The Non-Bank Financial Institution Regulatory Authority (NBFIRA) has taken a tough stance against Stock Brokers Botswana (SBB) and its Managing Director, Titose Tibone following a decision by the latter to request for suspension from the Stock Exchange. This has been a culmination of events which started with the dismissal of an accountant at SBB who was later fined P10 000 by the NBFIRA for practicing as a Controller without permission.
But the grass is still suffering as Titose Tibone and NBFIRA herald a possible showdown as the former refuses to accept possible penalties and a removal from practice by the latter. Titose Tibone assumed the position of Managing Director of Stock Brokers Botswana in June 2012 upon the acquisition of this company by the current shareholders during that period.
In a letter addressed to the Chairman of the Board of Stock Brokers Botswana by NBFIRA CEO, Mr Oaitse Ramasedi, a directive in terms of Section 53(3) and a Civil Penalty in terms of Section 93 of the NBFIRA Act is directed at the Company and Titose Tibone. “ Please be informed that the Capital Markets Department of the NBFIRA has noted several instances of non-compliance by Stock Brokers Botswana Ltd, and to this end, have reffered the same to the Compliance Department for enforcement action. In particular, the Compliance Department has been instructed that through its Managing Director, Mr Titose Tibone, the SBB has:
Appointed a controller to the organization without prior approval of the Authority as required in terms of Section 65 of the NBFIRA Act; Failed, on several occasions and despite numerous requests, to provide the Authority with information regarding the job descriptions of Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer functions, how the two relate to each other, and who is the more superior between the two; And on August 30, 2016 sent an email to the Authority and the Botswana Stock Exchange, indicating that the SBB wishes to wind down its operations due to inability to operate as a going concern, although winding down was never the intention of SBB, and the contents of the email did not present a true reflection of the SBB position. This was thus misleading and false statement made to the Authority, which statement had the potential to disrupt and discredit capital markets of Botswana.”
Ramasedi argues on behalf of NBFIRA that the issues outlined, all precipitated by Mr Titose Tibone as Managing Director, indicate that Mr Titose Tibone conducts himself in a careless manner that breaches his fiduciary duties towards SBB and its clients. “To this end, the Authority has formed the view that he is no longer fit and proper to hold office as a controller, much less a managing director or director, at SBB.”
The NBFIRA Chief indicated that the Authority issues Directive in terms of Section 53(3) that effective from September 6, 2016, Mr Titose Tibone be removed from holding office as a controller, a Director and the Managing Director of SBB. “The Authority further directs that a formal letter be submitted by SBB indicating that it takes note of this directive and has actioned it. Such letter should be submitted to the Authority no later than September 9, 2016.
Ramasedi further pointed out that NBFIRA will impose a civil penalty on SBB in line with Section 93 (a) of the NBFIRA Act for knowingly making a false statement to the Authority. However he has given SBB 21 days to request a hearing, if it wishes for one, to show cause why the proposed penalty should not be imposed. In the meantime SBB has complied with the directive to remove Titose Tibone as Managing Director and Director.
TITOSE TIBONE ON HIS OWN DEFENCE
Although SBB has agreed to comply with the directive, from its rebuttal of the NBFIRA letter, it is clear that the company is not happy with the decision. “ We now refer to your paragraph 4 of the aforesaid letter in which you have issued a directive in terms of Section 53 (3)(b) of the NBFIRA Act to remove our Managing Director, Mr Titose Tibone from holding office as a Controller, as Director and the Managing Director of our company. On a without prejudice basis, we hereby confirm that we will comply with this directive and that we have requested Mr Titose Tibone not to be involved in the management and business affairs of the company,” writes SBB chairman
However SBB says it notes the action of removing Mr Titose Tibone in their view is highly prejudicial to the company in that Mr Titose Tibone has played a major role in the success of this company. They further point out that Mr Titose Tibone is a fit and proper person and without him, they strongly believe that the continued profitability and success of the company will be compromised.
