Sunday, October 17, 2021

PPC Botswana dragged into BR’s internal fighting

PPC Botswana would naturally want to limit its relationship with Botswana Railways to the commercial realm but it somehow got into a civil war that featured the former CEO, Dominic Ntwaagae, and his acting successor, Stephen Makuke, as the main combatants.

While still in office, Ntwaagae learnt from the PPC Managing Director that the latter had been advised by Dolly Gaeete, BR’s Sales and Marketing Manager, to lodge a complaint in writing about an aspect of BR service that PPC was unhappy about. Ntwaagae took umbrage at this and in a September 26, 2016 letter to Makuke, expresses fear that there is some sort of campaign “geared towards inciting customers to lodge complaint letters in order to bring Botswana Railways into disrepute as an organisation.”

Some 13 days prior to this letter, Ntwaagae had instructed Makuke (who then held the position of Director of Business Development) that BR staff “who deal with customer queries/complaints must not deal with the level of Chief Executive Officers/Managing Directors of those companies, save for at their own level.” The other part of the instruction was that CEOs and MDs must liaise with Ntwaagae himself unless so authorised. 

“Notwithstanding the above, I did mention to you that I would only delegate such authority to the Executive Management (i.e. Directors in Botswana Railways) and not any other officer at any level below that. It has also come to light, which is also a serious concern to me, that on September 15, 2016, following the meeting on September 13, 2016, that at least one staff member below Executive Management level, did copy their correspondence and included the Managing Director of PPC Botswana. My major concern is that this surfaced following our meeting, despite my instruction communicated to you on September 13, 2016,” Ntwaagae wrote.

Prior to this meeting, the ex-CEO claims to have seen correspondence addressed to some BR customers that portrayed BR “as a hopeless organisation.” His suspicion, which in his letter he says he conveyed to Makuke, was that some staff members seemed “to be working directly against, and in direct opposition to the efforts of the Office of the Chief Executive Officer.” September 16 would have been an unusually busy month because it seemed “to have had an unprecedented number of written customer complaints.”

Five months later, Ntwaagae penned another letter to Makuke, this time levelling a more serious charge that he said he had evidence of ÔÇô that the latter had himself forwarded complaint letters from customers to certain members of the Board of Management while showing no inclination to resolve the issues that customers were complaining about. Ntwaagae adjudged Makuke to have “acted in a disobedient and disrespectful manner, by failing to carry out my instruction to draft a response to the said customers. You instead opted to forward this correspondence to selected Board members, including the Board Chairman, without following good corporate governance communication channel; purposefully without my knowledge and approval.”

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