Wednesday, September 23, 2020

BDC Board divided over Nthebolan’s future

Negotiations are ongoing between the board of the Botswana Development Corporation and the Managing Director to find a way out of the troubles consuming the state-owned investment arm.

While there are divisions within the board, there is a groundswell of consensus that Maria Nthebolan should leave the corporation. If and when she leaves, she will be entitled to all the remuneration of the remainder of her contract.

There is, however, no consensus on how to approach the clause in her contract which envisaged a possibility of contract renewal.

“It is in her [Nthebolan] interest as well as that of the corporation that she leaves,” said a source close to the board.

A section of the Board feels that if she was persuaded to leave voluntarily, cognizance should be given to the fact that there was always a chance she could be reappointed for another term, a situation they say should be factored in whatever settlement she is offered.

It is also worth noting that no charges have so far been brought against her.

Within the Board, there are those who feel that Nthebolan’s chances for a contract renewal at the end of the current term are almost non-existent, given the turn of events surrounding the BDC glass plant at Palapye. This section of the Board is of the view that no emphasis should thus be placed on a possibility that she was up for reappointment.

While the board and shareholders have publicly expressed support for BDC management and also reiterated unwavering support for the near billion Pula project to continue, there are voices that feel that it is in the interest of both Nthebolan and BDC to step aside. But, as it turns out, she is eager to clear her name against insinuations by the forensic audit commissioned by the Board that there could have been wrong doing on her part and some of her other senior management executives.

A source said at one point Nthebolan was eager to leave voluntarily, but changed her mind after a newspaper wrongly reported that she had been sacked. Suspicions are that the information was leaked by one Board member who was privy to negotiations at the time.

Although she was never given a chance to answer for herself, the auditors alleged that an amount of money had been found in her bank account and whose source was not verified.

The same allegation was made against three other BDC managers.

“I think it will be next to impossible to fairly accuse Nthebolan of any wrong doing, but I am of the view that for her own sake as well as for the corporation to move on, she has to stand aside,” said one member of the BDC Board.

The same applies to the other executives.

Interestingly, there is also a feeling that General Manager Corporate Service, James Kamyuka, should also leave. This is despite the fact that no evidence has been brought forward holding him directly liable for any offence, save for the fact that, as head of Corporate Services, he is directly responsible for finance, compliance and assurance.

The auditors had reached a conclusion that the contract between BDC and a Chinese firm had left BDC over exposed.

Meanwhile, the corruption busting agency, the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime continues with its investigation of BDC which runs parallel to that instituted by parliament.
DCEC had in the past called on the BDC Board to send Nthebolan on leave so as to remove any suspicions of tempering with investigations.

While Nthebolan is currently on leave, it is, however, not clear whether or not her leave is a forced one owing to a past DCEC demand.

The Telegraph can also reveal that as a way of cleaning up the Glass project, BDC Board has engaged the services of two British experts from a glass manufacturing firm, Float Glass Consortium, to evaluate and audit work done so far at the plant in Palapye.

Float Glass Consortium is one of the world’s biggest glass manufacturers.
A report from the British experts is expected this week.

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The Telegraph September 23

Digital edition of The Telegraph, September 23, 2020.