Sunday, March 26, 2023

Change of guard gets underway at UB

With Professor Thabo Fako’s term as University of Botswana Vice Chancellor scheduled to end next year, a new leadership at the main state varsity has begun to take shape.
When UB re-opens on January 4 next year, Professor Martin Mokgwathi will replace Professor Lydia Nyati-Saleshando as Deputy Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs. Already, Mendel Nlanda has been appointed Deputy Vice Chancellor of Finance and Administration, replacing Dawid Katzke who has taken up the same post at the Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST). After serving for 10 years, the contracts of both Nyati-Saleshando and Katzke cannot be renewed in line with UB rules. While he is still in post, the Deputy Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Professor Otlogetswe Totolo, is said to have been shortlisted for the post of BIUST Vice Chancellor. The front-runner is said to be a Nigerian academic but some BIUST board members reportedly feel that the post should be given to a citizen. BIUST has had two vice chancellors from West Africa – Professor Kweku Bentil from Ghana and Professor Hilary Inyang from Nigeria – both of whom didn’t serve out their respective contractual terms due to differences with their superiors. Supposing Totolo gets the BIUST job, the new UB executive management would be made up of completely new faces.
Good sources tell that Fako’s contract will not be renewed when it ends in March next year. In addition to having had an antagonistic relationship with UB staff, Fako had several run-ins with the Ministry of Health over control of the School of Medicine. The ministry felt that it was better suited to run the school but Fako’s position was that it would be odd to have one part of UB controlled by outsiders. Fako took over the reins of power at a time that the SoM had been established and he immediately started dismantling some of the things that had been put in place by his predecessor, Professor Bojosi Otlhogile.
If Botswana used recruitment advanced strategies similar to those of North Korea, which routinely kidnapping scarce-skill personnel from neighbouring countries, Fako would be replaced within a week. Botswana is not that advanced and has to use legal, time-consuming methods. With the vice chancellor post not having been advertised at this point, it is likely that it might a year or more to fill it on a substantive basis. The reason is that recruiting finding the right person for such a post takes an extremely long period of time.
Fako is the fifth vice chancellor after Professor John Turner (1982-1984), Professor Thomas Tlou (1984-1998), Professor Sharon Siverts (1998-2003) and Professor Otlhogile (2003-2011).


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