The standoff surrounding issues of corporate governance at Botswana Development Corporation has escalated to a new level after the Ministry of Finance decided to circulate a cabinet memorandum noticing intention to replace three board directors.
The decision comes after a series of failed board meetings because some board members were resisting what seemed like an attempt by government to cover up the corruption at BDC. It is believed that the purge will give government a free hand in concealing the goings on at the BDC.
The three directors facing the axe are Barney Molosiwa, Ntetleng Masisi and Ina Kandjii. All the three are women.
Molosiwa is Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Trade and Industry. Masisi is a former government trade consultant at the same ministry while Kandjii is a senior official at the government coordinating agency, formerly GICO.
The three officers are to be replaced by Patrick Gunda, Victor Senye and Armando Lionjanga.
Gunda is a former state prosecutor and legal advisor to many government departments. He currently is a law lecturer at the University of Botswana.
Senye is an accomplished finance and investment operative, now specializing in property development.
He has worked at a leading asset manager BIFM as Chief Executive Officer.
Senye had previously worked at Botswana Development Corporation as General Manager (Business Development).
For his part, Lionjanga is an engineer by training who rose through the ranks in the public service to become a permanent secretary.
He was also the founding Executive Chairman of PPADB, a semi autonomous government procurement and asset disposal agency.
He is currently serving as Chief Executive of a new parastatal set up to regulate the engineers in Botswana.
The change of guard at BDC, if approved by cabinet will complete an exercise started two months ago when the Minister of finance sacked almost half of the board over the differences he had with them over corporate governance issues, including the future of a billion pula glass manufacturing plant in Palapye.
The Board was sacked a day before they started planned disciplinary actions against senior executives at BDC, including the Managing Director, Maria Nthebolan and two of her General Managers.
The executive Management had been accused of wrongdoing by a forensic audit that had earlier been commissioned by the Board.
It is not clear why this time around the Minister of Finance and Development Ken Matambo feels he needs to canvas the support of his cabinet colleagues to bring in new Board Directors at BDC.
When he sacked another batch hardly two months ago Matambo did not solicit the approval of cabinet.
At the time, Odirile Merafhe, Nightingale Kwele and Thuso Dikgaka were replaced by Blakie Marole, Serwalo Tumelo and Modise Modise. The then BDC Chairman, Solomon Sekwakwa, was also demoted to ordinary member with his position given to Marole.
Curiously, Sekwakwa is Matambo’s Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning.
Already there are fears that events at BDC have polarized relations at the government enclave, pitting many contesting interests in government against one another.