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.
Botswana has made improvements on preventing and ending arbitrary deprivation of liberty, but significant challenges remain in further developing and implementing a legal framework, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention said at the end of a visit recently.
Head of the delegation, Elina Steinerte, appreciated the transparency of Botswana for opening her doors to them. Having had full and unimpeded access and visited 19 places of deprivation of liberty and confidentiality interviewing over 100 persons deprived of their liberty.
She mentioned “We commend Botswana for its openness in inviting the Working Group to conduct this visit which is the first visit of the Working Group to the Southern African region in over a decade. This is a further extension of the commitment to uphold international human rights obligations undertaken by Botswana through its ratification of international human rights treaties.”
Another good act Botswana has been praised for is the remission of sentences. Steinerte echoed that the Prisons Act grants remission of one third of the sentence to anyone who has been imprisoned for more than one month unless the person has been sentenced to life imprisonment or detained at the President’s Pleasure or if the remission would result in the discharge of any prisoner before serving a term of imprisonment of one month.
On the other side; The Group received testimonies about the police using excessive force, including beatings, electrocution, and suffocation of suspects to extract confessions. Of which when the suspects raised the matter with the magistrates, medical examinations would be ordered but often not carried out and the consideration of cases would proceed.
“The Group recall that any such treatment may amount to torture and ill-treatment absolutely prohibited in international law and also lead to arbitrary detention. Judicial authorities must ensure that the Government has met its obligation of demonstrating that confessions were given without coercion, including through any direct or indirect physical or undue psychological pressure. Judges should consider inadmissible any statement obtained through torture or ill-treatment and should order prompt and effective investigations into such allegations,” said Steinerte.
One of the group’s main concern was the DIS held suspects for over 48 hours for interviews. Established under the Intelligence and Security Service Act, the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) has powers to arrest with or without a warrant.
The group said the “DIS usually requests individuals to come in for an interview and has no powers to detain anyone beyond 48 hours; any overnight detention would take place in regular police stations.”
The Group was able to visit the DIS facilities in Sebele and received numerous testimonies from persons who have been taken there for interviewing, making it evident that individuals can be detained in the facility even if the detention does not last more than few hours.
Moreover, while arrest without a warrant is permissible only when there is a reasonable suspicion of a crime being committed, the evidence received indicates that arrests without a warrant are a rule rather than an exception, in contravention to article 9 of the Covenant.
Even short periods of detention constitute deprivation of liberty when a person is not free to leave at will and in all those instances when safeguards against arbitrary detention are violated, also such short periods may amount to arbitrary deprivation of liberty.
The group also learned of instances when persons were taken to DIS for interviewing without being given the possibility to notify their next of kin and that while individuals are allowed to consult their lawyers prior to being interviewed, lawyers are not allowed to be present during the interviews.
The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention mentioned they will continue engaging in the constructive dialogue with the Government of Botswana over the following months while they determine their final conclusions in relation to the country visit.
Standard Chartered Bank Botswana (SCBB) has informed the government that it will not be accepting new loan applications for the Government Employees Motor Vehicle and Residential Property Advance Scheme (GEMVAS and LAMVAS) facility.
This emerges in a correspondence between Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance Boniface Mphetlhe and some government departments. In a letter he wrote recently to government departments informing them of the decision, Mphetlhe indicated that the Ministry received a request from the Bank to consider reviewing GEMVAS and LAMVAS agreement.
He said: “In summary SCBB requested the following; Government should consider reviewing GEMVAS and LAMVAS interest rate from prime plus 0.5% to prime plus 2%.” The Bank indicated that the review should be both for existing GEMVAS and LAMVAS clients and potential customers going forward.
Mphetlhe said the Bank informed the Ministry that the current GEMVAS and LAMVAS interest rate structure results into them making losses, “as the cost of loa disbursements is higher that their end collections.”
He said it also requested that the loan tenure for the residential property loans to be increased from 20 to 25 years and the loan tenure for new motor vehicles loans to be increased from 60 months to 72 months.
Mphetlhe indicated that the Bank’s request has been duly forwarded to the Directorate of Public Service Management for consideration, since GEMVAS and LAMVAS is a Condition of Service Scheme. He saidthe Bank did also inform the Ministry that if the matter is not resolved by the 6th June, 2022, they would cease receipt of new GEMVAS and LAMVAS loan applications.
“A follow up virtual meeting was held to discuss their resolution and SCB did confirm that they will not be accepting any new loans from GEMVAS and LAMVAS. The decision includes top-up advances,” said Mphetlhe. He advised civil servants to consider applying for loans from other banks.
In a letter addressed to the Ministry, SCBB Chief Executive Officer Mpho Masupe informed theministry that, “Reference is made to your letter dated 18th March 2022 wherein the Ministry had indicated that feedback to our proposal on the above subject is being sought.”
In thesame letter dated 10 May 2022, Masupe stated that the Bank was requesting for an update on the Ministry’s engagements with the relevant stakeholder (Directorate of Public Service Management) and provide an indicative timeline for conclusion.
He said the “SCBB informs the Ministry of its intention to cease issuance of new loans to applicants from 6th June 2022 in absence of any feedback on the matter and closure of the discussions between the two parties.” Previously, Masupe had also had requested the Ministry to consider a review of clause 3 of the agreement which speaks to the interest rate charged on the facilities.
Masupe indicated in the letter dated 21 December 2021 that although all the Banks in the market had signed a similar agreement, subject to amendments that each may have requested. “We would like to suggest that our review be considered individually as opposed to being an industry position as we are cognisant of the requirements of section 25 of the Competition Act of 2018 which discourages fixing of pricing set for consumers,” he said.
He added that,“In this way,clients would still have the opportunity to shop around for more favourable pricing and the other Banks, may if they wish to, similarly, individually approach your office for a review of their pricing to the extent that they deem suitable for their respective organisations.”
Masupe also stated that: “On the issue of our request for the revision of the Interest Rate, we kindly request for an increase from the current rate of prime plus 0.5% to prime plus 2%, with no other increases during the loan period.” The Bank CEO said the rationale for the request to review pricing is due to the current construct of the GEMVAS scheme which is currently structured in a way that is resulting in the Bank making a loss.
“The greater part of the GEMVAS portfolio is the mortgage boo which constitutes 40% of the Bank’s total mortgage portfolio,” said Masupe. He saidthe losses that the Bank is incurring are as a result of the legacy pricing of prime plus 0% as the 1995 agreement which a slight increase in the August 2018 agreement to prime plus 0.5%.
“With this pricing, the GEMVAS portfolio has not been profitable to the Bank, causing distress and impeding its ability to continue to support government employees to buy houses and cars. The portfolio is currently priced at 5.25%,” he said. Masupe said the performance of both the GEMVAS home loan and auto loan portfolios in terms of profitability have become unsustainable for the Bank.
Healso said, when the agreement was signed in August 2018, the prime lending rate was 6.75% which made the pricing in effect at the time sufficient from a profitable perspective. “It has since dropped by a total 1.5%. The funds that are loaned to customers are sourced at a high rate, which now leaves the Bank with marginal profits on the portfolio before factoring in other operational expenses associated with administration of the scheme and after sales care of the portfolio,” said the CEO.