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.
Stanbic Bank Botswana Quarterly Economic Review indicates that Botswana will fail to meet some of its Vision 2036 targets, particularly unemployment reduction and reaching high-income status.
The report says this is mainly due to the slow economic growth that the country is currently experiencing. This Quarterly Economic Review focuses on the 2020 Budget Speech.
The first paper reviews the entire budget with its key observations being that this budget is prepared as prescribed by the Public Finance Management Act; the priorities it seeks to address are drawn from Vision 2036 and the eleventh
The 2020 budget Speech, which was the maiden speech by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Dr. Thapelo Matsheka, and the first after the 2019 general elections, was delivered to Parliament on the 4th of February 2020.
It has been well received by the labour unions, business community, and the public at large as well as international organisations such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
It mainly derived its support from key facets including, emphasis on changing the business-as-usual approach to development; outlining the transformation agenda; fiscal reform that minimizes the negative impact on economic development and human welfare, competiveness and the decision to implement the 2019 negotiated and agreed public sector.
The budget’s progress review shows that economic growth was consistent with the NDP 11 projections, with growth of around 4 percent. At this growth rate, the country would neither ascend to a high-income status nor reduce unemployment towards the Vision 2036 target of a single digit.
Simple calculations of this review confirm that the economy will need to grow the Vision 2036’s target of 6 percent over the next 16 years for per capita income to increase from around USD 8,000.00 to above USD 12,000.00 in current prices.
Further, the population is anticipated to grow by only 2 percent per annum.
For this reason, the focal areas for the forthcoming FY’s budget include measures to increase economic growth towards an average of 6 percent per annum.
Economic diversification is reportedly progressing fairly well. The report says, the share of the non-mining private sector in value added has risen to 66 percent in 2018 from to 63 percent in 2015.
The sectoral pattern of growth showed that the performance of services sector (particularly transport & communications, trade, hotels & restaurants, and finance & business services) has been the silver lining and that of mining sector was subdued whilst the utility sector disappointed.
The drive towards the service sector of the economy, especially to low-productivity activities (tourism, public administration, wholesaling and retailing) does not bode well for the country’s development aspirations.
In the previous versions of this Quarterly Review, it was noted that there is need for the rethinking of economic diversification. Since the country’s domestic market is small, it is inevitable that economic diversification not only focus on broadening the product mix, but also the composition of exports and markets.
This understanding of economic diversification has not been embraced by this year’s budget. Consequently, Botswana’s exports are still overwhelmingly diamonds, which means that the rest of economic sectors are still highly dependent on foreign-exchange earnings from diamonds. Thus, “the transformation programme requires a review of the country’s entire ecosystem”.
The budget review of the economic context also depicts that an economy with positive medium-term prospects, with growth expected to recover to 4.4 percent in 2020 from the expected growth of 36 percent in 2019 largely due to faster growth of services sectors and, thereafter, to slow-down to 4 percent in 2021.
These projected growth rates are comparable to those of the IMF staff’s baseline scenario of 4.2 percent in 2020 and 4 percent in 2021. Thus, the business-as-usual scenario produces growth rates that are still too low to achieve Botswana’s development objectives and create enough jobs to absorb the new entrants into the labour market.
Trade tensions between the two major markets for diamond exports, viz., the United States of America and China, is one of the factors that are cited as contributing to, indeed, undermining not only the domestic growth, but also the fiscal position.
Another notable downside risk to both global and domestic growth is outbreak of the coronavirus in China around January 2020. This has been declared as a global health emergency. In an attempt to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus pneumonia, the Chinese authorities have ordered city lockdowns and extended holidays, of course, at the expense of near- term economic growth, according to the new Stanbic Bank Botswana report.
According to Nomura Holdings Inc., fewer migrant workers returned for work than in previous years and business activities have been slow to pick up. The havoc wreaked by the virus on the world’s second largest economy is likely to spill over to the global economy. In fact, it has resulted in a glut in crude oil and, thereby placed oil markets into a contango, i.e., a market structure where near-term prices trade at a discount to future contracts.
It also presents significant risks one of Botswana’s main drivers of economic growth, diversification and foreign exchange earnings. According to the Financial Times (February 13, 2020), Chinese tourists spent $130 billion overseas in 2018. Regardless of whether the growth materializes, the projected domestic growth rate would not transform the economy to a high-income one.
Progress towards reduction of unemployment, to a target of single digit, and poverty and achieving inclusive growth has also been relatively slow, the Stanbic Bank Botswana Review says.
Ministry of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration (MOPAGPA) has through the Office of the President (OP) proposed to avail Orapa House for use by private training institutions as well as research institutions involved in the area of technology development.
For a very long time the monumental building located in the heart of the city has been a white elephant, despite government purchasing it for nearly P80 million from De Beers in 2012.
However, government has now identified a productive use for the iconic building. “The overall vision is for the building to be transformed into a hub for digital technology research and development to be carried-out by institutions, such as; Limkokwing University, BIUST, BITRI and other relevant stakeholders.”
The decision was taken as government traverse a new path of transforming the economy from a mineral led economy to a knowledge based economy through the promotion of research and innovation. However, the facility will need major maintenance to be carried-out in order to meet the requirements of the proposed change in use.
“The work will include provision of laboratories, work stations, production areas and seminar rooms; audio visual centre, high speed internet connectivity, exhibition areas and offices,” reads the proposal note for the development.
These developments will be done through the refurbishment and maintenance of the main building, workshop, and ablution block, gate house, parking area, grounds, and access control and security service.
