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Court dismisses BOPEU’s application

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Members of Botswana Public Employee Union (BOPEU) suffered a big blow last week Friday when Judge Isaac Bahuma of the Industrial Court dismissed their case in which they were challenging Ministry of Agriculture over the settlement agreement reached in 2012.

Delivering his judgement, Judge Bahuma said the application was not properly brought before court because it did not have a referral certificate. “The only way they can approach this court directly is by way of urgency, which is why the Registrar probably thought they had. The applicants have confirmed that the application is not urgent,” said Judge Bahuma.

During the argument, the attorney representing the applicants, Uyapo Ndadi confirmed to the court that their application was not urgent and it was never brought to court as such. A question then arose during the proceedings whether court has jurisdiction to hear the matter since it was not brought to court on urgency and didn’t have a referral certificate.

According to Judge Bahuma, it does not matter that there was a settlement agreement signed by the parties, it is not a court order and it is not enforceable in a court of law. “If the other party does not meet their side of the bargain the applicants ought to approach the mediator who will, if necessary, prepare necessary documentation for proper referral of the matter to this court.

This was not done and for that reason this application must fall,” said Judge Bahuma. Reacting to the judgement, Uyapo Ndadi said, “I think his lordship erred in the law. The parties had settled this matter before the Labour Officer with the government making undertakings. Consequently, a referral certificate would not have been necessary as there was an agreement. Labour Officers refer matters to court when the dispute is unresolved. At any rate the government suffered no prejudice by the matter being heard without a referral certificate and the Attorney General did not take the issue of referral as well.”

He also said the court also erred in holding that a settlement agreement is not enforceable in a court of law. “That is with respect, wrong, as it seems the court took the view that a settlement agreement is akin to a recommendation. Agreements are enforceable in court provided they are lawful and not contrary to morality. It does not matter before whom they were made,” explained Ndadi.

He said they will not appeal “Because the government has since paid our clients their dues so the dispute is settled.” In 2005 a directive was issued by the Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) directing the implementation of scheme of service for employees under administration. T

he scheme of service was in terms of Directive No. 13 of 2005, supposed to have been fully implemented and completed by 1st April 2006. The Ministry agreed to pay the applicants salary differences between the time applicants were promoted to B3 in 2010 and 1st of April 2006, but it did not.

A dispute arose regarding the implementation and was referred to the Commissioner for mediation in terms of section 7(1) of the Trade Dispute Act and an agreement was reached. The whole exercise was to be completed by 30th September 2012.

Neo Sharp represented the state.

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Healthcare system to improve

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The Health ministry has developed a seven-point programme to guide the country in improving the healthcare system, says Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Alfred Rabashemi Madigele.

“The seven priority areas will serve as a roadmap and a guardian angel towards improving the overall healthcare system and increasing access to health care while fighting the burden of disease that confronts us,” said Madigele at Masa Square Hotel on Tuesday.

The focal areas include decentralisation; Universal Health Coverage, Tertiary Care, Strategic leveraging on the Private sector; Supply Chain; Research as well as Staff welfare and accountability.
Point-one of the seven priority areas according to Dr Madigele is about empowering the District Health Management Teams (DHMTs) and transforming them into fully fledged Regional Health Authorities.

“In this case, they will be rationalised from 27 to 18 and have the authority to hire A and B Scales, promote up to C1 and manage micro procurement,” he said. Point two is about improving the quality of healthcare services. “The main causes of mortality and their risk factors in Botswana are Primary Health Care issues,” Dr Madigele said.

He added that “Our efforts for the attainment of Universal Health Coverage should thus focus on: Prevention; Comprehensive screening; Early treatment; and Surveillance at the community.”
This he said, would require revamped grassroots efforts in which adequate numbers of community health workers through partnerships with the non-governmental sector will be deployed as necessary.

According to Dr Madigele, the top five causes of death in Botswana in 2017 were HIV/AIDS, Ischemic heart disease, stroke, lower respiratory infections and Diabetes. He said compared to 2007, NCDs among these had increased in burden by an average of 34%. The top five risk factors related to these causes of mortality were unsafe sex; poor diet; high blood pressure; alcohol abuse and tobacco use.

Improving the quality of care, Madigele said will also include the safety and security of patients; attitudes of staff as experienced by patients; time taken in queues either before seeing a health worker or receiving medication and the availability of drugs.

Meanwhile, the health minister revealed that the commissioning of Sir Ketumile Masire Teaching Hospital (SKMTH) is ongoing with the facility scheduled for opening on April 24th. “This will be a phased approach commencing with some services including paediatric oncology, internal medicine, rheumatology and endocrinology, diagnostic radiology, laboratory services and pharmacy”.

A phased commissioning of SKMTH will reduce overdependence on South Africa for referrals, reduce costs and also institutionalise provision of super specialist services within Botswana.

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JUST PROPAGANDA

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Dr Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi has refuted claims that she is under the radar of the Financial Intelligence Agency. Dr Venson-Moitoi who pulled out of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) presidential race at the eleventh hour, was last week reported to have had her accounts frozen because she was being investigated by FIA.

It was alleged that the freezing of the accounts would have a negative bearing on her campaign as she could not access her funds. Responding to enquiries on the issue during a media briefing in Kang Village, Dr Venson-Moitoi said the allegations were far from the truth.

According to the former cabinet minister, all her accounts were clean and she was accessing her funds without any challenge. “The person who was saying all those things was lying. My accounts are clean as we speak. I was never confronted by FIA or anyone. As far as I know I am not under any investigations,” she said.

Linked to that, it had emerged that Dr Venson-Moitoi’s campaign was being funded from outside the country especially by the some rich families in South Africa. Reports then suggested that her source of funding was blocked through the intervention of FIA, and that even her accounts were frozen. She dismissed the reports as propaganda that was perhaps spread to soil her campaign.

“I am clean. This is why I am never mentioned in missing funds from National Petroleum Fund or those of Capital Management Botswana,” said the Serowe South Member of Parliament. Last month Dr Venson-Moitoi had reported to the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) Director General Peter Magosi that she was not happy that she is being followed around the country by security agents.

Magosi dismissed the claims on grounds that his organisation is not the only one that uses private motor vehicles.

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