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Headmaster switches off teacher’s electricity

Instead of strategizing on how to improve results in the face of Coronavirus, Sefhare Junior School staff are caught up in a petty fight over housing.

A brewing storm in a teacup between a new teacher and the school head over housing and electricity has threatened to divide the staff after the teacher’s electricity was abruptly cut and he was forced to resort to using candles for lighting.

The teacher (names withheld) says he recently arrived in Sefhare from Mahalapye Junior School to a hostile and unwelcoming environment after swapping with a colleague in December last year.

For fear of reprisal the concerned teacher preferred that his colleagues and sympathisers narrate his ordeal to The Voice with the hope that speaking out would bring him some relief.

“When a cargo truck carrying his stuff arrived at Sefhare Junior on the 19th, the deputy school head Ephraim Maifala ordered its return to Mahalapye. This was supposed to be a straight swap. He was supposed to move into the house vacated by the other teacher, but for some reason the housing committee, which is oddly controlled by the school head and his deputy decided to move him to a different house to share with a female teacher, “revealed the concerned colleague.

For four days his stuff remained in the truck at the Sub-region,” he said.

The Voice has learnt that the two swapping mates however hatched a plan to move the stuff in the concerned teacher’s desired house, a move that sent him on a collision course with the housing committee.

In a letter written by the school head on 27th January, the teacher was reprimanded for non-compliance and self-allocation of a house contrary to Section 5 of the Housing Policy.

“He was told he could not occupy the house because it was still under investigation with three other houses for bypassing electricity,” The Voice learnt.
Seeing that the teacher had no intention of vacating the house the headmaster ordered Botswana Power Corporation to disconnect power from the disputed house on March 10, causing the teacher to rely on candles for lighting.

“He’s a strong willed person. Despite all this, he has never missed a lesson. The only challenge is that he can’t wear formal clothes since he cant iron, so he’s resorted to jeans and t-shirts,” revealed a colleague.

In an interview with The Voice on Tuesday, the school head confirmed that he indeed disconnected electricity at the advice of BPC.

He said there was no way the said teacher could occupy a house that is being investigated for bypassing electricity.

Reminded that three other houses under investigation for a similar offence have not been disconnected, Phuthego responded thus: “We looked at the severity of the offence. This one looked like a recent offence while other houses were old cases with one having been bypassed since 2012,” he said.

The School Head said he doesn’t have any problem with the said teacher but only wanted him to comply with the housing policy.

“He can complain or show his displeasure but first he has to comply,” Phuthego said.

“What he has to understand is swapping simply means change of station, it doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll occupy the house vacated by the other party. Arranging accommodation for staff members is a duty undertaken by the Housing Committee,” he said.

The Voice also learnt that both the headmaster and the concerned teacher were summoned by the Regional Director Sonny Mooketsi who’s expected to settle the matter this week.

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Elephant mortality in Okavango rises to 110, Anthrax ruled out

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Wildlife and National Parks department has ruled out Anthrax as a killer disease for elephants along some villages in the Okavango delta.

As of Friday last week, at least 110 dead elephants were discovered in areas of Seronga, Gunotsoga and Eretsha in the past three weeks and were suspected to have died from Anthrax.

However the Anthrax laboratory tests have come back negative, leaving the government departments searching for more answers. 

“Laboratory results have ruled out Anthrax and we are awaiting more results,” explained regional Wildlife coordinator in Maun, Dimakatso Ntshebe.

Ntshebe said his department through the help of veterinary department services are still conducting further tests to find out whether or not this mysterious disease is not a result of poisoning.

The disease according to Ntshebe causes the giant’s front legs to weaken and therefore the unwell animal walks in uncoordinated manner and ultimately drops to its death.

“We don’t know what could be the cause of this disease but we are working around the clock to find out and hopefully work on the cure,” added Ntshebe.

Some samples are to be sent to South Africa for further testing. “We could have taken other samples to the neighbouring Zimbabwe, but because of COVID-19 that brought everything to almost a standstill, we could not send them,” Ntshebe explained before adding that, “before coronavirus outbreak, Botswana and Zimbabwe were in talks and have entered into some agreements including exportation and importation of certain medications, but we have not yet concluded the matter regarding samples, that is why we have not been able to send samples to Zimbabwe.”

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SADC Executive Secretary disturbed by obstacles in movement of goods

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The Executive Secretary of SADC, Dr Stegomena Lawrence Tax, has cautioned member states that any lack of cooperation among then during the COVID19 era has potential to reverse the gains made in the last decades.

Addressing a virtual SADC Council of Ministers meeting this week, Lawrence Tax said that the regional ministers approved Guidelines on Harmonization and Facilitation of Movement of Essential Goods and Services across borders early April. 

She said that whilst the guidelines have played a critical role in facilitation of movement of essential goods, there are notable obstacles that have been noted by the Secretariat.

The obstacles include non-compliance/non recognition of regional legal frameworks; uncoordinated operations at the port of entry among border agencies; lack of harmonization and synchronization of policies and procedures among, and between member states; unilateral decisions outside agreed framework; as well as different approaches to deal with epidemiological challenges,” she said. 

She added that; “all these are resulting in increased cost of doing business, and negatively affecting the implementation of national and regional programmes”.

She advised that there is need to have measures, and coordinated approach in place since the region is in a post lockdown period since the transportation of non-essential goods and services will be resuming.

Lawrence Tax added that COVID19 is a global pandemic and that the SADC regional approach should expand to COMESA-EAC-SADC tripartite and eventually to other continental blocs.

“The Secretariat is already working with COMESA and EAC, specifically, in terms of harmonizing and synchronizing regulations and procedures for movement of goods and services under the Tripartite arrangement. We need to move in unison and avoid unilateral decisions, specifically with regards to cross border movement of goods and services,” she said.

According to the Executive Secretary, the regional office has already conducted a socio-economic impact analysis of COVID19 on the region and the results have shown that the pandemic will impact negatively across many socio and economic sectors.

“The decline in the global economy is projected to lead to a decline in commodity prices, increase in debt and significant contraction of the SADC economies in 2020. This will reverse the gains on industrial development and trade that the region has made in the last couple of years,” Lawrence Tax said.

On the flip side,  the region’s International Cooperating Partners have made pledges to mitigate the impact of COVID19 pandemic on its economy. 

“To date, the Secretariat has secured Euro 7.3 million from the German Government; Euro3.6million from European Union, Euro 190,000.00 under the GIZ/Africa Union Commission, whereas the African Development Bank (AfDB)  has considered a support UA 7 million. Engagements with the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) are also at an advanced stage,” the Executive Secretary said.

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