Connect with us
Advertisement

Fako to surrender his UB top post

University of Botswana Vice Chancellor, Professor Thabo Fako will not be seeking a second term at the helm of the country’s highest learning institution, Weekend Post has established.

According to the institution’s acting Director of Public Affairs, Tefo Mangope, Fako has made up his mind and has since communicated the decision to his superiors at the Ministry of Education and Skills Development and his decision was accepted.

“I can confidently confirm that Prof. Fako will relinquish his position as the vice chancellor of UB when his first term comes to an end on the 31st of March,” Mangope told this publication.  
Mangope further confirmed to this publication that Fako has successfully applied with Department of Sociology for a new role as a professor.

The positions of; Deputy Vice-chancellor, Finance and Administration and Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Student Affairs also fell vacant last year following the departure of Dawid Katze and Professor Lydia Nyathi- Saleshando after completing their two full terms.

The university policy allowed them to serve only the two terms.

Katze has since joined BIUST serving in the same position while Prof. Nyathi-Saleshando has rejoined the Faculty of Education.

Mangope also told this publication that, Prof. Martin Mokgwathi has been appointed Deputy Vice Chancellor – Student Affairs while Director of Financial Services, Mendel Ngoni Nlanda has been promoted to Deputy Vice Chancellor -Finance and Administration.

The position of Deputy Vice Chancellor-Academic Affairs may soon be declared vacant should Prof. Otlogetswe Totolo be appointed vice chancellor of BIUST. Information reaching this publication suggests that Prof. Totolo is amongst the three short-listed candidates for the position of vice chancellor at BIUST.

Fako’s reign as UB vice chancellor

Prof. Thabo Fako was appointed the fifth vice chancellor in April 2011 for a period of five years. His appointment was marred with controversy as the cabinet, which has the last say on the appointment of the vice chancellor decided to settle for him instead of the preferred candidate, Prof. Brian Mokopakgosi who has since been appointed executive director of Botswana Examinations Council.

Fako received accolades from the academic staff as they said he was assuming the position of vice chancellor at a time when the university was in crisis. When Fako’s predecessor, Prof. Bojosi Otlhogile stepped down in 2011, the university was embroiled in crisis.

There was mass exodus of the academic staff due deteriorating working conditions, low staff morale and acerbic employer-employee relations. Students were also looking up to Fako as their concerns were not addressed during Otlhogile’s era.

Relations with the student community

Kago Mokotedi who served as the president of the Student Representative Council said Fako never deserved to be the vice chancellor hence his decision to step down comes as a relief on the part of the students.

Mokotedi described Fako’s leadership as an extension of the executive noting that Fako succumbed to the pressure from the country’s political leadership and failed to engage the SRC in addressing pertinent issues regarding student welfare.

“Fako lacked accountability and viewed the SRC not as equal stakeholders but his adversary. In a nutshell I would describe Fako’s leadership as a successful operation in which the patient died,” he remarked.

“It was during his reign that; politics were banned within campus, popular student bar, 411 closed, intervarsity games were suspended, SRC was ripped off its benefits like free on campus accommodation  and malicious charges were laid against the SRC,” he explained.

Mokotedi called on the relevant authorities to review the procedure on the appointment of the vice chancellor and the chairman of the university council adding that the current one was flawed.

Another former SRC president, Jacob Kelebeng said Fako was too philosophical and autocratic hence reluctant to solve problems emanating at the university.

“As someone who served under his leadership twice, I realised that Fako’s working relationship with students and academic staff was shaky because of his favouritism and pettiness,” said Kelebeng.

“It took him ages to admit that the only remedy to high failure rate at the university was supplementary examinations. He was also reckless in dealing with SRC and that is why he lost numerous court cases against the SRC,” opined Kelebeng.

Kelebeng said the only thing he appreciates about Fako is his decision to change the university logo though the university spent millions of pula on the exercise.

