Monday, September 21, 2020

BDP enters BBS /Bifm dispute

The ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) has entered the ongoing dispute between the Botswana Building Society (BBS) and Bifm Capital.

The party secretary general, Mpho Balopi, is reported to have appointed himself mediator in the ongoing boardroom brawl.

In a bizarre turn of events, Balopi is said to have recently called BBS managing director, Pius Molefe, and informed him that ‘party elders’ were concerned about the confrontation between BBS and Bifm capital.

BBS and Bifm capital are at each other’s throat over a decision by BBS to redeem Bifm Capital shares.

BBS wants to part ways with Bifm and intends to give back P150 million worth of shares.

However, Bifm capital insists it is also entitled to an extra P50 million more as accrued interest.
Last week, the BBS Board gave management the go ahead, further instructing them to fight it in court should the need arise.

Some BBS officers say Balopi flaunted President Ian Khama’s name when he approached the Society with his mediation efforts.

The ruling party Secretary General is said to have hinted that the President was upset and disturbed by the whole saga.

Exactly how the president would use the Secretary General and not the Minister of Finance who is the Societies Registrar remains a mystery. Balopi has, however, denied mentioning Khama’s name.
“I have never mentioned anyone; as a senior party official, I wanted to find out what is going on,” said Balopi in an interview with The Telegraph.

Balopi confirmed speaking to BBS officials but denied using Khama’s name to try and cajole BBS to give in to Bifm capital’s demands.

He said he made a call as a businessman after listening to concerns from the business community, investors and BDP members whom he said were not happy with the standoff.

“Its not a formal initiative, I have spoken to shareholders who feel it’s in the interest of the image of the country and investors not to demutualize currently when the two are still embroiled in this saga,” he said.

Balopi’s company is contracted to do BBS advertising and he also does advertising work for Bifm capital. The BDP man does not view this as a conflict of interest and argues he is best suited to reconcile the two since both are his clients.

“I want to broker peace, I am not saying I am good but I want to broker peace,” he said.
“It’s a good thing to demutualize. If you want to sell you have to beautify your product. If you fight over it, it might not be attractive by the time you try to sell,” he added.

He said that the ongoing exchanges between the two companies are a big risk to the planned demutualization process. He said it might make BBS’s transformation a bad invention which might cost the company business going forward.

In a separate interview, BBS spokesperson, Sipho Showa, confirmed that there was some correspondence between BBS and Balopi but would not delve into details.

“You would appreciate that as a commercial entity, we prefer to deal with the matter without any political involvement. This is not a political matter,” said Showa.

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