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Dr Tax spurns Matambo’s order

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In her pursuit to instil law and order within the organisation, SADC Executive Secretary Dr Stergomena Lawrance – Tax appears to be unstoppable including disobeying both court and ministerial orders.

The latest victim of Tax’s wrath is the head of Public Relations Unit (PRU) and a Namibian national, Leefa Penehupifo Martin who was fired from her lucrative position a fortnight ago.

She was expelled after having served 24 months of the once off and, or fixed term contract which was renewed in January 2014 and offered by Tax subsequent to her seeking the renewal.

Martin who has since left Botswana to her native Namibia could not be drawn to discuss this matter, save to confirm to The Midweek Sun that “It is true that I have been expelled from duty,” she said. Tax confirmed having relieved Martin her position saying, “Yes it is true that Martin’s contract has been terminated and I must say everything was done in accordance with the policy and rules and procedures,” said Tax.

The Midweek Sun investigation has established that the reason for Martin’s dismissal according to several charge sheets prepared by the Disciplinary Committee led by the Director of Policy, Planning and Resources Mobilisation, Dr Angelo Mondlane and endorsed by Tax, are related to alleged misconduct, use of abusive language and wilful disregard of authority. However, this is something that Martin herself denies through documents filed at the Industrial court.

Dr Tax approved the decision of the disciplinary committee to fire Martin, who was charged and found guilty in absentia. Besides, Martin had not only appealed to the chairman of SADC Council of Ministers, Kenneth Matambo, but had already applied for an interdict with the Industrial Court seeking an interim order declaring that the disciplinary hearing against her be declared unfair, unlawful and irregular.

She sought an interim order staying such hearing or any other proceedings against her arising from the alleged charges as stated in the letters written to her pending the final termination of her application in court. Further, in taking a decision to fire Martin, Dr Tax had allegedly disregarded a directive from Matambo who had allegedly ordered Martin’s disciplinary hearing be postponed until the SADC Administrative Tribunal is established. Currently SADC does not have the administrative tribunal.

Matambo allegedly recently wrote to Dr Tax subsequent to receiving Martin’s letter (s) of grievance asking her to respond to issues raised. By then former Private Secretary to Matambo, Elias Moatlhodi confirmed that the minister has received a letter from Leefa Martin and that the “Minister is giving it attention and will respond accordingly soon.”

However, this week Matambo declined to comment. His acting private secretary Kelebogile Keolaotse told this publication that minister Matambo will not be making any comments. “He prefers you speak to Dr Tax”

The correspondences

The firing of Martin seems to open a can of worms at the headquarters of the regional economic bloc that is if the founding affidavit filed by Martin at the court is anything to go by.

Court records show that before being fired, Martin and Dr Tax had exchanged many letters, but there were times when they could not agree on what they should give to each other and further on who has to constitute the disciplinary committee.

In her affidavit filed before the court Martin stated that she has always been opposed to Dr Angelo Mondlane chairing the proceedings because he has previously exhibited a strong position against her and did call for a disciplinary hearing to be taken against her. She believed Mondlane cannot fairly adjudicate over her hearing and, or approach the matter with an open mind.

One of the letters from Dr Tax gave Martin 10 days to respond to a five-page letter from Dr Tax. The letter in question accused Martin of serious misconduct and breach of the SADC conduct, discipline and grievances Policy for writing a letter of appeal to Matambo.

The court papers show that in her response, Martin was unshakable as she stood by her appeal and requested to be given more information in order to prepare her defence.

Dr Tax refuses to provide details

Martin stated in her affidavit that she is unable to prepare for her defence in the absence of requested information and felt that the respondents simply want her to attend for the sake of formality so the matter could simply go through the motions and thereafter dismiss her.

The hearing in absentia

Dr Angelo Mondlane wrote on November 16 calling Martin to appear at SADC headquarters on November 18 on the above-mentioned charges. Martin replied through her attorneys of record apposing the move and informing Mondlane that if he decides to proceed with the hearing without having addressed the contents of her letter, they shall immediately, without prior notice launch court proceedings to interdict SADC from continuing such unlawful conduct.

