Members of the Parliamentary Committee on the Statutory Bodies and State Enterprises (PCSB&SE) have dismissed the Public Enterprises Evaluation and Privatisation Agency (PEEPA) as incompetent with ‘deep decay of irregularities’.
PEEPA executives appearing before the PCSB&SE on Tuesday were grilled for the flux state of affairs at the parastatal, especially at the boardroom level. The Parliamentary Committee members described PEEPA as a sick institution where anything that can go wrong is indeed going wrong and incompetence has become the order of the day.
According to the committee, there is some kind of rot that taking place within the organisation after the suspension of the CEO by the board last week. PEEPA Acting CEO Ishmael Joseph, appearing before the committee found himself in hot soup over the hard hitting interrogations from the members, who demanded answers on what led to indefinite suspension CEO Ezekiel Moumakwa. Joseph responded that Moumakwa has been suspended for allegations of misconduct, with investigations still ongoing. “I honestly don’t know why the board has decided to suspend the CEO. Maybe the board is suitable for giving appropriate answers. I was just delegated by the board as the appointed acting CEO by the board for now,’’ Joseph said, absolving himself from blame.
Acting CEO illegal
Interrogation by the committee also unearthed that the delegation of Joseph by the board to appear before the committee was unlawful. Interim chairman of the committee Pius Mokgware explained that according to the PEEPA constitution on board powers, clause 13.4 indicates that on the absence of the CEO, only Deputy CEO can appear before the committee. The clause reads: “The Board shall appoint Chief Executive Officer, who shall also appoint the Deputy Chief Executive Officer to act on the absence of the CEO,”
He blasted the PEEPA board for being incompetent and ignorant of their own legal guiding instrument, labeling the board to be disrespectful to the parliamentary organ. Consequently the Joseph led PEEPA delegation was sent packing. In addition, the committee was left in shock after being informed that the organisation has been operating without a Deputy CEO since September 2017, after Colleen Tiny Neo Diswai was fired by the board.
The committee reiterated that the board powers are mandatory and no other clauses that relates to the appointment of any officer to represent PEEPA in the absence of CEO only if he or she is Deputy CEO. Ishmael Joseph who is the acting CEO is serving as the Director of Strategy and Programs as his substantive role.
It has also come light that PEEPA has also been operating for almost two years, without a fully functional board of directors which is appointed by the Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration. The board has not been in existence since November 2017 when 6 of the 7 members’ contracts expired and the board currently led by Tiny Kgatlwane was only appointed in December 2018.
Kgatleng East MP Gilbert Mangole dismissed the PEEPA board to be useless as it has failed to develop the strategic direction of implementing its mandate. He also doubted if PEEPA due to its dormant board can be able to fully execute the privatisations of Air Botswana and BMC, adding that PEEPA boardroom seems to be rocked by internal divisions.
Mokgware told PEEPA acting CEO that his organisation is just turning out to be waste of resources charging that he is not convinced on whether it will be successful in executing privatisation of BMC. According to Mokgware, the current deficit of P 8.5 million that PEEPA is running with bears a resemblance to bleeding tax payer’s money on an inefficient organisation with no clear road map.
‘’How can this organisation be able to fully execute privatisation of other houses when it seems that their house is out of order and they cannot rearrange it. I think this organisation is just a waste of money and I don’t see why government still pumps money onto them,” Mokgware slammed the PEEPA board.
Joining the onslaught Mangole also criticised PEEPA for failing to implement any of its projects although government has allocated a budget in the 2019/20 financial year, therefore calling on the leadership to up their game.
Ndaba smells failure
Sharing his sentiments, Gaborone Bonnington South legislator Ndaba Gaolatlhe charged that PEEPA is punching below its weight, adding that he is not convinced on their execution of its mandate.
Ndaba is of the view that PEEPA should be developing a framework for government and providing consulting services on how best to realign some of the ailing government owned enterprises. “We expect PEEPA to be implementing strategic thinking on some of the underperforming enterprises such as Botswana Power Corporation and Water Utilities. Government has pumped half a billion pula in BPC and P400 million into WUC to sustain them and this is where PEEPA should be in the forefront to come up with remedy. Hence, I am not impressed at all, ”Gaolatlhe underscored.