The Umbrella for Democratic change has learnt with shock and disbelief the dismissal from work of Ms Segomotso Mhaladi, a cleaner with the Ghanzi District Commissioner’s Office.
Ms Mhaladi is the lady who raised alarm on seeing used ballot papers for Ghanzi North Constituency in a toilet immediately following the 2019 General Elections. This development was unusual and illegal in that the law requires that upon completion of the election processes,all election materials should be deposited with the Registrar and Master of the High Court for safe keeping. It was therefore not anomalous for Ms Mhaladi to report this discovery in a toilet and that report should not constitute misconduct of any form. Ms Mhaladi was not on any witch hunt but on her daily cleaning routine and is baffling how that will constitute misconduct on her part.
It should also be noted that at the time Ms Mhaladi made the discovery in a toilet, she was with
the District Commissioner’s Office. The District Commissioner at the time was the Returning
Officer, an employee of the Independent Electoral Commission. This then raises the issue
of who is the complainant about Ms Mhaladi’s conduct. It certainly cannot be the District
Commissioner as he was not her supervisor at the material time. It will be improper for Ms
Mhaladi to have been found guilty and dismissed from work because of a complaint brought to
her employer by someone who was not her supervisor. Further, the charge brought against Ms
Mhaladi of leaking confidential information is frivolous, as there is no manner of confidential
government information that could be deposited and stored in a toilet. This is akin to walking
naked on the street and claiming that you have been violated. It is a clear abuse of officer
by the District Commissioner and his handlers. If there is anyone who deserves a charge of
misconduct in this case, it is the Returning Officer who was negligent to leave used ballot
papers in the toilet instead of depositing them with the High Court.
The UDC considers the dismissal of Ms Mhaladi to be illegal and uncalled for. It undermines the
whistle blowing policy and it is endeavour to fight the endemic corruption and maladministration
in Botswana. We are seriously concerned by these developments that are intended to malign
and humiliate the workers of this country. As a party that strongly support the workers’ agenda,
the UDC stands with the workers where there is flagrant abuse of their rights such as is the
case with the dismissal of Ms Mhaladi. Ms Mhaladi should be unconditionally reinstated to
her job without any delay. We further, call for the enactment of laws on protection of whistleblowers and freedom of information with immediate effect. This will deepen our democracy
and protect the likes Ms Mhaladi from harassment and intimidation. She innocently and simply
drew the attention of the public to an anomaly in a toilet.