The disciplinary committee under Mondlane allegedly conducted its hearing as planned in Martin’s absentia and found her guilty of use of abusive language in contravention of the SADC Administrative Rules and Procedures, wilful disregard for authority, contrary to the conduct, Discipline and Grievance Policy.

The plan to fire

Records filed in court show that Martin’s contract should have not been renewed. An authentic document which forms part of the performance report written by the former Executive Secretary, Tomaz Salmao, and is filed among the court documents indicates that, Salmao had recommended that any request or submission made by Martin under any provision, to extend or renew her contract should not be accepted.

Any short-term extension can only be entertained to allow for proper handover once a suitable candidate has been identified after due recruitment process, through the Human Resources.

Salmao was allegedly bruised by the fact that the official brochure of the August 2012 ordinary summit held in Maputo, Mozambique was delivered and circulated while it had many mistakes.

It goes on to state that such mistakes annoyed some of the heads of state, and in the course of the closed session of the summit one of the heads of state raised the issue of the brochure and indicated how offended his country was by the grave errors and inaccuracies contained in it. It is further stated that the heads of state recommended that the officers responsible for such this should resign immediately because what happened was unacceptable.

Dr Tax offers the contract

Leefa Martin’s contract was renewed through a letter written by Dr Tax on December 2013 informing her that the management has accepted her request and approved a once off contract renewal for a period of four years with effect from January 2014 to 31st December 2017.

Dr Tax stated that as Martin is aware her performance appraisal was never completed and under the circumstances, the one year observation period referred to in previous letter meant that, “As your new immediate supervisor, I have attached the one year period to allow myself time to finalise your performance appraisal which was not completed by my predecessor.”

Dr Tax and some of the women staff

There are allegations that Dr Tax doesn’t relate well with some of the women employed at SADC headquarters in different capacities. Such women (names withheld) now find themselves either working for months with contracts, job descriptions if not being redeployed to departments that render them redundant. Among such women are both Batswana and Malawian nationals who have been with the SADC secretariat for years

Asked about this, Dr Tax said the issues raised are purely administrative and do happen in any organisation. She said SADC had conducted a job evaluation and that the Malawian national in question was originally under the PRU unit and has since been returned to the library where she is an expert.

On why her former personal assistant (PA) who has been holding the position for ages and served all Executive Secretaries including her, was recently deployed and allowed to work without a job description, Dr Tax said in any organisation any employee can be redeployed to any department where his or her services are best needed.

“The lady in question is my former PA who has been redeployed and there was no need for a new job description as she continues to deal with administration,” she said this week in a telephone interview.

 

 

 

 

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Police blast man with fire extinguisher

The MidweekSun Admin

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Life has not been easy for Rakhuna man, Gaitsiwe Moroka since a police officer blast a fire extinguisher in his face at a roadblock near Pitsane this year on April 25.

The police were on duty and as a norm, they were checking for among others, the presence of a functional fire extinguisher in a kombi which Moroka and other five other passengers and their driver were using. When The Midweek Sun interviewed him on Monday, pain was written all over his face.
His is a clear sign of depression.

“My life changed drastically this year after the incident. I was on my way from signing an agreement for a tender with Botswana Defence Force camp when the police stopped our kombi at a road block in Pitsane. There was a long debate between the two police officers and our driver about the functionality of the fire extinguisher.
All of a sudden, one of the officers sprayed the fire extinguisher without checking if it was functional or not, and he directed the nozzle inside the kombi,” he said, adding that he was on his way to Lobatse where he stays.

High Court papers dated August 30, 2018 show that Mfosi Legal Attorneys are handling the case in which the victim is suing the BPS for an amount of P2.84 million.
He says although there other passengers in the kombi, he was the one most affected. The High Court documents state that the police officer did not even bother to check on the health of the commuters nor apologise for his extremely dangerous negligent act.

The kombi would then leave for Lobatse and just before it arrived, the plaintiff’s claim notes that it was apparent that the powder had affected his sight and he started regurgitating unabated, lost consciousness and woke up at Athlone Hospital with an oxygen mask strapped to his face and intravenous drip in his arm.

