Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST) has moved to engage a document verification and background check company to enhance the integrity of its recruitment process in the recently advertised top posts, owing to previous fraud cases that ensnared the university.
BIUST, a state owned premier science and research institution is currently conducting the recruitment process for two senior posts; Deputy Vice Chancellors- Finance and Administration, and Deputy Vice Chancellors- Academic Affairs. BIUST confirmed last week that given the previous experience, in which the university employed a foreign national who was found to be in possession of dubious documents, the recruitment process has been tightened.
“The University has made a significant improvements on its recruitment process by expanding probity checks which include extensive security checks, employment and education verifications, publications, financial conduct and character analysis,” said the university Director of Communication and Public Affairs, Keoagile Rafifing. “This was to ensure that we recruit staff of high calibre and integrity.”
Although the university is handling the recruitment process internally, the institution has engaged a local based company, Infotrac Pty (Ltd) to conduct document verification and background checks for those who will be shortlisted for the two senior posts. “As an institution, especially of the BIUST calibre, you do not want by any chance to employ people who are not qualified and whom their qualifications are doubtful. It seriously dents the credibility of the institution and that is why it is important to conduct this process,” said Infotrac Director Mompoloki Motshidi
“Fraud is on the increase and it is even becoming more complex to deal with it, especially for international recruits. Previous incidents have shown that people fake qualifications mainly for top posts, and if there is no mechanism put in place, wrong people get the job.” The applications for the two posts are closing on the 23rd of March 2020, and subsequently the shortlisting process will be set in motion. BIUST, under the leadership of Vice Chancellor Professor Otlogetswe Totolo, is finding its feet following challenging phases during formative years.
Professor Totolo is the 3rd Vice Chancellor of the university and first local to assume the post. His predecessors are Prof. Hillary Inyang and Prof. Kweku Bentil. After taking over the reins in 2016, Professor Totolo launched ambitious key strategies including substantial investment on research and development, human resource capability and collaboration with the industry that will see the university living its dream beyond the year 2022.
Professor Totolo, who has brought stability to the university, came on aboard amid new hopes that the institution will live up to its true expectation, with the Strategic Plan 2016-2022 seen as the blue print to transforming the Palapye based science and technology institution. As per his admission at the launch of the strategy, Professor said he wants his institution to set itself apart from other state owned institutions. He said BIUST should take a different path of not being heavily reliant on government for funding, but to explore other means of raising the funds.
Prof Totolo has been optimistic that, like other internationally recognised universities in the world, BIUST can forge formidable partnerships with the industry players and other philanthropic individuals to source out funds for the institution. “There are many people, whom I have met and interacted with who can be willing to give portions of their money to BIUST. But first we have to build relationships with them,” he said when launching the university strategy 2016-2022.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which has been consistently ranked as a top technology university in the world has fostered a problem-solving approach that encourages researchers to work together across departments, fields, and institutional boundaries. The resulting collaborations have included thousands of fruitful partnerships with industry and other leading research institutions. Research sponsored directly by industry, according to the institution’s website totalled $134 million (about P1.4 billion) in fiscal year 2015, or 19 percent of all MIT research funding.
According to the National Science Foundation, MIT ranks first in industry-financed research and development expenditures among all universities and colleges without a medical school. MIT has partnership with over 700 companies. BIUST has indicated desire to form a close relationship with other quasi-government research institutions such as National Food Technology Research Centre (NFTRC) and Botswana Institute for Technology Research and Innovation (BITRI) among others.
It has been noted by BIUST itself that for it to claim the position of being considered the “engine of development” and flagship for science, engineering and technology university of reputable standing” it will depend on it being able to embark on researches which can transform into tangible applications and products of importance to the society.
During the five year strategy, the university will strive to build strong linkages with the industry, look for research funding from various sources and have adequate and sustainable research staff and infrastructure. By the 2022/23 academic year, BIUST plans to enrol 100 percent of the country’s top students, with 15 percent of its enrolment being international students. The institution will have 6000 students of which between 4500-5000 should be in undergraduate programmes, and 1000-1500 in post graduate programmes.
Despite being hailed and still regarded as a hero who saved many lives through his decision to crash the BF5 fighter Jet around the national stadium on the eve of the 2018 BDF day, the deceased Pilot, Major Clifford Manyuni’s actions were treated as a letdown within the army, especially by his master-Commander of the Air Arm, Major General Innocent Phatshwane.
Manyuni’s master says he was utterly disappointed with his Pilot’s failure to perform “simple basics.”
Manyuni was regarded as a hero through social media for his ‘colourful exploits’, but Phatshwane who recently retired as the Air Arm Commander, revealed to WeekendPost in an exclusive interview that while he appreciated Batswana’s outpouring of emotions and love towards his departed Pilot, he strongly felt let down by the Pilot “because there was nothing wrong with that Fighter Jet and Manyuni did not report any problem either.”