“There will be minimal modifications to the structure as it stands. The project is estimated to cost approximately P50, 000, 000,” says the report. In this regard, it is said, the initial scope of the OP facility will be modified to accommodate the envisaged digital technology research and development hub.
With funds needed to improve the building, OP has requested that; “the 2020/21 annual budget provision for Orapa House will need to be increased by P37,500,000 from P2,500,000 to P40,000,000 to kick start the maintenance works.” Funds will be sourced from the projects that have been delayed due to Covid-19 protocols during the 2020/21 financial year.
The building has been a thorny issue for government for years. Initially, OP was expected to move there but the move never materialised. At one point it was a question of whether the Office of the President and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development were planning to override a decision by Parliament which rejected the proposal to buy Orapa House under the belief that government may be buying its own property. The building was to be bought at a negotiated cost of P79 million.
Again in 2012, Government had wanted to buy Orapa House for a negotiated P79m but the Finance and Estimates Committee of Parliament had rejected the request because of the inconsistencies realised in the supporting documents of the proposed procurement. The valuation of the building was put at P74 million.
The Ministry of Lands and Housing had initially offered De Beers P73, 000,000 as the purchase price. However, De Beers countered with P85, 000,000. On negotiation and converging of the minds, the selling price was finally agreed at P79, 000,000.
Auditor General, Pulane Letebele, has expressed discontentment at the worrying and deteriorating state of brigades in the country.
In an audit inspection which was carried out at Tshwaragano Brigade in Gabane, a number of observations showed weaknesses and shortcomings in the conduct of the financial affairs of the institution.
According to Letebele’s report, former students of the brigade had been engaged to carry out maintenance works on the school premises, comprising of painting, tiling, plumbing and electrical works, which covered the period from July 2017 to June 2018.
Although the agreed maintenance period had elapsed, the works had not been completed because of unavailability of funds and this situation had persisted up till the time of inspection in November 2019.
Auditor General says arrangements should have been made in time for funds to be available to complete these relatively minor works even before the works commenced.
Various contractors had been engaged for clearing the bush and for the supply of concrete stones, pit and river sand and hiring equipment for digging the trench towards the construction of an auto mechanics workshop, the report said.
It stated that the cost of services and supplies provided totalled P117 949.80. However, despite the services and the supplies having been paid for, the construction works had not commenced for a long period afterwards, resulting in the trench filling back in.
The audit inquiries had not elicited satisfactory responses as both the institution and the Ministry had not accepted the responsibility for the project, although orders for the provision for the supplies had been made. For their part, the Ministry had stated that they had sub warranted funds for the purchase of porta cabins.
Letebele indicated that it is therefore confusing that a project which is critical to the functioning of an institution such as this one would commence without a well-defined plan.
Furthermore, the accounting and maintenance of records for the supplies items were not of the standard prescribed by the Supplies Regulations and Procedures in that the supplies ledger cards, the main accounting records for Government assets, were not properly maintained for the recording of receipts and issues.
This had resulted in significant discrepancies between physical and ledger balances, while in other instances the supplies items had not been recorded at all.
The report says 24 of the 91 new computers found in the computer laboratory at Kumakwane ABC campus were not recorded anywhere, as were the other computers in the storeroom which could not be counted due to the disorderly storage conditions.
The institution had entered into a contract agreement with a security company for the provision of security services at Tshwaragano Brigade, ABC and Horticulture campuses at Kumakwane for a 2-year period which ended in June 2018, WeekendPost learnt.
After the contract expired in June 2018, an extension was granted till the 30th September 2018. Since then, there has been no security service coverage for the institution to-date. According to Auditor General, in the face of prevailing crimes, it is of paramount importance that government properties be protected by provision of security services at all times.
At Tlokweng Brigade, it was noted that the kitchen staff were working under difficult conditions as the kitchen facilities and equipment, such as the cold room, tilting pot, food warmers and solar power for hot water were dysfunctional. The kitchen roof was leaking and men’s restrooms was not working. All these need to be brought to a reasonable and functional state of repair.
The kitchen staff should use a purpose-designed Rations Ledger for the recording of receipts and issues of foodstuffs to reflect the usage of those items. As far back as 2014 the Department of Buildings and Engineering Services had found that the house occupied by the bursar was uninhabitable on account of structural defects, the report said.
A site visit during the audit had established that the house was indeed unfit for occupation as there were cracks on the walls, power switches were not working and the roof was leaking. On a sadder note, there were a number of finished items of clothing, such as dresses, shirts, and jackets from students’ practical exercises from the Fashion Design Textiles Workshop.
Auditor General shared her take on this, saying: “I have not been able to ascertain the policy on the disposal of products from these practicals. A trace of 103 green acid-proof overalls which had been purchased in August 2018 had indicated that there was no record of these items having been recorded or issued, nor were they available in stock. I was not able to obtain any explanation for this situation.”
Kgatleng brigade was also audited and inspected by Auditor General who observed that the brigade has 26 institutional houses at Bokaa, both old campus and new campus. Some of these houses are very old and dilapidated, with two declared uninhabitable. The condition of the houses is a clear indication of lack of care and maintenance of these properties.
At the time of the audit, there was no contractor engaged for the provision of security guard services at the new campus, after expiry of the previous one in July 2019. It is hoped that steps would be taken to safeguard the security of the premises and government properties against any acts of hooliganism.
In August 2019, there was a break-in at the electrical and at the plumbing maintenance workshops and a number of high value items, such as drilling machines, bolt cutters, spanners and cables, were stolen. The break-in and theft were reported to the police.
“However, at the time of writing this report I was not aware of the outcome of the police investigation, nor of any loss report submitted in terms of the Supplies Regulations and Procedures,” Letebele said.