The webinar, which aimed to unpack current challenges of corporate governance in Botswana and the region, was attended virtually by the company’s stakeholders from across the board including pension fund trustees, regulators, members of the media and other key stakeholders. The webinar was hosted by the Allan Gray Botswana Managing Director Phatsimo Ncube, and featured Allan Gray Botswana portfolio manager Tapologo Motshubi, senior director of capital markets policy at the CFA Institute Matt Orsagh, and Financial Mail editor Rob Rose, as presenters.
In her opening remarks, Ncube noted the importance of critically analysing the current governance landscape not only in Botswana but across the region and devising resolutive measures and strategic reforms that can be put in place to generate sustainable shareholder value and protect the interests of all key stakeholders. It was asserted that, what sets successful companies apart often comes down to having the right people and structures in place. One of these critical structures is a strong corporate governance framework, that cultivates a culture of integrity, which in turn, may lead to strong performance. When corporate governance is weak, performance can falter and shareholder value can be eroded.
Orsagh’s presentation honed in on various issues impacting Corporate Governance including Board Diversity, Equity Inclusion, Executive Pay in the Era of Covid and the Return of Activism, among other things. He further discussed various case studies in which corporate governance principles had been ignored or flouted, and the resultant impact on the business and industry.
For his part, Rose spoke on shareholder activism, and encouraged institutional investors to stand up when there is a corporate governance gap, in order to safeguard the smooth operation of a company and generate better shareholder returns. “All stakeholders from boards, internal audit executives and Audit Committees have to be more vigilant in light of the current corporate governance climate in the country and the region; it is the personal responsibility of each individual to ensure that there is no lapse in the corporate governance structures,” he encouraged.
The panel outlined critical reforms that were needed in order to make positive strides in the corporate governance space such as material increases in mandated minority shareholder protections, higher minimum disclosure standards, binding shareholder vote on executive director or officer renumeration and increased activism by minority shareholders.
“The webinar was one of the first public discourses that need to be had around corporate governance in Botswana, following on international trends and global platforms addressing these issues. The case studies of corporate governance failures and successes we discussed demonstrated that we have a long way to go as Botswana, and that we need the active participation of the regulators, the boards and the executive teams as well as strong shareholder activism in order to turn this tide around,” concluded Motshubi.