Gov't urged to avoid costly litigations


Government has been criticised for orchestrating unnecessary pressure on the public purse by starting needless litigations that could be easily avoided.

Several Members of Parliament (MPs) warned during the debate on the supplementary appropriation Bill proposed by Minister of Finance and Economic Development Kenneth Matambo on Wednesday that public funds were wasted to pay unnecessary litigation costs.

Matambo had proposed a Supplementary Appropriation Bill (2017/18) of 2019 requesting government to authorise the payment of the Consolidated Fund to meet expenditure incurred during the year ending March 31, 2018. The minister said the total supplementary estimates amounts to P132, 373, 965.00, which Parliament ultimately approved.

This, he said, includes overspending by the Ministry of Basic Education under the overtime allowance vote due to the ruling by the District Labour Office against the Ministry regarding overtime payments of boarding masters and matrons and the budgeted overtime allowances for other cadres like non-teaching personnel, which was also found to be inadequate. 

Matambo said the Ministry incurred excess expenditure under basic salaries and allowances vote as a result of leave payments for teachers whose contracts came to an end in the financial year 2017/18. These were not budgeted for while there was also a court ruling in favour of teachers who teach Accounting and Business studies to be paid scarce skills allowances with arrears going as far back as April 2013.

Moreover, he said part of the money is for excess expenditure under the Department of Wildlife and National Parks and Meteorological Services for commuted subsistence and overtime allowance after more officers were redeployed to areas with Human-wildlife conflict incidents and scarce skills allowance respectively.

However, MP for Selebi-Phikwe West, Dithapelo Keorapetse said the government should strive to enhance the tripartite consultations to avoid unnecessary expenditure and avoid litigations.

“We don’t want to see government being dragged to court because the employer didn’t want to sit and negotiate with the unions. Government has lost many cases and at the end money is spent to pay cost of suits and also the affected employees with accumulated back pays,” said Keorapetse.

The Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) legislator also said teachers must be compensated for guiding students who partake in extra curricular activities.

He stated that the compensation given to farmers who have suffered losses due to wildlife should be prompt and adequate.

MP for Francistown South, Wynter Mmolotsi also said the effect of the litigations will be felt in the long run.

“These issues of paying people, especially teachers after court cases have been going on for some time. It should be avoided,” he said.

Whilst the Alliance for Progressives vice president also appreciated government’s effort to improve salaries for soldiers and police officers, he indicated the need to also review allowances for teachers.

“DPSM should play its role in advising the ministry to avoid litigations. We are always going back and forth over issues that could be resolved by talking and this creates problems,” said MP for Palapye Moiseraele Goya.

The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) legislator further stated that just like government vehicle drivers who are surcharged for causing accidents, officers who cost government money should also be surcharged.      

In response, Matambo said he agreed with the MPs in principle that some of the expenses such as the ones caused by court cases could be avoided. He also stated that they have realised that some ministries need to be capacitated to budget properly.

Editor's Comment
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