- Contract ends in 2019
- Speaks against politicisation of Unions
- Transitional cabinet will have its own fair share of challenges
The Permanent Secretary to the President, Carter Morupisi who leaves the civil service upon the end of next year may have ended his career in the civil service after he revealed that he intends to stand for political office and represent his constituency-Lerala/Maunatlala in parliament.
A 2009 Ministry of Transport and Communications document reveals that in the same year Morupisi informed a panel of interviewees at the Ministry where he was the permanent Secretary that his greatest aspiration was to be the Permanent Secretary to the President (PSP) and subsequently a member of parliament in five to ten years.
Speaking to this publication yesterday at his office on a wide range of issues, Morupisi confirmed his interest in politics post the expiration of his contract with government in February 2020. “I am a dreamer and I fight for the attainment of my dreams. I have always dreamt of this position and here I am. Although I have been hesitant to say it, yes it is true that I have political ambitions,” said the 59-year-old civil service chief.
Speaking on politics and civil service, Morupisi said “the notion of keeping politics away from the civil service is to protect the identity of the public service.” He opposes what he calls the politicization of the civil service by unions, “I think it does more harm than it remedies. While I agree that it can be a bargaining tool, my strong view is that it polarizes the civil service and can often harden hearts,” he explained.
Morupisi admits that “some of the reasons why the past administrations were at odds with the unions was due to their political alignment pronouncements.” He explains his protracted fallout with unions as a result of misunderstanding, “I am a man of principle and if I do not agree with you, I give you my views. I am not one to hide my views. Unfortunately, people take that offensively,” he says and hastily urges the unions to let go and embrace President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s olive branch.
“I have been inviting unions to some of my meetings with workers and this is something I will be doing more often. This is in line with the president’s desires for a harmonized and effective civil service.” he said adding that he recently called union leaders to express his disappointment at their hasty decision to go to court on the derecognition of public sector trade unions saga.
“My view is that the matter should have been amicably resolved without even going to court. President Masisi has directed us to avoid these kinds of altercations and move towards a harmonized and satisfied civil service and we must all commit towards his noble dream,” he said. He denied, self-righteously being an enemy of civil servants as claimed by unions but reasoned that all attacks were channeled to his office and not him personally.
Morupisi also denied that there are some members of the civil service who are divided between Masisi and former president Ian Khama, saying that his office has not encountered such a situation and have not had cause to reprimand anybody in relation to the now public fallout.
As to allegations of a divided cabinet, Morupisi who is also the Secretary of Cabinet said he would not want to engage on the affairs of Cabinet and stopped short of admitting that there was disunity saying “a transitional cabinet will always have its own fair share of challenges”. He is adamant that the uprising and confusion will subside post the 2019 general elections.
The PSP blames much of the trouble on the refusal by some in Cabinet to accept that change has come and that they must adapt. “I did my assignment with my Permanent Secretaries. I long warned them that they must be prepared for change and reshuffles, promotions and demotions” he revealed.
He admits that he is leading a disgruntled public service and says in all his countrywide tours, all complained of the same thing-conditions of service which he undertook to address in order to ‘look after’ workers and build a productive civil service.
Any intentions of liberating oversight institutions?
It does not seem there is anything in place to free the oversight institutions held under the Office of the President. The PSP says all is well. “People want us to copy and paste the South African models but my view is that we are doing just fine, and our institutions are independent and effective,” he says.
He continued: “People talk about the institutions being hamstrung to investigate presidents or associates to protect their jobs but they forget that for an institution’s head to be sacked there has to be tribunal set up to ascertain the veracity of the claim made against that person. These are the checks and balances you need to protect the vulnerability of these people like judges, Ombudsman, Auditor general, director of prosecutions etc,” said Morupisi.
Is his deputy Magosi a threat to him?
Morupisi laughs off the question, and asks rhetorically, “where does this really originate from. Look, I partook in the recruitment of Elias Magosi because our worry is that we need people who will succeed us because we are not here forever. I don’t feel threatened because I earn my worth and I am not here through sympathy.”
He is however not moved by those who are calling for his head saying, “you need thick skin for this job and I have learnt to live with the accolades and criticism.”
His beef with Khama?
“Look if I had my way, I will stay out of that matter between Khama and Masisi but I can’t because Khama’s office is under me. I was just with him recently and I might even call him later today to discuss some outstanding issues with him. Don’t be misled, work is work. I will obviously be more at ease if the dispute was nonexistent but it is here, and we must deal with it. I have undertaken to be guided by nothing but principle in dealing with him and his office,” Morupisi said.
Morupisi leaves the civil service in February 2020, just four months after the next general elections in 2019. However, the revelation of Morupisi’s political ambitions are not without self-created controversy, after a 2017 Court of Appeal judgement found that civil servants are prohibited from expressing political views due to their possible manipulation of government agendas. As the highest civil servant in government Morupisi’s current position will have to be re-assessed and sanctioned by the DPSM and the President following his expression of interest and political aspirations of running for political office for the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).