Secretaries drag gov’t to court
Secretaries employed in government ministries and departments on Friday dragged Director of Public Service Management ( DPSM) and the Attorney General, being the 1st and 2nd Respondents respectively, to the Gaborone High Court for a judicial review in a case where they state 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 their existing conditions of service and want the CBCP to be suspended forthwith and be reviewed with their full participation.
Appearing for the first time before Justice Lakvinder Walia last week Friday, where both Respondents did not come to court, Onkgopotse Ntatane, together with 376 other secretaries, stated in the founding affidavit that the CBCP introduced a new performance rating which they did not understand, which was also applied in an inconsistent and arbitrary manner which subjects them to competency based interviews. According to the Applicants, the 1st Respondent failed to consult neither them or their Trade Union or provide them with the opportunity to be heard.
“ According to the principles of natural justice, those interested in administrative decision or actions are entitled to be heard before decisions adverse to them are made and to be informed of the reasons of such decisions,” they said, stating that, the 2nd Respondent, as a public body has failed to comply with the rules of natural justice of acting fairly.
They state that, they are, under the law entitled to fair administrative treatment which is not arbitrary although the criteria used by 1st Respondent in upgrading select officers is arbitrary.
In his response, Justice Walia stated that parties could have had engaged in a meaningful discussion rather than approach the court , directing for such an engagement with the Attorney General. He also directed that the costs of the Friday appearance be paid by the Respondents.
Facts of the matter are that on 21st January 2015, the DPSM issued Directive No 1 of 2015 titled Botswana Public Service Competency Based Career Path for DPSM Secretarial and Executive Office Management Cadre with its (CBCP) primary objective being ‘ to provide a clearly defined, motivating and rewarding career for the Secretarial and Executive Management cadre.
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. Furthermore, they say the category of Accounting and Non Accounting Officers was created, where secretaries who serve Accounting Officers earned a higher salary that those who serve Non Accounting Officers. It was only the above mentioned officers who were upgraded or promoted without competition for posts while the Applicants were not upgraded and promoted in the similar manner despite having more experience than them and performing same functions.
“We have been in the public service for along time, having joined and remained therein, on the basis of a service regime (scheme of service) which until 2015 allowed us to ascend to higher position in the public service by virtue of experience gained from long service with Government, distinguished performance and devotion,” they state in the affidavit.
The case has been scheduled for status hearing on the 22 July 2016.