“The minister should act before Friday this week or we call him to account”
The University of Botswana Academic Senior Support Staff Union (UBASSSU) has given Minister of Tertiary Education Dr Douglas Letsholathebe until Friday this week to act or it will call him to account, the union’s president, Professor Motsomi Marobela, has said.
In an interview with The Botswana Gazette this week, Professor Marobela said the minister Dr Letsholathebe was expected to facilitate a joint forum between UB management, the Ministry of Finance and UB union leaders this month (July) but that has yet to happen.
“Our hope is that by Friday the momentum will start, failing which we will call him to account,” he emphasized.
He disclosed that they teamed up with the Botswana Federation of Public, Private and Parastatal Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) when they first met with the minister. “He genuinely appreciated our concerns and assured us that he would do his best to address them,” Professor Marobela said.
Even so, he noted, there have been no improvements at UB since their petition to oust the UB Vice Chancellor, David Norris, and to have better working conditions. “The status quo remains and his (Norris’) attitude still fails to meet basic leadership expectations: trust, integrity, empathy, emotional intelligence and solidarity with his subordinates on clear issues of pay discrimination of UB employees versus Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST),” he said.
Moreover, they still have a toxic industrial relations environment because of the Vice Chancellor’s anti-union attitude, he added.
Meanwhile, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Botswana, Professor David Norris has told The Botswana Gazette that the Chairman of UB Council has met with the Minister of Tertiary Education (MOTE) and that the minister told the Chairman that he responded to the petition of UB staff unions.
“To be honest with you, I am focused on my work,” Professor Norris said. “The response was communicated to the unions themselves. I do not know the details of the response.”