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).
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.
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.
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.