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Statistics Botswana exposed

Statistician General Anna Majelantle

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.

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Jackdish Shah loses interest in BDP

17th May 2022

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.

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Govt ignores own agreements to improve public service

17th May 2022

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.

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Health Expert rejects ‘death rates’ links to low population growth

17th May 2022

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.

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