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Gov't shakes up Botash board

CHAKALISA DUBE
Soda Ash Mine
FRANCISTOWN: Government on Wednesday changed its representatives in the board of directors at Botash mine, Mmegi has established.

The mine is a 50/50 partnership agreement that gives ownership to the government and a South African based company Chlor Alkali.

Former Francistown Mayor Iqbal Ebrahim, former Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) President Negroes Kgosietsile, Neo Mokgwathi and Garekwe Mojaphoko have all been removed as board members at Botash. Mojaphoko has been Botash deputy chairperson since 2014.

The new board members representing government are former SPEDU Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Kago Moshashane, Harry Pheko, Dr Nkisang Moeti, former Mowana Mine general manager Sebele Molalapata, Ofentse Ditsele the Director (mineral affairs) at the Department of Mines and one lawyer. Dr Moeti was in the previous board.

It is still not very clear as to why the board was changed. However, the appointment of the new board members was immediately greeted by insinuations that the negative criticism that has in the recent past been leveled against the old board could have influenced the latest changes.

The old board (government representatives in the old board) has in the past been accused of playing an ordinary role in the decision-making processes at Botash.

It was also alleged that board representatives of Chlor Alkali often sidelined the government representatives in key decisions taken at the mine.

Some months ago, Eric Molale, the minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security (MMGE) denied reports that board members (who have since been replaced) who represent government play a minimal role in the decision

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making at the mine. When fielding questions in Parliament the minister stated that government fully participates in decisions taken at the mine.

At one point board members (the previous board) representing the government were accused of not doing enough to protect former Botash Managing Director Montwedi Mphathi who was sacked under controversial circumstances. It was further alleged that board representatives at Chlor Alkali played a key role in Mphathi’s dismissal. Sources say government was infuriated by the decision to sack Mphathi.

But yesterday the government maintained that there is nothing ‘cynical’ about the new board appointments.

“ It was just a question of normalising things and bringing fresh people with new ideas,” said Mmetla Masire, Permanent Secretary at MMGE.

He said that some of the board members who were removed have served for more than 21 years a practice that was against the ideals of good corporate governance.

He further said, “ The old board operated without a time frame and a termination clause. A typical board has a term of between four to five years. We wanted a board that will operate within a specified time frame. To ensure a smooth transition one board member has been retained in the new board member for one year.

We cannot release everybody for the sake of continuity. Other board members will serve for a period of between four and five years depending on various circumstances.”



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