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OP Executive rebukes UB Council Chairman

President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi’s new appointee in the Office of the President, Dr. Kaelo Molefhe has taken a firm parting shot at University of Botswana Council Chairman Dr Joseph Moeketsi Makhema for poor leadership.

Dr Molefhe has been appointed Director of Governance in the Ministry for Presidential Affairs and Public Administration effective 1st of February. Before being appointed DPS at OP Dr. Molefhe was serving as a Senior lecturer at the University of Botswana as well as the Chairman of the University of Botswana Academic and Senior Support Staff Union (UBASSSU). Prior to taking up his new post, he wrote a scathing letter on his last day at UB that left the UB Council Chairman Dr. Makhema, with an egg on the face.  

It is unclear if the UB Council leader knew of Dr. Molefhe’s imminent departure and appointment to the highest Office in the land. By virtue of his new post, Dr Molefhe will supervise UB Council Chairman. In the hard hitting letter dated 28 February, a copy of which WeekendPost is in possession of, the UBASSSU Chairman could not mince his words to the UB Council Chairman.

As a new appointee on the portfolio of Good Governance in OP, he lectured his former boss Dr. Makhema on few basics of governance and prudent leadership. The letter was in response to Dr. Makhema’s communication dated 25th February 2020, in response to his which was dated the 16th February 2020.

Dr. Molefhe stated: “It is apparent that the University of Botswana Council under your leadership, acting on questionable advice of the Secretary to Council, seeks to interfere in the internal affairs of a legally recognised union,” adding that; “this intrusion on your part demonstrates the glaring deficit in the understanding of basic legal and governance principles regulating the interaction between Management and recognised unions, such as UBASSSU.”

He said the UB Council Chair’s persistence with this crude and offensive position, ostensibly with the advice and input of the Director of Legal Services, who is also the Secretary to Council (conflict of interest), impugns the standing, competence and integrity of the incumbents of these two offices, thus indicating that they are not fit and proper persons to be holding these positions of leadership at the esteemed and premier institution of higher learning.

“We are (therefore) left with no other option but to question your understanding of the basic principles of good governance that guide the interactions between the employer and employees in organisations. It is on this basis that we have previously called upon you to resign due to the incompetence that you consistently exhibit,” the academic lashed out. ‘‘Such position is shamefully ridiculous, legally incompetent and a gross misdirection on your part and administratively inconsequential.’’

According to the former UB Senior Lecturer, they are (once again) forced to question the technical competence of the Director of Legal Services who has a statutory duty to advice UB Council Chair and Management on legal matters although questioning the union legitimacy pending the court matter. He explained to Dr. Makhema that on the union legitimacy matter, UB union have been granted a Stay of Execution against Justice Gabriel Komboni’s judgment pending the determination of their appeal by the Court of Appeal.

 “It is elementary, a fact that is only escaping the clearly incompetent Director of Legal Services who is ill-advising you, that a stay of execution simply means that the status quo ante obtains and the judgment granted is frozen or does not come into effect, until the matter has finally been determined and settled by the Court of Appeal,” he lectured the UB Council Chair on the said letter. He further pointed out that it is, therefore, ridiculous to say that the “pronouncements” in the judgment of Justice Komboni have altered his standing, rights, obligations and responsibilities as the current Chairperson of UBASSSU Executive. “It is my unconverted position that I have locus standi to act for and on behalf of UBASSSU as does any other official of the union,” he emphasized.

On governance, conflict of interest…..

According to Dr. Molefhe, it is quite clear from their end that the Secretary to Council, who also doubles as the Director of Legal Services thereby sparking issues of conflict of interest, has been consistently misleading both Council and Executive Management on issues pertaining to UBASSSU.

“The leadership of UBASSSU, together with its constituency, are not surprised by this parochial and self-serving view that as a Council Chair you would not engage in good faith with UBASSSU, on the mistaken claim that it does not have a legitimate leadership, because this is a smokescreen for your intransigence to act in accordance with good governance principles in institutional leadership,” he said.


The former AP candidate in Gaborone Bonnington North also highlighted that good governance is underpinned by such values as transparency, honesty, trustworthiness, openness and commitment to dialogue with stakeholders, accountability and responsiveness to issues in decision making.

