Behind Vision Council coordinator’s suspension

Kruger
Kruger

As the Vision 2036 Task Force prepares to take over from Vision 2016 Council, it has emerged that boardroom battles have played a big role in the country’s failure to realise its ambitions that were outlined in the Vision 2016.

The recent suspension of coordinator of Vision 2016 Council, Charity Kruger has given a glimpse into a not-so-visionary relationship between her and the board chairman, Martin Makgatlhe.

A board member who spoke on condition of anonymity gave insight into a relationship dating back to a time Kruger was employed as coordinator last year.

In fact, the bad working relationship came to a head following a board resolution seeking to take legal action against Native Impressions, a company owned by former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) secretary general Mpho Balopi, for unfulfilled contractual obligations.


The company won a P6 million tender to publicise the Vision 2016 pillars and related values through all forms of publicity.  However, there is an outstanding P2.7 million balance that the Vision Council resolved to recover from Native Impressions and a board resolution of December 5, 2014 authorised the coordinator (Kruger) to seek legal advice and pursue the matter further.

 Balopi has since said that he has done nothing wrong and has called on the Vision Council to prove him wrong.

Native Impressions entered into the contract through the Botswana Institute Development and Policy Analysis (BIDPA).

The contract was between Native Impressions and BIDPA, which was the mother-body of the Vision Council until the latter went autonomous.

 Native Impressions won the tender to provide consultancy services and publicise the Vision 2016 Pillars, but stands accused of not having fulfilled all the requirements. 

In the contract, Native Impressions was expected to:

1. Develop a five-year National Campaign Strategy for ‘Living the Vision’ theme

2. Campaign should incorporate and be relevant to the seven pillars of the Vision

3. Identify a pillar for each month of the year.  The pillar should be launched by a Vision Champion/Ambassador at the beginning of each month

4. One month to be set aside for public education on ‘Living the Vision’ theme

5. Indicate how different stakeholders at all levels will participate in the campaign.

In addition, Native Impressions was to supply merchandise for the Vision that included printing of t-shirts, caps and others. 

All services and goods that were to be provided are worth the P2.7 million in question and it is not clear how the money was paid before the job was done.

 

Email exchanges

While the Board agreed that legal processes should be engaged, the Council chairman, Makgatlhe on the other hand opposed legal action against Native Impressions. And this position, said the board member, is something he did not communicate to the board when the resolution was reached.

Instead, the board member said, the chairman has tried to block the coordinator from implementing the board decision and hence the bad blood between them.

Cordinator

I asked my driver to go and get me some Vision 2016 letterheads from the office on Friday but he was returned by dorcus as she said she was still to check with you whter she could do that or not.

Please train her on proper protocol and governance issues do that this blantant but common undermining of my authority as Chairman is addressed. I have now come to a stage where i'm going to start acting firmly against such breaches of protocol, going forward.

MM

 

