Embattled Managing Director of one of the biggest suppliers of soda ash in Southern Africa, Botswana Ash (BOTASH), Montwedi Mphathi has been shown the door.
Weekend Post has it on good authority that Montwedi was relieved of his duties this week with effect from the 31st October 2017. However it is still sketchy why the MD was abruptly cast out from the BOTASH, an organisation that mines salt in Sua Pan, near Sowa Town in the north eastern part of Botswana. Nonetheless what is crystal clear though is that Mphathi leaves at the time when BOTASH was not performing to its optimum best.
The organisation was also said to have been affected by the torrential rain falls (known as Dineo) that engulfed the country in 2016/17. BOTASH, which prides itself as Africa’s supplier of choice for natural sodium products, is owned by the government of Botswana and Chlor Alkali Holdings (CAH) Group, a South African company, on 50% shareholding each. Montwedi joined BOTASH in 2011 subsequent to his unceremonious departure at the then financially bankrupt BCL copper mine in Selibe Phikwe which has since shut down its operations with 4000 workers losing jobs thereafter.
Speaking to Weekend Post direct from South Africa on Thursday, Chairperson of Board of Directors of BOTASH, Ian Forbes confirmed that indeed MD Montwedi Mphathi has been released from steering the ship of BOTASH. “Yes, that’s correct. We have undeniably parted ways with MD Mphathi with effect from October 31st,” Chairman Forbes said. However when pressed further he was cagey with the reasons for the sudden expulsion of the MD, save to say that: “we had discussions internally and therefore it is an internal decision.” “It’s an internal matter,” he stressed and further maintained the position.
The BOTASH Chairperson further said that they have roped in the services of Kangangwane Phatshwane to fill the shoes of Mphathi although “on acting capacity.” “There is someone acting on his behalf while we are looking for a suitable candidate, either internally or externally, we will see,” he highlighted. Related to the matter, Forbes also revealed to this publication that the organisation has had difficulties in its performance partly owing to the recent torrential floods in the country, which were so extensive, and therefore affected their production.
He then played his cards closer to his chest when quizzed whether Mphathi may be blamed partly for the poor performance apart from the long rains he spoke of. Meanwhile, when this publication further contacted the acting MD Phatshwane, he was not at liberty to speak as he emphasised he was “not the appointing authority.” He nevertheless also confirmed that Mphathi left and that he has “been asked to hold the fort until organisation find permanent replacement.”
Phatshwane said an official communication has been shared with staff of the state of affairs with regard to Mphathi. “We were told that he decided to move on to pursue other interests, and that, it is the official information which we were given,” Phatshwane told Weekend Post. Before joining BOTASH, Mphathi in 2003 became the first Motswana to serve as BCL copper mine General Manager having joined the organisation in 1982 and rising through the ranks and file.
It is said that Mphathi has left issues hanging at BCL as there were investigations by the Directorate of Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) at the organisation which were focused on allegations of corruption surrounding the events relating to the employment of his wife, Mrs Mphathi and her misuse of a BCL plane, employment of the Dubes, provision of security services and the defrauding of insurance companies.
It is also understood that at one point, in 2013, while still BOTASH MD, he conceded in a court of law (Francistown Magistrate court) of his involvement in an extra marital affairs with a young lady aged 36 then living in Gaborone who was bombarding and intimidating his wife with text messages informing her of their affairs. Meanwhile he continued to be put in his position as BOTASH MD – until this week which, for now, is seen as a demise from the corporate ladder.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and some senior government officials are abuzz with reports that President Mokgweetsi Masisi has requested his Vice President, Slumber Tsogwane not to contest the next general elections in 2024.
The impacts of climate change are increasing in frequency and intensity every year and this is forecast to continue for the foreseeable future. African CEOs in the Global South are finally coming to the party on how to tackle the crisis.
Following the completion of COP27 in Egypt recently, CEOs of Africa DFIs converged in Botswana for the CEO Forum of the Association of African Development Finance Institutions. One of the key themes was on green financing and building partnerships for resource mobilization in financing SDGs in Africa
A report; “Weathering the storm; African Development Banks response to Covid-19” presented shocking findings during the seminar. Among them; African DFI’s have proven to be financially resilient, and they are fast shifting to a green transition and it’s financing.
COO, CEDA, James Moribame highlighted that; “Everyone needs food, shelter and all basic needs in general, but climate change is putting the achievement of this at bay. “It is expensive for businesses to do business, for instance; it is much challenging for the agricultural sector due to climate change, and the risks have gone up. If a famer plants crops, they should be ready for any potential natural disaster which will cost them their hard work.”
