Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Mohohlo faces conflict of interest claims

Bank of Botswana Governor Linah Mohohlo has been caught up in what observers say is a conflict of interest over her links between the Bank of Botswana Staff Pension Fund and Non-Bank Financial Institutions Regulatory Authority (NBFIRA).

Mohohlo is a Board member of NBFIRA.

She also is the Chairperson of the Bank of Botswana Staff Pension Fund.

NBFIRA is a regulator of all pension funds in Botswana, including that of Bank of Botswana.

There is growing concern that by sitting as board member of NBFIRA and also of the Central Bank Staff Pension Fund, Mohohlo is effectively conflicted.

But when contacted for comment, Mohohlo’s supervisor, Finance Minister Kenneth Matambo, fell short of describing the revelation as a shock to him, saying he was not in a position to say whether the matter amounted to conflict of interest or not.

“I have never thought about that (Mohohlo being a board member of NBFIRA and Bank of Botswana Pension Funds). I cannot give an answer whether it amounts to conflict of interest or not. Whichever way you look at it, it’s up to you to interpret it,” he said.

NBFIRA Chief Executive Officer, Oaitse Ramasedi, insisted that Mohohlo’s involvement in Bank of Botswana does not pose conflict of interest and he saw nothing untoward.

“The Governor of Bank of Botswana is a statutory Board member in NBFIRA (Sec 11 3(a)). This being the case, if there are any issues of conflict of interest arising from the fact that Bank of Botswana has established an occupational (employer) pension fund, they would have been intended, and allowed for, by law,” said Ramasedi.

He explained that this is so because management of any entity subscribing to the ideals of occupational pension funds is expected to have a keen interest in the well-being of that Fund, whether directly through seats on the Board of the Pension Fund, or merely by establishing the said Fund.

“We thus do not view the Governor’s involvement in the Bank of Botswana’s Pension Fund as posing a conflict of interest, within the context of your question,” said Ramasedi.

Sunday Standard is, however, aware that other Pension Funds regulated by BBFIRA are not happy with what they perceive as Mohohlo’s undue advantage, which she has the potential to pass to the staff pension fund of Bank of Botswana.

Some of them recently made known their displeasure to officials of the African Development Bank who were in Botswana to check on progress made by NBFIRA on issues such as governance.

African Development Bank (AFDB) has, in the past, released money to NBFIRA to be used to develop structures, including of good corporate governance.

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