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).
As the preparations for the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) congress are about to kick off, reports on the ground suggest that the party’s Deputy Treasurer Jackdish Shah will not defend the position in August as he contemplates relocation.
According to sources, the businessman who joined the BDP Central Committee in 2015 at the 36th Congress held in Mmadinare is ready to leave the party’s politburo. It is said he long made up his mind not to defend the position last year. A prominent businessman, Shah, when he won the position to assist Satar Dada in 2015 was expected to improve the party’s financial vibrancy. By then the party was under the leadership of Ian Khama.
According to close sources, Shah long decided not to contest because he has fallen out of favour with the party leadership. It is said he took the decision after some prominent businessmen who are BDP members and part of football syndicate decided to push him out and they used their proximity to President Mokgweetsi Masisi to badmouth him hence the decision.
“The fight at the Botswana Football Association (BFA) and Botswana Football League (BFL) has left him alone in the desert and some faces there used their close access to the President to isolate him,” said a source. Media reports say, Shah does not see eye to eye with BFA President MacLean Letshwiti who is also Masisi’s buddy hence the decision.
BFL Chairman Nicholas Zackhem is said to be not in good terms with Shah, who at one point Chaired the then Botswana Premier League (BPL). “He is seriously considering quitting because of what is unfolding at the team (Township Rollers) which is slowly not making financial gains and might be relegated and he wants to sell while it is still worth the investment,” said a highly placed source.
Shah is a renowned businessman who runs internet providing company Zebra net, H &G, game farm in Kasane, cattle farm in Ghanzi region and lot of properties in Gaborone. He also has two hotels in USA, his advisors have given him thumbs up on the possible decision of relocating provided he does not sell some of the investments that are doing well.
Asked about whether he will be contesting Shah could not confirm nor deny the reports. It is said for now it is too early as a public decision will have to be taken after the national council meeting and prior to the national congress. “As a BDP Central Committee member he cannot make that announcement now,” a BDP source said.
BDP is expected to assemble for the National Council during the July holidays while the National Congress is billed for August. It is then that the party will elect a new CC members. The last time BDP held elective congress was at Kang in 2019. The party is yet to issue writ.
The government has failed to implement some commitments and agreements that it had entered into with unions to improve conditions of public servants.
Three years after the government and public made commitments aimed at improving conditions of work and services it has emerged that the government has ignored and failed to implement all commitments on conditions of service emanating from the 2019 round of negotiations.
In its position paper that saw public service salaries being increased by 5%, the government the government has also signalled its intention to renege on some of the commitments it had made. “Government aspires to look into all outstanding issues contained in the Labour Agreement signed between the Employer and recognised Trade Union on the 27th August 2019 and that it be reviewed, revised and delinked by both Parties with a view to agree on those whose implementation that can be realistically executed during the financial years 2022/23, 2023/24 and 2024/25 respectively,” the government said.
Furthermore, in addition to reviewing, revising and de-linking of the outstanding issues contained in the Collective Labour Agreement alluded to above and taking on a progressive proposal, government desires to review revise, develop and implement human resource policies as listed below during the financial year 2022/23,2023/24,2024/25
They include selection and appointment policy, learning and development policy, transfer guidelines, conditions of service, permanent and pensionable, temporary and part time, Foreign Service, expatriate and disciplinary procedures.
In their proposal paper, the unions which had proposed an 11 percent salary increase but eventually settled for 5% percent indicated that the government has not, and without explanation, acted on some of the key commitments from the 2019/2020 and 2021/22 round of negotiations. The essential elements of these commitments include among others the remuneration Policy for the Public Service.
The paper states that a Remuneration Policy will be developed to inform decision making on remuneration in the Public Service. It is envisaged that consultations between the government and relevant key stakeholders on the policy was to start on 1st September 2019, and the development of the policy should be concluded by 30th June 2020.
The public sector unions said the Remuneration Policy is yet to be developed. The Cooperating Unions suggested that the process should commence without delay and that it should be as participatory as it was originally conceived. Another agreement relate to Medical Aid Contribution for employees on salary Grades A and B.
The employer contribution towards medical aid for employees on salary Grades A and B will be increased from 50% to 80% for the Standard Option of the Botswana Public “Officers’ Medical Aid Scheme effective 1st October 2019; the cooperating unions insist that, in fulfilling this commitment, there should be no discrimination between those on the high benefit and those on the medium benefit plan,” the unions proposal paper says.
Another agreement involves the standardisation of gratuities across the Public Service. “Gratuities for all employees on fixed term contracts of 12 months but not exceeding 5 years, including former Industrial class employees be standardized at 30% across the Public Service in order to remove the existing inequalities and secure long-term financial security for Public Service Employees at lower grades with immediate effect,” the paper states.