“A threat of cutting communication lines, in a collegial space such as a University, can only be an indicator of an attitude of someone who wants to do things, make or influence decisions under the cover of darkness, or through concealment of necessary information and facts as well as factors that must be brought to bear upon issues over which decisions have to be made in the interests of both individual employees and their collective, and the organisation as a legal personality,” the former UB lecturer lashed out.

This, sadly, he observed is a negation of strategic and ethical leadership that an institution such as UB deserves to be blessed with. He asserted that the ill-conceived thought of suggesting that the Vice-Chancellor be pressured to contrive or fabricate some unnamed offence for which he may be dragged before a disciplinary inquiry is laughable.  He stated: “it is quite clear that you have serious misunderstanding of the powers and role of a Council Chairperson to a point that you are intruding into operation and administrative powers only exercised by the Vice Chancellor and other University officers.”

To begin with, Dr. Molefhe highlighted that this seemingly camouflaged, yet very naked threat by your office reflects your intrusion as Council leader into the realm of operational leadership wherein the Vice Chancellor is the chief academic and disciplinary officer of the university. The UB educationalist also hinted that he does not need to be held at ransom by a supervisor who has some ulterior motives to prosecute to the detriment of the welfare and professional interests of the University of Botswana employees.

Again, he said, his office has been previously advised and cautioned against straying into operational matters of the university, while adding that, unfortunately, it appears that this advice has fallen on deaf ears, and they wonder what needs to be done to rescue the situation.
“Furthermore, it is preposterous that the Council Chair should take pleasure in seeking to coerce an officer upon whom he has oversight responsibilities in the management of the daily affairs of the university, to fish about for an offence to level against an employee who has dutifully and courageously acted in a representative capacity as a union leader to protect, defend and advance the welfare and professional interests of other employees, by challenging pronouncements of unprocedural approval of a policy instrument that adversely affects the terms of their employment contract; in this case, the purported approval of the Criteria for Appointments, Promotions and Review of Academic Staff (CAPRAS),” the former union leader said.

He stated that the Council Chairman’s naked threat to have him victimised on account of no wrongdoing, except that he was asking for the office of the Council Chair to account for its role in misinforming the University of Botswana employees about some key decisions as having been made by Council, when such purported decisions would have been enacted un-procedurally and unlawfully, is yet another indication of bad leadership.

He continued: “we should hasten to remind you that you possess no particular disciplinary control over myself and any of our members. The same note should be extended to your Secretary to Council, who in his imagination conceives himself as having power to determine and/or influence the taking of action against myself.”

Meanwhile, in his farewell message Dr. Molefhe told UB staff about his latest encounter between UBASSSU and Council, highlighting that the Council Chair, has yet again revealed that he does not care how unprocedural and unlawful decisions can harm the interests of employees and organisations. “Of course, his latest antics are a part of the continuing onslaught against our efforts to institutionalise good governance, rule of law and fair labour practices at the University of Botswana,” he said.

According to the scholar, a shameful aspect of his strategy takes the form of instilling fear, haplessness and despondency on the general membership of UBASSSU generally, and its leadership specifically. He cautioned: “We want to warn that the machinations by the Council Chair and some Management functionaries can only work if UBASSSU fails to recognise the seed of divisiveness that he is sowing through dishonest communication to UB community on various policy matters purportedly at the behest of Council.”

Motion of no confidence on UB Council Chair

Meanwhile the lethal letter by UBASSSU former Chairman comes at a time when the UB staff recently wrote a petition declaring a motion of no confidence on Dr Makhema as the Chairperson/Chairman of the University [of Botswana] Council, on account of his incompetence, and failure to observe good corporate governance practices, such as respect for due process and the rule of law in making decisions affecting the welfare of staff and the interests of the University as an institution.

Consequently, they demanded that Dr. Makhema resign as the Chairman of the University Council with immediate effect. The petition states that in the event that Dr Makhema fails to resign of his own volition, the Minister of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology (MOTE), as the appointing authority, should relieve Dr Makhema of the onerous and sensitive role of leading the University Council in the capacity of Chairperson of Council.

