Friday, August 12, 2022

More than a year on, BITC still to get a Chief Executive Officer

Almost a year after the position of Chief Executive Officer was first advertised at Botswana Investment and Trade Centre, cabinet is still to fill the position.

Opinion is divided why it has taken so long to fill the position.

Conspiracy theories abound that the position is kept open to be filled up by one of current cabinet ministers after they lose in their impending bid for primary elections ahead of General Elections next year.

The governing Botswana Democratic Party is due to hold primary elections next year and in a number of constituencies cabinet ministers have locked horns against each other, making it an eventuality that a number of them will be without jobs in the near future.

It is not unusual in Botswana for cabinet ministers who would not have made it in politics to get appointed to head parastatals or any such company where government is a shareholder.

After he lost his constituency in the last General Elections, former senior minister and Secretary General of the BDP, Jacob Nkate, was made Chief Executive Officer of BEDIA (Botswana Export Development and Investment Agency).

Curiously, BEDIA was later to be merged with IFSC (International Financial Services Centre) to create BITC.

Another former minister, Dan Moroka, was harried to head De Beers Botswana after he lost his constituency to opposition in Kgalagadi.

Save for that of Chief Executive Officer, all executive positions at BITC have been filled.

It has also not escaped the attention of conspiracy theorists that BITC falls under the Ministry of Trade and Investment, headed by Dorcas Makgatho Malesu who is involved in a battle of her political life against another cabinet member, Assistant Minister Sola Molebatsi for the constituency of Tswapong South. As Specially Elected Member of Parliament, Makgatho Malesu has an uphill task dislodging the incumbent Molebatsi.

At the moment BITC is led by Chief Operations Officer, Letsebe Sejoe, who holds the position of CEO on an acting capacity.

Addressing the media early in the week, Sejoe did not want to dwell much on the implications of BITC staying so long without a CEO, especially at a critical time when the parastatal still has to formulate strategies, find its footing and establish synergies and alliances that will put it on a better pedestal to achieve its mandate.

He said recruiting a Chief executive Officer was the prerogative of his principals, chiefly the shareholder and the Board.

“With or without a CEO, we are going to deliver on our mandate. Until somebody tells us to stop, we are going ahead with the mandate we have been given. But of course staying without a CEO has had its own fair share of challenges, especially in the earlier days when we were not yet sure of our authority levels. But this is a sensitive issue and we should not be talking about,” he said when asked as to why such an important organization could start and even run for so long without a CEO.

Touching on their strategy to attract investors to set up in Botswana, Sejoe said BITC is going to be aggressive.

He said South African companies remain a priority, not least because of unsettling industrial relations in that country.

The other countries, he said, would be Taiwan, Portugal, South Korea and India.

BITC plans to set offices in key locations across the world and also establish alliances with worldwide business advisory firms such as Price-Water-House, Deloitte and Ernst & Young.
BITC is awake to impediments to attracting investors.

Such variables include high utility costs, shortage of office space, as well as delays in issuing permits; both work and residence.

Sejoe said negotiations are ongoing to come up with a package of subsidies for a certain class of investors.

He said as a third generation investment promotion agency, BITC will put more emphasis on competitiveness, value addition and less on issuing incentives.

“The law term will see us establishing a business facilitation law where the one-stop-shop will specifically assist a certain pedigree of clients. Countries like Mauritius has such an arrangement,” said Sejoe.

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