It is not a simple exercise to rank personalities directing organisations and businesses that give impetus to the Botswana economy. But we decided to recap on business headlines of 2016, had an in-depth view on billion pula enterprises that generate national interest and command a major stake in the national economic activity.
Business Writer REARABILWE RAMAPHANE strokes up an intense scrutiny on the men and women at the helm of the multimillion pula firms with much emphasis on the positive accolades, he eventually came up with what he believes to be the top 5 Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of the year.
1. THAPELO TSHEOLE
Number 1 on our list is Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) Thapelo Tsheole. He is at the helm of over P400 billion worth of stock trade and market capitalization. Having risen through the ranks of the state owned entity from Product Development Officer until when he was confirmed Chief Executive Officer in January 2016, the Mochudi born soft-spoken Tsheole has over 15 years at the Botswana Stock Exchange having previously worked for the Bank of Botswana and the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC).
The 40 year old Master of Commerce in Financial Markets graduate from Rhodes University in Grahamstown, South Africa is currently in charge of over 34 enterprises with a total Market Capitalization of P424.9 billion for which over 24 are domestic companies while 10 are foreign companies. In addition 38 Bonds and 4 Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) are listed on the BSE. When Tsheole coughs the corporate industry and financial economic space catches flu, major economic & industry players are traded on BSE, your Barclays Bank, FNBB, Choppies, Letshego, Chobe Holdings, Cresta just to name a few.
Tsheole goes down as one of the most easily accessible captains of industry in the land, this year he officiated at a number of community and youth empowerment initiatives including Dinokaneng Youth Business Expo hosted in his native Kgatleng region. One of his biggest undertaking this year was BSE‘s Inaugural Listing Conference themed “Opening the BSE to the Business Community –creating value through listing”,
The conference brought under one roof corporate leaders, captains of industries, business and financial expert to raise awareness and exchange views of stock market and financial investment issues. In just a year in charge Botswana Stock Exchange has generated public interest under Tsheole leadership like never before. He avails his shrewd financial and business skills to NGO’s; under his captainship BSE has also developed a corporate social investment initiative that avails operational and financial support to impactful events and organizations.
2. BOITUMELO MOLEFHE
If you are a corporate and business person and this name doesn’t ring a bell, then the business you lead is probably not attractive enough to the ever wealth accumulating Molefhe. She commands over P55 billion worth of assets, of which P23 billion is domestic while the rest is offshore. Being the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Botswana Public Officers’ Pension Fund (BPOPF), the ever smiling Molefhe however is tough at the boardroom.
This year‘s catch was when she convinced the BPOPF board which comprises of even hard to crack union leaders to transfer BPOPF administrative functions in-house. That decision saw the richest pension fund terminate their multi million pula mandate with Alexandra Forbes (a Unite States originating company).
Molefhe did not just stop there, she ended 2016 on a high element, shacking up the lucrative capital investment market, leaving foreign asset management companies in a bit of confusion when the year ends, Molefhe, former Finance Chief at Debswana Pension Fund, having led Bokamoso Private Hospital at some point, announced that her billions of Pula can be managed by local asset managers. She rolled out a new set of guidelines that will inform her awarding of mandates starting from next year January.
According to Molefhe, BPOPF mandates will be awarded to asset management companies with a significant local shareholding, board representation and executive management. Under Molefhe, BPOPF will also avail over 500 million for asset management company start ups to locals only, she also announced an incubation policy to help the local companies grasp a rigid stand in the multibillion pula asset management industry.
Out of Thapelo Tsheole’s billions Molefhe controls a significant stake, with BPOPF owning at least over 10 % stake in more than 2/3rd of the companies listed on the Stock Exchange, this includes FNBB, Barclays, Choppies, BTCL, Chobe Holdings, Wilderness Safaris amongst others. BPOPF also holds a major stake in Mascom, Sefalana just to name a few.
Molefhe’s other big catch was a bit in Prime Time Properties chunk worth hundreds of millions in the lucrative property development space, BPOPF now has a hotel in the Lucrative CBD. As if it is not enough, Molefhe’s final word to over 150 000 Fund Members was promising them that by 2021 she would have accumulated over 90 billion for them. In Molefhe, public officers surely are certain that their billions are in good hands, even the difficult BOFEPPPUSO approves of her, BOFEPPPUSO sits in the BPOPF board.