According to Moribame, Start-up businesses will forever require help if there is no change.
“There is no doubt that the Russia- Ukraine war disrupted supply chains. SMMEs have felt the most impact as some start-up businesses acquire their materials internationally, therefore as inflation peaks, this means the exchange rate rises which makes commodities expensive and challenging for SMMEs to progress. Basically, the cost of doing business has gone up. Governments are no longer able to support DFI’s.”
Moribame shared remedies to the situation, noting that; “What we need is leadership that will be able to address this. CEOs should ensure companies operate within a framework of responsible lending. They also ought to scout for opportunities that would be attractive to investors, this include investors who are willing to put money into green financing. Botswana is a prime spot for green financing due to the great opportunity that lies in solar projects. ”
Technology has been hailed as the economy of the future and thus needs to be embraced to drive operational efficiency both internally and externally.
Executive Director, bank of Industry Nigeria, Simon Aranou mentioned that for investors to pump money to climate financing in Africa, African states need to be in alignment with global standards.
“Do what meets world standards if you want money from international investors. Have a strong risk management system. Also be a good borrower, if you have a loan, honour the obligation of paying it back because this will ensure countries have a clean financial record which will then pave way for easier lending of money in the future. African states cannot just be demanding for mitigation from rich countries. Financing needs infrastructure to complement it, you cannot be seating on billions of dollars without the necessary support systems to make it work for you. Domestic resource mobilisation is key. Use public money to mobilise private money.” He said.
For his part, the Minster of Minister of Entrepreneurship, Karabo Gare enunciated that, over the past three years, governments across the world have had to readjust their priorities as the world dealt with the effects and impact of the COVID 19 pandemic both to human life and economic prosperity.
“The role of DFIs, during this tough period, which is to support governments through countercyclical measures, including funding of COVID-19 related development projects, has become more important than ever before. However, with the increasingly limited resources from governments, DFIs are now expected to mobilise resources to meet the fiscal gaps and continue to meet their developmental mandates across the various affected sectors of their economies.” Said Gare.
Letlhakeng:TotalEnergies Botswana today launched a Road Safety Campaign as part of their annual Stakeholder Relationship Management (SRM), in partnership with Unitrans, MVA Fund, TotalEnergies Letlhakeng Filling Station and the Letlhakeng Sub District Road Safety Committee during an event held in Letlhakeng under the theme, #IamTrafficToo.
The Supplier Relationship Management initiative is an undertaking by TotalEnergies through which TotalEnergie annually explores and implements social responsibility activities in communities within which we operate, by engaging key stakeholders who are aligned with the organization’s objectives. Speaking during the launch event, TotalEnergies’ Operations and HSSEQ, Patrick Thedi said, “We at TotalEnergies pride ourselves in being an industrial operator with a strategy centered on respect, listening, dialogue and stakeholder involvement, and a partner in the sustainable social and economic development of its host communities and countries. We are also very fortunate to have stakeholders who are in alignment with our organizational objectives. We assess relationships with our key stakeholders to understand their concerns and expectations as well as identify priority areas for improvement to strengthen the integration of Total Energies in the community. As our organization transitions from Total to Total Energies, we are committed to exploring sustainable initiatives that will be equally indicative of our growth and this Campaign is a step in the right direction. ”
As part of this campaign roll out, stakeholders will be refurbishing and upgrading and installing road signs around schools in the area, and generally where required. One of the objectives of the Campaign is to bring awareness and training on how to manage and share the road/parking with bulk vehicles, as the number of bulk vehicles using the Letlhakeng road to bypass Trans Kalahari increases. When welcoming guests to Letlhakeng, Kgosi Balepi said he welcomed the initiative as it will reduce the number of road incidents in the area.
Also present was District Traffic Officer ASP, Reuben Moleele, who gave a statistical overview of accidents in the region, as well as the rest of the country. Moleele applauded TotalEnergies and partners on the Campaign, especially ahead of the festive season, a time he pointed out is always one with high road statistics. The campaign name #IamTrafficToo, is a reminder to all road users, including pedestrians that they too need to be vigilant and play their part in ensuring a reduction in road incidents.
The official proceedings of the day included a handover of reflectors and stop/Go signs to the Letlhakeng Cluster from TotalEnerigies, injury prevention from tips from MVA’s Onkabetse Petlwana, as well as bulk vehicle safety tips delivered from Adolf Namate of Unitrans.
TotalEnergies, which is committed to having zero carbon emissions by 2050, has committed to rolling out the Road safety Campaign to the rest of the country in the future.