In a clear display of why the Media ought to be included in the Whistle-blowers Act, Acting Vice Chancellor Professor Khumoetsile Mmolawa has written to members of staff threatening them with disciplinary action for leaking documents to this publication. The threats of disciplinary action came in the wake of the Botswana Gazette report last week on the un-procedural appointment of key positions at the Botswana University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (BUAN).
In a memo sent out to all members of staff on Friday, Mmolawa claimed that ‘‘from the newspaper account, it is evident that the report was furnished with confidential information which is privy to highly placed officers in the University’’.
Mmolawa said such conduct demonstrates lack of integrity and amounts an infringement of Confidentiality Policy of the University. ‘‘The conduct shall not be tolerated and as such, the University has instituted an investigation to identify the culprit(s) so that the necessary disciplinary action can be taken’’, the Vice Chancellor threatens in his memo.
The documents in question, in possession of this publication, reveal the overriding public interest considerations that motivated the leak, in order to reveal the mismanagement of taxpayer money by a university funded by public funds. Information reaching The Botswana Gazette indicates that Mmolawa is of the belief that the documents were leaked by ‘‘highly placed officers in the University’’ while the documents themselves indicate that the Board Members, secretarial staff and management all were in custody of the information.
This publication has been reliably informed that following our report on the appointment of Deputy Vice Chancellor (Finance and Administration) and the Council Secretary, the Ministry of Agriculture under which BUAN falls, has demanded explanations from BUAN management.
In his memo to members of staff, Mmolawa noted that the appointment of the two officers was procedural as they were ‘‘made by the University Council in compliance with the BUAN Act, having followed due process’’. In spite of having been availed the opportunity to respond to the allegations on the irregularity of the appointments Mmolawa has still failed to produce evidence controverting the concerns raised by this publication that due process was followed.
Investigations by this publication has established that the Committees that were mandated to make recommendations for the said appointments were not constituted prior to the decisions being taken. Despite having been afforded the opportunity to refute the allegations with minutes proving otherwise, BUAN management has failed to do so. This publication maintains that no official from the Human Resource department and no independent human resource practitioner were roped in as part of the Committee, as dictated by the Statutes that Mmolawa claims were adhered to.
The BUAN Student Representative Council (SRC) also put pressure on Mmolawa to explain the appointment of Deputy Vice Chancellor as reported by this publication. They had challenged him to address the matter through a press conference but he declined to do so, opting instead to issue a threat of disciplinary action against his officers instead of facing the media.