The government is tight-lipped on the departure of former Permanent Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Agriculture, Dr Micus Chimbombi.
Chimbombi suddenly quit his plum post recently under unclear circumstances which even the head of civil servants; Carter Morupisi could not shed light on.
At the same time, mid-this week, Morupisi, who is the Permanent Secretary at the Office of the President, made an announcement regarding, “transfers, appointments and redeployments of senior public officers” with Chimbombi replaced.
In a statement widely published by state media, Morupisi announced Boipelo Khumomatlhare as the new Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture. Morupisi’s statement however was silent on what happed to the former head of administration at the Agriculture ministry, whose relationship with Morupisi has always been described as “sour”.
In a brief telephone interview with this publication on Friday, Morupisi confirmed that that the government and Dr Chimbombi had parted ways after a “mutual” agreement was reached.
“Chimbombi resigned himself from duty this week. He did not give details as the resignation was an amicable agreement,” Morupisi said.
Following the last top civil servants reshuffle which earlier this year, the government enclave has been abuzz with talk that the two former colleagues do not see eye to eye. It also emerged that the two crossed paths before during their early days as middle level civil servants in the ministry of Agriculture.
It is said that at the time, Chimbombi was senior and professionally trained, while Morupisi was junior and very much a product of work experience.
Between the duo, it is said that Chimbombi excelled in competence according to sources close to the long time rivalry.
Matters came to the head by the end of last year when Morupisi was appointed PS in the Office of the President tipping the promotional scales and now overseeing Chimbombi. Morupisi become the leader of the civil service with powers to not only transfer and promote but also retire civil servants. Dr Chimbombi was previously expected to retire May this year. One of their contemporaries went on to add that the relationship between the two men was not always cordial.
On the face of it, the sudden departure of Dr Chimbombi seems pretty harmless, but insiders say there is more to it than meets the eye.
Meanwhile a few days after he decided to withdraw his service, for undisclosed reasons, some sources in the Ministry are saying that Chimbombi’s resignation can also be linked to the recent spread of the Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) to the Haina veld farms in the Ngamiland region.
Chimbombi is said to have failed to take action against his officers in Ngamiland who have allegedly been buying cattle from farmers in foot and mouth prone areas and tracking them to Haina veld which has not had disease outbreak in many years.
The issue was raised earlier this year by Ngamiland prominent farmer Gaegatwe Sekeletu during a Kgotla meeting addressed by the Minister of Agriculture Patrick Ralotsia in Maun. Ralotsia then promised that he will make sure the issue is investigated and action taken where necessary.
The Ministry of Agriculture Public Relations officer in Ngamiland Bautlwile Kealatotse confirmed Friday that there were indeed investigations into the matter but that the investigators then left without disclosing the findings of the investigations.
“Yes there were people investigating the matter but we do not know what they found out. Ask our head office”, he said.
Sunday Standard has turned out information that before this case, there were reports that some cattle ears tags had gone missing in Maun Department of Veterinary offices. This publication can further reveal that the ear tags were allegedly sold by some veterinary officers to farmers in areas outside Haina veld to enable them to sell their cattle to lucrative markets such as Zimbabwe which was importing cattle from Ngamiland before the latest outbreak of the disease.
Meanwhile the Director of Veterinary Services Dr Letlhogile Modisa on Friday denied any knowledge of a report that was sent to the Ministry on the issue. “I honestly have not seen the report on the matter in my office and do not know about the investigations”, he said. Dr Modisa is based at the Ministry’s headquarters in Gaborone.