3. CATHERINE LESETEDI-LETEGELE
Botswana Insurance Holdings Limited (BIHL), CEO Catherine Lesetedi-Letegele rules an empire of almost P5 billion worth of asset portfolio and is still counting. BIHL owns Botswana Life which Lesetedi-Letegele headed to massive profit blossom before taking up the Group’s driving seat. BIHL also runs Botswana Insurance Fund Management (BIFM). Lesetedi-Letegele also commands 25-percent stake in Letshego, which makes BIHL the second largest investor in Letshego.
The soft Spoken Group CEO this year made news when she won 2016 “Ai100 CEO of the Year.” This year’s awards were held at the NASDAQ Stock Market in New York City on 19th September 2016. Her 5 billion pula ship, BIHL which she started captaining in September 2015 also won Ai Best Performing Ai100 Company Award at the prestigious Africa Investor (Ai) Capital Markets and Index Series Awards..
Lesetedi-Letegele in March 2016 was appointed 1st ever Chancellor of Ba Isago University, Botswana’s premier private tertiary institution. When she took over the highest decision making position, which resembles that of a Board chairperson in a corporate company, Lesetedi-Letegele just like any other organisation she led, announced a strategy! and strategy! as well as strategy leadership was going to be her contribution to Ba Isago, months later South Africa's biggest private education group, Curro Holdings acquired a 50 % stake in Ba Isago University, a move that will see Ba Isago expand its admissions footprint to a more international space which has more academic accessibility abroad.
Mrs Lesetedi-Letegele graduated with a BA in Statistics and Demography from the University of Botswana, she also holds an MDP from the Graduate School of Business (University of Cape Town), a Certificate in Executive Leadership (Cornell University, New York City) as well as professional qualifications in Advanced Insurance Practice and a Diploma in Insurance Studies (UNISA). She has undertaken the Sanlam Executive Leadership Programme, Gordon Institute of Business Science, (July 2014) and she is also an Associate of the Insurance Institute of South Africa (AIISA).Ms. Lesetedi-Letegele currently serves on the Boards of Funeral Services Group Limited, a Botswana Stock Exchange-listed entity, Botswana Insurance Company (BIC) and Nico Holdings in Malawi.
4. BASHI GAETSALOE
Managing Director of the Government investment arm, the Botswana Development Corporation, appointed April 2014, immediately when he took over the driving seat of the then cash strapped organisation with a stake in liquidating companies and failed national investment projects, Gaetsaloe developed a 5 year strategy to return the wholly state owned government entity to profitability. Just half way through the strategy, the former KPMG boss announced an over P200 million profit as of June 2016, making 100% growth in profits compared to over P100 million registered in 2015.
He commands asset base of over P4 billion which grew by 6% to 4.4 billion in 2016. Gaetsaloe’s leadership saw Botswana Development Corporation pay millions in dividends to the shareholder being the Botswana Government, something which last happened in 2008. BDC even had a special segment in this year’s State of the Nation Address when President Khama acknowledged it as one of the positives to have made rounds in 2016; he termed the paragraph BDC recovery.
The tough and economical shrewd Gaetsaloe faced parliament earlier this year when he requested P1 billion guarantee loan, although legislators rejected the request which was presented by Minister of Finance, Kenneth Matambo, it seems Gaetsaloe’s shrewd investment acumen convinced the government enclave as President Lt Dr Ian Khama announced over P800 million will be channeled to BDC’s treasury in the financial year. David Magang a local property mogul also observed in his ‘’view from Manna house’’ that Bashi’s request should be looked into. The former HRMC Managing Director holds a MA in Economics from Yale University, New Haven, USA and a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Connecticut College, New London, USA.
5. LEINA GABARAANE
Coming fifth is Chief Executive Officer of Stanbic Bank Botswana a Standard Bank company. Leina Gabarane took the driving seat of the unlisted Bank in 2008, where he served in junior executive positions before, 2016 was a very fruitful year for Gabaraane’s ship. Under his leadership Stanbic Bank Botswana was named Best Investment Bank in Botswana, in the 2016 EMEA Finance African Banking awards. Stanbic Bank is one of, if not the only private bank in Botswana which has a chunk investment portfolio in agriculture.
Defying the odds Gabaraane‘s cash spinning drive saw Stanbic Bank Botswana pay one of the highest dividends to its mother company, South African run Standard Bank. The bank won 2016 Best Foreign Exchange Provider in Botswana according to Global Finance Magazine. Report from the United Kingdom also observes Stanbic Bank as “Botswana’s Bank of the Year 2016”,
Gabaraane holds a B.Comm (UB) and an MBA in International Banking and Finance (University of Birmingham). His career started with the Botswana Development Corporation in 1995 where he joined as Assistant Operations Officer responsible for business development, project evaluation and monitoring.
