Statistician General Anna Majelantle has presided over the alleged inappropriate appointments of some senior employees at Statistics Botswana, overriding the recommendations of the human resource office to hire her friends ahead of qualified and deserving candidates, Weekend Post can reveal.
Documents passed to this publication reveal acts of maladministration in regard to appointments to key senior positions at Statistics Botswana. Central to these appointments was the appointment of Ms Phetogo Zambezi who was appointed the Director- Standards, Methods and Information System (DSMIS) at Statistics Botswana despite failing two interviews for lower ranked positions.
In the first instance, Zambezi failed the interview in which she sought to be appointed Principal Statistician (Environment and Agriculture). Documentation suggests that she was appointed to the position of Director – Standards, Methods and Information System (DSMIS) at the behest of Statistician General on a condition she goes through a support and developmental programme. Majelantle devised a program intended to help Zambezi to perform to expectation in her new role of DSMIS. She was initially given three months’ probation on her new position.
Following Zambezi’s unsatisfactory performance in the new role during the probation period, her supervisor recommended that her probation be extended by a further three months, but the Statistician General overruled the supervisor and affirmed that Zambezi’s performance was satisfactory. She personally invited the Board Human Resource Committee to approve the confirmation of Zambezi to the position of Director Standards, Methods, and Information Systems against the advice of Zambezi’s supervisor.
The Human Resource Board committee, comprising of Emang Maphanyane, Dr Tebogo Seleka and Daniel Matsatsing expressed in their comments their discontent with Zambezi’s appointment. Maphanyane wrote that it is not clear what else Zambezi has done to achieve better than satisfactory.
Dr Seleka noted that management needs to work more on interpreting performance levels, contending that a grading of “satisfactory” appears too low for a high position such as “director.”
Following her appointment, Zambezi played a role in the controversial appointment of other key employees in the organisation. In one scenario, two candidates who did not meet the requirements and were not recommended for interviews as advertised internally were appointed ahead of those who were shortlisted for an interview.
On the 28th of April 2014, Human Resource and Administration Manager, Jabulani Dick wrote a letter to the Director of Corporate Services seeking advice, after Director of Standards, Methods, and Information Systems insisted that a certain Tirelo Ipopeng and Boitumelo Gaongalelwe be invited for interviews despite the two not meeting the desired requirements and were not recommended for the said interviews. It has transpired that Boitumelo Gaongalelwe was later appointed the Senior Statistician – Field and Regional Coordination (North) ahead of the five candidates who were the only ones recommended for the interview leading to the appointment.
According to other notes passed to this publication, the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) is questioning the state of affairs at Statistics Botswana following a tip off relating to the dealings of the organization. Suspicions are that a number of appointments were improper.
The notes conclude that the appointment of Director – Standards, Methods and Information System was inappropriate in the sense that the supervisor to the person who was ultimately appointed to the position recommended that her probation period be extended to six months but the Statistician General refused and recommended to Statistics Botswana Human Resource Committee to approve her confirmation and she was confirmed. “The appointment was not properly done because the officer failed the interview twice and was not interviewed after the re-advertisement,” reads an extract from the notes.
The paper notes also reveal inappropriateness in relation to the appointment of Principal Statistician (Education and Health) because a person with an irrelevant qualification was appointed without interviews being conducted for prospective candidates.
Statistics Botswana is accused of manipulating the hiring process in order to create jobs for preferred candidates. At the time of re-advertisement of the post of Principal Statistician (Education and Health), new educational requirements were added – post graduate degree in Health Information Management/ Educational Planning and Management with statistics.
The statement this publication is privy to reveals that the appointments were based on personal relationships.
Another appointment which raised eye brows was that of Principal Human Resource Officer (Recruitment and Staff Welfare) in which Mpho Moeti was appointed despite her not being shortlisted and recommended for the interview. Moeti was not recommended because her experience was not relevant to the job she applied for.
