Cut throat corporate brawls have finally claimed the skull of Botswana Public Officers Pension Fund (BPOPF) Principal Officer Boitumelo Molefe, who on Thursday turned down an attempt to cause her to seek a renewal of her contract which ends on June 30.
Based on the disagreement, employer trustees grabbed the opportunity and showed her the door, a move that had long been contemplated when the no-nonsense Molefe cracked the whip to cleanse the controversial pension fund, The Patriot on Sunday can confirm. A source says Molefe has long declared that she was not interested in renewing her contract because of the toxic environment she found herself in because of the hostility meted out on her by board members representing government, who were particularly unhappy with some of her decisions. Such acrimony was aggravated by the CEO’s firm and bold decisions, that saw her terminate deals worth billions of pula sending some asset management firms to bankruptcy, losing millions of pula in some instances. Examples include BONA Life, African Alliance, Capital Management Botswana (CMB) and other asset managers like Afena Capital (now Kgori Capital), and Flemming Asset Managers.
Board Chairman Solomon Mantswe denies that the parties have agreed to part ways on June 30. Instead he chooses to proffer an alternative explanation, that for all intends and purpose is just a question of semantics. “Because of the confidentiality that governs the employer-employee relationship I would not want to discuss details of Boitumelo’s contract. What should be understood is that this was a contractual relationship spanning five years, which ends on June 30. Therefore, when Boitumelo’s contract ends on June 30 she will be leaving the pension fund. It is agreeing not part ways as you put it,” said Mantswe, refusing to discuss reasons why the Board of Trustees would want her gone.
Asked what the Board will do going forward, since June 30 is just a few weeks away, Mantswe said; “We will advertise the post to find someone to act while we recruit a new CEO to fill the vacancy created by Boitumelo’s departure”.
On Friday Molefe confirmed that she will be leaving BPOPF on Tuesday, June 30 when her five year contract ends. She also confirmed that she was not seeking a renewal, which the Board asked her to in a rather contemptuous manner. Earlier in February, she said “I have done my part. If the Board releases me I will be happy to go home and rest”.
Molefe leaves at a difficult time for BPOPF, when they had just been dumped by US Global Bank JP Morgan shortly after Botswana was blacklisted by the European Union (EU) on suspicion of being a haven for dirty money. Terminating the CEO of the biggest pension fund in Botswana, with assets under management worth over P70 billion, further tarnishes Botswana’s ratings.
Observers suggest that Molefe has done a sterling job at BPOPF, by employing prudent management to grow the assets of the Fund by approximately P10 billion since she her appointment. Along the way, she made a lot of enemies. A cabal of local businessmen were left unhappy with drastic decisions taken by Molefe when she boldly terminated some lucrative contracts they had enjoyed for many years at BPOPF. Sources within BPOPF have revealed that Mantswe, perhaps because of his close relationship with Rapula Okaile as football administrators, has always wanted reconciliation with the controversial Capital Management Boatswana (CMB). A board member reveals that at some point Mantswe asked why the issue between BPOPF and CMB could not be resolved amicably with the latter being asked to return the millions they owe the fund. With Molefe gone, the CMB scandal is as good as over.
Sources suspect that some board members wanted Molefe removed because she was thorough in her job, while most of them are clueles on financial matters. Such weaknesses on the board led to poor oversight from Trustees who fail to perform their fiduciary functions. The departure of the CEO further weakens governance at BPOPF, where the board of trustees has been operating short of five (5) Trustees after some members were removed for breaching the Rules of the Fund. The BPOPF has been dragged to court by some of the Trustees who feel that they were removed using the wrong statutes, after the Regulator failed to establish any wrong doing. The case has already been filed in court.