Dear Chair 
This serves to confirm in writing your phone call regarding instructions to be provided with stationery wherein you said "I do not understand why I am not being given the stationery I requested two months ago ... " I don't understand what guidance is required to issue stationery .... 1 think you are playing games ... ,this is gross insubordination .... 1 am going to take firm action against you"." In response, I tried to explain that I have earlier on sent you a soft copy of the letterhead (which can be used without limits) and also asked you to instruct me in writing as there are no guiding Vision 2016 Council statutes on the issue of Chairman's stationery but you hung up on me. Surprisingly, the same letterhead that you are asking for, you have used to write me a letter dated August, 10, 2015, which is a clear indication that you have received the letterhead that I have previously sent you for your usage. 
I also acknowledge receipt of your sms of August 10, 2015, which I was acting upon prior to arrival of your driver to collect stationery. Your request for stationery is a departure from the norm wherein your correspondence was always originated and referenced within the Secretariat. I therefore checked the records, the Vision 2016 Council Charter as well as the authority matrix to get gUidance. Apparently, Vision 2016 Chairman position is nonexecutive and therefore, there is no provision on issuing stationery to the Chairman. At the time when your driver arrived, I was in process of writing to you to seek guidance and formal instruction on the matter. 
I wish to reassure you that I am always ready to serve and advise Vision 2016 Council through the Chairman at all times. However, I am concerned by the threats you made towards me over the phone and through sms in particular, and your usual antagonistic attitude towards me, Furthermore, your request for station~ry was never directed to me but was continuously directed junior staff, which causes confusion and disharmony in the Secretariat. I therefore, humbly request that we conform to governance best practice and comply with Vision 2016 statutes to create conducive working relationships. As the head of the Vision 2016 Secretariat, I am obligated to uphold the Vision 2016 Council statutes and advice you accordingly if need be but whenever I do so you view my intervention as insubordination. 
I am therefore, seeking your guidance and formal instructions on the Vision 2016 Chairman stationery needs. Please let me know the specifics of the stationery requirements and quantities for your office so that in future I would know how to deal with this matter. 
Given the seriousness of this matter, I have copied this email to Finance, Administration and Tender Committee. 
Best regards 
Charity

Dear Chair 
This serves to confirm in writing your phone call regarding instructions to be provided with stationery wherein you said "I do not understand why I am not being given the stationery I requested two months ago ... " I don't understand what guidance is required to issue stationery .... 1 think you are playing games ... ,this is gross insubordination .... 1 am going to take firm action against you"." In response, I tried to explain that I have earlier on sent you a soft copy of the letterhead (which can be used without limits) and also asked you to instruct me in writing as there are no guiding Vision 2016 Council statutes on the issue of Chairman's stationery but you hung up on me. Surprisingly, the same letterhead that you are asking for, you have used to write me a letter dated August, 10, 2015, which is a clear indication that you have received the letterhead that I have previously sent you for your usage. 
I also acknowledge receipt of your sms of August 10, 2015, which I was acting upon prior to arrival of your driver to collect stationery.

Your request for stationery is a departure from the norm wherein your correspondence was always originated and referenced within the Secretariat. I therefore checked the records, the Vision 2016 Council Charter as well as the authority matrix to get gUidance. Apparently, Vision 2016 Chairman position is nonexecutive and therefore, there is no provision on issuing stationery to the Chairman. At the time when your driver arrived, I was in process of writing to you to seek guidance and formal instruction on the matter. 
I wish to reassure you that I am always ready to serve and advise Vision 2016 Council through the Chairman at all times. However, I am concerned by the threats you made towards me over the phone and through sms in particular, and your usual antagonistic attitude towards me, Furthermore, your request for station~ry was never directed to me but was continuously directed junior staff, which causes confusion and disharmony in the Secretariat. I therefore, humbly request that we conform to governance best practice and comply with Vision 2016 statutes to create conducive working relationships. As the head of the Vision 2016 Secretariat, I am obligated to uphold the Vision 2016 Council statutes and advice you accordingly if need be but whenever I do so you view my intervention as insubordination. 
I am therefore, seeking your guidance and formal instructions on the Vision 2016 Chairman stationery needs. Please let me know the specifics of the stationery requirements and quantities for your office so that in future I would know how to deal with this matter. 
Given the seriousness of this matter, I have copied this email to Finance, Administration and Tender Committee. 
Best regards 
Charity

 

Use of dis agents

The board member revealed that Kruger was temporarily detained at Sir Seretse Khama International Airport upon arrival from a trip abroad.  DIS officers searched her demanding to know which passport she was using. She produced her diplomatic passport and the officers were left with no charges against her.  Then a few days later a different group of officers paid her a visit at her office, demanding that she produces her passports.   They did the crosschecking and found nothing untoward about her passports.

Kruger acquired a diplomatic passport after she was appointed as agribusiness expert in the pioneering Board of Directors of the Centre for Coordination of Agricultural Research in Southern Africa (CCARDESA).

