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PSP threatens BUAN petitioners

Morupisi says petition is un-procedural, unnecessary

In an unprecedented turn-of-events, the Permanent Secretary to the President (PSP), Carter Morupisi has this week threatened Botswana University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (BUAN) staff members who recently petitioned Minister of Agriculture (MoA), Patrick Pule Ralotsia, over the appointment of university’s acting vice chancellor.

WeekendPost has it on good authority that Mr Morupisi summoned the petitioners in what he termed an “emergency meeting” to Office of the President on Monday this week to call them to “order.”

The trio Dr. Nelson Tselaesele, Dr. Mogadime Rammolai and Mr Maano Dibeela were assigned to hand over the petition to MoA on behalf of BUAN staff members. The petition was necessitated by Ralotsia’s recent appointing of Dr Mataba Tapela to act as BUAN VC with effect from 1st August 2016 until 31st January 2017.

In the petition the staff members strived to register their concern about repeated reinstatements of Dr Tapela despite “his lack of leadership skills.”

However,the PSP is said to have questioned the BUAN petition and condemned why it was initiated in the first place.

“Actually he said if we were handing the petition to him he could have trashed it out rightly as it was disrespectful in a way,” a source who was present at the meeting revealed.

The emergency meeting was also graced by Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture, Boipelo Khumomatlhare as well as Ministry’s legal Counsel.  

According to the sources, what was of particular concern to the petitioners was the notion by PSP that he had called them to “warn” them about their “behaviour” in relation to the prompting of the petition.

“If it was me receiving this, I could have teared it apart,” Morupisi is reported to have stressed at the meeting.

He is said to have also cautioned against making an ultimatum to the Minister. In the petition, Ralotsia was allotted 14 days to have responded, failing which the staff members threatened to boycott the long awaited launch of BUAN, the former Botswana College of Agriculture which is now a transformed fully fledged university.

“You know we were so baffled by the PSP’s reaction towards the petition honestly because we believe that it is our fundamental constitutional right; we are free to petition authorities on any subject matter of our concern at any day we wish,” one source pointed out to this publication.  

In a more revealing way, the PSP is said to have stated that the appointment of substantive Vice Chancellor who will replace Dr Tapela might take 2 years or so and they should just remain calm until then.

Approached for a comment the, PSP confirmed that indeed such meeting transpired where he called some BUAN petitioners to OP in a mission to ‘condemn’ them for trying to precipitately hand the petition to the Minister.

“Yes it is true I had called them to my office so that I assist them with the procedure that they should follow instead,” Morupisi highlighted to this publication in an interview.

According to the PSP, he had wanted them to first seek audience with the acting Vice Chancellor Dr. Mataba Tapela and discuss with him their issues and concerns before they reach even the minister.
If they are not satisfied at that point, that is when they could have made an arrangement for an appointment with minister Ralotsia.  

Morupisi asked rhetorically, “why should they petition a minister while he has not refused to meet with them? You see they never attempted! They must first make appointment with the minister.”

“Mind you we are talking about lecturers here who are mature and expected to be responsible and exemplary to students. They should not behave like school boys,” the PSP pointed out.

From his judgement Morupisi emphasised that the petition is un-procedural, and it is unnecessary as he believes they should engage the minister in a more structural way.

In the petition the BUAN staff members have requested that the appointment of the Dr Tapela be reversed and another qualified staff member be appointed to act on the period of 1st August 2016 to 30th January 2017.

In the petition, the staff members demanded response from Ralotsia within 14 days failure of which they threatened to boycott the launch of the university. Nonetheless, 14 days have now elapsed and there is no official response to the petition lest for intimidation they encountered at the highest office in the land.

At the time of going to print, it was unclear what the staff members’ cause of action would be.

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