The Minister of Transport and Communications, Tshenolo Mabeo has sacked the entire board of BOCRA (Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority.) The sacking of the Board is over a dispute between BOCRA and a contractor who was given a P40 million job to do cellphone sim-card registration.
BOCRA Board had cancelled the contract after executives could not answer a lot of questions over the performance of the service provider. The dispute is before arbitration and is likely to reach the legal courts. The Board consisted of among others, Masego Mpotokwane, Andrew Sesinyi, Esther Norris and Echo Maje. Their expulsion is with immediate effect. The sacking of the Board will once again put into public scrutiny the independence of BOCRA.
Recently the minister re-appointed Thari Pheko as Chief Executive Officer. The re-appointment of Pheko took everyone by surprise. Pheko had retired and the Board had already started interviewing candidates when they were told to discard their processes forthwith as the Minister had unilaterally re-installed Pheko. BOCRA insiders say Pheko was called back because Government at the behest of the powerful intelligence services which has been accused of meddling in the affairs of BOCRA was insecure and mistrustful of many parastatal CEOs who were viewed as pro-opposition.
The mandate of BOCRA is one of the most sensitive. BOCRa regulates broadcasting, communications including broadcasting, telephone companies and internet. Pheko ÔÇô an old trusted and pro-establishment hand was part of a government cleaning up process to neutralise opposition sympathy among top executives in Government owned parastatals.