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No end in sight for Nam, Botswana borderline feud

27th July 2021
Namibian-report

Despite the President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi and his Namibian counterpart, Hage Geingob giving an impression that the borderline security disputes are a thing of the past and that diplomatic ties remain tight, fresh developments from Namibia suggest otherwise, following Geingod’s close confidante’s attack on Botswana and its army.

Giving a Zambezi region state of the affairs last week, a Geingob-appointed governor of Zambezi region, Colonel Lawrence Ampofu, a retired Colonel in the Namibian Defence Force, former plan combatant during the liberation struggle of Namibia, in a written speech, charged at the BDF and condemned their killings of the Namibians as unacceptable.

“The security situation within our borders remains calm. The incidence of the Botswana Defence Force shootings and wanton killings on the Nchindo Brothers on 05 November 2020 and other 37 Namibian lives lost since independence remain a serious challenge with our neighbor, Botswana.

Our residents living along the Chobe, Linyanti and Kwandu rivers are living under constant threats, harassment, fear, intimidation and killings and such activities are condemned and not acceptable,” he said under the safety and security title.

The attack suggests that Namibia has not bought Botswana’s story. Ampofu was part of the entourage that accompanied Geingob to the three Nchindo brothers and their cousin who were gunned down by the BDF, and is reported to be privy to the details of the unpublished Botswana-Namibia joint investigations report about the killings as a governor or political head of the region which has eight electoral constituencies.

The report contains the sensitive details of how the three Namibians referred as poachers by the BDF – and Fisherman by the Namibian government were gunned down on 5 November last year along the Chobe River.  They were Tommy (48), Martin (40) and Wamunyima Nchindo (36), and their cousin Sinvula Muyeme (44).

His views are not really in contrast to his President’s views who also described the BDF as trigger happy in a scripted report to his cabinet.

The Zambezi region is located in the extreme north east part of Namibia and covers a total of 14,667.6 square kilometres. “We share borders with Angola, Zambia to the north, Zimbabwe to the east and Botswana to the South,” he said.

Sampofu was first appointed governor of the former Caprive Region in 2010 by the former Namibian president, Hifikepunye Pohamba and was reappointed as Zambezi governor by President Dr.Hage Geingob in 2015, a term running to 2025.

37 Namibia residents killed by Botswana army so far

Sampofu is a man who continues to insist that Botswana has killed 37 residents of his region. A video posted by the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) shows him alleging that at least 37 Namibians were killed by the BDF, after he met with the community at Impalila.

“It is true, the BDF started long ago. As we speak 37 lives have been lost here in Impalila along the Chobe river going to Linyanti and Kwado rivers up to Lizauli. All those families lost their loved ones,” Ampofu said in the video posted by NBC.

It is not known how the BDF, which has maintained their position that the Namibians were engaging in illegal activities of poaching, treats the constant attacks by the Namibian authorities, but they have repeatedly vowed to continue protecting the country’s sovereignty and natural resources.

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Masisi gives KBL the “middle finger”

27th July 2021
President Masisi

Botswana’s premier brewer and leading distributor of beer, Kgalagadi Breweries Limited (KBL), this month dragged the government of Botswana to court after President Mokgweetsi Masisi imposed an alcohol ban with immediate effect. KBL labelled the decision as unjustifiable, irrational and that it overrides the rights that are enshrined in the constitution.

This week, Masisi through attorneys representing the government disparaged the case in his written affidavit of KBL’s application, referring to it as frivolous and that it ought to be dismissed with costs on a punitive scale.

In his court papers, Masisi reminded KBL that Botswana is a Republic whose laws find validity from the constitution, and in terms of Section 17 of the constitution the President is empowered to declare a State of Emergency and that it is a common cause that Botswana is under such state.

“It is common course that there is in existence emergency powers (Covid-19) Regulations 2020 as amended from time to time which is solely designed to regulate the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.

Masisi pointed out that he denies that the application before Court is proper such as to challenge the lawfulness and validity of a regulation made and a notice published in the exercise of a legislative function in accordance with the Emergency Powers Act which empowers the President to make regulations as appear to him to be necessary and expedient for securing public safety.

Furthermore, the President revealed that the decision to ban alcohol sales was not arrived at willy-nilly, but rather that there had been careful considerations that the risks posed by Covid-19 had increased and therefore it was expedient and necessary to suspend all liquor licenses.

