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'Dysfunctional' BERA board dissolved

INNOCENT SELATLHWA
Seretse has been left without a board
The Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security, Eric Molale has dissolved the Botswana Energy Regulatory Authority (BERA) board allegedly for poor performance.

BusinessWeek has established that the minister recently axed all board members save for Kenneth Kerekang who was already serving suspension after he was charged in connection with the P230 million National Petroleum Fund scandal.

On Wednesday, Molale referred questions to his permanent secretary, Mmetla Masire who said only four members had been removed.

Authoritative insiders, however, told BusinessWeek that all the remaining board members had been removed and had since received their dismissal letters.

The BERA board is made up of four full time and four part time members.

In May, Molale suspended the board “pending investigation into their individual conduct”.

While on suspension, the board members were charged with seven counts of misconduct relating to a court process initiated by chief operations officer (COO), Duncan Morotsi. The board had suspended the COO over the alleged improper appointment of a consultant. Board chairperson, Bernard Ndove and his deputy Omphile Madimabe subsequently resigned before finalisation of the disciplinary process.

According to the disciplinary charges, the board

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members were essentially being charged with defying the chair in his decision to reinstate the COO.

The board members were accused of taking actions that led BERA to suffer avoidable legal costs and other expenses, after the High Court sided with Morotsi and reinstated the COO.

Morotsi was suspended in June 2018, after the board accused him for improperly appointing a Tanzanian consultant, Edwin Kiddiffu from that country’s Energy and Water Utilities Regulatory Authority to the help BERA. BERA engaged an Independent Enquiry Panel to conduct a disciplinary enquiry against Morotsi between January and March this year, with BERA chief executive officer, Rose Seretse telling Parliament that the authority paid the panel P300,000.

Ever since its appointment, BERA’s board has been riven by factions and battles, which have frequently spilt out into public view.

The board made it onto the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime’s radar only a few months into office, for allegedly unlawfully increasing its members’ salaries.



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