Letlole La Rona announced this week that four of its board members will resign next month (December) after serving for under a year at company that is owned in majority by the government’s investment arm, Botswana Development Corporation (BDC).
Informed sources allege that behind the scenes in the shock announcement, the Office of the President (OP) has played a significant role. Orders by someone whose identity is known to The Business Weekly &Review, the ‘hit’ is reportedly meant to tighten the OP’s grip on the company.
The four directors are said to have been in the crosshairs of the OP which has been following unflattering reports of the company’s corporate governance issues closely. Reliable sources say the Chairman of the Board of Letlole, Fred Selolwane, was also a target in this ouster that seems to be part of a wider corporate hit list. Selolwane was appointed last year to succeed Boitumelo Mogopa who left under a cloud after a costly drama between the board and ex-CEO Chikuni Shenjere-Mutiswa.
Shenjere Mutiswa was accused of manipulating a bonus scheme in his own favour, consequently earning himself a dismissal from Mogopa and disrepute for the company. While the then board enjoyed a sense of cautious relief hoping for a return to normalcy, the drawn out battle with the axed CEO had far-reaching consequences. When Mogopa and her ‘clique’ tried to offer themselves for re-election to the board, they were told at the time that they were also not wanted. They all folded and agreed to back off, tendering their resignations and paying the price for attracting too much attention to the company which was little known.
Their exit saw the appointment of Selolwane and several new faces. However, unbeknownst to them, a fate similar to what happened to Mogopa and Co. awaited them. “Mr Fred Selolwane advised the Board that he will not offer himself for re-election at the company’s AGM set for 14 December 2021 and will retire from the Board effective at the conclusion of the AGM,” said a seemingly innocuous statement released by Letlole this week. “Unitholders are advised that the company will announce a new Chairman in line with the Botswana Stock Exchange Listings Requirements,” the statement continued reads and expressed “its heartfelt appreciation to its retiring Chairman, Mr Selolwane, whose steadfast leadership guided the Board and Company admirably through the COVID-19 pandemic and wishes him well for the future”. Selolwane was nominated by Grit which owns 30 percent of the company.
Selolwane’s resignation will follow that of his team. “Unitholders are further advised that Ms. Onthatile Tiny Ogotseng, Ms Mmametsi Setlhare and Mr Sedireng Serumola have resigned as independent non-executive directors of the company effective from 3 December 2021,” the statement said. The three directors, who were tasked with guiding Letlole to its “next level of growth”, were appointed in January this year and tasked with finding a CEO. This publication has turned up information that OP has its preferred candidate for the position. The acting CEO Kamogelo Mowaneng has been caretaker for 15 months with no communication of substantive appointment in sight. Curiously, one board member Oteng Keabetswe remains on the board. He is a senior at the Botswana Development Corporation (BDC).
Letlole announced that among nominees put forward for consideration is Gregory Pearson, a businessman and entrepreneur who started his career in the United Kingdom before moving to challenging projects throughout Africa. He has much experience in real estate development and construction and has completed developments in over 40 Africa and Europe.
Pearson is a founder member and CEO of Gateway Real Estate Africa (GREA), a specialist real estate developer operating across 11 African countries for which he is responsible for overall strategic direction and leadership for the company to meet its profitability growth plan and commitments to shareholders by identifying sustainable development opportunities on the African continent that deliver increased returns.
Khuto Balosang has been nominated to be appointed to the Board of Letlole as an independent non-executive director. He is a business technology management professional with core competencies in Performance Management, Business Intelligence, Management Consulting and IT Management. He has over 20 years’ experience primarily in IT Management and exclusively in delivering business solutions that improve performance. Prior to establishing a management consulting business, Balosang worked in various senior positions at Debswana Diamond Company where he was promoted to Group Systems Manager, a role with strategic leadership, coordination and implementation of key solutions in the Group.
He worked in this role from 2006 until his departure at the end of 2011. During this time Balosang was responsible for leveraging his consolidated IT management experience to lead, implement and manage solutions that had a direct impact on the strategic and operational performance measures of the organisation.
Another nominee, Mooketsi Maphane, currently serves as a director on the Board of the Botswana Qualifications Authority (BQA) where he is responsible for Human Resources. Maphane is responsible for providing input into preparation of BQA’s strategic and operational plans and budgets. He also provides input into the formulating, defining, reviewing and updating of the strategic direction of BQA.
Another candidate preferred is Donald Borthwick. He is the owner and a director of Hodari Africa Proprietary Limited, a company specialising in property development, property investment and project management. Hodari Africa develops industrial, commercial, retail and residential properties in South Africa and Africa both for on-sale to institutions and to retain as investments. Hodari Africa has offices in Ghana, South Africa and Mauritius. Its team has experience in development projects in over 30 African countries, including Botswana, Mauritius, Ethiopia, Morocco, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda and Senegal. OP and BDC had not responded to this publication by press time.