The United Nations Development Programme Botswana Resident Representative Anders Pedersen and his deputy Lare Sisay are accused of nepotism and favouritism by former employees who were retrenched around February this year.
The former employees who are locals claim that Pederson and Size made them to lose their jobs in order to replace them with expensive international consultants who are their countrymen. It is understood that since Pedersen assumed office a few years ago, at least 15 locals have lost their jobs.
The former employees accuse Pederson and his management of unfair labour practices when the organisation decided to lay off some of its staff during a restructuring exercise early this on the basis of financial constraints.
The affected former employees said they were shocked to learn that international consultants from Sweden and Gambia were hired to replace them, something which they believe is costly because the work they are doing could be done by locals at a lesser cost.
“Anette Anderson who is from the same country (Sweden) as Pederson is currently hired as a consultant. She first came here as an intern and now she is a consultant. But we have two interns from the government internship programme who are working for free and doing the same job. We don’t know how she was hired because her position was supposed to have been occupied by a local,” they said.
They added that “there is a finance manager from Gambia, Nago Nyang who is Sisay’s countryman. He is also a consultant and we believe that his monthly salary can pay five locals and the position he occupies should have also been reserved for locals.”
The former employees also accuse the Pederson led management of failing to consult the staff management association before it could embark on retrenchment. They added that the management came up with a new structure that it approved without their input. Should they have been consulted, they said jobs could have been saved.
Responding to The Telegraph queries, Dikole denied that UNDP retrenched the former employees.
“No staff members were retrenched. In line with UNDP’s Strategic Plan (2014-2017) which was approved by the organisation’s governing Executive Board, UNDP’s overall Structural Change process has aimed to make the organization leaner and more efficient within its financial means, and eliminate duplication,” she said.
She added that “based on specific and time-bound needs, and in line with UNDP procurement processes, the organisation engages both local and international consultants to undertake expert and independent assignments, as part of its support to national development priorities. Consultants do not replace full time staff.”
She said to ensure an open and fair process, the UNDP structural change guidelines required the establishment of oversight and compliance procedures, which included at least one member of the Local Staff Association at every stage.
“These guidelines, that include a well-outlined grievance mechanism, were also shared with all staff in writing and reiterated in various fora. Consultation mechanisms to ensure information-sharing and communication with all staff included regular all-staff meetings and written updates, and one-on-one meetings with senior managers,” she said.
Insisting that no staff have been dismissed, Dikole said in line with the change process, and the need for UNDP Botswana to be better equipped to respond to the country’s evolving development priorities, the office structure and corresponding job descriptions were reviewed.
“More than half the job descriptions remained unchanged and therefore these staff members were unaffected.
Eleven out of 25 job descriptions changed significantly, requiring a competitive recruitment process to fill such positions, in line with UNDP rules and regulations. The incumbent staff on these affected posts had the option to compete for the new positions, or take advantage of a separation package that included respective entitlements,” she said.
She said overall the performance of the office continues to improve, despite the change process. Delivery in 2014 was at 75%, and this is expected to improve in 2015, with the office aiming for above 85% delivery.
“To reiterate, no staff was dismissed. The Government of Botswana is a key partner of UNDP, and UNDP programmes are nationally owned. As such UNDP is in regular communication with the government on the agreed areas of work and matters related to UNDP’s broader mandate,” said.
Dikole said all consultants are engaged in line with UNDP procurement rules and procedures. Spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MOFAIC), Clifford Maribe confirmed that UNDP did not consult them on the alleged retrenchment. He said the UNDP could not have engaged the government on the issue as it considered it to be an administrative issue.