Thursday, April 18, 2024

Labour, HATAB probe Avani racism complaints

Hospitality and Tourism Association of Botswana (HATAB) and Department of Labour officials  swooped on Avani Hotel in Gaborone last week to investigate damning allegations of racism that have plagued the four star hotel.

The hotel General Manager Allan Clingham was for the most part of last week a lightning rod of controversy following social media reports that he is a racist who harrased and bullied local staff members.

Sunday Standard can reveal that on Friday  Labour Department officials (names known to the publication) and  HATAB officials  conducted interviews with a group of Avani employees that were selected by management.

However, rattled and fearful for their jobs, staff revealed that  they did not feel free to voice their concerns because they were quizzed in twos from each department  instead of individually. The manner of investigations by Labour Department was also  intimidating, one of the interviewed staff members revealed.

” Some of these officers  are the same people who sit on the work  and residence permits selection panel and when we  asked them to explain why they have  issued work permits for underqualified  South Africans for several  years without making sure that a Motswana understudy takes over, they got angry and wanted to know who leaked the white people’s qualifications to us,”  a source revealed.

An ex- employee who jumped  ship to another hotel after her many attempts to seek recourse from head office concerning Allan’s harassment and oppressive management style said, ” When I received an email from Avani Head Office in Bangkok telling me that despite the fact that the GM had failed the Team Member  Engagement Survey , which had singled him out as racist, nothing would be done, I knew I had to leave,” she said, adding that the email had gone on to further indicate that  everyone who complained against the boss was a thief. ” He had convinced head office that we were all a bunch of thieves, Imagine!” She said.

The woman who held a senior management position also revealed that she and three other colleagues had appealed to HATAB and they had extensively briefed HATAB CEO, Lilly Rakorong who had promised to carry out her own investigations and  give them feedback.  She also said a group of Avani ex- employees had approached the Minister of Labour and Home affairs, Mpho Balopi about their grievances and gotten no response. ”

We suspect he was too engrossed with elections and now that elections are over, we shall make an effort to approach him again after we have heard from HATAB.” she said.
Meanwhile  Avani  Motswana shareholder, Robert Mpabanga said Avani was going to release a statement on the matter. He was constrained to comment, he said.


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