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BERA should put house in order

Botswana Energy Regulatory Authority (BERA) was established in terms of the Botswana Energy Regulatory Authority Act 2016 with the primary mandate of providing economic regulation for the energy sector.

The Authority has been assigned specific functions to license, monitor and inspect licensees with the aim of enforcing compliance for the proper functioning of the sector.

Since its formation a few years ago, the Authority has never known peace. Skirmishes are the order of the day at this Lobatse-based entity. It is either Board members bickering amongst themselves or the members of the executive stabbing each other in the back. Board members and members of executive are always involved in litigation against each other at the expense of delivering on the Authority’s core mandate.

Just this week, in a landmark case, the Industrial Court has upheld the challenge by the BERA Director of Finance that her dismissal was improper and unlawful. In setting aside her dismissal, the Court found that BERA had acted in bad faith and sought to circumvent the court case that had been instituted against it.

Despite attempts to victimise its employees and to use BERA’s financial muscle to settle old family scores, the Authority was found by Justice Isaac Bahuma to have acted in bad faith and illegally in dismissing its finance director. The court set aside the dismissal and ordered BERA to pay legal costs.

Meanwhile, in a forth night, another Judge will hear an urgent application in which other former employees also questioned their dismissal. The verdict by Bahuma adds a new

headache for BERA, which they had thought it had escaped as it meant management’s attempt to dismiss its accounting employees en mass to avoid broad scrutiny of its operations and corruption allegations levelled against it remain in the radar.

Bahuma’s judgement is a welcome development to employees who are unfairly treated as it tears down a long-standing culture of corporate impunity and opens corporations to openness and scrutiny.  No longer can issues of corruption be hidden by arbitrarily dismissing employees. For employees subjected to this form of treatment the case is a rail against injustice and confirms that all are equal before the law.

When the employees were dismissed last week, a massive press coverage orchestrated by BERA really meant to harm the employees in question ensued. Given the Industrial Court judgement it would be interesting to see if BERA will act with the same vigour and zeal by ensuring that the judgement also gets widespread media coverage and prominence.

We call upon all the warring parties to drop their guns for the sake of the Authority lest the public starts questioning their integrity. Enough is enough! None of them is bigger than BERA.

Today’s thought

“It is essential that the activities of corporate executives are under constant, vigorous and public scrutiny, because those activities are crucial to the economic well-being of society.”

–      Ann Crotty






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