- Prof Norris, UBASSSU clash over staff salaries
- ‘He is gallivanting around the world while UB crumbles’ -Prof Marobela
- ‘Such misfits don’t add value to UB, and can’t be redeemed’ – Prof Norris
The University of Botswana (UB) senior staff union and Vice Chancellor Professor David Norris, are at loggerheads over demands for salary increment, with the latter dismissing the union leadership as self-centered people who detest being told to work.
For some time now, University of Botswana Academic and Senior Support Staff Union (UBASSSU) and the vice Chancellor have been fighting over staff welfare issues. In an interview, UBASSSU president Professor Motsumi Marobela said Prof Norris instead of addressing staff welfare issues, has turned into a roving tourist flying from Seychelles to Dubai and to Florida, USA.
The outspoken Prof Marobela said such trips are a waste of the university funds. “While he decries lack of funds and fails to pay staff bonuses and inflationary salary adjustments, he is spending big in his trips abroad. Since he was hand-picked to lead the University at a higher salary outside UB pay structure, he has embarked on numerous visits abroad at a huge costs. He is not only paid accommodation and meals on these tours, he personally cashes big time from them. That’s why he continues to motivate travelling. Previous VCs had invested on infrastructure which is enviable to many in Africa and the world. Most of the infrastructure can no longer be maintained with resources in deplorable conditions,” lamented Prof Marobela, adding that teaching and learning equipment have not been serviced or replaced for many years.
Prof Marobela blasted the UB Vice Chancellor, saying he has been given a blank cheque to recklessly waste the funds. “He is not accountable to anyone but to himself because important governance and oversight structures, such as Deputy Vice Chancellors and Council, no longer exist at UB. With the lip service he pays to his reset agenda and the dream for UB to be a leading institution in the knowledge driven economy, Prof Norris has ignored cries to purchase projectors and computers in classrooms and computer laboratories. He has failed to take action on managers and heads of divisions who continue to fail to provide services to academic staff and students. It is a matter of time before the situation explodes at the premier institution because of the deplorable teaching/ learning environment,” fumed Prof Marobela.
In response to the accusations, Prof Norris said he remains unperturbed by the noise that the union is making. “Frankly, I am not going to waste time on people who are clueless about higher education. These are just nasty people who in the first place are adding no value to the university. Their dishonesty is mind boggling,” Prof Norris hit back at UBASSSU leadership.
Prof Norris said the salary adjustment query by the union is an old story, which they escalated to the relevant ministry. According to Prof Norris, the union leadership hates him because he is doing his work and they hate the fact that he is calling for hard work and transformation of UB into an engaged and relevant institution.
“Their hatred towards me is because they tell people behind my back that I am an outsider and I should have never led UB. This is certainly making them act in a bizarre manner. Please ask those guys to give you their CVs and performance reports. You will see nothing,” Prof Norris fired back.
Furthermore, Prof Norris said in the transformation project at UB, change management is part of the whole exercise but unfortunately union leaders will never change and they cannot be redeemed.
The UBASSSU president also accused Prof Norris of running a one man show, keeping them in the dark, particularly about a recent UB Council meeting which they were never informed about. He said, there has never been any official communication to UB staff about who the new council members are and/ or its Chairperson.
“And more importantly the decisions arising from the said meeting. This is not surprising because under Norris, UB management lacks communication and transparency. UBASSSU has long pushed for resuscitation of Council as its long absence has severely impacted UB business, especially its oversight and governance role. This is a great concern to staff, especially given the ongoing restructuring exercise which management drives without UB Council participation,” decried Prof Marobela, adding that as far as they know, the only council members are staff representatives who were recently elected on the 1st March by staff, reiterating there is no active council until an official communication is made to UB community at large as it is the norm.
Responding to Prof Marobela’s claim that UB has no Council currently, Prof Norris said it is lies. “On the issue of Council, it’s shameful that they are not even aware we have a Council. The Council had a meeting on the 8th April 2022. They even have a representative in this very same Council,” said Professor Norris, dismissing the acussations with contempt.