BOSETU opposed to Right-Sizing the public service

• Union defends parastatals for jobs • DPSM to make an inventory of public service jobs • Loss making SOEs face merging or closure

BOSETU opposed to Right-Sizing the public service

Massive job losses loom large in the public service after the gov-ernment made known its intentions to scale it down in the midst of dwindling revenues and a growing wage bill.

During his televised budget speech earlier this month, the Minis-ter of Finance and Economic Development Dr. Thapelo Matsheka said the government would soon embark on an exercise to “right-size’’ the public service.

Minister Matsheka said the Directorate of Public Service Manage-ment (DPSM) would spearhead the efforts to trim the public ser-vice. “Government needs to right-size the public service ... gov-ernment will abolish 50 percent of vacant positions, in value, as of 1st April 2021”, he told Parliament.

DPSM will review the size of the public service during the 2020/21 financial year as part of the government’s over-arching public sector reforms, he added.

Matsheka’s pronouncement immediately drew sharp criticism from the Botswana Sectors of Educators Trade Union (BOSETU) which this week came out guns blazing in condemnation of the finance minister, saying downsizing the public service would prove detrimental to the education sector. 

 “Botswana Sectors of Educators Trade Union (BOSETU) is wor-ried that the education sector would be impacted negatively by the envisaged cost cutting measures, specifically right-sizing the public service,” BOSETU president, Winston Radikolo, said at a press conference on Monday. “It is amazing that government is seeking to abolish some of the vacant positions whilst there are still acute shortages in the education sector.

“It would not be proper to abolish some positions and still con-tinue to engage people on a temporary basis. A deliberate effort should be made to address the human resource needs of the sec-tor, especially in schools and vocational institutions, as a matter of urgency.”

The BOSETU leader maintained that government should not downsize even though it is grappling with a huge wage bill be-cause concerns of inefficiency in the public service had long been raised.

Responding to questions from The Business Weekly & Review about what alternatives are left for the for government, the un-ionist responded:. “Government has a problem of lack of plan-ning.”

He asserted that the government is running in panic mode. Radikolo said although State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) may be to blame for stalling Botswana’s economic development, they should not be eliminated. 

The union’s national treasurer, Sammuel Aboneng, also sought to protect SOEs. “We are however worried about the possible closure and liquidation of some SOEs, especially the loss of jobs and the possible increase in the dependency ratio as a result at a time of an already jobless economy with a very high unemployment rate of about 25 percent as reported in the budget speech,” Abo-neng said. 

Air Botswana, Botswana Meat Commission (BMC), Water Utilities Corporation and Botswana Development Corporation (BDC) are among SOEs fingered for failing to live up to their mandates.