Lekwalo Leta Mosienyane – The Business Botswana President became the leader of the private sector federation, then BOCCIM in 2013, Mosianyane appears here not as a Chief Executive but an influential figure in the local Private sector space. The outspoken Mosienyane transformed BOCCIM to a more fashionable and corporate entity in Business Botswana, launched this year, the newly refurbished private sector advocacy institution made rounds in 2016.
Under the leadership of Mosienyane, Business Botswana has a commanding voice at the High Level Consultative Council which the President of the Republic occasionally chairs. A professional Architect himself, Mosienyane this year introduced the youth portal in the Business Botswana council.
He runs Mosianyane & Partners International, a professional architectural consultancy firms which has footprints of successful projects across Southern Africa, Mosianyane is recognized by the South African Council of Architectural profession as a shrewd industry leader.
After liquidation of BCL mine, Lekwalo Mosianyane is the only who was able to calm the frustrated Selibe Phikwe business community after they rejected their own regionally tailored SPEDU as well as government Investment arms. It was only after the intervention of Business Botswana that a way forward was mapped regarding retaining investors from the otherwise to become a ghost town.
PROMISING CEO OF THE YEAR – THABO THAMANE
This publication notices the good work by the CEDA Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Thabo Thamane who continues to transform CEDA to a more attractive entity with its community and native tailored products like Mabogo Dinku. Under Thamane’s leadership, CEDA continues to unpack hidden agricultural trade as well as other economic sectors.
The state owned Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency successfully hosted the Joint CEO Forum of the World Federation of Development Finance Institutions (WFDI). Amongst praises Thamane received was how CEDA had seamlessly and gracefully hosted an international conference that could have easily been a logistical nightmare. The forum received accolades for great outcomes and recommendations, against a trend of such events being labeled useless talk shops.
Amid cash strapped and poorly managed state owned enterprises and Parastatals CEDA has received accolades from even legislators for considerably doing well.
The accolades awarded here were not from any conducted study or scientific research, but are made from media publications about CEO’s and companies that did considerably well in 2016. Whereas much analysis seemed based on state owned companies, reasons being that 2016 was a harsh year for Botswana’s national economy hence much emphasis on entities that Batswana command a stake in, our views are not cast in stone and we do not claim intellectual monopoly.
For so many years, Botswana has been trying to be a self-sufficient country that is able to provide its citizens with locally produced food products. Through appropriate collaborations with parastatals such as CEDA, ISPAAD and LEA, government introduced initiatives such as the Horticulture Impact Accelerator Subsidy-IAS and other funding facilities to facilitate horticultural farmers to increase production levels.
Now that COVID-19 took over and disrupted the food value chain across all economies, Botswana government introduced these initiatives to reduce the import bill by enhancing local market and relieve horticultural farmers from loses or impacts associated with the pandemic.
In more concerted efforts to curb these food crises in the country, government extended the ploughing period for the Southern part of Botswana. The extension was due to the late start of rains in the Southern part of the country.
Last week the Ministry of Agriculture extended the ploughing period for the Northern part of the country, mainly because of rains recently experienced in the country. With these decisions taken urgently, government optimizes food security and reliance on local food production.
When pigs fly, Botswana will be able to produce food to feed its people. This is evident by the numbers released by Statistics Botswana on imports recorded in November 2020, on their International Merchandise Trade Statistics for the month under review.
The numbers say Botswana continues to import most of its food from neighbouring South Africa. Not only that, Batswana relies on South Africa to have something to smoke, to drink and even use as machinery.
According to data from Statistics Botswana, the country’s total imports amounted to P6.881 Million. Diamonds contributed to the total imports at 33%, which is equivalent to P2.3 Million. This was followed by food, beverages and tobacco, machinery and electrical equipment which stood at P912 Million and P790 Million respectively.
Most of these commodities were imported from The Southern African Customs Union (SACU). The Union supplied Botswana with imports valued at over P4.8 Million of Botswana’s imports for the month under review (November 2020). The top most imported commodity group from SACU region was food, beverages and tobacco, with a contribution of P864 Million, which is likely to be around 18.1% of the total imports from the region.
