Botswana Democratic Part (BDP) Member of Parliament for Kgalagadi North Talita Monnakgotla has been summoned to appear before the Industrial court on Tuesday (1st December 2020) after her company failed and/ or refused to pay a former employee severance benefits and leave days.
The dispute of unfair labour practice between Sharon Kenosi and AT & T Monnakgotla Transport (Pty) arose on the 31st January 2020, after Monnakgotla‘s company failed to make payment of severance benefits despite promising to do so upon elapse of contract. The matter was subsequently brought before the Commissioner of Labour on the 25th August 2020, where the company failed to effect payment. The matter was then referred to the Industrial court with a debt of around P24 000 owed to the employee by AT&T Monnakgotla.
Monnakgotla is a Member of Parliament under the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) banner and issues of unfair labour practices fall under her comrade Mpho Balopi -the Minister of Employment Productivity and Skills Development, who also doubles as BDP Secretary General.
Contacted for comment late Friday, Monnakgotla said she is aware that her company owes Kenosi. She said COVID-19 pandemic has negatively affected the business, hence delays to pay her severance benefits. Monnakgotla said there is no reason for the employee to have taken the matter to court as the company engaged BOFEPUSU Deputy Secretary General, Ketlhalefile Motshegwa, over her issues.
“We are not refusing to pay the employee, our submission to court will be simply that the business has not been affected due to COVID-19. I am adamant that all employees that are owed the benefits will be paid when the business gets back to normal. We trade with buses and our business is still affected,” said the MP.
In addition, Monnakgotla said she is aware that the employee was ill at time when she was working but she said the company was not quick to terminate her contract knowing that she has medical bills to pay. Repeated efforts to reach the Minister of Employment, Labour Productivity and Skills Development Mpho Balopi proved futile as his mobile phone rang unattended untile the time of going to print late Friday.
The Deputy Secretary General of Botswana Public Parastatals and Private Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU), Ketlhalefile Motshegwa, said Monnakgotla as a member of parliament should be exemplary and a role model in upholding and respecting labour laws and fair labour practices. He said workers are facing serious challenges of violation of workers’ rights and that it is more serious and heart breaking in the private sector. He further indicated that he tried to engage the MP on the matter to resolve it amicably with the employee but the MP was rather casual about the matter, as she simply said she does not have money.
Narrating her ordeal, the aggrieved ex-employee said the company has been tossing her up and down as the Human Resource and Administration Manager Mpho Zwinila has not been cooperative with her over her plea. She noted that she has been asking for her severance benefits since February but the HR Manager told her that the company does not have money to pay her in full, so she suggested that they will give her instalments as per salary until they finish. “I told Mr Zwinila that as he knows I have been sick. I need money to cover my medical costs. I have to cater for my diet which has changed, to clear my debts and buy food,” said Kenosi, crying out in her statement of case filed before the Industrial Court.