The deceased Pilot, Manyuni was known within the army to be an upwardly mobile aviator and in particular an air power proponent.
“I was hurt and very disappointed because nobody knows why he decided to crash a well-functioning aircraft,” stated Phatshwane – a veteran pilot with over 40 years of experience under the Air Arm unit.
Phatshwane went on to express shock at Manyuni’s flagrant disregard for the rules of the game, “they were in a formation if you recall well and the guiding principle in that set-up is that if you have any problem, you immediately report to the formation team leader and signal a break-away from the formation.
Manyuni disregarded all these basic rules, not even to report to anybody-team members or even the barracks,” revealed Phatshwane when engaged on the much-publicised 2018 incident that took the life of a Rakops-born Pilot of BDF Class 27 of 2003/2004.
Phatshwane quickly dismisses the suggestion that perhaps the Fighter Jet could have been faulty, “the reasons why I am saying I was disappointed is that the aircraft was also in good condition and well-functioning. It was in our best interest to know what could have caused the accident and we launched a wholesale post-accident investigation which revealed that everything in the structure was working perfectly well,” he stated.
Phatshwane continued: “we thoroughly assessed the condition of the engine of the aircraft as well as the safety measures-especially the ejection seat which is the Pilot’s best safety companion under any life-threatening situation. All were perfectly functional.”
In aircrafts, an ejection seat or ejector seat is a system designed to rescue the pilot or other crew of an aircraft in an emergency. The seat is propelled out of the aircraft by an explosive charge or rocket motor, carrying the pilot with it.”
Manyuni knew about all these safety measures and had checked their functionality prior to using the Aircraft as is routine practice, according to Phatshwane. Could Manyuni have been going through emotional distress of some sort? Phatshwane says while he may never really know about that, what he can say is that there are laid out procedures in aviation guiding instances of emotional instability which Manyuni also knew about.
“We don’t allow or condone emotionally or physically unfit Pilots to take charge of an aircraft. If a Pilot feels unfit, he reports and requests to be excused. We will subsequently shift the task to another Pilot. We do this because we know the risks of leaving an unfit pilot to fly an aircraft,” says Phatshwane.
Despite having happened a day before the BDF day, Phatshwane says the BDF day mishap did not really affect the BDF day preparations, although it emotionally distracted Manyuni’s flying formation squad a bit, having seen him break away from the formation to the stone-hearted ground. The team soldiered on and immediately reported back to base for advice and way forward, according to Phatshwane.
Sharing the details of the ordeal and his Pilots’ experiences, Phatshwane said: “they (pilots) were in distress, who wouldn’t? They were especially hurt by the deceased‘s lack of communication. I immediately called a chaplain to attend to their emotional needs.
He came and offered them counselling. But soldiers don’t cry, they immediately accepted that a warrior has been called, wiped off their tears and instantly reported back for duty. I am sure you saw them performing miracles the following day at the BDF day as arranged.”
Despite the matter having attracted wide publicity, the BDF kept the crash details a distance away from the public, a move that Phatshwane felt was not in the best interest of the army and public.
“The incident attracted overwhelming public attention. Not only that, there were some misconceptions attached to the incident and I thought it was upon the BDF to come out and address those for the benefit of the public and army’s reputation,” he said.
One disturbing narrative linked to the incident was that Manyuni heroically wrestled the ‘faulty’ aircraft away from the endangered public to die alone, a narrative which Phatshwane disputes as just people’s imaginations. “Like I said the Aircraft was functioning perfectly,” he responded.
A close family member has hinted that the traumatised Manyuni family, at the time of their son’s tragedy, strongly accused the BDF ‘of killing their son’. Phatshwane admits to this development, emphasising that “Manyuni’s mother was visibly and understandably in inconsolable pain when she uttered those words”.
Phatshwane was the one who had to travel to Rakops through the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS) aircraft to deliver the sad news to the family but says he found the family already in the know, through social media. At the time of his death, Manyuni was survived by both parents, two brothers, a sister, fiancée and one child. He was buried in Rakops in an emotionally-charged burial. Like his remains, the BDF fighter jets have been permanently rested.
A matter in which former President Lt Gen Ian Khama had brought before Broadhurst Police Station in Gaborone, requesting the State to charge Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) lead investigator, Jako Hubona and others with perjury has been committed to Headquarters because it involves “elders.”
Broadhurst Police Station Commander, Obusitswe Lokae, told this publication this week that the case in its nature is high profile so the matter has been allocated to his Officer Commanding No.3 District who then reported to the Divisional Commander who then sort to commit it to Police Headquarters.