The Minister of Transport and Communications, Kitso Mokaila, has formally dissolved remnants of the Botswana Railways Board of Management and appointed a new one, with at least one old face occupying pride of place in the latter. The term of the new board, whose chairperson is Adolf Hirschfeld, started on February 22 and will end on January 31, 2020. The other members are Kabelo Motswagole, Christopher Mokgware, Elijah Motshedi, Barulaganyi Gakelebotse, Hilda Mocuminyane and Isaac Moepeng. Three names from that list have their own back story. The chairman, Hirschfeld, was a member of the old board but stepped down in 2015. Gakelebotse has a BR past, having worked at the parastatal as a telecommunications engineer before leaving to co-found a company called NTR Technology Holdings. Moepeng is the Deputy Permanent Secretary (Transport) in the Ministry of Transport and Communications.
The board that has been dissolved was made up of Modise Modise, Thembela Mabutho, Keneilwe Mere, Ditirwa Mphoeng, Oreeditse Molebatsi and Lesedi Moakofhi. Between December 1, 2016 and its dissolution last week, the board existed in all but name because it was one member short of the statutorily required number. According to the Botswana Railways Act, the board shall consist of the Chairperson, the Chief Executive Officer (referred to as General Manager in the Act) as well as “not less than five or more than nine other persons.” Initially, the board had nine ordinary members and while some later stepped down, the membership never fell below five.
However, on November 23, 2016, Moakofhi resigned as board member to take up a Managing Director post at a BR subsidiary, the Gaborone Container Terminal ÔÇô which is more commonly known as Gabcon. When Moakofhi stepped down, the board ceased to exist because the BR Act clearly states that the board shall have a minimum of seven members. That notwithstanding, sub-committees of the board continued to conduct business when the parent structure that gives them life and legitimacy no longer existed.
This past week, Mokaila invoked his powers to dissolve the board and restore some semblance of normalcy to a parastatal that has not done too well financially in the past couple of years.