Friday, September 25, 2020

Senior civil servants at DPSM fired, fear grips the public service

Government has in earnest started reducing the civil service by dismissing several of its senior employees on the basis of early retirement, and the decision has struck a cord of fear in the government enclave with many afraid that the old public service act is being invoked to deny them the benefits of protection offered by law under the new integrated public service act which is yet to be implemented.

None of the affected officers has previously been rebuked or summoned by the high office in relation to their performance, and the dismissal is viewed by some as being part of the new DPSM Director, Pearl Matome’s strategy to assert her authority over the directorate.

Added to this, Matome has been accused of not consulting on matters that affect the welfare of officers as well as the department despite the fact that DPSM, as Government’s employing agency, and being responsible for civil service reform, would otherwise be expected to act as a model for the broader public service on how to deal with employees.

Included in the list of those whose service has been terminated are, the Deputy Principal of Botswana Institute of Administration and Commerce (BIAC) Florence Manwedi, and Assistant Directors at the Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM), Victoria Maphanyane and Violet Nakedi, both of whom have confirmed their experience.

Kgotlele Kgotlele, Principal Public Relations Officer at DPSM has claimed ignorance of the dismissals.

Notwithstanding Kgotlele’s response, copies of letters addressed to the dismissed officers read in part, “this serves to notify you that you are retired from the civil service with effect from the 30th June subject to the provisions of Public Service Act CAP 26; 01 Section 15(3) and General Order 18,”

“Subject to the stated section a public officer who attained the age of 45 may in the discretion of the employing authority,” states the Act.

Strikingly though, the same letter goes on to say that they were given one month notice effective from 1st of May, 2009 and further that they will be paid two months salary in lieu of notice.

Nakedi, who serves under the Human Resources Division of the Directorate, acknowledged the retirement letter, but stated that she was presently reluctant to discuss the matter further. Maphanyane, who worked under DPSM’s Training Division, also chose not to comment on the issue.

However, information passed to the Sunday Standard reveals a pattern consistent with the zest for control and authority over the public service, by people close to the Permanent Secretary to President Eric Molale, at the expense of those who are believed to hold different views.

An instance is cited where one of the dismissed officers, Maphanyane, previously came an inch close to dismissal whilst she was still BIAC Principal, after voicing out her concern at the authoritarian tendencies of the DPSM concerning the reported transformation of BIAC into a civil service college.

This followed revelations that Government, through the department, had adopted a unilateralist approach, by excluding from the transformation- consultative processes, BIAC lecturers and key management staff such as the Principal and her deputy, despite them being critical stakeholders in the event of anything happening to the college.

Maphanyane had said in response to questions to Mmegi, of June 22, 2006, about the issue, “We have not drifted away from our mandate, in fact, we are not closing down to restructure, BIAC is supposed to transform, but the nature of transformation has not yet been communicated to us.”

A day after this, she was dramatically removed from the position of BIAC Head and redeployed to the DPSM by then Deputy Director Kahiya.

When she reported at her new employer’s office it turned out that the transfer was not deliberated on and therefore no vacancy existed, thus she found no office space to the extent that she had to operate for sometime from her former place of work.

One labour Relations analyst, who spoke on condition their identity remains secret, said that the issue has a number of important angles to it.

He said, “Look, all those people who have ascended to high positions at inexplicable speed and, in some cases, skipping other scales, mainly because of their closeness to the PSP, tend to display an inclination towards domination and surrounding themselves with people loyal to them.”

One way of doing this is terrorizing their juniors, and appeasing the PSP.

Another theory is that this style of leadership reflects corporatism that’s creeping into the public service which, from face value, seems driven by efficiency but in fact, it’s motivated by the hunger for control and the need to ensure unquestioned authority in view of envisaged reforms in the civil service.

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