Relations with the academic staff

Contacted for a comment, president of University of Botswana Academic and Senior Support Staff Union, UBBASSU, Dr. Sethunya Mosime said as the union there were still to meet and discuss Fako’s exit from the office of the vice chancellor.

According to impeccable sources at the institution, Fako had literally unleashed war against the professors and was governing the university with an iron fist.

The dean of Faculty of Medicine resigned after Fako decided to cut salaries and allowances of the staff.

In 2014, Fako suspended the university’s high ranking officials including Prof. Happy Siphambe and Prof. Rolang Majelantle.  

He was also accused of reversing the gains made by his predecessor, Bojosi.

The resignation of former deputy vice chancellor, Prof. Frank Youngman is attributed to Fako’s decision to defer the organisational restructuring which was led by Youngman.

Fako’s reign as the VC saw the mass exodus of lecturers to BIUST due to poor remuneration and poor conditions of service. Faculties of Science and Engineering and Technology were hard hit and the university is still struggling to fill some of the vacant positions.

The lecturers complained that the support staff was earning more than them yet the core business of the university was teaching and research.

Fako also scrapped off Performance Management System and under his leadership, a lecturer could be promoted to professorship without a PhD, the development which divided the academic staff.

Relations with the government and political leadership

A highly placed source at the office of the vice chancellor says Fako’s decision not to extend his term was the fallout between him and his superiors at the MoESD.
It is alleged that Fako could no longer tolerate interference from government on the running of the institution.

An official at the institution who spoke on the condition of anonymity said Fako differed with the government on the running of the academic hospital and decried that government had cut the subvention fund to the institution hence complicating the budgeting process.

Fako also accused government of delaying payment of tuition fees for students on government sponsorship. In addition, Fako lamented that the government was gradually forsaking UB and giving more attention to newly established BIUST.

Fako observed that BIUST’s subvention fund exceeded that of UB hence the former offered better salaries and improved conditions of service.

Appointment of the sixth vice chancellor

According to Mangope, when Fako steps down at the end of March, one of the deputy vice chancellors shall be appointed acting vice chancellor. “Regarding the appointment of the sixth vice chancellor, the Joint Committee of Council will approve details that the job advertisement must carry before the advert is posted,” he said.

After applications are received, the same committee will consider applications and identify those who qualify. These will be presented to the University Council to recommend a name to the appointing authority, the minister of education and skills development, Dr. Unity Dow.

It is believed that Prof. Happy Siphambe is a top contender for the position of VC. UB has had five vice chancellors namely Prof. John Turner (1982-1984), Prof. Thomas Tlou (1984-1998), Prof. Sharon Siverts (1998-2003), Prof. Bojosi Otlhogile (2003-2011) and Prof. Thabo fako (2011-2016).

Continue Reading

News

Masisi, DIS come under scrutiny at UN Rights Committee 

25th October 2021
masisi & magosi

President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi and the Directorate of Intelligence (DIS) came under the lens of the United Nations Human Rights Committee during the just ended dialogue between committee members and the Botswana delegation. 

Scores of issues, among them the country’s reports on topics including whether Masisi abused the State of Emergency Act during the COVID-19 pandemic and alleged surveillance and harassment of members of the public by DIS, were addressed at the session.

A Committee expert asked about legislation in the Penal Code allowing the Government to investigate people who expressed opinions against public figures, particularly the President. How many cases were there of journalists who had been investigated, prosecuted and tried?
Concerning the COVID-19 Emergency Powers Act, there was a provision for a fine or a five-year jail term for journalists using “source(s) other than the Director of Health Services or the World Health Organization” when reporting on COVID-19. The Committee Expert asked for the number of cases and other measures taken under this Act.

Another committee expert wanted to know that the scale and scope of electronic surveillance, which had sharply increased in recent years, was concerning. Furthermore, the Committee was troubled at the lack of a sufficient independent oversight mechanism over the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services that reportedly had contributed to a growing climate of fear and chilling effect on journalists, human rights defenders and opposition politicians. In this respect, a Committee Expert asked about the measures taken by Botswana during the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure that the right to privacy was protected (collection and management of personal data).

