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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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Details emerge in suspected Batswana poachers in Namibia

28th June 2022
suspected Motswana poacher arrested

New details about a suspected Motswana poacher arrested in Namibian and his accomplice who is on the run were revealed when the suspect appeared in court this week.

The Motswana Citizen who was shot and wounded by Namibia’s anti poaching unit is facing criminal charges under criminal case number (CR NO 10/06/2022) which was registered at the Divundu Police Station in the Mukwe constituency of the Kavango East Region on 10 June 2022.

It is alleged that a patrol team laid an ambush after discovering a giraffe’s fresh carcass in a snare wire and hanging biltong.  According to the Charge Sheet, the suspect Djeke Dihutu, aged 40 years, is charged with contravening and transgressions of Nature Conservation Ordinance andcontravening Immigration Act 07 in Mahango Wildlife Core Area, Bwabwata National Park. Dihutu’s first court appearance was on the 17th of June 2022, Rundu and it was postponed to the 07 July 2022. He is currently hospitalized in hospital under Police Guards.

Commenting on this latest development, the Namibian Lives Matter Movement National Chairperson Sinvula Mudabeti applauded the Namibian Anti Poaching Unit for its compliance with what it called the universal instrument on the Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials adopted by the United Nations General Assembly resolution 34/169.

“We are aware that the duties of the police carry a great deal of risk, but our police has shown that they have a moral calling and obligation to protect even foreigners suspected of serious crimes on Namibian soil,” said Mudabeti.

According to him, whereas the Botswana Police Service, the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) and Directorate of Intelligence Service (DIS) have “very low moral ethics, integrity, accountability and honesty, the Namibian security agencies has shown very high levels of ethical leadership in the discharge of their duties even under duress.”

He said Namibian’s anti poaching unit has exercised one very important value, that is, the use of force only when it is reasonable and necessary. Mudabeti said this is in harmony with international best practices as enshrined in Article 2 of the UN instrument on law enforcement conduct, “In the performance of their duty, law enforcement officials shall respect and protect human dignity and maintain and uphold the human rights of all persons.

Our police have protected the life of a Botswana poacher and accorded him dignity, which is very foreign to our Botswana counterparts,” he said. He said article 3 of the same instrument above, calls for Law enforcement officials to use force only when strictly necessary and to the extent required for the performance of their duty.

“This provision emphasizes that the use of force by law enforcement officials should be exceptional; while it implies that law enforcement officials may be authorized to use force as is reasonably necessary under the circumstances for the prevention of crime or in effecting or assisting in the lawful arrest of suspected offenders, no force going beyond that was used by our Police,” he said.

Furthermore, Mudabeti said, whereas the universally accepted norm of the law of proportionality ordinarily permits the use of force by law enforcement, it is to be understood that such principles of proportionality in no case should be interpreted to authorize the use of force which is disproportionate to the legitimate objective to be achieved.

“Our police have used force proportional to the situation at hand. Great work indeed! Article 6 urges law enforcement officials to ensure the full protection of the health of persons in their custody and, in particular, shall take immediate action to secure medical attention whenever required,” he said.

Mudabeti said the Botswana poacher was immediately taken to hospital whereas the Nchindo brothers who were captured on Namibian soil, beaten, tortured and executed while pleading to be taken to the hospital we left to die.

“The Namibian Doctor gave evidence in court that Sinvula Munyeme’s lungs showed signs of life (during the autopsy) and that he could have survived if he was accorded immediate medical assistance in time but was left to die while BDF soldiers looked and possibly ignored his cry for help,” he said.

Mudabeti said unlike in Botswana where there are no clear separation of powers between the BDF, Botswana Police Service, Department of Intelligence and their Directorate of Public Prosecutions,” we have a system that allows for checks and balances and allows our people and foreigners who are found on the wrong side of the law to be accorded the right to a fair trial.”

He said Botswana citizens are treated with dignity when apprehended in Namibia and not assaulted, tortured and executed. “We are a civilized country that respects international law in dealing with non-Namibian criminals. The Namibian Police have not mistreated the Botswana poacher but have given him the benefit of the doubt by allowing due processes of the law to be followed,” he said.

He added that, “We are a peace loving nation that has not repaid Botswana by the evil that Botswana has done to Namibia by killing more than 37 innocent and unarmed Namibians by the trigger happy BDF.” He concluded that, “Our acts of mercy in arresting Botswana citizens should never be mistaken for cowardice.”

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Gov’t, Unions clash over accommodation

28th June 2022
accomodation

The government has reportedly taken a decision to terminate provision of pool housing and subsidy for civil servants as it attempts to trim the public service wage bill.

This emerges in a dispute that is currently before the Labour Office headquarters lodged by unions representing thousands of civil servants across the country. This publication understands that the decision to cease providing pool housing and rental subsidy for public officers is part of proposals that government put on the table during its negotiations with public service unions in order for it to adjust salaries.

A letter from Labour Office addressed to the Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) shows that the directorate is cited as the First Respondent. The letter is titled, “Dispute lodged: Cessation of provision of pool housing and subsidy for pubic officers.”

“This serves as a notification and requirement to a mediation hearing,” the letter informed DPSM. According to the letter, the Botswana Teachers Union (BTU), Botswana Sectors of Educators Trade Unions (BOSETU) Botswana Nurses Union (BONU) and Botswana Land Board &Local Authorities &Health workers Union (BLLAHW) who lodged the complaint are cited as the Applicant.

“Please come for mediation hearing. The hearing will be conducted by Mr Lebang. The hearing is scheduled for date/time 29th June 2022, 09: 00HOURS at Block 8 District Labour Office, Gaborone. Please bring all relevant documents,” reads the letter in part.

