Elsewhere in this edition we publish a story which announces the resignation of the Botswana Stock Exchange Chief Executive Officer Hiran Mendis from the local bourse effective December 2015. Untimely as it may seem to be, Mendis’s departure has created room for fast tracking of the local bourse’s succession plan that was put in place in 2014. It was through this plan that Thapelo Tsheole, BSE’s deputy CEO ascended to his current post on promotion from his previous post as Product Development Manager.
Tsheole was promoted to deputy CEO in 2014 after joining the BSE in February 2007 as Product Development Manager. He had previously worked for Bank of Botswana in the Financial Market Department as a Dealer and Settlement Supervisor. We believe the departure of Mendis will give the BSE board a once in a lifetime chance to reverse the sad reality that has been happening in our country, where top jobs were somehow reserved for foreigners at the expense of deserving locals. The departure of Mendis and ultimate takeover (or rather possible takeover) by Tsheole will also go in history as a landmark development in citizen empowerment and localization, which we all yearn for.
After many years of talk about localization and citizen economic empowerment, there is still not much to show for it. It is our belief that unless Batswana become players in the economy of their country – which entails holding key positions in key institutions such as BSE, our people will continue to salivate as foreigners eat large chunks of the economic cake despite the existence of a Citizen Economic Empowerment Policy (CEE).
As previously noted in this space, we salute a decision by our government to come up with a clear policy on citizen economic empowerment a few years back. While we have in the past called for a citizen economic empowerment law, we still accept that a policy is a step in the right direction, albeit a small one. We have not given up on our conviction that one day we shall have an explicit law making clear rules on how Batswana can take part in the economy of their country. We also believe that the BSE board when drafting its success plan benchmarked on the national policy that relates to empowering our own people.
Perhaps we should also note that we point this out not because we have any xenophobic streak in us but because we have seen potential in one of us….or some of us. While not every Motswana will become a businessman or woman, we think that those who aspire to become corporate leaders and have proved to have potential, as Tsheole has, should be supported in any way possible.
There is no doubt that ever since he joined the local bourse, the youthful corporate leader devoted most part of his time towards developing a vibrant capital market not just in Botswana but also in Southern Africa. Just to name a few, Tsheole is credited with being instrumental at BSE in the implementation of the state of the art Automated Trading System (ATS) which has had unprecedented impact on the operations of the BSE. Insiders at the local bourse describe his professional role as having been key, as shown by his commitment through innovation and significant in-roads with regards to introducing new products and reviving the bond market.
Furthermore, Tsheole has also been instrumental at the country’s national stock exchange when the NEW GOLD Exchange Traded Funds (EFT) was listed as the first EFT in the BSE in 2010 and also when BSE listed the second EFT the BETTABETTA EFT a year later.
Generally the growth of the bond market in Sub Sahara including in our very own BSE is hindered by relatively high cost of issuance due to their onerous and equity oriented listing requirements. There is no single doubt that should the BSE board find it fit, and should Tsheole be interested in taking over, he will find ways of solving this problems and others.
The #Bottomline however remains that when so many citizens do not participate in the economy of their country there can be no guarantees for security of whatever investments foreigners may be bringing into the country. As such, the appointment of Tsheole as a substantive CEO of BSE, a leading investment entity, would ensure that Batswana are active economic players.