The Expert also enquired about a database website, which was not functioning but was supposed to contain documents of Botswana’s international human rights commitments.
In terms of the freedom of assembly, while the Constitution of the State party guaranteed it, the Committee had received information that, in practice, the Public Order Act required citizens to apply to the nearest police for a permit to hold an assembly, and police had sometimes denied requests for unclear reasons.

The Committee Expert asked if the Public Order Act of the State party had been applied in conformity with those tests. Would the State party indicate the measures it had taken and/or intended to take to make the application of the law in question strictly compatible with the requirements under article 21? Furthermore, the Committee had also received allegations that police officers sometimes used force to compel gathering people to disperse. In this regard, the Expert asked for information on legal provisions and practical guidelines under which police officers may resort to force and any training programme if any, for police and other law enforcement officers to respect and ensure the right of peaceful assembly.

A Committee Expert asked about cases of holding people for longer periods under pre-trial detention than the maximum period provided for in legislation, 36 months, instead of six. Were there any plans to shorten the duration of pre-trial detention in legislation? The Committee noted that there was no provision for local community broadcasting. What measures were the State party taking to ensure that the local communities could also communicate in their language in the media?

What measures had been undertaken by Botswana to increase sustainable development in the country regarding climate change in particular. What efforts had been undertaken to ensure that customary courts worked up to speed? A Committee Expert asked about children in rural areas who travelled a long way to their schools. The delegation was asked about the independence of the Ombudsman Office, including provisions for appointing the Ombudsman. What budget was envisaged for this Office?

The Expert acknowledged the established procedures and institutions for anti-human trafficking but expressed concerns about the lack of reported cases. The Expert asked about the accountability of the public prosecution, as well as the intelligence services. Replying, the Botswana delegation, led by Presidential Minister Kabo Morwaeng, said there was an ongoing consultation for revising provisions that would ensure better protection for journalists and media freedom in Botswana.

Still, the delegation said, freedom of expression was assured in the State party without any restrictions, including in Parliament. There was an education programme providing the opportunity for children in primary school to be taught in their mother tongue. It also explained that the Ombudsman would be dealing with issues of human rights promotion and protection.

“National policies and procedures were envisaged to control the distribution of natural resources. Botswana was also taking measures to increase the access of minority groups to education. Regarding pre-trial detention, the delegation explained that the criminal procedure assured justice was preserved in the country,” said the delegation.

On the issue of torturer and alleged use of unreasonable force on suspects, the Botswana delegation explained that police officers were trained to use minimal force, ensuring that human rights were preserved, including in the cases of assemblies. On the use of surveillance, no legal provisions were breached, and such measures were used in accordance with national legislation. Legal aid was very costly, and it was not possible to keep the record in detail as asked by the Committee.

Morwaeng told the Committee that the Government maintained a robust consultative approach to policy development and legislative process. He said this was a system of governance that ensured that the voices of ordinary citizens were respected and taken into account in the social, economic and political process that affected them the most, giving full effect to the full enjoyment of human rights across the board. The delegation took due note of the views of the Committee, including the importance of harnessing information technology to give a broader appreciation of the provisions of the Covenant.

Continue Reading

News

Masisi on P1 billion water investment

25th October 2021
water project

The P1 billion water project launched by President Dr vMokgweetsi Masisi this week is said to be critical to the success of key projects planned in Lobatse – the Lobatse Milk Afric and Leather Park. After commissioning the multi-million Pula Masama-Mmamashia water project last week following its completion, on Thursday, Masisi performed ground-breaking ceremony of yet another major water project, the Lobatse Water Supply Master Plan (LWSMP1).

The water project was conceptualized in 2009 to address water shortage in areas along the Greater Gaborone zone. These areas include Ramotswa, Otse, Mogobane, Mankgodi, Manyana, Goodhope, Lekgolobotlo, Mmathethe, Molapowabojang and villages surrounding. It was said that some major upcoming projects in Lobatse such as Lobatse Leather Park, Milk Afric and the Pioneer Border Gate are dependent on the success of this project, in order for them to take off and operate effectively. The two projects have been struggling to take-off despite government having put the necessary resources.

