Whistle-blowers at Med Rescue International Botswana (MRI) are accusing the Managing Director (MD) Constance Matabiswana of flouting administrative and recruitment procedures.
Information passed to The Botswana Gazette suggests that the Managing Director was always clashing with parent company called Southview for issues of human resource management.
Before its dissolution last year October, Southview an investment arm of Bomaid, owned 93 percent of MRI while Motor Vehicle Accident Fund held three percent. The remaining four percent was held by “other minority shareholders.” Since this dissolution, only Bomaid holds interests in MRI.
Before the dissolution MRI HR department was administered through Southview.
The clash between Southview and the MRI MD came after she allegedly recommended for the contract renewal of a nurse employed by MRI in Ghagoo mine.
At the time, Southview approved the extension of the nurse’s contract insisting on processes like the interviewing of candidates who applied and selection of the best candidate, according to information seen by this publication.
Documents suggest that this process was ignored and the MRI MD went ahead and renewed the nurse’s contract without following conditions issued by the mother company, Southview.
After the dissolution in 2016, Southview handed over all the operations including HR to MRI a move which insiders claim to have been due to Matabiswana’s motivation.
According to sources, since October 2016 after Southview was dissolved, she had been hands on with HR issues and was allegedly making sure she is surrounded by “yes men” who are mostly foreigners. According to information reaching this publication, this made her flout some HR practices and to disregard MRI’s localization policy.
This publication has seen information where Southview asked her to localize positons of Operations Manager, Call Centre Supervisor and nurse (Ghagoo) because there are capable and qualified Batswana who could fill the posts but she did not.
“Matabiswana would just take Southview HR recommendations and ignore them. She does not want to hire locals but hires foreigners, mostly Zimbabweans, who are her fellow countrymen. She likes working with foreigners because they are pushovers while locals demand their labour rights,” alleged a source.
Another controversy that irked the whistle-blowers is the “handpicking” of MRI HR Officer (name withheld) who was retrenched by Southview from MRI last year December during the dissolution process.
In his retrenchment package letter seen by The Botswana Gazette the HR Officer got an exit package of P325 080.
The HR Officer was seconded to MRI by Southview before his retrenchment.
After enjoying his package, the said officer was hand-picked back to MRI by Matabiswana sources say.
Communication involving MRI top management seen by this publication when Southview was dissolved shows that “all staff were migrated to Bomaid save for positions that were deemed excess to Bomaid which are the shared services including position of HR Officer, therefore the staff in the positions were retrenched accordingly after consultations with them.”
According to sources the HR Officer is being used to flout HR or recruitment processes to hire or fire employees willy-nilly.In 2015 before it was dissolved, Southview had warned its subsidiaries of handpicking people to positions.
All applications and CVs were required to be handed to the HR department which was under the stewardship of Southview. Sources allege that the said HR Officer did not go through an interview process and had never applied for the post.
In the Staff Welfare Service Quality Committee Meeting Management Reports for Quarter 3 2016 minutes seen by this publication, Matabiswana’s age became a big issue when Southview recommended that her contract be reviewed. According to the recommendations seen by this publication it was apparent that Southview wanted her out because she was over the retirement age and her contract was supposed to expire on 31 March 2017. The Botswana Gazette turned up information that Matabiswana turns 63 this coming November. According to Southview’s Clause 11.1 of Conditions of Service of MRI contract renewal for fixed term contract, staff shall be subject to compulsory retirement of 60 years.
Sources claim that Matabiswana is not competent but is being favoured by the MRI Board which used its discretion to extend her contract.
The same Clause 11.1 further stipulates that if the employee possesses specialized skills the company may give her the nod. It is not clear which “specialized skills” Matabiswana possesses however MRI Board chairman Abel Bogatsu confirmed that it was the board’s decision to renew her contract.
He however would not be drawn into elucidating why Matabiswana was given a new term and which specialized skills she possesses. Bogatsu also denied allegations of favoritism.
When contacted for comment Bomaid HR Manager who was also the Group HR Manager before Southview was disbanded, Bennett Maifala said he stopped handling MRI recruitments including contract extensions in October 2016. This means that after the separation of MRI Southview and Bomaid, Matabiswana remained at the helm of all the HR operations of MRI. Maifala referred this publication’s enquiries to MRI.
In two interviews conducted by this publication Matabiswana denied the allegations leveled against her.
She said the incumbent in the position of operations manager is indispensable even though he is a foreigner since he possesses very competitive academic credentials and experience.
Matabiswana added that currently there are less than 10 Batswana registered with BHPC at Advanced Life Support Paramedic level. She said this position was advertised in the local media but no one responded to the post advert.
She promised that the Call Centre Supervisor position will be localized in 2018. According to Matabiswana the Ghaghoo onsite nurse does not only possess a nursing qualification but is also an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) a skill which is also locally scarce hence hiring a foreigner. She said she supports localization policy and that out of a staff complement of 186 staff in MRI only 6 (3%) are expatriates.
On the allegedly ‘hand-picked” HR Officer the MRI MD said pursuant to Section 25 (3) of the Employment Act, if an employer seeks to fill position in occupations to which it had retrenched employees, priority of employment shall be given to those whose contracts were terminated due to retrenchment. Matabiswana said the re-employment was therefore consequent to this legal requirement which as a company they are legally bound to adhere to and again, failing to which they would have been in contravention to clause 25 (4) of the Employment Act that would have render them liable to a penalty.
“Over and above that, he possessed the requisite qualifications and experience for the job. His retrenchment was not in any way a result of his incompetence or poor work performance but rather because of organizational structural changes,” she said. The HR officer’s mobile phone rang unanswered when contacted for comment.