After six long months, the Minister of Transport and Communications, Nonofho Molefhi, has finally appointed the Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority (BOCRA) board of directors. They are Dr. Masego Mpotokwane (chairperson); Andrew Sesinyi, head of communications at the Bank of Botswana; Dr. Ditshupo Maje, a University of Botswana lecturer; Mabalaankwe Rabashwa, a private-sector lawyer; Cecilia Mamelodi-Onyadile, senior programme officer for information and communication technology at the Southern African Development Community; Roy Davies, a financial consultant with AON Botswana; and, Esther Norris, Executive Director, (Brand Management) at the Botswana Investment and Trade Centre. The board was appointed on October 1 but the new members were only notified on Thursday.
Explaining the time lapse, Molefhi said that cabinet’s decisions mature after two weeks when minutes are certified. What happened in this particular case is that while Cabinet had already approved the board and it was to start work on October 1, the minutes making such approval had to be certified much later which is why the board has yet to get down to business. The minister says that depending on the availability of the new board members he plans to hold a formal first meeting with the board as early as next week. That could have happened this past week but the minister says that his permanent secretary was away. BOCRA, which was previously known as the Botswana Telecommunications Authority, has been without a board since April this year. This state of affairs was said to be constraining the Authority’s operations.
Explaining why it took this long to appoint the board, Molefhi said that there were a number of processes that had to be followed to identify the right candidates. Some 32 candidates were interviewed by the Public Enterprises Evaluation and Privatisation Agency in February this year (at a time that members of the old board were still in post) in anticipation of them taking over at the beginning of April. The names of the candidates were then forwarded to the minister.
The new board has no civil servant member because the BOCRA Act excludes them. That was not the case in the old order where civil servants qualified for membership. The secretary of economic affairs in the ministry of finance and development planning, Dr. Taufila Nyamadzabo, was a member of the board whose term ended in March. It is understood that some members of the old board were also interviewed by PEEPA for the positions in the new BOCRA board. The absence of the board is said to have negatively impacted on the Authority’s operations.
For example, where BOCRA has to deal with issues relating to the recruitment of senior managers, the putting out of tenders or issuance of broadcasting licences, the board has to be involved and have the final say.