On noting reasons for declaring him, not to be a fit and proper person, SBB tabulated a rebuttal, which we or Mr Titose Tibone, can substantiate and prove, should the opportunity be given to us:-
In relation to the allegations that they appointed a controller before vetting, SBB says Mr Titose Tibone, or the company, did not and has never appointed Ms Rebaone as a controller of the company. “It is for this reason that we had not applied for the prior approval of the Authority. Ms Rebaone was an accounting clerk/officer and not a controller and it was as a result her own self-doing that she gave the impression to the Authority that she was a controller and not by any instructions from Mr Titose Tibone or the company. It is for this reason she was penalized and paid P10 000.00 and was accordingly dismissed. If at all, it was the intention to appoint her as a controller, we would have thereafter applied for her vetting so as to re-instate her. We believe that using this again to penalize Mr Titose Tibone is unfair and not in the spirit of the NBFIRA Act.”
SBB is of the view that using this as a ground to hold Mr Titose Tibone is unfair and not in the spirit of the NBFIRA Act.
On the charge of disruption capital markets and presenting a false and misleading position of the company (SBB): “In relation to the allegations stated at clause 2.3 of your letter, we confirm that this matter was dealt with and the reasons were given by Mr Titose Tibone for sending such an email. This was done at a meeting held on the 30th day of August 2016, at. At this meeting Mr Titose Tibone explained that as a result of the dismissal of Ms. Rebaone, the accountant and not having a financial manager in place (as the approval process was being pursued), he felt that it would be in the interest of the clients of the company to stop trading until the affairs of the company were sorted out. It is our opinion that this was a responsible move because without a finance manager and without an accountant, the company would not be able to manage the accounts, which would in turn prejudice the clients. It is for this reason that at the meeting, the parties confirmed that instead of using the words “winding down”, which would give an impression that the company is closing down instead of giving the true intention of Mr Titose Tibone, which was to suspend trading until such time that the affairs of the company were sorted out, the company should state that it is suspending trading, thus use the words “suspend trading”.”
SBB Board indicates that they believe that the email was sent out with the client interests and protections at the core of Mr Titose Tibone’s intentions and that same was not made with any bad intentions as correctly stated in Ramasedi’s letter.
“Further to this, it is stated that, you will note that this statement was not published, that is, it had never entered the public domain, it was an email sent to the Authority and the BSE. Therefore we disagree that it had any potential to disrupt and discredit the capital markets of Botswana. It was sent to the Authority and to the BSE to advise them that there is a problem at the company and to let them know that as a result the company wanted to stop trading and await further instructions from the Authority and the BSE.”
Titose Tibone and his Board are of the view that when joined, the company was not performing well. In fact it had showed losses in the amount of P8,000,000.00. They state that shortly thereafter the fortunes of the company had reversed. “We are therefore confident that based on market share figures and profitability, the CEO of the BSE, Thapelo Tsheole can attest not only to the successful turnaround strategy implemented by Mr Tibone but also to the extent to which SBB has contributed to the fiscus of the BSE under the tenure of Mr Tibone. The shareholders from a profitability and management side are pleased with Mr Titose Tibone performance.”
SBB says at this stage there is no threat of the company being insolvent, in fact, “we worry that with the removal of Mr Titose Tibone, the company might end up in such a position. Having said the above, which we felt would be necessary to bring to the attention of the Authority; we do note that the issue of Mr Titose Tibone’s removal will be dealt with separately.”
SBB has sought clarification on imposition of a civil penalty because they are of the view that it can only be imposed on a person who has committed an act within the purview of that section and that the company cannot be penalized under that section. SBB says the civil penalty on the company will be unlawful.
Here is how one Permanent Secretary encapsulates the clear tension between democracy and bureaucracy in Botswana: “President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s Government is behaving like a state surrounded with armed forces in order to capture it or force its surrender. The situation has turned so volatile, for tomorrow is not guaranteed for us top civil servants.
These are the painful results of a personalized civil service in our view as permanent secretaries”. Although his deduction of the situation may be summed as sour grapes because he is one of the ‘victims’ of the reshuffle, he is convinced this is a perfect description of the rationale behind frequent changes and transfers characterising the current civil service.