The Lobatse Leather Park is anticipated to create about 4700 jobs at the initial stage and 7000 jobs at full capacity. The project entails the development of a complex for different tanneries with the support of state-owned beef company, Botswana Meat Commission. It will comprise primary infrastructure such as a common effluent treatment plant, sewage treatment plant, and others.

When operational, the park is expected to supply the private sector with hides and skins, raw to finished leather tanneries, and the manufacturing of different leather products. These products include shoes, belts, jackets, and others, thereby playing an instrumental role in stimulating economic activity. Leather Beneficiation Park is seen as important for the leather industry as it would ensure that Botswana moves from exporting raw leather to finished leather goods. It is said research has established that there are plenty of hides and skins in the country from the three million cattle and 1.8 million goats.

Meanwhile, Milk Afric dairy farm project which was expected to be complete by the second half of 2018, is in the wilderness after the initial partnership between Botswana Development Corporation (BDC) and Milk Afric failed to bear fruits. BDC has been searching for a new partner for the project. Once fully operational, the farm will produce a total of 21.9 million litres or one third of the national milk demand, which is 65 million litres a year. At present, Botswana imports over 58.8 million litres from South Africa at a cost of P345 million annually.

The P120 million project is a Public Private Partnership deal between Lobatse Town Council (LTC),  with 10 percent shareholding through leasing its 1375.4 ha farm for 25 years; and 26 percent (P40 million) by Botswana Development Corporation (BDC). When speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony held in Ramotswa, Masisi said, in addition to improving the water supply for domestic needs and livelihoods, this infrastructural development will facilitate major projects in the Lobatse region, which are critical to the ailing, old town.

“Our objective as a country is to align developments with the National Vision 2036 Pillar 3 on Sustainable Development, which recognizes water as a very scarce resource which requires strategic management by key players.” Botswana is a developing country with an increasing population, Masisi said, adding that an increase in population naturally causes exponential growth in the demand for water. This is a reality that Botswana is faced with and challenged to address for sustainable water supply, the President said.

He indicated that this is why they are continuously witnessing major water projects undertaken by government, in collaboration with key partners. “Gaborone and surrounding areas have been experiencing an acute water supply deficit due to infrastructure that has outlived its potential to meet the growing demand for water by citizens. This particular project entails the construction of a Pump Station at Forest Hill in Gaborone, a 57 kilometre pipeline from Gaborone to Lobatse and a new Northern reservoir.”

The project, awarded China State Construction and Engineering Corporation/Van and Truck Hire Joint Venture at over P1 billion, is currently at 49% of its completion stage. There are 637 jobs created by this water project. “The transmission pipeline will convey 63 million litres of water a day from Gaborone to Lobatse. This is a great improvement compared to an average supply of 14 million litres of water that has been supplied to Lobatse, Borolong and surrounding areas,” Masisi said.

Continue Reading

News

UN quizzes Botswana on gays, Sebina defilement case

25th October 2021
EU

The United Nations Committee on Human Rights has taken Botswana to task over what it considers to be discrimination laws against lesbians and gays and delay in prosecuting suspects in the infamous Sebina defilement case.  The Botswana delegation led by Presidential Minister Kabo Morwaeng found itself against the wall before the United Nations Human Rights Committee of experts in Geneva, Switzerland.  

First to take Botswana head-on was the UN Committee member, C SOH, who noted that the recent ruling of the High Court pays particular attention to the penal code penalising same-sex sexual conduct as it found that it infringed on the constitutional rights, dignity, liberty and privacy of the LGBTI persons (lesbians and gays).  “Nonetheless, I note with deep concern that those discriminatory provisions of the of the penal code remain in effect and regrettably the government stated in its periodic review before deciding whether or not to repeal section 164 it would still await the final determination of the court of appeal in the case of Motshidiemang vs State,” said Soh.

