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Ram, Mogae clash heads to court

The boardroom battle involving Choppies Enterprises Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Ram Ottapathu and company board under the chairmanship of former President Festus Mogae is now heading to court, WeekendPost has established.

Impeccable sources informed this publication that the Choppies supremo Ottapathu is taking the fight to court as a matter of urgency, and the matter is expected to be heard next week Monday at the Gaborone High Court. Ottapathu suffered a setback after his gambit to have Mogae removed as the retail giant’s board chairman was met with a suspension on his part. Ottapathu who has previously informed this publication that he will engage his lawyers on a way forward, however denied that he has resolved on court action against the stubborn Choppies board.

 “Nobody is taking anybody to court,” Ram said briefly when questioned. Ottapathu is of the view that his suspension came in the disguise of a recommendation from a certain law firm in South Africa, owing to the recent troubles facing the retail giant. The Choppies supremo however believes what triggered suspension was a proposal he had submitted to the company board to have Mogae removed as Board chairman, and also have new faces with relevant retail experience in the board.

Ottapathu explained that he was given an option as whether he will resign or they will suspend him. “They gave me an option, you resign now or we are going to suspend you.  I was not prepared to do that. This is the company I started, and they did not even have a replacement. Before I received my suspension letter it was on the social media,” he narrated. The Choppies chief said if it all the decision to suspend him has anything to do with personal vendetta, the decision to suspend him was not in the interest of the company.

Ottapathu spoke highly of Ismail, who has since been appointed Acting CEO, noting that the latter is the only one who understands the Choppies business because he is always in touch. “Farouk [Ismail] is the only person who knows intimately and knowledgeably about the business in the board. None of them have ran one day of their own business and made money for themselves,” he said.

He was however not kind to other Choppies board members, saying none of them have ran a profitable business before.

Two weeks back, Choppies Board in an internal shareholder statement seen by this publication, announced that Ottapathu has no right to call an Extra Ordinary Meeting (EGM) as the requirements of the Companies Act, formal and proper notice of such an EGM must come from the Board.


This publication learnt that the board has not taken kindly statements by Ottapathu that his suspension was as a result of disagreements with certain board members and/or because he had presented a report that calls for changes in governance at Board and company level.

The board indicated that the decision by the board to suspend Ottapathu was as a result of an aggregation of activities and conduct by the suspended CEO which its investigations are still ongoing.



The announcement stated that the CEO’s suspension was and is valid and proper.  They further stated that Ottapathu’s rights and entitlements under the Botswana law have not been infringed and remain protected as would those of any employee of the company. 
“As the suspended CEO remains an employee of the company during the period of his suspension, such rights and entitlements do not extended to unauthorized disclosures by him of information relating to the Board and the company which may form basis of disciplinary proceedings against him,” the statement said.



The order of the board highlighted that they were made aware of a document purporting to be a draft notice of an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) of shareholders of the company sent by Ramachandran in his capacity as a shareholder to select shareholders. However, the Choppies supremo believes what triggered suspension was a proposal he had submitted to the company board to have Mogae removed as Board chairman, and also have new faces with relevant retail experience in the board.


Mr Ottapathu joined Choppies in 1992 when it was a single insolvent store in Gaborone. Now, over 50 percent of Batswana shop regularly in its stores and Choppies is a much-loved household name – or it was until the Choppies Board put Mr Ottapathu on “precautionary suspension” this week and replaced him with the Deputy Chair, Mr. Farouk Ismail.

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BDP decides Balopi’s fate

22nd November 2021
Balopi

The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Central Committee (CC) meeting, chaired by President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi late last month, resolved that the party’s next Secretary-General (SG) should be a full-time employee based at Tsholetsa House and not active in politics.

The resolution by the CC, which Masisi proposed, is viewed as a ploy to deflate the incumbent, Mpho Balopi’s political ambitions and send him into political obscurity. The two have not been on good terms since the 2019 elections, and the fallout has been widening despite attempts to reconcile them. In essence, the BDP says that Balopi, who is currently a Member of Parliament, Minister of Employment, Labour Productivity and Skills Development, and a businessman, is overwhelmed by the role.

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BDF-Namibians shootings autopsy report revealed

22nd November 2021
BDF

The Botswana Defence Force (BDF)-Namibians fatal shooting tragedy Inquest has revealed through autopsy report that the BDF carried over 800 bullets for the mission, 32 of which were discharged towards the targets, and 19 of which hit the targets.

This would mean that 13 bullets missed the targets-in what would be a 60 percent precision rate for the BDF operation target shooting. The Autopsy report shows that Martin Nchindo was shot with five (4) bullets, Ernst Nchindo five (5) bullets, Tommy Nchindo five (5) bullets and Sinvula Munyeme five (5) bullets. From the seven (7) BDF soldiers that left the BDF camp in two boats, four (4) fired the shots that killed the Namibians.

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Gov’t confused over Moitoi’s UN job application

22nd November 2021
VENSON MOITOI

The former Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi’s decision to apply for the positions of United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) and their deputies (DSRSG), has left the government confused over whether to lend her support or not, WeekendPost has established.

Moitoi’s application follows the Secretary-General’s launch of the third edition of the Global Call for Heads and Deputy Heads of United Nations Field Missions, which aims to expand the pool of candidates for the positions of SRSG) and their deputies to advance gender parity and geographical diversity at the most senior leadership level in the field. These mission leadership positions are graded at the Under-Secretary-General and Assistant Secretary-General levels.

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