Mmegi is in possession of a recorded board meeting of November 6, 2015 in which Makgatlhe announced the suspension of Kruger to a seemingly shocked audience.

In the recording, he said that he has information about the coordinator’s behaviour that is being investigated. He said that the suspension had nothing to do with the conduct of the coordinator at work, but rather her personal behaviour.

 

Snippets from the recorded board meeting

“Ke ne ke tlile go le bolelela hela gore go na le dilo dingwe that were brought to my attention that I cannot say.  I’m told the investigation will not take long,” he said.

VOICE: Please share with us whether it is a question of conduct, so that everybody has an idea of what is going on.

MM: The nature of the discussions don’t allow me to say what the investigations are. Unfortunately you would understand the predicament I am in.  It is not the question of the conduct of the coordinator. The reason for the suspension is not for the conduct of the coordinator, but is because of other issues that are being investigated on her person by institutions of the state.

VOICE: Ne go palang gore o romele email o re bolella gore o suspendile coordinator? I believe you are aware that as a Council you have a duty of care to this institution and if there is anything that is confidential that you know, your Council should know.  To us, what you are saying is that you don’t have confidence in our ability to keep this thing confidential the way you have kept it confidential.

MM: My intention has always been to communicate this information as soon as it happened.  The other one, I do have confidence in my Council, but that is not the issue here.  I can’t go deeper than that.  Those of you who want to know what is going on, I will set an appointment with the minister so that you get it from him.

VOICE: I have a problem with your letter of suspending the coordinator.  Her lawyers wrote you a letter and this implicated the Vision Council.  They even wrote to Mr Marole.  Does this mean that the Vision Council will not be affected, for instance legal costs? I think you should share more on this.

VOICE: Are you saying you have already suspended the coordinator?  Effective from when?

MM: Yes she is suspended.  We can spend the whole day here discussing this, but that was not my intention.  I said that once investigations are complete we will come together to discuss the way forward.  We have to wait for the completion of the investigations.  I’m restricted to disclosing anything further to what I have already done.  People, if you are unhappy with my decision I can facilitate that meeting with my superiors.

VOICE: Ke a go utlwa, mme ga ke tla ke sa go utlwe.  If the suspension has nothing to do with the conduct of the coordinator, I’m struggling to understand why the suspension?

MM: O investigatiwa dilo tse a di dirileng ene ka boene.  She is the coordinator whether at work or not.  If the investigations bring the image of the institution into disrepute then they have.

VOICE: As Council, I think it is important that we know what she could be involved in so that we appreciate the decision as to why she is suspended.  Right now I’m just confused I don’t know what is going on.

MM: It depends on what the investigations are about.  I also was given limited information on the investigations.  I can’t disclose those reasons.

VOICE: In future, can you please be careful when dealing with issues of this nature, and consult our legal services, and the concerned employee, before taking a decision like this.  We hope that the Council is not going to incur any costs.

VOICE: We know that it is DIS that is investigating, why hide?

VOICE: I only hear parables from the chair, I’m in the dark.  I’m wondering what the level of darkness the Secretariat is in.  Does Mr Ibrahim know about this?

MM: Yes he knows, what he knows is what I know, and what you know.

VOICES: Nna ga re itse sepe, wa re re a itse?

VOICE: We keep on saying the State, it’s just a government department DCEC, DIS and others.

VOICE: Did we follow due process before suspending the coordinator?

VOICE: You called us here, we had hoped that you will tell us that the minister told you information that you felt warranted the suspension.  We need to know that in terms of the rights of employees, are we protected?  It’s only fair and respectful for you to tell us when she was suspended.

MM: I never said you don’t need to know reasons.  I said I’m constrained to disclose further information.

VOICE: Is it the minister who instructed you to suspend her.

MM: I said I consulted.

Contacted for comment, Makgatlhe said he does not discuss Vision Council issues with the press, including when such issues involve employees.

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