The result of it all, he said, is that “there is too much instability at managerial and strategic levels of the civil service leading to a noticeable directionless civil service.” He continued: “Changes and transfers are inevitable in the civil service, but to a permissible scale and frequency. Think of soccer team coach who changes and transfers his entire squad every month; you know the consequences?”
The Tsunami has hit hard at critical departments and Ministries leaving a strong wave of uncertainty, many demoralised and some jobless. In traditional approaches to public administration, democracy gives the goals; and bureaucracy delivers the technical efficiency required for implementation. But the recent moves in the civil service are indicative of conflicting imperatives – the notion of separation between politicians and administrators is becoming blurred by the day.
“Look at what happened to Prisons and BDF where second in command were overlooked for outsiders, and these are the people who had sacrificially served for donkey’s years hoping for a seat at the ladder’s end. The frequency of the changes, at times affecting the same Ministry or individual also demonstrates some level of ineptitude, clumsiness and lack of foresight from those in charge,” remarked the PS who added that their view is that the transfers are not related to anything but “settling scores, creating corruption opportunities and pushing out perceived dissident and former president, Ian Khama’s alleged loyalists and most of these transfers are said to be products of intelligence detection.”
Partly blaming Khama for the mess and his unwillingness to let go, the PS dismissed Masisi for falling to the trap and failing to outgrow the destructive tiff. “Khama is here to stay and the sooner Masisi comes to terms with the fact that he (Masisi) is the state President, the better. For a President to still be making these changes and transfers signals signs of a confused man who has not yet started rolling his roadmap, if at all it was ever there. I am saying this because any roadmap comes with key players and policies,” he concluded.
The Ministry of Health and Wellness seems to be the most hard-hit by the transfers, having experienced three Permanent Secretaries changes within a year and a half. Insiders say the changes have everything to do with the Ministry being the centre of COVID-19 tenders and economic opportunities. “The buck stops with the PS and no right-thinking PS can just allow glaring corruption under his watch as an accounting officer. Technocrats are generally law abiding, the pressure comes with politically appointed leaders racing against political terms to loot,” revealed a director in the Ministry preferring anonymity.
The latest transfer of Kabelo Ebineng she says was also motivated by his firm attitude against the President’s blue-eyed Task Team boys. “The Task Team wants to own the COVID-19 pandemic and government interventions and always cry foul when the Ministry reasserts itself as mandated by law,” said the director who added that Masisi who was always caught between the crossfire decided on sacrificing Ebineng to the joy of his team as they (Task Team) were in the habit of threatening to resign citing Ebineng as the problem.
Ebineng joins the Office of the President as a deputy Coordinator (government implementation and coordination office).The incoming PS is the soft-spoken Grace Muzila, known and described by her close associates as a conformist albeit knowledgeable.
One of the losers in the grand scheme is Thato Raphaka who many had seen as the next PSP because of his experience and calm demeanour following a declaration of interest in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Secretary post by the current PSP, Elias Magosi.
But hardly ten months into his post, Raphaka has been transferred out to the National Strategy Office in what many see as a demotion of some sort. Other notable changes coming into OP are Pearl Ramokoka formerly with the Employment, Labour and Productivity Ministry coming in as a Permanent Secretary and Kgomotso Abi as director of Public Service Reforms.
One of the ousted senior officers in the Office of the President warned that there are no signs that the changes and transfers will stop anytime soon: “If you are observant you would have long noticed that the changes don’t only affect senior officers but government decisions as well. A decision is made today and the government backtracks on it within a week. Not only that, the President says this today, and his deputy denies it the following day in Parliament,” he warned.
Some observers have blamed the turmoil in the civil service partly to lack of accountable presidential advisers or kitchen cabinet properly schooled on matters of statecraft. They point out that politicians or those peripheral to them should refrain from hampering the technical and organizational activities of public managers – or else the party (reshuffling) won’t stop.
