Beleaguered National Development Bank (NDB) has started the process of retrenchment in a bid to rescue the bank from financial ruin, with scores of employees expected to lose their jobs in an exercise expected to cost the bank at least P31 million.
The Negotiation and Consultation Committee (NCC) which comprises of members from both management of the NDB and staff union executive, jointly agreed on the general guidelines for placement and resourcing with respect to the staff rationalisation and performance optimisation exercise. WeekendPost is privy to a document titled, “Joint Statement on the Status in Respect of the Staff Rationalisation and Performance Optimisation Exercise,” which stipulates how the process will unfold.
The document is signed by NCC Chairman Jerry Mwendapole, NDB Staff Union President, Boys Selalame, and Harry Marks, representing NDB malmanagement. The document indicates all employees in the Bank, except the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Lorato Morapedi, have no job guarantee, and all employees will be tested for job fitness as per placement criteria.
However, the bank promises that considerations will be made during the rationalisation exercise to fill positions with internal candidates before external recruitment. The retrenched employees will also be given preference for re-employment in filling vacancies that may arise within six months; provided they meet the requirements for those roles and are a better fit compared to other potential candidates.
Companies owned by retrenched NDB employees will be given preference in awarding of tenders provided they meet the requirements. This dispensation will only remain enforce for a period of 24 months from date of separation. The document indicates that owing to financial performance challenges faced by the bank, all recruitment and general staff movements such as promotions, fixed term contract renewals and others have been frozen save for exceptional cases. This also extends to all staff advance schemes such as Motor Vehicle, Mortgage and Personal loans, both internally and the Barclays Staff Loan scheme, as well as the employee development and training.
NDB WANTS P400 MILLION RECAPITALISATION
In May this year, NDB approached and lobbied the Parliamentary Committee on Public Enterprises and Statutory Bodies to facilitate a process that will see the beleaguered bank being recapitalised to stay afloat en route commercialisation. NDB has found the going tough in recent years, with the bank riddled with perennial losses amid a funding model that has been ruled out as not sustainable. This year, the bank has found itself in dire crisis as it had only P10 million to disburse for loans.
WeekendPost has established that NDB’s problems and bottlenecks are deeper than simply the matter of recapitalisation. The structure and sources of funding mean that they have an unfavourable cost structure which paralyses their competitiveness. “It is almost a chicken and eggs situation that for them to lower their cost of funding, they need to be deposit taking, that is through banking license, but it appears they need to capitalise a bit more to prepare for qualification as a deposit taking institution,” one committee told this publication earlier this year.
WeekendPost understands that NDB is sourcing its funds from BIFM Capital, Barclays Bank and First National Bank Botswana (FNBB) at an interest rate of 8.5 percent, and 9.5 percent for BIFM capital. This, according to the bank, is brought about by the verity that government has stopped issuing bonds to the bank, forcing it to find alternative funding avenues. It has merged that most of committee members are sympathetic to NDB and are determined to make a case in their favour before parliament.
Parliament has the authority to authorise government spending and has in the past approved bailing out of several public enterprises which were struggling financially. Though NDB was at one point making profit, it does not get subvention from government on annual basis despite the bank being a development bank.
In 2016, NDB requested government to inject capital amounting to about P1 billion in the next three years in order to transform the bank and prepare it for commercialisation. Last year, it was offered P400 million by government, P100 million of it being a grant while the remaining P300 million was a loan.
As per CEO Morapedi’s statement before the parliamentary committee on Statutory Bodies and Enterprises in 2016, NDB wanted government to inject P400 million in the next financial year , followed by two government guaranteed loans of P165 million and P250 million in subsequent years. Due to the financial crisis that the bank found itself in, management recently took a decision to retrench some of its employees to minimize the costs. Already, NDB staff has been informed of management’s intentions to retrench, with letters scheduled to be handed from the 21st-24TH May 2018.
NDB is one of the quasi-government institutions that have been put up for privatisation, with Botswana Telecommunication Corporation (BTC) having successfully gone through the process. It is expected that, like the BTC, government will retain 51 percent shareholding in the company, while 5 percent is offered to employees, with the rest of the shareholding being offered to the public. However, there has been debate both within and outside NDB with regard to whether the bank is in a state to be commercialised. Some school of thought is that in its current state, government would be either giving it away or nobody will show interest in its stock, hence the need to recapitalise the bank.
While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.
Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.
Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.
Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.
Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”
“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.
He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.
He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.
According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.
There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.
Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.
“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication. The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.