Moreover, Masisi denied that the decision to reinstate the ban should be made by the Director of Health Services as indicated by KBL in their nature of the application, “the Director is to cause the notice to be published in the Gazette after consultation with the President.”

Masisi indicated that the role of the Director of Health Services is to publish a regulation made by the President.

He further, reminded KBL that the power to make regulations in a State of Public Emergency in accordance with the EPA lies with the President, “such power includes the amendment of any enactment, suspending the operation of any enactment or modification of an enactment.”

According to Masisi, his decision to ban alcohol sales was based on evidence provided by the Director of Health Services who indicated to him that there was a sudden spike in the transmission of the Covid-19 virus following the reinstatement of liquor licenses.

Another piece of advice tendered by the Director of Health to Masisi was that bars and other liquor outlets were some of the major hotspots in the sense of such being high-risk areas at which the virus spread rapidly.

“Alcohol was one of the major causes of non-compliance with the health protocols that were put in place to control the spread of the Covid-19 virus. Further, there was an indication that more arrests were made on people failing to adhere to Covid-19 protocols more particularly at places where there were gatherings,” he contended.

He pointed out that therefore, it was expedient and or necessary to preserve lives and to reduce the risks of transmissions of the virus to reinstate the suspension of liquor licenses.

Moreover, the President says that it must be noted that he avers that the Director of Health Services is a credible source on matters of public health of which he also accordingly gave due weight to the Director’s advice on deciding to reinstate the ban through the impugned notice.

“I am aware and was always aware at the time of promulgating the regulation complained of that it shall negatively affect some sectors of the economy. However, after due consideration and receipt of advice, I decided to give priority to the safety and health of the nation,” Masisi said.

He presaged KBL that it would not be prudent and in the best interest of the nation to ignore a health emergency such as Covid-19 and gave preference to trading and making of profits by the applicant. “The results would only be catastrophic to the extent that when we emerge from the scourge we would be left with a depleted and ailing nation from Covid-19 and its side effects.”

Furthermore, his written affidavit further pointed out that the decision to reinstate the ban on alcohol was taken notwithstanding understanding and appreciation of the economic hardships that would befall the country.

However, he said he deliberately made the decision based on the evidence provided to him by the Director of Health, whose evidence he believes to be credible to give public/safety and health priority over economic considerations in some sectors.

In making the decision, Masisi states that he was and considered different options including allowing for sale of alcohol consumption off premises, however the evidence he had been provided with suggested that such other alternatives would not achieve the overall objective of securing public safety and health by reducing the risk of the spread of the virus.

“By the time I imposed the ban, alcohol was already being sold for consumption off-premises. This did not work. The information provided to me by the Director and the Presidential Task-Force team demonstrated that consumers purchased alcohol and then loitered and consumed it within the peripheries of bars and other liquor outlets,” he said.

Attached to the affidavit as emphasis, were photographs and videos of Gaborone West, Phase 4 in mid-June 2021, which he explains circulated on social media and was brought to his attention.

“I need not say much about the photos as they depict a crowd exceeding 50 gathered at the parking area of a bar. There is little or no regard to Covid-19 protocols. It was clear to me and my advisors, including the Director of Health Services and members of the Presidential Task-Force team that the total ban of alcohol was necessary to manage the risk of increase in infections, to understand what seems to have led to an increase in the risk of infection when alcohol is present I was advised by the Presidential Task-Force team that scientifically there has been evidence that alcohol narrows physical distance,” he argued.

Masisi says that allegations made by KBL are serious allegations of infringement of fundamental rights yet they fail to state how imposition and reinstatement of the suspension of liquor licenses out of necessity and expediency of the health of the nation infringes on the rights as alleged.

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Gov’t gives parallel statements on COVAX

27th July 2021
COVAX---lelatisitswe

In  an embarrassing turn of events that depicts disintegration in government communication on the fight against COVID-19, President Mokgweetsi Masisi and Assistant Minister of Health & Wellness, Sethomo Lelatisitswe gave two conflicting statements on the same matter, same day, just minutes apart.

