DCEC informer, SB fight in court

SHARE   |   Monday, 28 November 2016   |   By Ditiro Motlhabane
Seretse and Majelantle Seretse and Majelantle

When she honoured a formal request for information from the head of  Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC),Rose Seretse, in her capacity as HR officer at  Statistics Botswana (SB) in 2014 little did Marang Teisi realise that she would be fired some months down the line. Statistician General Anna Majelantle fired Teisi in February 2016 after she was convicted by a disciplinary committee panel on charges of leaking confidential information to third parties, after a draft she had prepared was used by former MP James Mathokgwane in Parliament. The media also published stories based on the contents of the report alleging corruption and maladministration at Statistics Botswana. The confidential information she is suspected to have leaked is a report detailing controversial recruitment, staff appointments and award of a tender for the payroll system installation at Statistics Botswana. Teisi will face her former employer in court in April 2017, where she wants court to reverse her dismissal.

Teisi's argument
Attorneys representing the two parties - Lesedi Moahi for Teisi and Thabiso Tafila of Minchin &Kelly for Statistics Botswana - met before Justice Abednigo Tafa recently in a pre-trial conference where April 2017 was set as the date for trial. In her founding affidavit, filed before court, Teisi says following a request to put her presentation to DCEC in writing she made a draft, which later disappeared from her desk around November 2014. She was later interrogated by the Internal Auditor in August 2015. Teisi argues that although she was accused of leaking information to Mathokgwane, the allegation was never proved because neither the MP nor anybody was interviewed to confirm who gave them the document. Teisi further swears that she only disclosed the information to DCEC as requested, arguing that nobody appeared at the disciplinary hearing to testify that she gave them the information. She says it is strange that the disciplinary committee accused her of failing to report the draft missing from her office either to the police, her colleagues or security. She further questions that although the disciplinary committee convicted her on the basis that her draft contained information sought by the DCEC they never obtained the final document from, or interview the graft busters. "The sole reason I was dismissed is that I agreed to give evidence to DCEC on maladministration of public funds by certain high ranking officers of Statistics Botswana," she argues, insisting that the decision to dismiss her was grossly unreasonable, unfair and irrational. Moreover, she argues that the decision to conduct a disciplinary process after three and a half months was not prompt, and therefore Statistics Botswana forfeited their right to discipline her.

Statistics Botswana responds
Statistics Botswana's first argument 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 Director Corporate Services - Majelantle's junior. In her response Majelantle says the disciplinary process was fair and lawful. She says Teisi – who was among four other officers interviewed by DCEC – is lying when she claims that they were questioned about maladministration and corruption at Statistics Botswana. A copy of the notice from DCEC to Majelantle has been availed to court showing that in fact they were investigating issues surrounding Tender Number FDP/TC/3/4/12-13 for lease of Government office to Statistics Botswana. Majelantle says Teisi is also lying when she claims that she was interviewed as a Human Resource officer tasked with staff welfare because the investigation by DCEC had nothing to do with staff welfare. Exonerating the disciplinary committee, Majelantle said the only logical inference based on the circumstantial evidence was that Teisi was guilty as charged more so that she had confirmed that the handwriting on the leaked draft was hers and she had possession of the document shortly before it disappeared from her desk.  "It is surprising that a senior officer (like her), handling such a confidential document, would leave a draft in the open and not report to her supervisor when it goes missing. She declined to obtain a copy of her final statement to DCEC when requested to do so by the disciplinary committee. Teisi went on a frolic of her own and outside scope of what she was required to be interviewed on," says Majelantle.

What really happened?
Prior to the media reports, the DCEC had issued a notice to investigate Statistics Botswana for lease of office space from Knight Frank at Finance House, Tender Number FDP/TC/3/4/12-13. DCEC had requested Statistics Botswana to provide all minutes relating to the tender; all minutes of the tender by the Internal Tender Committee; Statistics Botswana tender procedure guidelines; documents relating to the lease agreement by Statistics Botswana and Finance House; documents relating to Memorandum of Agreement between Statistics Botswana and Knight Frank. Teisi's handwritten draft, on the other hand, contains damning details about controversial recruitment and staff appointments done by Statistics Botswana management. She was suspended on August 26 and charged on December 03, 2015. The first charge was; improper disclosure of any information in respect of the affairs of SB, emanating from newspaper stories published between January and March 2015. The media reports had prompted an investigation by Parliament into the goings-on at Statistics Botswana.
The second charge was; abuse of office, by accessing confidential information for private gain. In the charge sheet the Director Corporate Services Jabulani Dick accused Teisi of stealing information from confidential personal files in the Registry to fulfill the request from DCEC. "It appears that you used your position as the supervisor to the head of Registry to access confidential information for private gain, which is to pass such information to the newspapers in order to discredit Statistics Botswana management," he said.

Records show that on August 25, 2015, Teisi appealed for DCEC to protect her after providing information to them in confidence. She told Seretse that she was being pestered by SB Internal Auditor and the Director Corporate Services over the contents of her report. One K. Peloetletse received the letter on August 26, followed by another on August 31, 2015. DCEC never acted on any of the letters. On January 20, 2016 the panel hearing the matter found Teisi guilty of "improper disclosure of information in respect of the affairs of Statistics Botswana", which carries a penalty of summary dismissal without notice. Majelantle endorsed the recommendation.