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BOCONGO Executive Director jumps ship

Botswana Council of Non-Governmental Organisations’ (BOCONGO) Executive Director, Bagaisi Mabilo this week quit her plum post at the organisation.

The decision to dump BOCONGO comes in the wake of a board proposal of a transformation to change the organisation’s name, constitution, mission, and mission as well as objective statements of the organisation.

It is understood that some organisation members and staff are against the transformation as they believe they were not satisfactorily consulted while on the other hand the board chairman, Oscar Motsumi, insists that they were consulted from inception of the proposed concept. 

This has led to an almost irreparable relationship between the current board and the Secretariat as well as some member organisations of BOCONGO. Amid the mayhem Mabilo was suspended a fortnight ago for extending contracts of staff members against the board’s will and resolution.

WeekendPost has established that Mabilo’s current contract was to expire on the 31st March 2017 but she opted to leave before then due to the turmoil currently engulfing the umbrella organisation.

Initially she had desired to complete her contract having executed the 2015/16 financial audit and having prepared for the October 27th 2016 scheduled Annual General Meeting (AGM).

“Sadly with the recent turn of events, I have to make a painful but necessary decision to tender my resignation prior to the end of my contract,” Mabilo said in her resignation letter this week.

According to Mabilo, this will also protect her professional integrity and allow for any investigations to be carried out, and at the same token she stressed that she will always avail herself should there be anything she needs to answer.

In earnest, the outgoing Executive Director, pointed out that what motivates her resignation emanates from the July 2015 letter, which she wrote to the board stating concerns relating to the “abuse of authority by the board Chairman”.

She highlighted that there was harassment, interference in management matters which has never been addressed resulting in escalation of matters and deterioration of the working relationship.

“I have repeatedly been set up to fail in executing my mandate as the Executive Director, first by forcing me to dismiss staff, and assigning me tasks I cannot singlehandedly manage, and deliberately not given sufficient time to implement my mandate and report to the board as I should quarterly. These issues were discussed at length in my submission at the April 29th 2016 board meeting,” Mabilo asserted in her resignation letter.

She alluded to that fact that although there was a BOCONGO Governance Manual which is a policy of the organisation since 2013, and while the current board was orientated on it in 2014, and subsequently in 2016 for new members, they have disregarded it.

“The board has not complied with its policies in particular, with regards to matters of the making decisions as a collective board, restricting itself to governance functions. Prioritisation of some board member functions have not risen above management and operational directives, a serious hindrance and breach to the governance organisational development achieved over the years I have worked with BOCONGO.”

This, she said has resulted in deteriorating staff morale, violation of employee rights and poor governance of the organisation.

She further explained that she “felt victimised and threatened by the Board Chairman Mr. Motsumi, after having provided details for his lack of full declaration of conflict of interest in a matter where the chairman wanted to use his influence in a tender committee to appoint a preferred acquaintance whom he had instructed me to work with at tender conceptualisation.”

According to Mabilo, the tender committee and the board has been provided with information on the issue and this resulted in a meeting amongst the tender committee members where she learnt that the tender was immediately cancelled. 

Immediately after alerting the board of the issue, she continued to point out that she then received a threatening mail from the chairman, who then organised a closed door board session whose quorum was questionable, and eventually a suspension and disciplinary hearing.

“My concern has always been that every time these closed sessions convene, there is no documentation of the legality of that meeting to make decisions that are binding to the organisation especially that issues of quorum and full participation of board members is always minimal and in most cases never form a quorum. Such actions continue to perpetuate non conducive and hostile conditions of service for me where decisions change willy-nilly.”

She said a methodical pursuit to dismiss her through a process that defeats and obstruct natural justice was deployed through the leadership of the board chairman and participation of the board. She mentioned that she had to endure a lack of procedural, unfair and intimidating disciplinary hearing where a lawyer instead of a labour practitioner services were procured on a labour matter. 

“In my opinion this process is flawed as it is not clear what the terms of reference for the lawyers were, as I was never furnished with these, and the outcome of the hearing evidently did not consider evidence that I had provided and was biased to favour the chairperson.”

Mabilo also stated that she believes the desire to implement the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) seminar had ulterior moves, and therefore she unknowingly became a hindrance to achieving plans of “some comradeship members of the board” as they refer to themselves, who would stand to benefit from the seminar.

During the disciplinary hearing, Mabilo was charged with failure to organise the seminar despite the board having instructed her to do so.

With all the developments, she explained that “at the end of the day this is done at the expense of membership who has not approved the actual strategy that is sought to be implemented, proposing significant organisational and structural changes, for example, constitution and membership and secretariat structure.”

“Therefore, I find myself caught up in between implementing board instruction that go against membership authorisation,” she highlighted.

According to Mabilo, the current relationship between her and the chairman as well as the board is “irreparable” and therefore she concluded that “I would like to serve a month notice and close out my contract with BOCONGO.”

BOCONGO Chairman, Oscar Motsumi, declined to comment on the matter and only stated that, “Like I have said before in your last instalment, the Employer/Employee issues are private and confidential and cannot be discussed with third parties.”

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