The embattled University of Botswana (UB) management has come under heavy criticism after the High Court quashed its decision to terminate Professor Happy Siphambe's appointment as Dean of Social Sciences in December 2014, and the disciplinary process leading to the decision. In what has been viewed as a witch-hunt against Prof Siphambe, calculated to discredit him against illegibility for the then vacant position of Vice Chancellor, UB management had removed him from the position of Dean following a disciplinary process, which the court last week reviewed and set aside. Upholding Siphambe's contention of want of delegation and abuse of powers by UB management in his termination, Justice Michael Mothobi, said according to the doctrine of abuse of powers public bodies or officials may not unlawfully delegate their powers, and where such delegation is to happen it must be ensured that there are express or implied powers to do so. Trashing UB management decision, Justice Mothobi dismissed claims that the then acting Human Resource Director made an independent inquiry into the alleged misconduct prior to the charges as it is obligatory under regulation 6.2. He concluded that there is no sense in claiming that an inquiry was made by the acting Director of HR, but the only report produced is that put together by Professor Totolo – then Deputy Vice Chancellor Academic Affairs.
“The regulation only authorises Director HR to receive reports, to make inquiries, and to decide whether evidence supports a charge preferred against an employee. It also enjoins the Director to notify the employee of the appropriate charge, and to refer the case to the disciplinary committee for a hearing. Professor Thabo Fako and Professor Otlogetswe Totolo or other deputy Vice Chancellor possess no jurisdiction or power to receive reports and investigate employees in cases of serious misconduct," ruled Justice Mothobi. Despite Siphambe winning the quashing of his termination as Dean, the disciplinary proceedings leading to the decision and a written warning issued against him in December 2014, Justice Mothobi refused to reinstate him or award any damages.
Speaking on behalf of his client, attorney Tshiamo Rantao told The Patriot on Sunday this week that Prof Siphambe is pleased that his good name and reputation, which he has worked hard for, for many decades has been restored to its original state. "Prof Siphambe has been vindicated by the High Court as per the judgment. The allegations by UB Administration, which have been widely reported in the media against the Prof have in essence been put to bed by the high court. These baseless allegations have no doubt been causing him sleepless nights as a decorated Professor who only deserves commendation but not malicious allegations of and concerning his person," said Rantao, further explaining that the effect of the court decision is that Siphambe will now be able to enjoy opportunities available to him at a higher level in his line of employment without the stumbling block created by an erroneous termination based on a flawed disciplinary process by his employer, UB management.