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.
The Minister of Justice, Machana Shamukuni says the search to appoint the Ombudsman and other critical heads of department is currently ongoing and the process is expected to be completed before end of the year.
The Ombudsman position fell vacant almost five months ago after Augustine Makgonatsotlhe was removed from the office and appointed as Ambassador to Kuwait.
Two Batswana nationals have been arrested in Zimbabwe for illegal trade in mercury. The duo is being held together with a Zimbabwean national who is being questioned by the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP).
This publication understands that the suspects who are aged between 39 and 56 years hail from Tutume and Selebi-Phikwe. At the time of the arrest, they were found in possession of a pistol, bomb motor and four live rounds. It is understood that the suspects told investigators during interrogation that the deadly substance has a lucrative market in Far East countries, where the demand is high. It is further reported that the suspects claimed that the mercury can be easily accessed in mines through middleman.
The Namibian Lives Matter Movement has weighed in on the looming border dispute between their country and Botswana.
Commenting on reports that the Namibian Parliament has dispatched a committee along the border between the two countries on fact finding mission, the group commended“the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, De-fence and Security that will engage community members living along the Namibia Botswana Border in conducting public hearings into acts of aggression and brutality by Botswana Defence (BDF) Force against innocent and unarmed Namibians.”