It has also transpired that Statistics Botswana has been implicated in financial mismanagement including missing funds which could not be accounted for. The organisation issued a press statement last week refuting media reports to that effect, but evidence in the form of a Bank Statement from one of the commercial banks shows that an amount around P1.4 million was cashed over the counter immediately following its electronic transfer into the organisation’s account.
Minister Matambo expressed shock at the news this week, saying it is a matter which seriously needs to be looked into. Meanwhile the Member of Parliament for Goodhope-Mabule, James Mathokgwane has promised to bring forward a motion in Parliament requesting for an investigation into the affairs of Statistics Botswana. Mathokgwane says he has ample evidence which he hopes will compel government to institute an investigation.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Lemogang Kwape says Botswana has not taken any position regarding the killing of a renowned human rights lawyer, Thulani Maseko, who was gunned down at his house in Mbabane, Eswatini.
In a brief interview with WeekendPost, Dr Kwape said Botswana has not yet taken any position regarding his death. He said the purported incident should be thoroughly probed before Botswana can form an opinion based on the findings of the inquiries.
“Botswana generally condemns any killing of human life by all means,” says Dr. Kwape. He wouldn’t want to be dragged on whether Botswana will support the suspension of Eswatini from SADC.
“We will be guided by SADC organ Troika if they can be an emergency meeting. I am not sure when the meeting will be called by Namibian president,“ he said.
However, the Namibian president Hage Geingob notes with deep concern reports coming out of Eswatini about the killing of Mr. Maseko. In a statement, he called upon the “Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini to ensure that the killing of Maseko is swiftly, transparently and comprehensively investigated, and that any or all persons suspected of committing this heinous crime are brought to justice.”
Maseko was chairperson of the Multi-Stakeholder Forum which was established as a coalition of non-State actors to advocate for a process of national political dialogue aimed at resolving the security and political challenges confronting the Kingdom.
“SADC expresses its deepest and heartfelt condolences to the family of Mr. Maseko, his friends, colleagues, and to the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini for the loss of Mr. Maseko. In this context, SADC further calls upon the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini to remain calm, exercise due care and consideration whilst the appropriate structures conduct the investigations and bring the matter to completion,” the statement says.
Geingob reiterated the need for peaceful resolution of the political and security challenges affecting the country.
Meanwhile political activists are calling on SADC to suspend Eswatini from the block including the African Union as well.
State prosecutor, Seeletso Ookeditse revealed before the Broadhurst Magistrate Jobbie Moilatshimo that the third accused involved in the murder of Barulaganye Aston, has interfered with the State witnesses again.
The second and third accused (Lefty Kosie and Outlwile Aston) were previously accused of interference when they were caught in possession of cellphones in prison. They were further accused of planning to kill the deceased’s brother, who is currently the guardian to the children of the deceased.
Ookeditse indicated that Outlwile had earlier went to challenge the magistrate’s decision of denying him bail at the High Court before Judge Michael Motlhabi.
“The third accused approached the High Court and made a bail application, which was dismissed on the same day,” Ookeditse said.
However, even after the High Court verdict on their bail application, the duo (Kosie and Aston) has once again applied for bail this week.
Ookeditse plead with the court to stop the accused from abusing the court process.
“Yesterday, Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) received papers of his bail application filed before the Broadhurst Magistrates Court. However, the papers do not speak to changed circumstances, therefore this back and forth about bail must be put to a stop,” said the State prosecutor.
While giving evidence before court, the Investigations Officer, Detective Inspector Quite Zhalamonto, said his investigations have proved that there is interference continuing regarding the accused trio.
He told the court that on the 12th of January 2023, he received a report from Thato Aston, who is the son of the accused and the deceased. The son had alleged to the Investigation Officer that he received a call from one Phillip Molwantwa.
According to Zhalamonto, Thato revealed that Molwatwa indicated that he was from prison on a visit to the Outlwile Aston and went on to ask where he was staying and where his siblings (Aston’s children) are staying.
