The credibility of Botswana’s insurance industry has been blighted by revelations that a number of insurance agencies in Botswana are conducting bogus certification courses and operating illegally, sparking fears that scores of industry players may not be qualified for their jobs.
The Sunday Standard is aware of two companies operating in Gaborone and Francistown which are registered as insurance agencies but operating as training institutions. The Francistown agency is said to be operating from the managing director’s house in Block 9.
According to Botswana law, members of staff of any company that practices in the insurance industry, including banks and financial institutions, must have a certificate of proficiency (COP) in insurance. While most insurance companies have been taking COP examinations from the Insurance Institutes of South Africa through the Botswana Accountancy College, a group of Zimbabwean nationals have penetrated the local insurance industry and are reportedly making a killing, selling bogus COP exams to desperate Batswana.
The said insurance industry embezzlers have earned themselves the wrath of their counterparts who are accusing them of operating as a training institution while they are neither registered as such nor accredited by the Botswana Training Authority (BOTA).
Insurance industry insiders told The Sunday Standard that the suspects have cronies at the Insurance Institute of Zimbabwe (IIZ) with whom they have made to act as their representatives in Botswana. It has, however, emerged that IIZ is not licensed to operate in Botswana and has no legal arrangement with any local training institute to conduct COP examinations on its behalf.
The Sunday Standard is in possession of a copy of a manual which has been passed off as a product of an insurance agency based in Francistown. The said insurance agent apparently sells the books to locals for as much as P1050 per copy.
The agents have also been accused of money laundering as they do not legally externalize the funds that they made in Botswana, albeit as an illegal operation. They are said to use the funds to purchase materials like food, petrol and electronic equipment which they then export to Zimbabwe. “This is money laundering. A company operating in Botswana should not externalize funds that they generated through their operations that way,” said some enraged insurance industry players.
It has also emerged that the bogus insurance trainers also employ unqualified employees to train Batswana in COP.
“Our investigations have revealed that most of them are new to the insurance industry while others hold COP certificates, such that they cannot train COP trainees,” said an insurance industry insider. Questions have been raised about the caliber of COP holders produced by these bogus training institutions.
It has also emerged that even big corporations like commercial banks in Botswana have fallen prey to these con men after government demanded that some of their employees must have COP certification because they also offer in house insurance. The said corporations are said to have forked out thousands of Pula to train their employees.
As if that is not enough the said insurance trainers are said to charge students P300 per student as examination centre fee. Sunday Standard investigations have revealed that the university of Botswana branch in Francistown charges as little as P250 as centre fee for a whole hall. The examiners are said to have trained over a hundred COP candidates recently, in the process making a whooping P30 000 from the exams while paying the examination centre only P250.
Another suspect insurance agent in Gaborone, which also illegally conducts COP training is said to be sneaking examination questions to some of their trainees. It has emerged that the agency was joined by a certain gentleman who happened to have been working for IIZ. In April this year, the insurance agency candidates obtained a pass rate of 80%+ sparking fears that the new partner must have sneaked out with some examination papers when he left IIZ. “Such marks are not common in the insurance industry,” said some insiders.
The regulatory authority in the insurance industry referred The Sunday Standard to BOTA who were unfortunately unavailable at the time of going to press.