Monday, October 18, 2021

Barclays Bank quagmire reaches Parliament

Members of Parliament have questioned the wisdom of appointing foreigners to top management position in the banking sector, saying the move defeats efforts to localize top management positions in the local private banking sector. 

The MPs cited Barclays Bank of Botswana Limited whose top management comprises of foreigners, adding that the composition of the Board of Directors at Barclays is also anti-localization drive. 

Barclays Bank of Botswana Limited was the first commercial bank to localize the position of Managing Director in 2001, followed by two successive citizen MDs in 2003 and 2010. 

In 2010 and 2012, the two citizen MDs respectively terminated their employment with Barclays Bank for various reasons.

MP for Francistown South, Wynter Mmolotsi has expressed suspicion that Barclays has been involved in constructive dismissal of Botswana citizens.

Last week in Parliament Mmolotsi asked the Minister of Finance and development Planning Kenneth Matambo whether he does not “think that a Barclays Bank’s senior manager’s dismissal was constructive?” But Minister Matambo does not see it that way. “I do not see it that way and in any event I do not think it is appropriate for me to go into details of what was behind the departure of the senior Motswana Officer who left. I am constrained to go any further in this regard,” said Matambo.

Member of Parliament for Kanye South Abram Kesupile also did not understand why previous Managing Directors who were citizens of Botswana had no problems with staff at Barclays Bank.  He said the current Managing Director, who is not a citizen of Botswana, has had problems with other Batswana staff members ever since she occupied office. 

“We wonder what she is experiencing that the previous MDs didn’t see,” said Kesupile.

Matambo denied knowing anything of that.

“It is quite possible that the MP knows more than I do about the subject we are discussing. For all that I know there is only one Motswana in the  senior management of Barclays who left since the current expatriate managing Director came to Gaborone, the way the MP is putting it seems like there are many that I do not know about,” said Matambo.

Matambo explained why Barclays is currently having an expatriate as the MD.  He said the departure of the two Batswana MDs respectively created instability in the management of bank’s operations, which had the potential to undermine its safety and soundness.

“Consequently, Barclays Plc (the parent bank of Barclays) deployed one of its senior management staff from the Regional Group Head Office in South Africa to Botswana as Managing Director with the specific mandate to stabilize the bank,” said Matambo.

The Minister told Parliament that efforts are being made to identify and groom a qualified and experienced citizen as the future leader of the bank.

Barclays Bank is expected to appoint a citizen Managing Director at the expiry of the contract of the current expatriate Managing Director.

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