As she ascend to the post of Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry ÔÇô Bogolo Kenewendo (30), the Specially Elected Member of Parliament from the tiny and dusty village of Motopi in Boteti district also inherits myriad challenges that her predecessors failed to solve.
Amongst other things, her new ministry is tasked with ensuring wealth creation for the citizens of Botswana as well as attracting foreign direct investment (FDI).
At the same time, Kenewendo and her team faces a mammoth task of transforming the domestic economy from a mineral led to a diversified export led economy. She takes over when Botswana’s ranking on “doing business” as well as “investment destination” continue to decline.
The youthful minister, whose appointment made her an internet sensation across Africa this week, will have to work hard and collaborate with other ministers to ensure that the lack of infrastructure, lack of skilled personnel in key industries such as manufacturing and food processing becomes a thing of the past.
The Rationalisation exercise
Amongst the biggest tasks that Kenewendo could be forced to undertake is the process of merging some of the parastatals under her wings.
At the moment, the trade ministry is made up of 10 operational parastatals being: Botswana Development Corporation (BDC), Botswana Bureau of Standards (BOBS), Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC), Botswana Trade Commission (BOTC), Competition Authority (CA), Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA), Companies and Intellectual Property Authority (CIPA), Gambling Authority (GA), Local Enterprise Authority (LEA) and SPEDU. The Special Economic Zones Authority (SEZA) is being established, and hence not fully operational.
This rationalisation process follows an assessment carried by PEEPA in 2016 to undertake a preliminary assessment of the mandates of the Parastatals. She stated that PEEPA’s assessment indicated that some of MITI’s Parastatals had overlapping mandates.
THE FIRST 11
Although she has been appointed the political head of the ministry, Kenewendo will not face the cold winter alone. Here are some of the seasoned executives that would report either directly or indirectly to her.
Linah Mohohlo (66) ÔÇôSelebi Phikwe economic revitalisation Coordinator
Hardly few weeks after her retirement from the central bank job, the former Bank of Botswana Governor Linah Mohohlo landed another new job at the government enclave. She was appointed by former President Ian Khama as the coordinator of the Selebi Phikwe economic revitalisation/recovery program. At the time of her appointment, Mohohlo was expected to use her unparalleled immense experience in the financial and economic fields to contribute to the economic recovery of Selebi Phikwe town. As of this week, she will be reporting to Kenewendo.
Bashi Gaetsaloe ÔÇô Managing Director at BDC
Having been re-appointed to the position of Managing Director of the Botswana Development Corporation (BDC) by his brother in law, Vincent Seretse in 2017 the youthful Bashi Gaetsaloe just like her counterparts at the Trade Ministry now have a new boss lady. Although the corporation is independently managed, the government has two members on the company’s board including the permanent secretaries of the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Ministry of Finance. This means at some point Gaetsaloe, the former MD of Accenture Botswana will have to explain himself to Kenewendo.
Thabo Thamane (44) ÔÇô CEO at CEDA
In 2011, at the age of 37, while his peers were still crawling, Thabo Thamane was named the Chief Executive Officer of the Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA). At the time, Thamane became the youngest parastatal CEO in Botswana. Seven years later, Thamane’s new boss lady, Kenewendo (31) is the youngest member of the new cabinet. The question remain whether Kenewendo will ask Thamane the right questions, such as “how many citizen millionaire entrepreneurs has the agency produced so far and how many are still coming in the next few years?”.
Thuli Johnson (54+) ÔÇô Gambling Authority CEO
While the name Gambling Authority is still relatively new the ears of many, that of its founding Chief Executive Officer ÔÇô Thuli Johnson is not. Johnson, the former Managing Director of Barclays Bank Botswana was at some point, before being appointed the Gambling Authority CEO, linked to Botswana Development Corporation top post. The Gambling authority is a body corporate established in 2012 to oversee Gambling, and regulate and control the development of gambling establishments in Botswana.
Thapelo Tsheole (42) ÔÇô SEZA board chairperson
The 2008 strategy paper for achieving economic diversification and sustainable growth described the free zones as an important way in which investors would be given special provisions in the form of incentives so as to set up industries in the country.
The zones will act as a relief to the existing shortages of commercial and industrial land. This is in line with improving land management as it means that it will it make it available to those who can make productive use of it. The man who has been given charge to see to it that such happen is none other than the Chief Executive Officer of Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) ÔÇô Thapelo Tsheole. Tsheole is the board chairperson of SEZA and together with his board they are supposed to hire the founding and substantive Chief Executive Officer of SEZA to spear head the economic diversification program. Will Kenewendo give a nod to the name submitted by Tsheole and his team for the position of SEZA CEO? Only time will tell.
Dr Racious Moatshe ÔÇô LEA CEO
Hardly under a year after his arrival at the Local Entrepreneurship Authority (LEA) Dr Racious Moatshe who is the Chief Executive Officer also account to Kenewendo. Dr Moatshe was formerly occupying the same post at the private sector mouth piece ÔÇô Business Botswana until last year.