Skeletons are expected to tumble out of the closet as allegations of corruption at the troubled Botswana Society for the Deaf (BSD) emerge.
Just two weeks into their strike over unpaid wages, employees at Ramotswa Centre for the Deaf are pointing accusing fingers at BSD management for what they believe is misuse of funds. “We feel pity for the kids that we’re taking care of, but there is no way we’re going back to work without our dues,” said the employees’ spokesperson Gloria Mogorosi.
The 35 employees who include the receptionist, cleaners, kitchen staff, caretakers known as parents, groundsmen and teachers were not paid their wages for April and their fear is that they may not get paid again this month.
Their suspicion was confirmed this week when a copy of an internal audit report from the Ministry of Education was leaked to them.
The report that was addressed to the BSD Executive Director, contains allegations of maladministration which include falsification of records, utilization of funds for items initially not meant for and lack of cooperation from the centre’s management to avail data needed for audit.
The concerned employees complained that the situation has left them with accumulating debt and outstanding monthly rent. “I rely on Good Samaritans for accommodation because my landlord has kicked me out of the house for failure to pay rent. I’m desperate,” said another employee, Chendzimu Roman whose story could easily be the experience of scores of others at both the Ramotswa and the Francistown Centre for the Deaf which are both under BSD management.
In Francistown, concerned employees have also threatened to down tools. The employees accuse management of playing hide and seek with them regarding their unpaid salaries. Just like in Ramotswa, what irked the workers was to learn that the management and the head office in Gaborone had been giving them misleading information regarding the delayed April salaries. “We could not believe our eyes when seeing an audit report implying that no funds would be released until the management of both the two centres in Francistown and Ramotswa account for the funds that were previously allocated to them,” a source from the centre said.
Looking at the misleading information the employees said they would have no option but to call it quits since the centre does even promise when their salaries would be ready.
Francistown Centre for Deaf Education School head, Chandawana Chida, confirmed that the support staff have not been paid but was unable to shed more light on the issue preferring all correspondence to be referred to the Executive Director of Botswana Society for the Deaf in Gaborone. “All I can say is that yes it’s true, the none-teaching staff did not get their April salaries but I would be in no position to explain why not because everything is handled in Gaborone.”
While a letter from the Executive Director of Botswana Society for the Deaf indicates that the salaries were delayed because of late allocation of government grant for this year, workers were shocked when they laid their hands on a document from the Ministry of Education and Skills Development citing issues of maladministration by the management.
Executive Director of Botswana Society for the Deaf, Orapeleng Mokgosi, admitted that they were having financial troubles but said the salaries were delayed because of the late allocation of a government grant for this year. “We get our budget from the Ministry of Education and the recurrent expenditure runs from April to March.
We enquired with the Ministry and they told us that their system is still down. The concerned employees will be paid anytime from now as soon as the system starts running,” she promised.
By Innocent Tshukudu and Chenjelani Baraedi