Tuesday, September 22, 2020

BTC chief suspended as the Board goes for broke

The already difficult relationship between the Botswana Telecommunications Corporation (BTC) Chief Executive and the Board of Directors took a turn for the worse when Thapelo Lippe was suspended this week.

The suspension was confirmed to The Telegraph on Monday by the Board Chairman, Len Makwinja.

“It’s our opinion that there are serious internal issues. But we are still looking around,” said Makwinja, before adding that the Board has “complied” with all the parastatal’s regulations before suspending its Chief Executive.

Makwinja would not be pinned down on what allegations have been leveled against Lippe as to warrant the suspension.

He indicated internal investigations will start with immediate effect.
“Of course, there are problems, but for now those are internal problems,” said Makwinja.

He said the Board would be making a formal announcement as to who will be acting during Lippe’s suspension.
Also to be announced will be a team that will investigate on behalf of the Board.

For now, it’s not clear how long the suspension will run.

It is also not yet clear what the terms of reference for the investigations will be.

“You never know about the timeline. What we will be looking for is evidence on certain matters,” said Makwinja.
Lippe and Makwinja started speaking in turns in December last year when Lippe said in an interview that the Board had given him a go ahead to implement staff bonuses only for Makwinja to contradict him by saying there were “outstanding issues” he wanted sorted out first.
At the time, Makwinja said he had given himself a month to digest all the outstanding issues.

Two months hence, by the look of things, it would look like after a period of self enforced digestion, Makwinja and his team do not like the picture that is emerging at BTC.

A strong-willed personality, Lippe has been at odds with a section of the Board who felt that BTC executive management had not met and fulfilled certain rules and regulations of the Corporation’s bonus Policy.

A former Chief Executive of Orange Botswana, Lippe has been steadfast that BTC had to pay bonuses to deserving employees.

At the time, one Board Member was quoted in our sister publication saying they worried that if the BTC Bonus Policy was not followed, Directors risked being sued in their individual capacities.

Makwinja would not say if the staff bonuses remained at the centre of contention between his Board and Lippe’s executive management on the current bout of troubles.

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The Telegraph September 23

Digital edition of The Telegraph, September 23, 2020.