Nineteen (19) Botswana Qualifications Authority (BQA) employees are said to have lost their jobs due non renewal of their contracts even though their services are still critically needed by the authority. About 35 have allegedly been given two year contracts instead of 5 years prescribed in the Conditions of Service and their salaries reduced under mysterious circumstances. Sources at BQA, say the board which is supposed to uphold basic governance standards has failed to explain all the anomalies since it has reportedly given the current Chief Executive Officer Botsalano Mosimakoko more powers.
Mosimakoko was employed as a substantive CEO in September last year. "While the CEO's contract is for 5 years she has given junior staff 2 year contracts. Employees have been subjected to annual appraisals and have been performing well and now they smell a rat that their contracts will not be renewed”. At the end of their contracts, the employees who are under 50 years were to be employed on a permanent and pensionable basis while those over 50 years were to be employed on a 5 year contract. The CEO is said to have since varied this and negotiated for a 5 year contract for herself and those below her for only 2 years.
Section 2.4.1(i) of the BQA General Staff Conditions of Service, which came into effect on 1st October 2014, states that 'citizen employees in Bands 4-7 who are below 50 years of age shall generally be employed on permanent and pensionable terms to “established positions", while Section 2.4.2(ii) further clarifies that, "all citizen employees in Bands 1-3 shall be eligible for employment on a fixed term contract not exceeding 5 years.
BQA is said to be having around 3000 cases of backlog on Education and Training Providers (ETPs) learning programmes and qualifications assessment and accreditation which are long overdue. Some employees have questioned the rationale behind the cutting of staff when the authority, which for some years now has been failing to complete its transition, has been hit by a huge backlog. Another source revealed that the ETP are currently incurring expenses on rentals and employees salaries while they await accreditation and assessment which may now “take even longer." Efforts by Manual Workers Union to intervene on behalf of the employees is said to have hit a snag as management has allegedly been engaging in bad faith.
According to minutes of meetings between the union and management dating as far as January 8th last year, nothing concrete was resolved as parties failed to reach a common ground. The employees are said to have argued that the board has neglected its duties while the CEO violates BQA conditions of service. The CEO's credentials to head the authority have also come under heavy criticism with claims that she was head-hunted by President Mokgweetsi Masisi in Canada during one of his official visits. Mosimakoko was a Research Officer in the Research, Evaluation and Analytics Division of the Ottawa-Carleton District Board from where she was recruited. Her current pay is said to have also been negotiated on an Expatriate Scale/rate.
BQA Communications and Public Relations Manager Selwana Pilatwe-Koppenhaver said the authority did not terminate any employment but rather that the fixed contracts of some employees had ended. She said the authority did not flout any law as due recruitment process was followed in line with applicable laws and policies. Pilatwe-Koppenhaver refuted claims of a high number of backlog. She said of the about 350 ETPs in the country 300 have been registered and accredited.
"Proper governance procedure was followed when employing the CEO. The post was advertised on the 23rd June 2017 and re-advertised on the 13th September 2018. Note that the CEO is appointed by the Minister of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology in consultation with the board," she said adding that the corporate policy is that the authority does not respond to "actual or perceived personal issues of any of its employees.”