Staff win against Statistics Botswana

SHARE   |   Monday, 21 November 2016   |   By Ditiro Motlhabane
Staff win against Statistics Botswana

Statistics Botswana (SB) management suffered a debilitating blow on Friday when Justice Gaopalelwe Ketlogetswe dismissed an application by their attorney, which sought to have a lawsuit brought by aggrieved staff over salary disparities thrown out. Employees aggrieved by the salary disparities-where in some cases junior officers earned salaries higher than their supervisors-brought about by a new pay structure introduced when SB transformed into a parastatal had dragged the employer to court. SB had, after setting up a salary grievances taskforce, refused to implement the recommendations by the taskforce to address the salary disparities and further declined requests to avail the report to the aggrieved staff. Ironically, SB conceded that the new pay structure created disparities in the salaries of some of its employees doing similar work and holding similar qualifications. In an attempt to justify the salary disparities Statistician General (SG), Annah Ngalapi Majelantle, said some of the employees inherited from Central Statistics Office were on government pay structure, and when they migrated their salaries were not changed. She said because some of the migrated employees were in different salary scales at CSO, when they migrated their salaries were errroneously adjusted upwards by 30%. This resulted in a wide gap between employees whose salary scale was C2 and those at C1. To resolve this, Majelantle said SB management adopted freezing of the salaries of those employees who were paid higher than others while leaving the employees paid less salaries, in the hope that over the years as salaries are reviewed only salaries of the lowly paid will be increased to catch up with their colleagues on higher slalries. The judge rejected such reasoning.  Ordering the parastatal to pay the costs of the application, on Friday Justice Ketlogetse ordered that;"the disparity in the pay structure of SB where employees doing the same job at the same level and holding same or similar qualificaions are remunerated differently is declared unlawful. Employees performing the same functions, at the same level of operation, duties and having the same or similar qualifications are declared to be entitled to the same remuneration".

SB vs DCEC informer
Meanwhile SB will return to court early next year to defend a lawsuit over unfair dismissal of former Human Resource Officer Marang Teisi, who was fired by Majelantle for honouring a formal request for information from the Head of  Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC),Rose Seretse. Now unemployed, after DCEC refused to protect her against accusations of leaking confidential information to third parties, Teisi has dragged SB to court to reverse her dismissal. Majelantle fired Teisi after she was convicted by a disciplinary panel on charges of leaking confidential information to the media. The document she was suspected to have leaked is a confidential report detailing controversial recruitment, staff appointments, tendering and award of a tender for the payroll system installation at SB last year. DCEC had requested her asistance on the same for an investigation they were carrying out. As the author of the report, which she delivered to DCEC, Teisi was charged as the source of newspaper stories on the matter.  The second charge was; abuse of office, by accessing confidential information for private gain. Attorneys representing the two parties-Moahi for Teisi and Minchin &Kelly for SB-met before Justice Abednigo Tafa last week in a case management conference where  April 2017 was set as the date for hearing arguments in the matter.  SB's first defence is that the matter has been brought prematurely to court before internal processes were exhausted as Teisi had an opportunity to appeal the matter to the CEO-Majelantle, the same officer who fired her.

DCEC investigates

The Patriot on Sunday has it on good authority that DCEC in conducting an intensive investigation at SB over allegations of controversial recruitment, staff appointments, tendering and award of a tender for the payroll system installation at SB last year. These issues were covered in the leaked confidential report, which DCEC requested and was given by Teisi before she was fired. The Teisi report detailed incidents of controversial decisions on recruitment by management. In one incident two employees (names withheld) were interviewed for the position of Principal Statistician (Environment and Agriculture) and the position given to the one who was not suitable for appointment on the instruction of the Statistician General (SG).The SG is accused of forcing the recruitment of the employee despite a recommendation by the Human Resource Department to the contrary because she did not qualify for the post. At one point three Director positions-Economic Statistics, Social Statistics, Standards, Methods and Information Systems were advertised. All candidates for the position of Director Standards, Methods and Information Systems failed causing the position to be re-advertised. It is alleged that another round of interviews was never conducted for the position but instead the SG insisted that one of the candidates (name withheld) be appointed despite that she failed two interviews for Principal Statistician (Environment and Agriculture) and Director. Secondly, her supervisor had recommended that her probation be extended for six months due to unsatisfactory performance but the SG ignored it and instead recommended to SB Human Resource committee to approve her confirmation to the position.

The position of Principal Statistician (Education and Health) was advertised with requirements for a degree in Statistics  with Health Information Management/ Epidemiology/ Educational Planning and Management or any other equivalent/ relevant qualification acceptable to SB. Although there were qualifying candidates they were never invited for interview for the post but instead the post was re-advertised with a different set of qualifications. There was now a requirement for a Post Graduate degree in Health Information Management/ Epidemiology/ Educational Planning and Management with Statistics. It is alleged that this was done because the officer who had been acting in the position for over six months was not the preferred candidate although she holds a degree in Health Information Management and Epidemiology. A different person who holds a Masters degree in Educational Planning amd Management was appointed without being interviewed, sources said. Controversy also surrounds the advertisement and appointment of candidates for positions of Principal Human Resource Officer-Recruitment and Staff Welfare, and Principal Human Resource Officer-Training Development, Administration and Performance. It is alleged that although shortlisting was done at the Ministry of Finance after advertising the posts interviews were only conducted after appointments on 01 November 2012. Two candidates within the organisation with requisite qualifications and experience were overlooked in preference of two others with less experience and qualifications. In fact a candidate who was not even recommended for appointment-like many others because her experience was not relevant has been given the post ahead of four others who satisfied all the requirements and were recommended for appointment.  In yet another incident an officer was appointed Senior Statistician-Fieldwork and Regional Coordination (North) although an assessment panel had disqualified her because she and another (names withheld) had "insufficient experience at the supervisory level". Correspondences from Human Resources and Administration Manager to Director Corporate Services dated April 28, 2014 further confims that indeed the one who got the job did not have the four years supervisory experience required. Five other candidates recommended for appointment as they satisfied all the requirements were overlooked.