In the view expressed by some Permanent Secretaries, Elias Magosi, has not really been himself since joining the civil service; and has cut a picture of indifference in most critical engagements; the most notable been a permanent secretaries platform which he chairs. As things stand there is need to reconcile the imperatives of democracy and democracy in Botswana. Peace will rein only when public value should stand astride the fault that runs between politicians and public managers.
Former Permanent Secretary to the President, Carter Morupisi, is fighting for survival in a matter in which the State has charged him and his wife, Pinnie Morupisi, with corruption and money laundering.
Morupisi has joined a list of prominent figures that served in the previous administration and who have been accused of corruption during their tenure in office. While others have been emerging victorious, Morupisi is yet to find that luck. The High Court recently dismissed his no case to answer application.
United States President, Joe Biden, is faced with a decision to make relating to the Covid-19 vaccine intellectual property after 175 former world leaders and Nobel laurates joined the campaign urging the US to take “urgent action” to suspend intellectual property rights for Covid-19 vaccines to help boost global inoculation rates.
According to the world leaders, doing so would allow developing countries to make their own copies of the vaccines that have been developed by pharmaceutical companies without fear of being sued for intellectual property infringements.
“A WTO waiver is a vital and necessary step to bringing an end to this pandemic. It must be combined with ensuring vaccine know-how and technology is shared openly,” the signatories, comprising more than 100 Nobel prize-winners and over 70 former world leaders, wrote in a letter to US President Joe Biden, according to Financial Times.
A measure to allow countries to temporarily override patent rights for Covid related medical products was proposed at the World Trade Organization by India and South Africa in October, and has since been backed by nearly 60 countries.
Former leaders who signed the letter included Gordon Brown, former UK Prime Minister; François Hollande, former French President; Mikhail Gorbachev, former President of the USSR; and Yves Leterme, former Belgian Prime Minister.
In their official communication, South Africa and India said: “As new diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines for Covid-19 are developed, there are significant concerns [about] how these will be made available promptly, in sufficient quantities and at affordable prices to meet global demand.”
While developed countries have been able to secure enough vaccine to inoculate their citizens, developing countries such as Botswana are struggling to source enough to swiftly vaccine their citizens, something which world leaders believe it would work against global recovery therefore proving counter-productive.
Since the availability of vaccines, Botswana has been able to secure only 60 000 doses of vaccines, 30 000 as donation as from the Indian government, while the other 30 000 was sourced through COVAX facility. Canada, has pre-ordered vaccines in surplus and it will be able to vaccinate each of its citizens six times over. In the UK and US, it is four vaccines per person; and two each in the EU and Australia.
For vaccines produced in Europe, developing countries are forced to pay double what European countries are paying, making it more expensive for already financially struggling economies. European countries however justify the price of vaccines and that they deserve to buy them cheap since they contributed in their development.
It is evident that vaccines cannot be made available immediately to all countries worldwide with wealthy economies being the only success story in that regard, something that has been referred to as a “catastrophic moral failure”, head of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
The challenge facing developing countries is not only the price, but also the capacity of vaccine manufactures to be able to do so to meet global demand within a short time. The proposal for a patent waiver by India and South Africa has been rejected by developed countries, known for hosting the world leading pharmaceutical companies such US, European Union, the United Kingdom, and Switzerland.
According to the Financial Times, US business groups including pharmaceutical industry representatives, have urged Biden to resist supporting a waiver to IP rules at the WTO, arguing that the proposal led by India and South Africa was too “vague” and “broad”.
The individuals who signed the letter, including Nobel laureates in economics as well as from across the arts and sciences, warned that inequitable vaccine access would impact the global economy and prevent it from recovering.
“The world saw unprecedented development of safe and effective vaccines, in major part thanks to US public investment,” the group wrote. “We all welcome that vaccination rollout in the US and many wealthier countries is bringing hope to their citizens.”
“Yet for the majority of the world that same hope is yet to be seen. New waves of suffering are now rising across the globe. Our global economy cannot rebuild if it remains vulnerable to this virus.” The group warned that fully enforcing IP was “self-defeating for the US” as it hindered global vaccination efforts. “Given artificial global supply shortages, the US economy already risks losing $1.3tn in gross domestic product this year.”