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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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WeekendPost: Why did you move between the Attorney General and the Bench?

Ian Kirby: I was a member of the Attorney General’s Chambers three times- first in 1969 as Assistant State Counsel, then in 1990 as Deputy Attorney General (Civil), and finally in 2004 as Attorney General. I was invited in 2000 by the late Chief Justice Julian Nganunu to join the Bench. I was persuaded by former President Festus Mogae to be his Attorney General in 2004 as, he said, it was my duty to do so to serve the nation. I returned to the Judiciary as soon as I could – in May 2006, when there was a vacancy on the High Court Bench.

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