Tough decisions had to be made during the year 2015 as corporations buckled in the prevailing hostile trading environment. Industry giants shed off key personnel as they embarked on groundbreaking restructuring exercises. The corporate musical chairs was in full swing as key industry players lost their jobs in shocking dismissals, while some swashbuckling high flyers rose up the corporate ladder. KABELO SEITSHIRO looks back at the year on which careers were made and destroyed in equal measure.
After a number of tough years characterised by dwindling profits and poor performance, pundits believed Barclays was well on its way to recovery when it poached Pele Moleta from Botswana Post. Moleta was head-hunted by Barclays Bank’s recruitment agency based in Dubai. The Post Man was recruited as Chief Operating Officer (COO) amid pomp and fanfare in what many believed was part of Barclays’ succession plan, as whispers within the corporate rumour mill indicated that he was being groomed to take over from Managing Director Reinette van der Merwe, who arrived at the Barclays House in November 2013. The appointment was in line with the general policy to localise most top management posts including that of Managing Director. A few months after Moleta joined Barclays, the corporate world was shook to the core when reports surfaced that he had been sacked after falling out with van der Merwe.
It has not been smooth sailing for van der Merwe, as her term at Barclays has been characterised by lawsuits, allegations of unfair labour practices and questions over corporate governance. Insiders described Moleta’s departure as part of the Barclays MD’s systematic purge of pretenders to the throne, as reports emerged that she had sacked at least four Batswana executive managers who were expected to ascend to the Barclays top post. Reports also emerged that Moleta was forced to resign after he questioned the culture of governance at Barclays, as it was dominated by vested interests. He had also refused to sack a number of executives who were not on the good books of authorities at Barclays. Another issue that set Moleta on a collision course with the Barclays top brass was his continuous complaints of the ethical impropriety of having the Board Chairman Rizwan Desai’s law firm Collins Newman & Co providing legal services to the bank. Within a few months, Moleta was out in the cold, amid reports that he was given a golden hand shake in return for his silent exit.
The troubled national airliner once again made headlines when cabinet sacked Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Ben Dahwa and also dissolved the entire Board of Directors. Sources close to the airliner revealed that Dahwa and the board earned the wrath of the Minister after some irregularities in the national airliner’s procurement processes. Sunday Standard is reliably informed that Dahwa and some board members crossed paths with owners of a local influential company who wanted to arm wrestle the airliner into purchasing its new fleet from a certain supplier. The unnamed company, allegedly owned by people with interest and connections in the aviation industry, wanted Air Botswana to procure its fleet from an international organization, for which the said company is an agent, so it could benefit from the deal.
Water Utilities Corporation (WUC)
Minister of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources (MMEWR) Kitso Mokaila also fired WUC Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Leonard Nxumalo. The Swazi native was told to pack and go after serving just one year of his three year contract. Before his sacking, WUC employees at Gaborone Water Works went on strike amid complaints about remuneration. Earlier, Nxumalo received a strongly worded letter from his superiors who ordered him to account for millions of Pula spent by government on the loss-making parastatal, or face the axe. It seems he failed to account and was subsequently chopped.
High flying Chief Executive of Motor Vehicle Accident Fund, Cross Kgosidiile was also given the axe as his contract was not renewed. Initially Kgosidiile was told to leave by end of October, but a late minute intervention by some board members requesting cabinet to give him a reprieve saw him given two more months. Cabinet was divided on Kgosidiile, after the line ministry recommended that his contract be renewed as he was the best performing CEO in the entire portfolio of parastatals under the Ministry of Finance. He is exiting the multibillion Fund this December for good.
Amongst the Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) listed companies BIHL Group Chief Excuetive Gaffar Hassam has once again been elevated in the BIHL Group hierarchy, this time being deployed to a challenging role at Sanlam Emerging Markets (SEM) as Group Executive for business in Southern African countries such as Namibia, Zambia, Malawi, Zimbabwe and Botswana.
Furthermore, the Group immediately appointed a star performer, Catherine Lesetedi-Letegele substantive BIHL Group CEO from its subsidiary Botswana Life Insurance Limited (BLIL). The Group last month also, appointed substantive CEO of Botswana Insurance Fund Management (Bifm), where Neo Bogatsu has been holding the fort in an acting capacity after the departure of Tiny Kgatlwane.
After a long delay, the Botswana Public Officers Pension Fund (BPOPF) unveiled Boitumelo Molefe as its substantive Chief Executive Officer (CEO). The Fund announced that Molefe ticked all the boxes and beat her competitors to snatch the BPOPF top job, taking over from Lesedi Moakofi, who had been holding the fort in an acting capacity. Molefe joined BPOPF from Bokamoso Private Hospital, where she was employed as Chief Finance Officer (CFO). She is also a former Managing Director of Debswana Pension Fund. She reported for duty on 1st July 2015, tasked with the responsibility of steering the operations, finances and performance management of the Fund, ensuring that goals and objectives are achieved and enabling the Board of Trustees to fulfil their governance function. As BPOPF CEO, Molefe is now the helm of the largest pension fund in the country, with more than 150 000 members.
The country’s leading commercial bank, First National Bank Botswana (FNBB) at the beginning of the year appointed Steven Bogatsu as Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Bogatsu took over from Lorato Boakgomo-Ntakhwana. The former FNBB Chief Financial Officer, who has been working as CEO of FNB Swaziland, became the second Motswana to head FNBB. His appointment was readily approved by Bank of Botswana Governor, Linah Mohohlo. FNBB had been under pressure to appoint a local citizen candidate as CEO, as Mohohlo has previously advised commercial banks board of directors and management to localize the top posts
Long serving Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Business Botswana, Maria Machailo-Ellis will be joining the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in the Bureau of Employers’ Activities (ACT/EMP) effective January 2016. Her career move was recognised by Business Botswana as a positive one as she will continue to drive the cause of the private sector in Botswana and in the region. She joined Business Botswana (then BOCCIM) in January 2007 as its Executive Director and has seen the organisation through major milestones such as organisational restructuring, the Private Sector Development Strategy and the Private Sector Development Program (PSDP) as well as many major policy regulatory reforms to improve Botswana’s business environment. Business Botswana President, Leta Mosienyane said that Business Botswana and indeed Botswana as a country are very proud to have a Motswana appointed to such an important organ of the United Nations.