Letter behind Raletsatsiís suspension

Benjamin Raletsatsi
Benjamin Raletsatsi

The executive director of the Botswana National Youth Council (BNYC) Benjamin Raletsatsi was recently suspended over a letter addressed to the youth ministry permanent secretary (PS).

In the letter dated July 30, 2015 Raletsatsi wrote to the PS in the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Culture, Lewis Malikongwa indicating his dissatisfaction with  the termination of staff contracts that went beyond August 31, 2015.

Raletsatsi wrote the letter in response to  one written by Malikongwa, which stated that all employees whose fixed term contracts of employment went beyond August should be released from duty as of July 31, 2015.  Malikongwa’s letter had further informed Raletsatsi that the affected employees would receive their full terminal benefits comprising of gratuity, accrued annual leave pay and outstanding overtime, if any.

In the response letter that led to his suspension, Raletsatsi described the exit packages as something that is meant to cushion the affected employees against the premature termination of their contracts. 

He said the exit packages shall be finalised in the near-future following due consultation with them.

“This letter also states that the affected employees must in particular be informed that the decision which was last verbally communicated by you to all employees to the effect that the BNSC National Executive Council had resolved to pay them all salaries, allowances and benefits for the remainder of their respective contracts was irregularly made and is on instruction and direction of the ministry being wholly reversed and set aside,” the letter from Raletsatsi read. 

Raletsatsi said he had acted through a draft letter for Malikongwa’s attention to inform all employees whose contracts end in July and were not in the list of employees recommended to be retained as per Malikongwa’s letter.

Raletsatsi further demanded guidance explaining that three board meetings were held and the board did not resolve to set aside their decision to pay employees with contracts that were terminated prematurely.  “The board resolved that they will only go back against the resolution if the AGA (Annual General Assembly) was postponed.

As we both know the special AGA did not proceed,” said Raletsatsi.  Raletsatsi further challenged the instruction, which stated that longer contracts should be terminated effective July 31 and enter into negotiation for employee terminal benefits.

Raletsatsi backed up his argument on the advice from the Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs that specified the need to find a valid reason for ending the contracts.

“The labour office advices that we then also need to inform their office of such a material development as any action to the contrary will be deemed as unfair dismissal,” he said. Raletsatsi concluded by recommending the start of the negotiation process of the affected employees exit while they are at work and release them to avoid litigation and any mishap.   The letter from Raletsatsi was deemed as serious misconduct because he (Raletsatsi) failed to carry out Malikongwa’s instructions.

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