The BIUST employee who brought accusations of corruption and abuse of office against the Vice Chancellor of the institution, Professor Otlogetswe Totolo, had a planned campaign to deliberately peddle untruths in order to tarnish the image of both the university and the vice chancellor.
This is the conclusion of the BIUST Council Human Resources Committee that investigated the allegations. The BIUST employee, named Malatsi Gilani, is currently under suspension in connection with the investigation that was carried out in September last year.
He has been ordered to appear for a disciplinary hearing and advised to submit to employee rules of the Botswana International University of Science and Technology. Top of the allegations was that the VC purchased a motor vehicle valued at a cost higher than what his contract allows.
According to the Council, the VC sought approval from the Council Chairperson to purchase a Range Rover as an equivalent to his entitlement and was granted it. According to the Council’s report on the probe, the BIUST Council found no evidence of impropriety in the conduct of Professor Totolo processing this benefit. Even so, the Council recommends a revision of policies on benefits to stipulate price ranges in order to guard against possible abuse.
The BUIST Council labelled as hogwash reports that the VC misused his credit card to procure alcoholic beverages amounting to P100,000.00. “The Vice Chancellor has got a budget allocation for entertainment of university guests during university events like the graduation ceremonies, ministerial and permanent secretaries’ visits, and STEM activities.
“The allocation is for refreshments,” says the report, which adds that Professor Totolo procedurally accesses his allocation to ensure that he does not exceed his limit. In addition, it notes, the expenditure was over a period and not a one-off event that may raise alarm about possible abuse. At any rate, says the report, the university raises funds for such events and the specific expenditure duly reflects on BUIST systems. The VC was also alleged to have applied and awarded himself a contract of employment as Professor. On this score, the Council states that at the end of his tenure, the VC will return to the relevant department at the appropriate rank as an employee of BUIST.
“It is important to clarify that the Vice Chancellor is entitled to notify the University and apply for a position at the appropriate rank and department,” says the report. “The Vice Chancellor currently holds one contract of employment which he is currently being remunerated under.” The CHRC investigations were conducted, and the Vice Chancellor was cleared of all the allegations in November 2022.
Professor Totolo was also accused of occupying three houses at the expense of BIUST. This was found to be false when the investigation established that the VC occupies only one house rented by the institution for him. However, the report explains that the VC was “seriously under-housed” for more than five years during which the university was planning to build a suitable Vice Chancellor’s Residence. In the course of that time, the report notes, BUIST decided to temporarily allocate him a house on campus while another house was rented for guests of the university. When Professor Totolo was finally allocated a suitable house, the staff house was returned to the university pool and made available to other staff members of BUIST.
Another allegation was that the VC has continued to access benefits of his old contract. “What is critical is that the benefits are for the Vice Chancellor position, but the property remains that of the institution when the current VC leaves office,” says the report. “The Council Human Resources Committee found no evidence of abuse of office in relation hereto and dismissed this allegation.” The university says it is currently processing disciplinary hearings for certain individuals in relation to these allegations and that the process will be fair and objective.
Meanwhile, the BUIST Council applied to court to protect the university against publication of confidential information by the employer in question. “Please note the university indicated that this was done notwithstanding that the Vice Chancellor had been cleared of any wrongdoing,” it notes in the report. “The judgment has been rendered and the university has taken a decision to appeal the judgment which it labels as dangerous.”