Friday, September 25, 2020

PAC slams BERA board chair following claims of impropriety

Botswana Energy Regulatory Authority (BERA) Board Chairman Bernard Ndove was accused of impropriety by the Public Accounts Committee.

Ndove was last week racked over the coals by the PAC following allegations that he appointed executive managers without advertising their posts and issued filling station licenses without following laid out procedure.

“Would you offer to resign if these allegations are true?” asked the committee’s Chairman Samson Moyo Guma. In response, Ndove said he was oblivious to the concern and that he would have to go and investigate the allegations. Guma stated that the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Finance Director, Chief Operations Officer (COO) and the Human Resources Manager’s positions were never advertised. “Our investigations have led us to believe that you have been hand picking for the positions and that you never advertised the vacancies,” said Guma. He then instructed Ndove to put the information in writing and submit it to the committee. He added that “Should we find the allegations to be true, just do the honorable thing and resign to avoid shaming yourself in public.”

Guma also asked for clarity regarding the chairman’s position: “Is your position executive or non-executive?” said Guma. Ndove answered that his position was non-executive, to which Guma answered: you seem to be the one always making the decisions at BERA. I am worried that the board chair is the one that employs people,” said a concerned Guma.  

 Guma also expressed concern over the manner in which the regulatory body issued licenses without consent from its board. He alleged that Ndove had the tendency to issue out licenses without consulting other board members.

“I am aware that you have been succumbing to external pressures resulting in you issuing out licenses with no respect for proper procurement processes. You have instructed management to grant waivers to people pending board evaluations,” said Guma.

While Ndove denied the allegations, he admitted that he did get a call from someone pressuring him to issue a certain filing station license but he did not give into the pressure.

BERA Chief Executive Officer Rose Seretse confirmed to the committee that there had been an instance where she was instructed by Ndove to disregard the procurement requirements and issue license waivers.

“There was someone of authority who once called my board chairman complaining that a client had put up infrastructure and was ready to operate a filing station. He then advised that since the board hadn’t met yet, we should consider all the applications that were pending at the time and issue all of them waivers,” explained Seretse. She said it was not an isolated case; there were a number of waivers that were issued in the same manner.

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