The other agreement signed by the public sector unions and the government was the development of fan-shaped Salary Structure. The paper says the Public Service will adopt a best practice fan-shaped and overlapping structure, with modification to suit the Botswana context. The Parties (government and unions) to this agreement will jointly agree on the ranges of salary grades to allow for employees’ progression without a promotion to the available position on the next management level.
“The fan-shaped structure is envisaged to be in place by 1st June 2020, to enable factoring into the budgetary cycle for the financial year 2021/22,” the unions’ proposal paper states. It says the following steps are critical, capacity building of key stakeholders (September – December 2019), commission remuneration market survey (3 months from September to November 2019), design of the fan-shaped structure (2 to 3 months from January to March2020) and consultations with all key stakeholders (March to April 2020).
The unions and government had also signed an agreement on performance management and development: A rigorous performance management and reward system based on a 5-point rating system will be adopted as an integral part of the operationalization of the new Remuneration System.
Performance Management and Development (PMD) will be used to reward workers based on performance. The review of the Performance Management System was to be undertaken in order to close the gaps identified by PEMANDU and other previous reports on PMS between 1st September 2019 and 30th June 2020 as follows; internal process to update and revise the current Performance Management System by January 2020.
A job evaluation exercise in the Public Service will also be undertaken to among others establish internal equity, and will also cover the grading of all supervisory positions within the Public Service. Another agreement included overtime Management. The Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) was to facilitate the conclusion of consultations on management of overtime, including consideration of the Overtime Management Task Team’s report on the same by 30th November 2019.
A public health expert, Dr Edward Maganu who is also the former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health has said that unlike many who are expressing shock at the population census growth decline results, he is not, because the 2022 results represents his expectations.
He rushed to dismiss the position by Statistics Botswana in which thy partly attributes the low growth rates to mortality rates for the past ten years. “I don’t think there is any undercounting. I also don’t think death rates have much to do with it since the excessive deaths from HIV/AIDS have been controlled by ARVs and our life expectancy isn’t lower than it was in the 1990s,” he said in an interview with this publication post the release of the results.
Preliminary results released by Statistics Botswana this week indicated that Botswana’s population is now estimated to be 2,346,179 – a figure that the state owned data agency expressed worry over saying it’s below their projected growth. The general decline in the population growth rate is attributed to ‘fertility’ and ‘mortality’ rates that the country registered on the past ten years since the last census in 2011.
Maganu explained that with an enlightened or educated society and the country’s total fertility rate, there was no way the country’s population census was going to match the previous growth rates. “The results of the census make sense and is exactly what I expected. Our Total Fertility Rate ( the average number of children born to a woman) is now around 2.
This is what happens as society develops and educates its women. The enlightened women don’t want to bear many children, they want to work and earn a living, have free time, and give their few children good care. So, there is no under- counting. Census procedures are standard so that results are comparable between countries.
That is why the UN is involved through UNFPA, the UN Agency responsible for population matters,” said Maganu who is also the former adviser to the World Health Organisation. Maganu ruled out undercounting concerns, “I see a lot of Batswana are worried about the census results. Above is what I have always stated.”
Given the disadvantages that accompany low population for countries, some have suggested that perhaps a time has come for the government to consider population growth policies or incentives, suggestions Maganu deems ineffective.
“It has never worked anywhere. The number of children born to a woman are a very private decision of the woman and the husband in an enlightened society. And as I indicated, the more the women of a society get educated, the higher the tendency to have fewer children. All developed countries have a problem of zero population growth or even negative growth.
The replacement level is regarded as 2 children per woman; once the fertility level falls below that, then the population stops growing. That’s why developed countries are depending so much on immigration,” he said.
According to him, a lot of developing countries that are educating their women are heading there, including ourselves-Botswana. “Countries that have had a policy of encouraging women to have more children have failed dismally. A good example is some countries of Eastern Europe (Romania is a good example) that wanted to grow their populations by rewarding women who had more children. It didn’t work. The number of children is a very private matter,” said Maganu
For those who may be worried about the impact of problems associated with low growth rate, Maganu said: “The challenge is to develop society so that it can take care of its dependency ratio, the children and the aged. In developed countries the ratio of people over 60 years is now more than 20%, ours is still less than 10%.”
The preliminary results show that Mogoditshane with (88,098) is now the biggest village in the country with Maun coming second (85,293) and Molepolole at third position with 74,719. Population growth is associated with many economic advantages because more people leads to greater human capital, higher economic growth, economies of scale, the efficiency of higher population density and the improved demographic structure of society, among many others.