National Coordinating Committee of Secretaries acting on behalf of secretaries employed in various ministries and departments issued a notice of intention to sue Government for their dissatisfaction with the content and application of the Competency Based Career Path (CBCP) for the secretarial and executive office management cadre.
The secretaries say the CBCP is in serious breach of the secretary’s existing conditions of service and want it be suspended and reviewed with their full participation. On 21st January 2015, the Director of Public Service Management (DPSM), first respondent in the matter, issued Directive No 1 of 2015 titled Botswana Public Service Competency Based Career Path for DPSM Secretarial and Executive Office Management Cadre with the primary objective “to provide a clearly defined, motivating and rewarding career for the Secretarial and Executive Management cadre.” The directive states that the career path was designed to prescribe qualifications and skills required for entry to various grades and to indicate progression and promotion criteria necessary for the effective operation of the secretaries.
It was also intended to define the duties, responsibilities and skills required at each level of position in the cadre and attract and retain qualified staff as well as indicate required training, development, standards of performance, progression and maintenance of efficiency and effectiveness within the cadre. The position of the secretaries is that, DPSM took a unilateral decision to set aside the existing scheme service and developed the current one. They argue that the “ scheme of regime cannot be lawfully applied, if its content and application is arbitrary and consistent to the disadvantage of many persons subject to it as it has introduced new conditions of service such as pay progression.”
They contend that the decision is irrational and breaches their legitimate expectations and violates the Public Service Act, and is consequently illegal. In their letter of instruction to their lawyer, Gosego Lekgowe of Dinokopila Lekgowe Attorneys, the secretaries dissatisfaction and bone of contention is that “the CBCP has departed from the existing conditions of employment that they had with the employer for a decade, and that the current one was developed without their input, consultation and /or proper negotiation with the recognized trade union which the employer has with , and which thousands of them are members.”
Amongst the issues of concern is that following the implementation of the Directive, Senior Executive Secretaries on D3 scale were upgraded and promoted to the position of Executive Leadership Office Manager 1 on D2 and D1 respectively. It was only the above mentioned officers who were upgraded or promoted without competition for posts, while they were not upgraded and promoted in the similar manner despite having more experience and performing same functions.
Furthermore, the category of Accounting and Non accounting Officers was created, where secretaries who serve Accounting Officers earned a higher salary than those who serve Non Accounting Officers: “It is the client’s case that the category had no basis in law and the Public Service Act and is arbitrary. Secretaries who serve Accounting and Non Accounting Officers perform the same administrative and managerial functions to require no such distinction and different treatment,” Lekgowe states in the notice.
Lekgowe argues that his clients , most of whom have been in the public service for a long time remained on the basis of a service regime which until 2015 allowed them to ascend to higher positions in the public sector by virtue of experience gained from long service, distinguished performance and devotion. “The CBCP has introduced a new regime whereby progress from one position to the aspired position is determined by proficiency, academic and professional competencies and skills which previously were not criteria,” he said, adding that , prior to implementation of CBCP, government did not make it a priority to take any concerted efforts to train secretaries in order for them to acquire the strategic and professional competences and skills which are so important to be a criteria in career advancement.
Although the Secretaries had notified that even with the notice, in the interest of maintaining good relations, they were open to discussing the matter with DPSM, at the time of going to print, DPSM had not replied to them, not had they responded to a Botswana Gazette questionnaire of 11th December. Lekgowe says he will meet Secretaries to map a way forward.