Vice Chancellor of the Botswana International University of Science & Technology (BIUST), Professor Otlogetswe Totolo has set the record straight following the startling allegations made by the Botswana Sectors of Educators Trade Union (BOSETU) against the university on Wednesday.
Speaking to Mmegi Online, Totolo confirmed that indeed they have an employee who is currently being investigated but said this is not because he is a shop-steward for any union. The VC said the investigation is against an employee and not a shop-steward because, “We treat all employees with the respect they deserve regardless of what union they align to, you speak of a shop steward, and I am telling you of an employee”. Totolo said he was hamstrung to go into details especially those surrounding the suspension of one of their employees. “If anyone has done anything that is being suspected to be against the University rules, one, regardless of their position is investigated. The process of this investigation is done in the most transparent manner,” he said. The VC added that the process can be subjected to anyone, including himself. “If anyone has done anything that needs to be investigated they will be, even myself. All employees are treated equally and all are subjected to the same laws that govern the university.”
Asked why he has refused to meet with the union leadership, as alleged from the press conference, Totolo again clears the air. “I have not refused to meet with (the union). There are rules and regulations on how that process is done. We have a collective labour agreement with both BOSETU and BOPEU, and our engagements processes are clearly stipulated there. I don’t just go into anything outside the collective labour agreement,” he explained. “We meet with unions from time to time. As the VC, the last time I had meeting with the unions was last year October, but the university met with BOPEU and BOSETU this morning (Friday) to update them on the new organisational structure. This shows our commitment in working and cooperating with unions,” the VC added. Asked what those engagement processes entail, Totolo explained that there is an agreed joint negotiation committee that should meet and set as an agenda item at the meeting whatever needs to be discussed.
According to Totolo is it at these meetings where resolutions to any matter are made. “And I am not a member of the joint committee. As a university we should speak to the terms of the agreement of engagement,” he stressed. According to the university VC, BIUST has a whistle blowing facility which is handled by Delloitte.
Totolo also denied an allegation that he lives in three university houses. “That is absolutely not true,” he said. “In fact, I am the only VC who lives in the university guest houses just like all employees. Just do your homework and check out where other University VC’s live. That allegation has reached the university, an investigation was done and nothing like that was found.”