The Commander-in-Chef told health practitioners and residents in Ramotswa that the COVAX facility has scammed African countries after billions were paid in a crowd funding effort to procure COVID-19 vaccines in bulk.

“We have pumped money as developing countries of the African continent into the COVAX Facility but the returns were not satisfactory, they cheated us,” the President said in Ramotswa.

According to President Masisi, the COVAX facility Vaccine only came in bits and pieces, frustrating the continent ‘s head immunity targets amid rapidly spreading Delta Variant which is currently reversing all progress made by Africa in containing the contagious virus.

“What we are getting is very small portions of the vaccine, they keep telling us that there is shortage of supply, this is not fair, but we have paid in advance, however what can we do, we have no choice but to spend more  money and look for other avenues of securing other available vaccines,” he said.

Meanwhile in Gaborone, Assistant Minister of Health and Wellness told Parliament that vaccine from COVAX facility is anchoring Botswana’s vaccination program.

“I am not aware of such information that COVAX facility is not delivering as expected, we are actually bolstered by COVAX facility in this country,” he said responding to a question from Mahalapye West Member of Parliament David Tshere who is also Chairman of Parliament Committee On Health and HIV/AIDS.

“We have received doses as ordered from the COVAX facility, and we are still receiving more, I have not seen that information which is purported to have been revealed by the President, unless its new information, we as the Ministry we are not aware of any frustrations by the COVAX facility,” he said.

COVAX is co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi and the World Health Organization (WHO), alongside key delivery partner UNICEF.

Its aim is to accelerate the development and manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines, and to guarantee fair and equitable access for every country in the world.

The facility is a global coalition that works to ensure fair and equitable access of COVID-19 vaccines around the world. So far, 190 countries have joined the COVAX initiative, including all 22 countries in the Eastern Mediterranean Region.

The COVAX Facility aims to have 2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines available for distribution across the globe by the end of 2021, targeting those most at risk (e.g. frontline health workers) and most vulnerable severe diseases and death (e.g. elderly and people with co-morbidities).

On other vaccination issues President Masisi revealed, still in Greater Gaborone vaccination centre visits, that Botswana has placed orders with Pfizer, a United States vaccine producer noting that they have promised to deliver next year.

Meanwhile, government kick-started phase two of the Covid-19 vaccination program this week, opening up for ages between 30 and 54.

President Masisi revealed that this was done because some elderly were reluctant to be inculcated.

“We can’t take forever trying to convince people to take vaccine, we moved to the next age segments because we cannot afford to have vaccines-which are already in shortage supply to just lie there,” he said.

On Friday, Ministry of Health revealed that it was receiving large numbers of people below the age of 55 lining up to be vaccinated.

In a statement the Ministry of Health said it, “acknowledges the huge turnout that marked the commencement of the Phase two COVID-19 vaccination program”.

Given this high turnout, especially in the Greater Gaborone region, the ministry announced an extension of operation hours in order to serve the huge crowds that had come for vaccination.

Of the nearly 85 000 doses that were being doled across the country as first doses, the majority of the Greater Gaborone vaccination sites were already getting depleted by 1800hrs on 22 July 2021.

As a result of this development, the ministry took a decision to discontinue the extended hours of operation announced yesterday for vaccination sites in Gaborone.

This means that vaccination sites in Gaborone and elsewhere in the country which still have some vaccines, will offer them in the normal working hours and days of the week.

The Ministry says it appreciates the great desire to be vaccinated shown by thousands of citizens and residents of this country and wishes to assure them that it will continue to expedite their vaccination every time vaccines become available. As has been communicated in various fora, more vaccines are expected in August 2021.

As at July 2021, Botswana has so far received 62, 400 doses of AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD bought through the Covax facility, 30,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine donated by the Republic of India, 19, 890 doses of the Pfizer vaccine bought through the COVAX facility, 200, 000 doses of the Sinovac vaccine, donated by the Peoples Republic of China and another 200, 000 doses of the Sinovac vaccine bought through bilateral negotiations with Sinovac company in China.

“We encourage Batswana to remain hopeful that although it’s taking longer than anticipated, enough COVID-19 vaccines will eventually arrive in our country. We urge them to always strictly abide by all COVID-19 protocols so that they protect themselves and others from this deadly virus,” the ministry said.

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