Wednesday, January 19, 2022

BoB directive pushes Makwinja out of BTCL

Botswana Telecommunication Corporation Limited (BTCL) has confirmed the departure of its chairman of the board of directors, Leonard Makwinja this past Tuesday. BTCL, led by Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Paul Taylor, also admitted that Makwinja’s ‘retirement’ from the BTCL board was subsequent to a Bank of Botswana (BoB) directive which barred local banks from electing persons who serve in the board of parastatals into their boards.

The revised BoB requirements for board membership in licensed banks have shut out members who sit on boards of oversight authorities as well as government parastatals such as BTCL from sitting on the boards of local banks. Because he sits on the board of BancABC, Makwinja was forced to forfeit his chairmanship of the BTCL board. The BTCL Board is a governing body of the corporation, which is appointed by the Minister of Transport and Communication and responsible for providing guidance, direction and support at policy and strategic levels. Minister of Transport and Communications, Nonofo Molefhi this week remained tight lipped as to who would replace Makwinja. During his tenure, Makwinja was the brains behind the transformation of BTCL from a fledging loss making company into a profitable corporation whose profits surged past the billion Pula mark in recent years. Makwinja also oversaw the successful privatisation of BTCL.

By the time of going to press, Molefhi had not responded to this publication’s questionnaire as to when he will announce the new BTCL board of directors as well as Makwinja’s replacement. Makwinja took over from economist Wilfred Mandlebe in 2005 and went on to lead the strategic direction of BTCL. His third term as chairman was expected to end mid next year. An official communiqu├® from BTCL released to the market this week indicates that after delivering on all the key projects, Makwinja has announced his ‘retirement’ as BTCL board chairperson. BTCL said Makwinja took over as board chairman when the company was not performing well financially and faced serious billing challenges.

Through his leadership, BTCL strived for cost efficiencies whilst building an advanced converged portfolio of products supported by world class IT and network infrastructure to help boost digital inclusiveness. Makwinja was also credited for driving and delivering the asset separation and privatization of BTCL. The privitisation process is now in the final stages of separation of assets between BTCL and BoFINET and at an advanced stage of listing on the Botswana Stock Exchange.

Meanwhile, the BTCL board has also lost two other members, Dr Geoffrey Seleka and Choice Pitso. The duo’s contracts have not been renewed since December last year after the Annual General Meeting (AGM), resulting in seven straight months without their replacement. The departure of Makwinja, Seleka and Pitso leaves empty chairs at the BTCL board room and only three members, Serty Leburu, Daphne Matlakala and Alan Boshwaen remain, as their terms are still valid.


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