President Festus Mogae was this week forced to recuse himself from a cabinet meeting that decided the appointment of the PEEPA (Public Enterprises Evaluation and Privatisation Agency) Chief Executive.
Mogae’s recusal was meant to avoid a possible conflict of interest.
The cabinet meeting, chaired instead by Vice President Ian Khama, reappointed Joshua Galeforolwe as PEEPA Chief Executive.
Mogae recused himself because his brother-in-law, Modise Modise, was among the three individuals short-listed by the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, which oversees and supervises PEEPA.
Modise Modise is the younger brother to First Lady Barbra Mogae. He works at the Office of the President.
Another candidate, who was short-listed by the Minister of Finance as a contender for the PEEPA top position, was Phillip Makgalemele, presently the Chief Executive of Med Rescue International Botswana.
Although he would not go into details, Press Secretary to the President, Jeff Ramsay, confirmed that, in the end, cabinet decided to appoint Galeforolwe, the founding PEEPA CEO, for another three years.
A heated debate has been simmering inside government, with differences of opinion over whether or not to renew Galeforolwe’s contract.
At the centre of the debate have been differences in opinion on the way to go about in privatizing government assets.
The Ministry of Finance, led by Minister Baledzi Gaolathe and Permanent Secretary, Serwalo Tumelo, who is also the Chairman of PEEPA, favours the current lucid arrangement where the process is driven through a policy, with PEEPA maintaining a largely advisory and powerless stature.
On the other hand, the Business and Economic Advisory Council, led by Nico Cypionka, favours enacting a privatization law, an arrangement supported by Galeforolwe – and also recommended by the International Monetary Fund.
The renewal of Galeforolwe’s contract is seen as a first round victory, by the Business and Economic Advisory Council against the Minister of Finance, in its push for a privatization law.
“It is now a Presidential Directive that Joshua Galeforolwe should continue as PEEPA Chief Executive for another term,” said Dr. Ramsay.
Downplaying the differences, Ramsay said there have never been differences at top government echelons on the position of PEEPA Chief Executive.
But Sunday Standard can confirm that there has been a lot of behind the scenes lobbying, maneuvering and jostling, characterized by bitter exchanges with key voices, especially at the Ministry of Finance, calling for Galeforolwe to part ways with PEEPA, while another section at the Office of the President, led by Vice President Ian Khama and Cypionka, thought this was not the right time to show Galeforolwe the door.
“The real issue was whether to reappoint Galeforolwe or not. And, once that was decided upon by cabinet that he should continue, there was no point in making reference to the other contenders on the short-list,” said Ramsay. “There was never any heated debate at the final levels.”
Galeforolwe’s position fell vacant a few months back and the PEEPA Board insisted on opening the position for advertising rather than automatic renewal of the contract.
The controversy surrounding the contract renewal of PEEPA Chief Executive is just one of several involving the Ministry of Finance and parastatals executives falling under the ministry’s supervision.
For over six months now, the ministry has been grappling with differences within government circles on the contract of Dr. Thapelo Matsheka, the CEDA Chief Executive, whose contract expired in February.
The Ministry of Finance and its representatives in the CEDA Board are said to be loathe to renewing Matsheka’s contract.
They have already asked the Auditor General to further scrutinize CEDA’s books; and this despite CEDA receiving a clean bill of financial health from independent auditors, Deloitte and Touch├®, for the end of year results.
Meanwhile Sunday Standard can also confirm that at least two Executive Directors at PPADB (Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Board), which also falls under the ambit of the Ministry of Finance, are weighing their options, including legal recourse, after Permanent Secretary, Serwalo Tumelo, and Minister Gaolathe decided not to renew their contracts.