Chief Executive Officer of the newly formed Gambling Authority Botswana, Thulisizwe Johnson, was this week at pains trying to dispel allegations of nepotism and explain why the state owned company employs unqualified staff. Johnson was forced to come to the defense of some of his employees after internal auditors recently questioned their appointment, even suggesting nepotism and favouritism especially in the Operations Department. According to the information seen by The Patriot on Sunday, the audit report accuses the Chief Operations Officer of employing his former colleagues at Gaborone Sun hotel and resort, despite that some of them do not even meet the minimum requirements for the positions they hold. “There is clear nepotism when it comes to the recruitment of staff at the Operations Department headed by the Chief Operations Officer. He is bringing unqualified friends from Sun International to the Gambling Authority,” reads the report. The COO who is a former Sales Executive at Sun International is said to have disregarded applicants with requisite qualifications in preference for his former colleagues and friends. Gambling Authority engaged a recruitment agency (known to this publication) to do the screening and shortlisting of applications. It is alleged that when they were quizzed about shortlisting uderqualified applicants they claimed to have been working under strict instructions from the Chief Operations Officer.
For example, although the Curriculum Vitae of a Compliance Manager at Gambling Authority indicates that he holds a Diploma it has turned out that the information is not accurate as he only has a Botswana Government Certificate of Secondary Education (BGCSE). Yet another employee who worked with the COO has been appointed Inspector yet she previously worked as Accounts clerk at Gaborone Sun and also holds only BGCSE. The COO, who has also worked at Document Bank, is accused of recruiting his former colleague who only holds a Certificate in Accounting as an Accounts Executive despite that the advertisement for the post required applicants to hold a Bachelor’s Degree. The internal audit report also indicates that staff at Gambling Authority, with relevant qualifications complain about being victimised and are disgruntled. Only three employees, recruited by the COO, are said to hold the necessary qualifications although their employment is also questioned. In an interview with The Patriot on Sunday, Johnson admitted that they are aware of the audit report but exonerated the COO from any blame. He explained that the COO had declared to the organisation that he has worked with some of the applicants who were shortlisted for interviews during the recruitment process. Johnson dismissed allegations of nepotism saying the notion is rather too extreme. He said beyond considering qualifications of applicants the recruitment process was also based on experience.
“A lot of people applied but most of them did not have the required experience. We had to choose between applicants with technical experience and those with just qualifications but zero experience. We settled for the former,” he said, noting that the recruitment agency advised them that employing applicants who do not have any experience will come at a huge cost to the Gambling Authority. In an attempt to justify the decision Johnson said gambling is a complex industry which requires people with experience and therefore it was a business decision to recruit applicants with extensive technical experience instead of emphasising qualifications. “So far I have worked with them for some time and I am happy with their performance. We are continuing to capacitate them where they are lacking,” reasoned Johnson. Gambling Authority office was set up in 2014 in order to regulate the gambling industry and most of people recruited have worked in the casino industry. “If we could have gone for qualifications plus experience we were going to be forced to recruit from outside the country. It is something that I was against because we need to develop our own people,” he said.