Unity Dow justifies political/ external interference at the institution
Assistant Minister of Education and Skills Development (MoESD) Dr. Unity Dow on Friday explained the reasons that led to the resignation of the renowned Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST) Vice Chancellor Professor Hillary Inyang and subsequently the then Acting VC Professor Dennis Siginer.
Both distinguished former VC’s Professor Inyang and Siginer resigned from the University citing similar reasons of political and external interference and micro-management of university by the then Acting Board Chairperson Boyce Sebetela who was recently replaced by Bernard Bolele.
The Assistant Minister was making a submission at parliament in the form of a statement on the current issues at BIUST that have been the subject of discussion in the media.
According to Dow, the resignation of the VC’s were influenced by their unlawful conduct as some non-citizens staff were brought into the country for employment at BIUST without following procedures and indeed the applicable laws governing engagements of non-citizens.
“These people worked without the necessary permits and were employed and paid outside the BIUST Council approved organizational structures.” This happened despite advice of the relevant departments within the university, Dow explained.
According to Dow, the Immigration and Labour authorities had even been roped in to investigate the matter at BIUST. “Ofcourse when the Immigration and Labour authorities had wind of this state of affairs, the relevant officers, in their normal course of duty and acting in accordance with the relevant labour legislation visited the university to investigate.”
This labour inspection is what the then Vice Chancellor referred to as “attempted abduction” of foreign staff, hence his so called security concerns, Dow explained.
In the VC’s resignation letter which was quoted widely in the print media, he cited among his reasons, the so called “security of foreign staff at BIUST” and what he referred to as “externally derived interferences.”
Dow defends interference at BIUST Regarding the external interferences, the Assistant Minister pointed out that some members of Council in becoming aware of some of this and other transgressions, raised concerns during Council and even outside Council meetings. She stated: “At the centre of this were lapses in governance at the University. Council meetings were not as regular as expected but decisions that are the prerogative of Council were made and implemented by the leadership of the university.”
Following the resignation of Professor Inyang, the then Acting Minister of Education and Skills Development Mokgweetsi Masisi appointed as acting Vice Chancellor the then Deputy Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost, Professor Dennis Siginer. He also subsequently resigned from the top portfolio and reverted to his substantive position. He also gave his reasons for resignation alleged micromanagement and interference by the then Acting Chairperson of the Council Boyce Sebetlela.
The Assistant Minister also highlighted that in view of the special circumstances and challenges facing BIUST, including delayed commencement of the academic year 2014/15, Council had resolved to intervene and instructed that the acting chairperson of council should, to the extent possible, closely support management of the university in its efforts to move forward the necessary academic staff, infrastructural developments – although the move was also seen as inteferrance.
“At this stage of development, BIUST remains a project and therefore deserves this kind of support and for the ministry and/or council to intervene as necessary,” Dow justified.
Future of BIUST: next academic year Dow assured parliament that BIUST’s academic progress is running appropriately. She said she recently visited the institution and was able to appreciate ongoing efforts to prepare for the opening of the academic year on 2 February 2015. She said she also witnessed the registration of students which commenced on 28 November 2014 and ended on 9 December 2014. All students, she added, who have been offered admission turned up for registration.
Botswana Police Service (BPS) has indicated concern about the ongoing trend where the general public falls victim to criminals purporting to be police officers.
According to BPS Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, the criminals target individuals at shopping malls and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) where upon approaching the unsuspecting individual the criminals would pretend to have picked a substantial amount of money and they would make a proposal to the victims that the money is counted and shared in an isolated place.
“On the way, as they stop at the isolated place, they would start to count and sharing of the money, a criminal syndicate claiming to be Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officer investigating a case of stolen money will approach them,” said Motube in a statement.
The Commissioner indicated that the fake police officers would instruct the victims to hand over all the cash they have in their possession, including bank cards and Personal Identification Number (PIN), the perpetrators would then proceed to withdraw money from the victim’s bank account.
Motube also revealed that they are also investigating a case in which a 69 year old Motswana woman from Molepolole- who is a victim of the scam- lost over P62 000 last week Friday to the said perpetrators.
“The Criminal syndicate introduced themselves as CID officers investigating a case of robbery where a man accompanying the woman was the suspect.’’
They subsequently went to the woman’s place and took cash amounting to over P12 000 and further swindled amount of P50 000 from the woman’s bank account under the pretext of the further investigations.
In addition, Motube said they are currently investigating the matter and therefore warned the public to be vigilant of such characters and further reminds the public that no police officer would ask for bank cards and PINs during the investigations.
Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leadership walked out of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting this week on account of being targeted by other cooperating partners.
UDC meet for the first time since 2020 after previous futile attempts, but the meeting turned into a circus after other members of the executive pushed for BCP to explain its role in media statements that disparate either UDC and/or contracting parties.
The Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crimes (DCEC), Tymon Katlholo’s spirited fight against the contentious transfers of his management team has forced the Office of the President to rescind the controversial decision. However, some insiders suggest that the reversal of the transfers may have left some interested parties with bruised egos and nursing red wounds.
The transfers were seen by observers as a badly calculated move to emasculate the DCEC which is seen as defiant against certain objectionable objectives by certain law enforcement agencies – who are proven decisionists with very little regard for the law and principle.