Saturday, October 24, 2020

Skeletons tumble out at BTC

The Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry Vincent Seretse’s decision to fire the Board of Directors of Botswana Trade Commission (BTC) is reported to have confirmed corruption practices at the newly established parastatal which are against the Commission Act of 2013.  

The BTC was set up in 2014 by the Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry through the appointment of the Board of Directors from February 2015 and then got dissolved by March 2016 while the Chief Executive Officer officially started work on February 2016. 

A whistleblower’s a letter dated July 18 to the Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Statutory Bodies and Enterprises, MP Guma Moyo, states that the newly appointed Botswana Trade Commission Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Mphoeng Tamasiga, appointed four senior executives staff members in his first month in office without the involvement of the board approval.

Still in same letter are allegations that no advertisements were floated for the positions, adding that no interviews were conducted because the board members who would ordinarily conduct such interviews were not involved.

Another content of the letter is that at the time of the appointments, no job descriptions had been developed for any position within the BTC.

“Safe for the CEO’s remuneration package, the board had not determined any other remuneration packages for any positions in the parastatal,” reads the letter.

The letter alleges that these acts symbolise corruption, maladministration and abuse of public office and should be investigated.

The whistleblower indicated that the parastatal is a public institution that is run with public funds and therefore the appointment of staff into its employ should be done in the interest of the public. Added is that it should be transparent and open to the public. The letter states that those appointed in the manner in which the CEO did get to benefit unfairly, ahead of the rest of the public who were not accorded the opportunity to be considered for appointment.

“By making appointments of the senior executive members of staff without the involvement and approval of the board, the CEO has contravened the provisions of the Botswana Trade Commission Act of 2013, in particular, Section 21 and 22,” reads the letter. 

The whistleblower stated that the same note was submitted to the Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) and Office of the Ombudsman on July 8, 2015 for their action.

Tamasiga said he was not aware of the letter except that he was notified verbally about termination of board members for reconstitution.

Tamasiga confirmed that he was given the go-ahead by the board to head-hunt talent, which he only did on two members of the executive team, adding that three of them were approved at board level.  Asked on the policy required from board level, he said he channeled them to the ministry and admitted that he had to take risks.

“Our budget allocation is P9.9 million with staff compliment of five with rental office space in Masa Centre in the CBD of P79 000 per month,” the CEO stated.

The parastatal executive team members include former BDC MD Maria Nthebolan as well as as Director Tariff Investigations and Marshlow Motlhogelwa as Director Finance and Administration to name a few.

The sacked board of directors was chaired by Ketane Sethole, and some members were Thapelo Pabalinga, Peter Tladiyane, Boikanyo Mothipa, Kelebonye Tsheboeng and others from Finance Ministry, Agriculture as well as BURS.

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