1. Allow us the opportunity to put the record straight on your front page story of Sunday Standard 25 October 2009 Matambo rejects PEEPA board, CEO attributed to “Sunday Standard Reporter” as there are inaccuracies and certain issues are raised out of context.
2. As your reporter notes in the article, the contract of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Public Enterprises Evaluation and Privatisation Agency (PEEPA), Mr Joshua Galeforolwe, expired on October 17, 2009. The conditions of renewal of the contract have been under discussion between the Ministry, Board and CEO for the past months, with agreement yet to be reached between the parties on the duration of the extension.
Obviously the resolution of this matter has been affected by the end of tenure of most of the PEEPA directors which coincided with the general elections and therefore the appointment of the Board by Cabinet.
3. Reference to events surrounding the appointment of the CEO in 2006 in your article and the language used is noticeably emotive, not entirely factual or fact checked, if not libelous. Our emphasis to show this is on words like “refused” “bickering” “prevented” “contravened the PEEPA Act”, “Crisis rocks PEEPA”. “illegally constituted”, “against the will of Cabinet” “hastily appointed”, etc. As previously clarified in response to similar inaccurate reports from the Sunday Standard, the constituting documents (Memorandum and Articles of Association of PEEPA) place the responsibility for appointing the CEO on the Board. But the Public Authorities (Functions) Act empowers the Minister to direct the Board on such matters which include the appointment of the CEO. The authority conferred in terms of the legislation overrides the Articles of Association.
4. Thus the recommendation to the Minister for the appointment of the CEO by the Board is consistent with these requirements. In this regard, the Minister is at liberty to agree or vary the recommendations made by the Board and the Board is obliged to then appoint the CEO in accordance with the decision of the Minister. This is the process that is currently being followed.
5. Regarding your statement that “Galeforolwe this week asked Matambo to endorse eight names for board appointment” and that the Minister also refused to endorse Galeforolwe’s choice of names, which contravened the PEEPA Act”, is misleading and factually incorrect. In the last six months PEEPA has alerted the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) as the Appointing Authority on a regular basis of the need to appoint board members as the tenure of office of some of the incumbent directors was to expire in July and September 2009. PEEPA suggested to MFDP the advertisement of the vacancies in its letters dated 10 July and 26 August 2009 and regrettably this did not happen. It is important to note that contrary to your article, the tenure of Mr Marole and Ms Botlhole-Mmopi has not expired.
6. However, MFDP recently asked PEEPA to submit names of possible candidates who could be considered for appointment from its database of individuals who have been screened, selected and found suitable for appointment to parastatal boards. While PEEPA has been providing this service to other Appointing Authorities (Ministries) the CEO felt it was in-appropriate for PEEPA to be asked to select names from the database for its board as it might be perceived in some quarters that PEEPA is hand-picking its own director candidates. However, loathingly PEEPA had to comply with the instruction from its principals at MFDP, having alerted them to the perceptions that might be created.
7. There is no such thing as PEEPA Act governing this practice and as such no contravention of any law as suggested in your article. It is also not correct that Mr Galeforolwe had chosen the names of the candidate directors submitted to MFDP. The names from the Database of Parastatal Board members consist of candidates who have been identified through a transparent and objective selection process. The candidates are men and women of integrity who have been appointed to serve on other parastatal boards as well as boards of reputable private sector companies.
8. PEEPA was not privy to the alleged decision of the Minister on this issue until we saw your article. You seem to have had sight of confidential correspondence between the Ministry and PEEPA on the board appointments, a matter which we believe contravenes the laws governing the handling of confidential Government information.
9. In your article, you alleged that in 2006 PEEPA was thrown into a further turmoil when Government increased PEEPA directors from 9 to 12, as you deemed this to violate the Privatisation Policy. PEEPA explained then that Cabinet amended by Presidential Directive 25(a)/2001 the Privatisation Policy to increase the number of directors from 9 to 12. Accordingly, Article 8.3 of the Articles of Association of PEEPA was amended to ensure consistency with the Policy.
10. It was explained then that the President and his Cabinet, in terms of the Constitution of Botswana, are vested with the authority to make policies, which include, among others, the Privatisation Policy. Therefore the amendment of the Privatisation Policy to allow for additional members on the Board of PEEPA fell within the purview of the Executive and not the legislative. It was stated then that Parliament is responsible for making laws and regulations and not policies. The roles have been further clarified by the Attorney General before during the Air Botswana Privatisation debate.
11. The reference that “The new Minister……is presented with a clean slate to correct all the past wrongs of the privatisation authority. For years PEEPA has been in crisis mode” is unfounded. There is no evidence of wrong doings or crisis at PEEPA. There has been debate and different view points on privatisation, as the subject the world-over, invokes such sentiments. We urge your journalists to read our extensive list of achievements, recommendations to our principals, work with our clients and community as well as the challenges we have encountered. All of these are clearly documented in our Annual Reports up-to and including our most recent one for 2009, a copy of which is being sent to you to assess any wrong doings or crisis.
12. We felt that your report leads the author into an area of muck-raking of past reporting, which at the time was based on conjecture and rumour, despite the correct version being provided to yourselves. We are frequently surprised that a paper of the caliber of Sunday Standard so regularly reduces information on PEEPA and its CEO to gossip (not necessarily factual) and intersperses it with negative opinion.
13. We request a retraction of such opinion which is not factual and believe the language used is hostile, demeaning and libelous.
Mosikare K Mogegeh