Diamonds and fuel, according to these statistics, contributed 16.0%, or P766 Million and 13.5% or P645 Million respectively. Botswana also showed a strong and desperate reliance on neighbouring South Africa for important commodities. Even though the borders between the two countries in order to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus, government took a decision to open border gates for essential services which included the transportation of commodities such as food.
Imports from South Africa recorded in November 2020 stood at P4.615 Million, which accounted for 67.1% of total imports during the month under review. Still from that country, Botswana bought food, beverages and tobacco worth P844 Million (18.3%), diamonds, machinery and fuel worth P758 Million, P601 Million and P562 Million respectively.
Botswana also imported chemicals and rubber products that made a contribution of 11.7% (P542.2 Million) to total imports from South Africa during the month under review, (November 2020).
The European Union also came to Botswana’s rescue in the previous year. Botswana received imports worth P698.3 Million from the EU, accounting for 10.1% of the total imports during the same month. The major group commodity imported from the EU was diamonds, accounting for 86.9% (P606.6 Million), of imports from the Union. Belgium was the major source of imports from the EU, at 8.9% (P609.1 Million) of total imports during the period under review.
Meanwhile, Minister of Finance and Economic Development Thapelo Matsheka says an improvement in exports and commodity prices will drive growth in Sub-Saharan Africa. Growth in the region is anticipated to recover modestly to 3.2% in 2021. Matsheka said this when delivering the Annual Budget Speech virtually in Gaborone on the 1st of February 2021.
He said implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA), which became operational in January 2021, could reduce the region’s vulnerability to global disruptions, as well as deepen trade and economic integration.
“This could also help boost competition and productivity. Successful implementation of AfCFTA will, of necessity, require Member States to eliminate both tariffs and non-tariff barriers, and generally make it easier to do business and invest across borders.”
Matsheka, who is also a Member of Parliament for Lobatse, an ailing town which houses the struggling biggest meat processing company in the country- Botswana Meat Commission, (BMC), said the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) recognizes the need to prioritize the key processes required for the implementation of the AfCFTA.
“The revised SACU Tariff Offer, which comprises 5,988 product lines with agreed Rules of Origin, representing 77% of the SACU Tariff Book, was submitted to the African Union Commission (AUC) in November 2020. The government is in the process of evaluating the tariff offers of other AfCFTA members prior to ratification, following which Botswana’s participation in AfCFTA will come to effect.”
Women continue to shadow men in politics – stereotypes such as ‘behind every successful man there is a woman’ cast the notion that women cannot lead. The 2019 general election recorded one of Botswana’s worst performances when it comes to women participation in parliamentary democracy with only three women elected to parliament.
Botswana’s former Minister of Health, Professor Sheila Tlou who is currently the Co-Chair, Global HIV Prevention Coalition & Nursing Now and an HIV, Gender & Human Rights Activist is not amused by the status quo. Tlou attributes this dilemma facing women to a number of factors, which she is convinced influence the voting patterns of Batswana when it comes to women politicians.
Professor Tlou plugs the party level voting systems as the first hindrance that blocks women from ascending to power. According to the former Minister of Health, there is inadequate amount of professionalism due to corrupt internal party structures affecting the voters roll and ultimately leading to voter apathy for those who end up struck off the voters rolls under dubious circumstances.
Tlou also stated that women’s campaigns are often clean; whilst men put to play the ‘politics is dirty metaphor using financial muscle to buy voters into voting for them without taking into consideration their abilities and credibility. The biggest hurdle according to Tlou is the fallacy that ‘Women cannot lead’, which is also perpetuated by other women who discourage people from voting for women.
There are numerous factors put on the table when scrutinizing a woman, she can be either too old, or too young, or her marital status can be used against her. An unmarried woman is labelled as a failure and questioned on how she intends on being a leader when she failed to have a home. The list is endless including slut shaming women who have either been through a divorce or on to their second marriages, Tlou observed.
The only way that voters can be emancipated from this mentality according to Tlou is through a robust voter education campaign tailor made to run continuously and not be left to the eve of elections as it is usually done. She further stated that the current crop of women in parliament must show case their abilities and magnify them – this will help make it clear that they too are worthy of votes.
And to women intending to run for office, Tlou encouraged them not to wait for the eleventh hour to show their interest and rather start in community mobilisation projects as early as possible so that the constituents can get to know them and their abilities prior to the election date.
Youthful Botswana National Front (BNF) leader and feminist, Resego Kgosidintsi blames women’s mentality towards one another which emanates from the fact that women have been socialised from a tender age that they cannot be leaders hence they find it difficult to vote for each other.