According to a document described as a proposal paper on the negotiations on salaries and other conditions of employment of public officers by the employer (government), the government did not only propose to stop providing accommodation to civil servants but also put a number of proposals on the table.

The proposal papers states that the negotiations (which have since been concluded) cover three government financial years; 2022/23, 2023/24 and 2024/25. The government proposed an across the board salary adjustments as follows; 3% for the financial year 2022/23 effective 1st April 2022, across the board salary adjustment of 3.5% for the financial year 2023/24 effective 1st April 2023 subject to performance of the economy and across the board salary adjustment of 4% for the financial year 2024/25 effective 1st April 2024 subject to performance of the economy.

The government also proposed phasing out of retention and attractive (Scarce Skills) Allowance with a view to migration towards clean pay, renegotiate and set new timelines for all outstanding issues contained in the Collective Labour Agreement, executed by the employer and trade unions on the 27th August 2019, to ensure proper sequencing, alignment and proper implementation.
The government also proposed to freeze public service recruitment for the 2022/23 financial year and withdraw the financial equivalence of P500 million attached to vacancies from Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs).

Another proposal included phasing out of commuted overtime allowance and payment of overtime in accordance with the law and review human resource policies during the financial year 2022/23, 2023/24 and 2024/25.

The government argued that its proposals were premised on affordability and sustainability adding that it was important to underscore that the review of salaries and conditions of service for public officers was taking place at a time when there were uncertainties both in the global and domestic economies.

“Furthermore there is need to ensure that any collective labour agreement that is concluded does not breach the fiscal deficit target of 4% of GDP,” the proposal paper stated. The proposal paper further indicated that beyond salary adjustments, the Government of Botswana is of the view that a more comprehensive consideration “must be taken on the issue of remuneration in the public service by embracing principles such as total rewards compensation which involves taking a fully comprehensive and holistic approach to how our organization compensates employees for the work.”

The proposal paper also noted that, “Clearly, the increase in salaries and changes to other conditions of service which have monetary consequences will further increase the proportion of the budget taken by salaries, allowances and other monetary based conditions of services.”

“The consequential effect would be a reduction of the portion that can be used for other recurrent budget needs (e.g. maintenance of assets, consumable supplies such as medicines and books) and for development projects,” the proposal states.

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BPF NEC probes Serowe squabbles

28th June 2022
BPF

Opposition Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) National Executive Committee will in no time investigate charges party members worked with the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) membership to tip the scales in favour of the latter for Serowe Sub-council Chairmanship in exchange for deputy seat in a dramatic 11th hour gentleman’s deal, leaving the ruling party splinter under the political microscope.

In a spectacular Sub-council election membership last Thursday, the ruling BDP’s Lesedi Phuthego beat Atamelang Thaga with 14 votes to 12 for Serowe Sub-council Chairmanship coveted seat and subsequently the ruling party’s councilor Bernard Kenosi withdrew his candidacy in the final hour for the equally admired deputy chair paving the way for Solomon Dikgang of BPF, seen as long sealed ‘I scratch your back and you scratch mine’ gentleman’s agreement between the contenders.

Both parties entered the race with a tie of votes torn between 12 councillors each, translating for election race that will go down to the wire definitely. But that will not be the case as two BPF councilors shifted their allegiance to the ruling party during the first race for Chairmanship held in a secret ballot and no sooner was the election concluded then the ruling party answered back by withdrawing its candidacy for the deputy chair position to give BPF’s Dikgang the post on a silver platter unopposed.

BPF councilor Vuyo Notha confirmed the incident in an interview on Wednesday, insisting the party NEC was determined to “investigate the matter soon”. “During the race for the Chairmanship, two more BPF voted for alongside the ruling party membership. It was clear Dikgang voted alongside the BDP as immediately after the vote for Chairmanship was concluded, Kenosi withdraw his candidacy to render Dikgang unopposed as a payback,” Notha added.

As for the other vote, Makolo ward councilor will not be drawn for the identity preferring instead to say: “BPF NEC will convene all the councilors to investigate the matter soon and we will take from there.” Notha will also not be drawn to conclude may be the culprit councilors could have defected to the ruling party silently.

“If they are no longer part of us they should say so and a by-election be called,” was all he could say. As it stands now, the law forbids sitting Councilors and Parliamentarians from crossing the floor to another party as to do so will immediately invite for a new election as dictated by the law. Incumbent politicians will therefore dare not venture for the unknown with a by-election that could definitely cost their political life and certainly their full benefits.

Notha could also not be dragged to link the culprit councilors actions to BPF Serowe region Chairperson Tebo Thokweng who has silently defected to the ruling party and currently employed by the party businessman and former candidate for Serowe West Moemedi Dijeng as PRO for the highly anticipated cattle abattoir project in Serowe.

“As for Thokweng he has not resigned from the party but from the region’s chairmanship,” he said. WeekendPost investigations suggest Thokweng is the secret snipper behind the recruitment drive of the votes for the elections and is determined to tear the party dominance in Serowe and the neighbouring villages asunder including in Palapye going forward.

This publication’s investigations also show BPF’s Radisele and UDC’s Mokgware/Mogome councilors are under the radar of investigations for the votes-themselves associated with the workings and operations of Thokweng.

“NEC will definitely leave no stone unturned with their investigations to get into the bottom of the matter. Disciplinary actions will follow certainly,” Notha concluded, underscoring the need to toe the party line to set a good precedent. For the youthful councilor, the actions of his peers has set a wrong precedent which has to be dealt with seriously to deter future culprits.

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