Sunday, September 20, 2020

NBFIRA Chairman should be an example to other Non-Executive Directors

Recent reports which indicate that the Chairman of the Board of Directors at the Non-Bank Financial Institutions Regulatory Authority (NBFIRA) Mr. Ken Matambo has stamped his authority by insisting that the executives have to be more accountable and transparent in their actions should be applauded.
It may be a sign that at long last Botswana’s corporate governance is entering a new era.

In the past, we have lamented the weakness and inefficiency of many Non executive directors in many of the country’s parastatals.

Matambo is a seasoned administrator having worked as a senior civil servant before becoming a Managing Director at the Botswana Development Corporation (BDC) which is the investment arm of government.

Corporate Governance is not a new phenomenon to him.

The man knows what corporate government entails, especially because it was during his tenure that BDC produced a blueprint which acts as a guideline for the corporation’s Board of Directors.
There are few, if any, parastatals in Botswana that have since produced such guidelines.

It was, therefore, reassuring and pleasant but not surprising to see Matambo put in practice the ropes that he had learnt while the CEO at BDC.
We have no wish to preempt the findings of an investigation ordered by Mr.

Matambo to investigate the circumstances surrounding the employment of a Namibian national at NBFIRA, save to celebrate the fact that a good governance precedent is being set.

All we can say is that may the lessons at NBFIRA be extended to other parastatals.

While the CEO at NBFIRA has been quick to defend and justify himself, we are of the opinion that he should have been much more careful in his process of recruitment and selection not to employ a person who was marred in such unmistakable controversy in her home country as is the case with his Director of Licensing.

None of this is to cast aspersions on the said employee’s resume.

All we are saying is that NBFIRA should have been much more careful to avoid attracting such unwelcome negative public glare to itself by employing a person who was already entangled in some disputes before her association with NBFIRA.

It may well be true that in the opinion of the NBFIRA Chief Executive, no Motswana is today qualified to do the job of Director of Licensing at NBFIRA even though it is our opinion that is nonsense, but the CEO should have exercised extra care to gauge the overall implications of his decision to hire such a person for such as a senior position at NBFIRA – a new organization that relies more on public trust and integrity than anything else.

For the last few years, the privatization agency has been undertaking a very important task of appointing directors to Boards of the country’s parastatal.

That has not been an easy task given our unfortunate tradition where people were appointed to such Boards based on political affiliation and patronage.
We want to believe that the onerous task by PEEPA is finally beginning to bear fruit.

While Matambo was not appointed to the NBFIRA Board by PEEPA, the truth of the matter is that across the spectrum one cannot miss the discernible quality of the new faces that populate the Boards of Directors in many of the country’s parastatals.

The new cadres are people who know the long term benefits of good governance when it comes to overall organizational efficiency and safeguarding the interests of the shareholders.

In the overall, we want to encourage Non-Executive directors to be steadfast in fulfilling their corporate governance obligations.

As we all know, transparency is one of the cornerstones of corporate governance.

For NBFIRA to have employed a child of one of its Board Members without advertising the position is inexcusable to say the least.

It surely has been a bad start for NBFIRA.

The executives there will have to do much to revamp their public image.
But when all is said and done we have to pay tribute to the Board Chairman for his swift and principled stance.

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Sunday Standard September 20 – 26

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of September 20 - 26, 2020.