“Thato revealed that Phillip went on to ask if he or his siblings saw their father murdering their mother, and he was referring to the crime scene. Thato told me that he, however, refused to answer the questions as he was afraid especially because he was asked about where him and his siblings stay,” said Zhalamonto.
Zhalamonto alluded to the court that he then went to Orange to confirm the communication between Thato and Molwantwa where he found the case.
“I have arrested Philip yesterday and when I interviewed him, he did not deny that he knows Aston and that he has indeed called Thato and asked questions as to where him and his siblings resides even though he failed to give reasons for asking such questions,” Zhalamonto told the court.
He further revealed that Molwantwa indicated that he had received a call from an unknown man who refused to reveal himself.
“Phillip told me that the unknown man said he was sent by the accused (Aston), and that Aston had instructed him to tell me to check if there was still some money in his bank accounts, and he also wanted to know where the kids were residing, the unknown man even asked him to meet at Main Mall” the Investigation Officer told the court.
He further informed the court that he is working tirelessly to identify the “unknown caller” and the route of the cell number.
Furthermore, the fourth accused, Kebaleboge Ntsebe, has revealed to the court through a letter that she was abused and tortured by the Botswana Police Services. She wrote in her letter that she suffered miscarriage as a result of being beaten by the police.
Ntsebe is on bail, while a bail ruling for Aston and Kosie will be delivered on the 6th of next month
Cattle farmers from Eretsha and Habu in the Ngamiland district, supported by the Community Based Trade (CBT) project, recently generated over P300 000.00 for sales of 42 cattle to the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) in Maun. This milestone was achieved through support from various stakeholders in conservation, commodity-based trade and the government, in collaboration with farmers. Ordinarily, these farmers would not have made this direct sale since the area is a designated Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) Red Zone.
Traditional livestock farming contributes toward livelihoods and formal employment in the North-West District (Ngamiland) of Botswana. However, primarily due to the increase in FMD outbreaks over the past two decades and predation by wildlife, the viability of livestock agriculture as a source of income has declined in the region. This has led to a greater risk of poverty and food insecurity. Access across the Okavango River (prior to the construction of a bridge) restricted access for farmers in Eretsha. This lack of access hampered sales of cattle beyond Shakawe, further discouraging farmers from investing in proper livestock management practices. This resulted in negative environmental impacts, poor livestock health and productivity.
To address this challenge, farmers are working with a consortium led by Conservation International (CI), with funding secured from the European Union (EU) to pilot a CBT beef project. The project focuses on supporting and enabling communal farmers to comply with standards and regulations that will improve their chances to access markets. An opportunity to earn higher income from cattle sales could incentivize the adoption of restorative rangelands management practices by farmers.
“We spend a lot of money getting our cattle to Makalamabedi quarantine site, the herder spends on average two months taking care of the cattle before they are taken into quarantine – that needs money. All these costs lead to us getting less money from BMC,” said one of the farmers in the programme, Mr Monnaleso Mosanga.
Farmers that participate in the project agree for their cattle to be herded and kraaled communally by fulltime professional herders (eco-rangers). At the core of this pilot is the use of predator-proof bomas (cattle kraals), planned grazing systems and mobile quarantine bomas (electrified enclosures) for the cattle, facilitated in support with the Department of Veterinary Services. The first successful exit from the mobile quarantine bomas in the Habu and Eretsha villages, in December 2022, saw cattle quarantined on-site and directly transported to BMC in Maun. Farmers received almost double the average sales within this region, as costs including transportation to quarantine sites, herder’s fees and other associated costs incurred before qualifying for BMC sales were no longer included.
“This pilot mobile quarantine is leveraging the techniques and protocols we are using at our current permanent quarantine sites, and we are still observing the results of the project. The outcome of this pilot will be presented to the World Organisation of Animal Health to assess its effectiveness and potentially be approved to be used elsewhere,” said Dr Odireleng Thololwane, the Principal Veterinary Officer (Maun).