mandate. Malikongwa said the restructuring has been happening over the last few months with a number of critical changes already implemented both at district and executive level.
He reminded the youth council executive committee to stop handling administrative issues of the secretariat. He said the decision for the executive committee to be hands on was ill advised.
The PS also said there have been major rationalisation changes at district level in terms of staff and offices. “Firstly, the BNYC staff have now been instructed to be accountable to the ministry’s district coordinators at the district level. Secondly, the ministry’s district coordinators have also been instructed to take inventory of the BNYC assets and submit to the ministry,” said Malikongwa.
He said all contracts ending in February 2015 should not be renewed with the exception of identified officers at BNYC headquarters who are necessary for the organisation’s operations during the transition period.
The PS stated that the BNYC subsidiaries, Sechaba Youth Enterprises (SYE) and Lady Olebile Masire Youth Centre would continue to maintain their current level of operations and service delivery. The BNYC would continue to provide oversight to these institutions until further notice. On July 2, 2015 the acting executive committee chairperson, Boniface Disho, sent the PS a follow up correspondence on the BNYC transition. He told Malikongwa about the board meeting held on June 2, 2015 to deal with the ongoing transition at the BNYC.
He said the board passed a resolution that all employees would be paid salaries, benefits and allowances up to the end of the time of their contract lapses. Disho said all contracts are not terminated before the special annual general assembly would be transferred to the newly established structure of the BNYC, at least with the same benefits, if not better. The following day, Malikongwa responded saying the decision to restructure the BNYC has been approved by government in the form of the new operational guidelines.
“According to the Operational Guidelines 2015, the minister shall appoint a new board and the chairperson. The new BNYC shall not hold any asset nor shall it have any employees,” wrote Malikongwa. He then listed immediate action that needed to be undertaken towards achieving the restructuring objectives. The first is separation with staff, secondly facilitating the dissolution of Sechaba Youth Enterprise Company and the National Youth Development Trust.
The third is closing down the BNYC – Gaborone Multipurpose Youth Centre and lastly handing over all movable assets to the ministry. On July 11, 2015 Malikongwa informed Disho about the restructuring of the youth council and dissolution of its standing organs with immediate effect. These standing organs included the national executive committee, the DYCs, the ward or village youth councils and the general assembly.
“These organs shall be replaced by organs created through Presidential Directive Cab 10 (B) of 2015 on the restructuring of the Botswana National Youth Council. The secretariat and all staff of the BNYC are not affected by the dissolution, and their conditions of service and contracts will be taken over by the ministry. You and the other board members are therefore directed to immediately return to the executive director all BNYC properties in your possession.”
This did not please the board, which on July 14, 2015 launched an urgent application against five respondents to have the decision of the presidential directive set aside. The respondents were the Minister of Youth, Sport and Culture Thapelo Olopeng, President Ian Khama, Attorney General, BNYC and Raletsatsi. Justice Modiri Letsididi is scheduled to hear the case on August 25, 2015.