According to Soh, “This statement makes us cast doubt on the will of the government to vigorously” strike out section 164, which criminalises sex between people of the same sex.  “In this respect, I would like to ask the delegation to explain what the intended goal by the government was when it filed an appeal against the unconstitutionality ruling of the High Court,” he said. Soh said the Botswana Government had also explained that no persons had been convicted under this provision, section 164, ever since the penal code was enacted.

“However, media reports indicate that in August 2016, the government of a Gaborone Magistrate Court sentenced a man three years in prison who had been charged and convicted under section 164 for engaging in unnatural acts. Can the delegation explain these discrepancies relating to persons who have been convicted and sentenced under section 164 of the penal code,” he said.  He also wanted the Botswana delegation to explain how the government addresses how customary courts have been discriminating against LGBTI persons.

Another member of the UN Committee, Duncan Muhumuza, expressed concern that the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) has taken more than four years to prosecute suspects in the Sebina saga in which a councillor was alleged to have slept with a student who was also a minor.
Replying to concerns raised by the UN experts, Mogakolodi Segwagwa, chief state counsel at the Attorney General Chambers, noted that one of the UN committee members has “become fearful that the fact that government appealed the case could be a sign that there is lack of will or doubt on the part of the government as to abolishing or outlawing of same-sex relations.”

“But I would like to assure the panel that Botswana has over the years proved itself at all times to be compliant with court orders. There are many examples I could put forward where the government had to make sure that court orders were executed. That is the assurance I can give out to the committee,” said Segwagwa.  He said there was a good reason for appealing the decision of the High Court in which it outlawed section 164.

“This was a High Court decision, and as you know in our jurisdiction when a judge is at the same court with his brothers and his sisters and fellow judges, whatever decision he puts out so far as that particular court is concerned, it is not law because it is not binding on his fellow brothers and sisters and it is not binding on fellow judges,” explained Segwagwa. He added that “It is merely persuasive so much so that some other judges may choose to when a similar case comes before him or her, depart and ignore the position that that particular judge espoused, and he or she can do so with ease.”

Segwagwa further explained that “There was a very pressing need for this matter to be appealed to the Court of Appeal for purposes of crystalising the law and for purposes of ensuring that if there is any aspect of the law that the High Court had overlooked in arriving at this particular decision, then such an aspect can be taken into consideration by the Court of Appeal.” “So we are waiting for that judgement, and once it comes, it will be implemented. I take it that the committee would like the Court of Appeal to uphold the decision below and strike out this particular section.”

He assured the UN experts that when the High Court struck out section 164 in 2019, the country did not erupt into violence, adding that this was an “indication that we don’t have anything against people of LGBT. They are our brothers and sisters, and we co-exist with them.”  Regarding the Sebina saga, Segwagwa said the painful case “where this councillor was said to have had sexual intercourse with a child is the police dealt with a matter as it is the law and we all know that the police are bound by their Act to do so without fear and prejudice.”

He said Upon completion of their investigation, “the matter was handed over to the prosecuting authority, as Mr Muhumuza had indicated, it has been four years and we concede that four years is a long time and that it is unreasonably a long time and that it defeats the whole adage that justice should be sweetest and freshest so much so that the case needed to be speeded along.”

He added that “But the problem we have which is not a problem in the sense of it being a problem, but the impediment we have in the sense that the Constitution created the Office of the Director of Prosecutions under section 51 subsection A and if you go to that particular section and you read subsection six, the director shall not be subjected to the control of another authority.”

Segwagwa said, “this is the section that was inserted in this constitution to safeguard the independence of the Director of DPP to ensure that he or she prosecutes matters without fear, favour and prejudice and it presents impediment where we can’t try and say to the DPP, go and register or indicate your position now, tomorrow or next year and that is why it has taken all this time, but we believe attempts are being made that it finds its way to the court.”

Continue Reading
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!