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Ram mulls fresh faces for the Choppies board

Suspended Choppies CEO who is also one of the company’s major shareholders, Ramachandran Ottapathu, has made a proposal that the company’s Board be strengthened at the highly anticipated upcoming extraordinary general meeting (EGM).

Ram in his capacity as a shareholder has further proposed that Oabona Michael Kgengwenyane, Tom Pritchard and Carol-Jean Harward be added as new faces to the Choppies board. On the other hand, certain institutional shareholders with further consent from the Choppies Board have suggested that Goleele Mosinyi and Kenny Nwosu be enacted to the retailer’s board of directors.

According to a Circular released by the Botswana Stock Exchange(BSE), Ram’s proposal suggest a complete clean-up of the entire Choppies Board as shareholders are allowed the discretion to elect a strengthened board of directors. Ram also suggested the strengthened Board may include the current directors or not, it all to the discretion of shareholders at the EGM to decide who is fit to be appointed to the board. This is despite all the old directors, save for Mogae, offering themselves for reappointment.

 Ottapathu, Farouk Ismail and Choppies employees collectively own 46 percent of the company stock while institutional investors owns about 26 percent, while the rest is owned by the public. “It is the combined view of Mr Ottapathu and the Board that the current Board requires strengthening by inclusion of additional independent non-executive appointees to it. It is for this reason that the Board (including Mr Ottapathu), have put forward the Proposed Resolutions, to allow the Shareholders to elect a strengthened Board (whether it includes current Directors or not) which will direct the proceedings and affairs of the Company going forward,” said communication seen by this publication last week.

Choppies current board included former president Festus Mogae, acting CEO and shareholder Farouk Ismail, executive director Ottapathu, chief financial officer Heinrich Stander, Wilfred Mpai, Dorcas Kgosietsile and Ronald Tamale. In a cleanup, according to the proposal prior to the company’s EGM, none of these heads will be spared except maybe for the executive directors.

While Ram proposed a fresher board, Choppies long-term chairman Mogae announced on the same circular that he will be stepping down before the EGM. Mogae who turns 80 years next week Wednesday attended only two board meetings out of the four in the last financial results which were published Choppies in 2017. According to the Choppies circular, Mogae had notified shareholders at last year’s Annual General Meeting of the company at which the 2018 Audited Financial Statements are received and approved by shareholders. The former state leader will retire just before the upcoming EGM.

On 4 September the shareholders will hold an at the Grand Aria Hotel and Conference Centre situated at Plot 32943, Block 3, WestGate, Gaborone, Botswana on 4 September 2019 at 10h00. This week Choppies published a circular for its shareholders on the BSE and this communication comprised of important information in connection with the audited annual financial statements of the group for the year ended 30 June 2018. This circular also contained a notice convening an extraordinary general meeting.

At the 4 September EGM Ram’s proposal of electing directors will be considered. A forensic investigation conducted by Ernst & Young Advisory Services (Proprietary) Limited, an auditing firm based in South Africa which probed certain transactions to which the group was party  in Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe will be presented. Also a Legal Report issued by Desai Law Group into certain matters which were referred for investigation, analysis and advice, and which involved a number of commercial agreements to which the Group was party in Botswana during past years will be presented before shareholders.

Also to be discussed is Ram’s suspension which is said to be pending disciplinary charges and investigations. According to the latest circular by Choppies, Ottapathu has not had an opportunity to respond in writing to their respective contents nor have disciplinary charges been put to him after he was suspended. The Board is however in the process of instituting such disciplinary proceedings and Ottapathu has reserved his rights in respect of such proceedings, according to communication by the retailer.

 According to Choppies circular, if disciplinary charges are put to Ottapathu as arising from the Legal Report or the Forensic Report, he will be afforded the right to defend himself fully. “Such right includes, but is not limited to, the right to respond to the Legal Report and the Forensic Report so that his side is on record. Mr Ottapathu has been afforded the right to record a written reply to the Legal Report and the Forensic Report, which reply shall be circulated on X-News and SENS (JSE news platform) by the Company on or before 27 August 2019,” said the Choppies circular.

Board composition

As according to the Choppies constitution, the existing board members have offered themselves for reappointment to the board, save for the outgoing chairman Mogae. Other new members have been nominated by shareholders to join the board. One of the resolutions to be considered is resolution 1 is to resolve to reappoint Farouk Ismail as a director of the company by ordinary resolution in accordance with the provisions of clause 20.3 of the company’s constitution.

According to Choppies constitution, Wilfred Mpai can also be retained as a director by ordinary resolution 2. Ordinary Resolution 3 to be considered at the EGM is that Dorcas Kgosietsile also be retained. Ronald Tamale (ordinary resolution 4), Heinrich Stander (ordinary resolution 5) and Ram are also up for reappointment to the board. Suggested to join the board are; Kgengwenyane, Pritchard, Harward, Mosinyi and Nwosu.

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Free at last: Ian Kirby Speaks Out

6th December 2021
Justice Ian Kirby

The outgoing President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ian Kirby, shares his thoughts with us as he leaves the Bench at the end of this year.

WeekendPost: Why did you move between the Attorney General and the Bench?

Ian Kirby: I was a member of the Attorney General’s Chambers three times- first in 1969 as Assistant State Counsel, then in 1990 as Deputy Attorney General (Civil), and finally in 2004 as Attorney General. I was invited in 2000 by the late Chief Justice Julian Nganunu to join the Bench. I was persuaded by former President Festus Mogae to be his Attorney General in 2004 as, he said, it was my duty to do so to serve the nation. I returned to the Judiciary as soon as I could – in May 2006, when there was a vacancy on the High Court Bench.

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Civil society could rescue Botswana’s flawed democracy’ 

6th December 2021
Parliament

Botswana’s civil society is one of the non-state actors that could save the country’s democracy from sliding into regression, a Germany based think tank has revealed.  This is according to a discussion paper by researchers at the German Development Institute who analysed the effects of e-government usage on political attitudes In Botswana.

In the paper titled “E-government and democracy in Botswana: Observational and experimental evidence on the effects of e-government usage on political attitudes,” the researchers offer a strongly worded commentary on Botswana’s ‘flawed democracy.’  The authors noted that with Botswana’s Parliament structurally – and in practice – feeble, the potential for checks and balances on executive power rests with the judiciary.

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Bangwato at loggerheads over Moshupa trip

6th December 2021

Bangwato in Serowe — where Bamagwato Paramount Chief and former President Lt. Gen Ian Khama originates – disagree on whether they must send a delegation to dialogue with President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s family in Moshupa. Just last week, a meeting was called by the Regent of Bamagwato, Kgosi Sediegeng Kgamane, at Serowe Kgotla to, among others, update the tribe on the whereabouts of their Kgosi (Khama). 

Further, his state of health was also discussed, with Kgamane telling the attendees that all is well with Khama. The main reason for the meeting was to deliberate on the escalating tension between Khama and Masisi — a three-year bloodletting going unabated.

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