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Job losses as Gov’t chops private tertiary cake

Some welcome recommendations of the Human Resource Development Council (HRDC) are said to be taking toll and threatening the survival of the local tertiary institutions, especially those that are privately owned.

In particular, HRDC has advised government through Department of Tertiary Education and Financing (DTEF) not to sponsor some courses which they deem not critical for the job market. It is understood that in so doing, they are also addressing the scorching issue of skills mismatch that has inundated the country’s employment marketplace.

Weekend Post has established that the development is severely upsetting the private tertiary institutions’ enrolment which heavily hinges on government sponsored students for continued existence.

HRDC’s main objectives are to provide for policy advice with regard to the National Human Resource Development Strategy, coordination and implementation of the strategy, planning and advising on Tertiary Education Financing and work place planning in Botswana.

Speaking in an interview this week, Botho University Marketing and Communications Manager, Tebogo Matebesi confirmed that the government is not adequately ancillary to private institutions.

“It is a reality that government sponsored student numbers have been low; not only in this year but also in the past few years. This has affected the entire higher education system, both public and private negatively. At Botho we have many programmes where we have had very small enrolments or no enrolment at all,” he pointed out.

As a result of reduced government funding, Botho University is said to be undertaking cost-cutting measures to scale up with the expurgated number of prospective students to the university.

It is understood that some staff members who are Degree holders are the latest casualties in the economising exercise as the university have turned their back on them. Notwithstanding that initially the Degrees were a pre-requisite to be employed by the university and indications suggest that now the tables have turned. 

Some staff members who spoke to this publication on condition of anonymity insisted that many employees have been fired willy-nilly at the university. They pointed out that currently there are on ongoing talks including disciplinary meetings with the university with intention to lay off more staff members.

“It’s terrible, the BU management is saying they want to down size employees as they are not receiving sufficient support from government through sponsored students. So some employees are pushed out on account of forged papers, some are dumped on the basis that they are not in possession of Masters qualifications’ and even where some were left with for example 2 years as per their contracts, they are never compensated,” one disgruntled staff member who face the chop revealed.  

The matter is exacerbated, he said, by the ‘firing team’ which is composed of majority of university Human Resource (HR) employees which is intimidating. “Both the committee chair, deputy, HR Manager, and the Secretary are from the institution HR department.” Only two are said to be from the victim’s department and he lamented, “so you see, it’s the whole team against you.”

He also mentioned that the committee “disregards the rules of natural justice” and during the hearings you are not even entitled to a lawyer representative but only someone from internal.  

In contrast, the University Marketing and Communications Manager, Matebesi defended BU by inharmoniously stating that they value their staff and see them as the most important asset.

“We believe that our staff members must have growth opportunities and hence where possible new positions are advertised internally. We have remained steadfastly focused on staff wellbeing by ensuring that we remain a leading institution,” Matebesi contended.

He said to date they have spent close to 4 million Pula on staff development in which around 60 staff members have taken advantage of this policy and have upgraded their qualifications.

Matebesi also stressed out that: “as a university we naturally have to give importance to higher qualified staff and hence we have put in place a strong staff development policy whereby any staff member wishing to study further any programme relevant to the institution will be fully supported.”

In justifying the contentious move, Matebesi went to state that they have matured from a college to become a fully-fledged university and many of their programmes have over the years evolved away from shorter programmes such as Certificate and Diplomas to become Degree programmes. He explained further that: “hence some staff members have been found to have qualifications below the minimum requirements.”  

Although many employees are continually being chopped off in the reduction of the university expenditure, the Botho University spokesperson maintained that where possible they have tried their best to reassign staff to other administrative or support roles.

Other private institutions notably Limkokwing University have been also enforced to take similar belt-tightening measures as a result of shrunk government sponsored student intake and in the process dismissed some employees at the institution.

In addition, others also have been hit hard comprising Boitekanelo College which sacked even its Vice Chancellor and other staff employees earlier this year. Other private universities facing a similar predicament includes ABM University College, Gaborone Institute of Professional Studies (GIPS), Baisago University among others.

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Khan: Boko, Masisi are fake politicians

18th January 2021
Masisi & Boko

While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.

Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.

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Ookeditse rejects lobby for BPF top post

18th January 2021
LAWRENCE-OOKEDITSE

Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.

Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.

Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”

“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.

He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.

He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.

According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.

There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.

Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.

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BDP cancels MPs retreat

18th January 2021
President Masisi

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.

“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication.
The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.

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