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Dr Tax spurns Matambo’s order



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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Gays, Lesbians look up to Masisi

Yvonne Mooka



Lesbians, gays, bisexuals, trans-gender and intersex persons (LGBTI) want President Mokgweetsi Masisi to allow same sex relationships which to date, are deemed unlawful in Botswana.

Masisi had recently called for the respect and protection of LGBTI persons’ rights at the launch of the 16 Days of Activism against Violence on Women and Children last week. His utterances on the matter, enlisted words of praise and admiration from the LGBTI community would then pen him a letter of gratitude while also laying bare some of their nagging concerns.
“There are also many people of same-sex relationships in this country who have been violated and have also suffered in silence for fear of being discriminated. Just like other citizens, they deserve to have their rights protected,” Masisi stated at last week’s launch.

In their letter directed at the president, members of Lesbians Gays Bisexual of Botswana (LEGABIBO) thanked him for these words, saying they were thankful to his affirmation and mentioning of their ordeals and suffering. The president’s public acknowledgement of violations directed at members of this marginalised community, and his recognition of the discrimination and the resultant fear generated by all these, were particularly a source of inspiration to the concerned group.

These LEGABIBO members added that they are grateful to hear a sitting President speak openly and publicly on the need to protect those in same-sex relationships who have been violated.
“We are pleased that you named aloud the violence that members of our community suffer in their daily lives. We are writing this letter to encourage you to continue your efforts in ensuring that the human rights of all persons are upheld regardless of sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity.

This is an example of good governance and respecting the rule of law,” says their letter. They further urged Masisi to raise expectations within Parliament for zero-tolerance of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, verbal or otherwise, urging his office further to make efforts to decriminalise consensual same-sex relationships, stating that Section 164 of the Penal code, which criminalises such relationships, fuels the violence, discrimination, suffering and fear.

“We are particularly interested in what you will do about this section of the law. Because this unjust law is the basis of violence directed at members of our community, your planned actions regarding this matter are of our primary and highest interest,” stated LEGABIBO. They also impressed upon the president to address the gender markers on their birth certificates, Omang and passports, adding that these markers were problematic and caused fellow citizens who identify as transgender and gender non-conforming to experience discrimination in all walks of life.
On related matters, they pleaded with the president to protect members of the LGBTI community from public violence and humiliation, citing a recent example where a transgender woman was attacked in Gaborone.

Religious leaders were neither spared as the concerned group also called on the president to protect members of their community against these religious leaders who fuel hatred towards them. “While we respect sincerely-held faiths in Botswana, we cannot condone those who preach inflammatory, discriminatory messages towards those who only seek to love members of the same sex,” says the letter, adding that the president should make a statement to all civil servants – teachers, healthcare workers, police and all service providers – that LGBTI people are citizens of this country, and like all other citizens, cannot be denied services available to the general public.

Members of the LGBTI community in Botswana say they are looking forward to Masisi’s leadership and a new approach to issues concerning sexual orientation and gender identity. “In conclusion, Your Excellency, we ask you to make it clear to all politicians that members of the LGBTI community are not amused hearing that politicians who support our rights will lose elections; hearing that we are to blame for lack of rain; and hearing religious and cultural doctrines that seek to disempower us. However, like you, we are interested in open dialogue to promote the human rights of LGBTI,” states the letter.

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AP’s varsity don enters lion’s den



Senior Lecturer at the University Botswana (UB), Dr Kaelo Molefhe wants to represent the people of Gaborone Bonnington North constituency in Parliament from 2019, and he is convinced he will prevail over the formidable political trio of Duma Boko, Robert Masitara and Anna Motlhagodi.

It is an open secret now, that the constituency will see a fierce battle involving the Alliance for Progressives (AP) represented by Molefhe, Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) represented by Boko, Motlhagodi of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) as well a Masista who has indicated that he will be in the race as an Independent Candidate. Although he claims to be unperturbed by the collective political prowess of the other trio, Molefhe still faces a mammoth task of not only ousting incumbent MP Boko who is also Leader of Opposition in Parliament, but also has to convince the people of the affluent constituency that his new party is an entity they can trust with their lives.

Add to that the popularity of the other two contestants. The BDP’s Motlhagodi is an already established politician in the area, having been there and garnering thousands of votes in the area as a candidate of the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) from which she has since defected. On the other hand, Masitara has been the area MP, having been voted into the constituency between 2009 and 2014. Although he could not win against Boko in 2014, he was still voted by close to 5000 people. Thus Molefhe will be seen as a minnow – an underdog hoping to do the Donald Trump against the more popular figures of this race. US president Donald Trump was seen as a minnow and was given no chance against Hilary Clinton in that country’s last elections, and Molefhe has such David and Goliath stories to take solace in.

But the constituency itself has a plethora of problems waiting to be unravelled. With a population of 45 688, Gaborone Bonnington North is made up of six (6) wards – Boseja, Diphetogo, Moselewapula, Tlogatloga, Itumeleng and Bosele. A simple random survey conducted in the constituency showed that sections of the community are already unhappy that no Member of Parliament has been able to salvage them from the myriad of issues they have to deal with everyday. They neither had any flattering words for the incumbent, a powerful politician in his own right, thus casting aspersion on whether the new entrant will inspire better confidence. “We really do not know our MP.

The last time we saw him was when he was campaigning for the 2014 General Elections,” lamented a resident, who went on to catalogue their concerns in the constituency. “We do not have a government primary school in this area and are forced to send our children to far-away places like Mogoditshane, which is expensive,” said the resident, pointing also to the dangers posed by bushes in the area, which are a breeding ground for crime, saying they need to be urgently cleared.

Speaking with The Midweek Sun, the AP’s parliamentary candidate, Molefhe, said he was alive to the challenges the residents grapple with, adding that it was the gaping hole of no political action in the area that inspired him to want to go to Parliament to help address the situation. With his uppermost priorities centred around education, especially investing in the youth, he aims to tackle the absence of government primary schools in Blocks 6 and 7 so that children in the constituency can enjoy unfettered access to education.

Molefhe also pledged to address the scourge of drugs and alcohol abuse as well as youth unemployment, which he says have reached crisis proportions in Gaborone West Phase 2. “Among other things, we need to come up with short-term training that will equip the youths of the area with skills,” he quipped. He has in mind equipping youth with practical skills to be able to perform small jobs like fixings electrical faults and refrigeration repairs among other essentialities, which are commonly done by expatriates.

He said AP considers the youth as the key components in the improvement of the country hence, “we need to prioritise and invest wholly in them.” Repeated efforts to reach the other three (3) candidates proved futile as their mobile phones went unanswered, and they could not respond to text messages sent to them.

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