Monday, June 21, 2021

BBS boardroom brawl descends into racial slurs against Brink

The Botswana Building Society (BBS) boardroom brawl brawls has branched off into a more toxic controversy with the major shareholder and prominent businessman Derick Brink turned into the but of xenophobia and racism taunts.

The new storm emerges in a fresh application in which Brink is challenging the former board’s assertion that they are still Board members and do not recognise the 30th April court decision that saw a new board being elected.  

Court records reveal that Brink believes the former Board is of the view that the resolution of the 30 April 2021 AGM was void because the then Chairperson Pelane Daphne Siwawa-Ndai and her Board had walked out of the meeting on the basis that other shareholders were not represented. 

Brink argued that the former board members in question led by Siwawa-Ndai, through their lawyers Bookbinder Business Law, contrary to the Court Order which states among others that the then Board was not allowed to adjourn the 30 April AGM, walked out of it and did not recognise its outcome.

He also said he was challenging the decision by the said Board members that since they did not recognise the meeting and its resolution and had walked out; they were still members of the new board. 

Brink also used the fresh application to vent out his concerns about the alleged racial undertones which were uttered as tension between management and the former board boiled over. 

Court records show that the racial outrage was apparently sparked by an email sent out by one of the former board members. In the fresh application, Brink alleges that one of the former board members seem to have accepted defeat in private as it was apparent from some text messages which he reportedly originated. 

According to Brink, the text message seems to “have racist and xenophobic undertones and falsely attributes improper motives to me.” 

But these allegations were shot down by Siwawa-Ndai who claimed that the allegations were improperly ascribed to Kgalelo Monthe, who did not author them. According to Siwawa-Ndai, the name of the author of the text message with racial undertones was deliberately cropped out by Brink. 

“The reference to xenophobia is rather strange in any event, as the respondents understand the applicant to be a fellow citizen of Botswana,” she said. 

Siwawa-Ndai also questioned the wisdom of Brink’s decision to drag the former board before the High Court.

“In an event, we are at pains to appreciate what the applicant wants of us, moreover, that our tenure on the Board ended on 30 May 2021 (sic). To the extent that the applicant may have a gripe with the board that departed the AGM, it is quite strange that the respondents would be singled out to the exclusion of other members of the other members of the board,” she said. 

Brink had argued that Siwawa-Ndai and Monthe had argued through a letter that they were still members of the new board despite a High Court Order that gave a green light to the AGM which culminated in the appointment of new board members. Court records show that Brink eventually withdrew the application and tendered costs in the absence of attorneys of former board members. 

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