“To date, Moroka, 40, has a constant whooping cough and has been informed by doctors that it will take several years for the noxious elements used in the fire extinguisher to completely be flushed from his body,” says the summons, further stating that doctors had also detected likelihood of asthma.

It says that due to the gross negligence of the police, Moroka is currently unable to work, let alone work around dust. This, it says, has caused a great financial burden on him due to the fact that he is a builder by profession, and is not able to take care of his two minor children. Moroka, according to the sheet, has developed a very itchy rash all over his skin since the incident.
“What is more disconcerting is that the police have never bothered to check on the health of the plaintiff or even issued an official apology. Thus his compensation demands include gross negligence at P1 million, pain and suffering at P1 million, loss of income at P84. 200.00 and cost of the suit
.
‘I feel weak’ For Moroka, the incident has left him helpless. He has given up on life and wishes himself dead. “I’m always thinking about killing myself but I always think about my two children. If I die anytime, Batswana must know that government killed me. I have no food, no income but I am a man. I believe in using my hands and legs but now my health does not permit me to walk in the sun. I’m supposed to be resting but I’m now giving up on life,” he said.

He won the children’s custody after his divorce three years ago. He is now afraid that he would lose the children because he cannot afford to take care of them. “My life is stuck. I’m sad and empty, and in deep pain. My lungs are weak. Police do not care about me after what they did to me and I’m now on my own. Government clinics do not have all the medication and my sprays, and I have to travel to Molepolole at times. My bones are always in pain and I am now on a special diet which I can’t afford,” he said.

His comprehensive report card shows a dysfunction in the heart, lungs, bones, skin and eye and makes an expert advice which is basically expensive diet and resting most of the time. Several times he had fainted while walking and at one time it happened while he was in Mafikeng, visiting a relative. He was admitted at a local clinic.
Doctors that have been attending to him since the dreadful incident that shows a common denominator of Carbon dioxide inhalation that affected his skin, sight and respiratory system. He has started counselling at SBRANA Psychiatric Hospital.

He said that efforts to seek help from BPS Commissioner KeabetsweMakgophe were futile. “I’m always told he is away,” he said. BPS Assistant Commissioner Dipheko Motube could not respond to questions sent by this reporter by press time.

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Botswana Creative Business Cup winner, Mmono joins global comp. in Denmark

Keletso Thobega

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Botswana Creative Business Cup Nicolette Chinomona says that government should channel funding and business support among youth towards the creative industry instead of focusing on traditional sectors.

This year’s winner of the cup is Lebogang Mmono of Just Ginger Beverages. Chinomona told The Midweek Sun that she applied for the license of the international entrepreneurship competition because she noticed that local entrepreneurs, particularly youth, were not getting the necessary support.

“I wanted to help develop the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the country by generating attention for startups that aren’t traditional, that are in the creative space and think out of the box; because there isn’t enough risk appetite for supporting those kinds of startups”, she said.

Chinomona said that government has been quite deliberate in helping businesses start-ups, but the key challenge is that the government has to use the resources it has to fund business models that it feels can succeed and become a core part of the economy.

“A lot of potential sponsors and funders are intimidated at the prospect of putting money into a local enterprise.”Chinomona said that it was only entrepreneurship that could change the economic dynamics of Batswana’s lives. “As a society we need to change the narrative around entrepreneurship, we need to begin to acknowledge that while entrepreneurial paths are fraught with risks and challenges, that entrepreneurship is also a huge part of developing a sustainable economy.

“We need to be realistic, not everyone can have a conventional white-coller career. Someone has to produce the goods that people with careers want to spend their money on and entrepreneurs can make an excellent living and even thrive on that. I believe that changing the conversation around this means pushing back on the idea that failures become entrepreneurs.”

Chinomona said since working with young entrepreneurs, she had noticed that one of the key things that they say they need is mentorship. “A lot of them have the raw skill but they don’t have the business skills to be able to sell what they can easily make.

“And also they are hungry for community and collaboration, because being an entrepreneur can be isolating and discouraging.” Meanwhile, Mmono is preparing to take part in the global competition in Copenhagen, Denmark next month. She said she hoped to network and find ways to break into the global business sector by selling her uniquely Botswana products and partnering with other entrepreneurs.

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