Kgosidintsi further states that, “Women do not have enough economic resources to stage effective campaigns. They are deemed as the natural care givers and would rather divert their funds towards raising children and building homes over buying campaign materials.”
Meanwhile, Vice President of the Alliance for Progressives (AP), Wynter Mmolotsi agrees that women’s participation in politics in Botswana remains a challenge. To address this Mmolotsi suggested that there should be constituencies reserved for women candidates only so that the outcome regardless of the party should deliver a woman Member of Parliament.
Mmolotsi further suggested that Botswana should ditch the First Past the Post system of election and opt for the proportional representation where contesting parties will dutifully list able women as their representatives in parliament.
On why women do not get elected, Mmolotsi explained that he had heard first hand from voters that they are reluctant to vote for women since they have limited access to them once they have won; unlike their male counterparts who have proven to be available night or day.
The pre-historic awarding of gender roles relegating women to be pregnant and barefoot at home and the man to be out there fending for the family has disadvantaged women in political and other professional careers.
Special Economic Zone Authority’s (SEZA) P126 million Master Planning of Pandamatenga Special Economic Zones Business Case, Urban & Landscapes tender is in court after one of bidders, Moralo Design challenged its disqualification from the tender.
SEZA is transforming Pandamatenga into an Agropolis which will combine modern farming with top notch industrial, residential, commercial and recreational land use. The project is measured at 137, 007 ha which comprises of 84, 500 ha for commercial production, 12 400 ha for the subsistence production, 107 ha will be for Agro-processing while 40 000 ha will be for the Zambezi Integrated Agro-commercial Project (ZIACDP).
In their court papers, Moralo Designs, represented by Jones Moitshepi Firm, said they received a letter from SEZA on or around the 12th November 2020 notifying that their bid has been disqualified at the technical evaluation stage of the tender adjudication process.
In their response, Lonely Mogara who is Chief Executive Office of SEZA said Moralo Designs is not entitled to be heard by the court as the company never participated in the disputed tender hence SEZA knows the bidder as Moralo Design Consortium.
“Moralo Designs had failed to establish any right to be heard by the court. The fact that they had submitted a tender was not guarantee that they would be awarded the tender,” he said. “The reasons for the disqualification of Moralo Design Consortium’s bid were valid and justified because their bid was insufficient as it lacked vital information as required by the terms of reference.”
SEZA Chief said the requirements for the work plan and project programme were clearly stated in the Invitation To Tender (ITT). Moralo Design Consortium was not penalised for non-existent requirements. In disqualifying the bid by Moralo Designs Consortium, Mogara further indicated that SEZA considered that there was a requirement for a programme and work plan.
“The purported “project programme” that was submitted by Moralo Design Consortium failed to depict the activity durations, activity phasing and interrelations, milestones, delivery dates of reports and logical sequence of activities constituent with methodology and showing a clear understanding of the terms of reference,” said Mogara in responding affidavit.
He said the ITT required that there be provision of delivery dates within the programme hence Moralo Designs Consortium failed to consult with SEZA when they felt that such a requirement would be impossible to provide. He continued to say there was an avenue available when the tender was being prepared, but they failed to use it.
“Moralo Designs’ application for interim relief lacks merit and only seeks to delay SEZA from completing the evaluation and award of a tender that will serve the greater good of the nation,” said Mogara.
He went on to say Moralo Designs has no prospects of succeeding in its review application as the possibility of court granting the review are so remote in that the court does not possess the requisite technical knowhow on what constitutes an adequate work plan and what ought to be contained in it.
A bidder disqualified for failure to provide adequate information has no right to be protected by the court. Irreparable harm can only be suffered by one who has shown that there exists a right in so far as having stood the chance of being awarded the tender.
The financial benefit likely to be derived by Moralo Designs- which is highly unlikely- is outweighed by the nature of the project. In the unlikely event that the application for review is successful, they can claim for damages. The availability of such remedy weighs in favour of the interdict being refused. The refusal stands to benefit the nation more than the financial interest that Moralo Designs seeks to protect.
Moralo Designs failed to establish the urgency of their application. They waited for more than a month and half after the disqualification to approach the court on urgency. Meanwhile when delivering the State of the Nation Address (SONA) last year, President Mokgweetsi Masisi revealed that the detailed design and construction of 12 steel grain silos — with an overall storage capacity of 60 000 metric tonnes — is underway at the Pandamatenga SEZ and the P126 million project will be completed by August 2021.