- PEEPA insiders speak out, accuse Board of overreaching
- DIS investigating PEEPA executives for leaking confidential e-mails
The recent suspension of Public Enterprises Evaluation and Privatization Agency (PEEPA) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Obakeng Moumakwa has shed light into the boardroom brawls at the once defunct privatization agency and personal clashes between the CEO and his board chairperson.
PEEPA BOARD DIVIDED
While Moumakwa refused to shed light on his relationship with his board chair, The Botswana Gazette investigations have revealed that the CEO and board chair Tiny Kgatlhwane never saw eye to eye from the word go. PEEPA insiders have revealed that the CEO – a chartered management accountant and former Member of Parliament never got on well with his boss, herself a former CEO of Botswana Insurance Fund Management (BIFM) and accomplished businesswoman. The two are said to have clashed over Moumakwa’s decision to award PEEPA employees salary increments without the approval of the board.
While Kgathlwane insisted that she should have been informed, Moumakwa said he was entitled to increase salaries at his own accord so long as such increments did not exceed the employees’ salary bands and therefore affect the PEEPA pay structure. The two also allegedly clashed when Moumakwa accused Kgatlhwane of overreaching after she insisted on meeting with the media following the publishing of damning allegations against the CEO. The board chair has allegedly instructed the CEO to seek her approval whenever he embarks on international trips.
The acidic relationship between the two hit an all-time low last week when Kgatlwane slapped Moumakwa with an indefinite suspension for alleged misconduct and contravening the terms and conditions of his employment. Uncomfortable with the focus on daily operational issues, some board members have revealed that they have only sat once to address their core mandate since they were appointed in January this year. However, they allege that they have been summoned to “closed meetings” a record nine times since the beginning of the year.
Further, the board members have anonymously expressed discomfort with the fact that the CEO has been excluded from the meetings even though he is a member of the board.
“But the PEEPA constitution clearly states that the CEO is a member of the board. For us to sit nine times without including him is wrong,” they said.
While they raked in thousands in sitting allowances from their closed meetings, the board is said to have no record of any of their meetings.
“We don’t know why they met. We don’t know how their meetings benefit PEEPA, but they still get paid,” they some PEEPA insiders.
Moumakwa referred all questions to the PEEPA board chair. Last week Friday, this publication sent a detailed inquiry to PEEPA Head of Public Relations, Stratergy and Programmes Mosikare Mogegeh, in a quest to understand the realationship between the board chair and CEO, how often the board met, and what the agenda was. The Botswana Gazette wanted to also establish if it is correct that the board met nine times in closed board meeting without its CEO and executive directors, and to further understand the divisions in the board and their reasons.
Further, this publication wanted to know if indeed Moumakwa bought a P1.5 million Range Rover without approval from the board, and if yes, what the board did to discipline him. On Monday morning, The Botswana Gazette contacted Kgatlhwane, she said she would speak to the questions after lunch, but she never picked phone calls to her mobile thereafter. Neither did she respond to messages sent to her phone. Meanwhile, the Directorate on Intelligence and Security Services (DISS) is said to be investigating two top executives at the embattled Agency for allegedly leaking confidential information to the media and colluding with journalists to launch a smear campaign against the CEO. As the saga unfolds, insiders at PEEPA have spoken out against the CEO’s suspension, bordering on accusing the board of meddling in the Agency’s daily operations.
On Thursday, PEEPA board chair Kgatlhwane slapped Moumakwa with an indefinite suspension pending investigations into the ongoing at the Agency. Moumakwa was charged with insubordination and behaving in a manner that contravened the terms and conditions of his employment. The suspension comes in the wake of media reports alleging that Moumakwa had bought himself a brand new Range Rover valued at P1.5 million; splashed PEEPA funds on personal entertainment and single handedly hiked his favourite female employee’s salary without the approval of the board. The suspension emboldened PEEPA insiders to speak out, alleging victimization and encroachment into the Agency’s daily operations by the board.
In the wake of the media reports, the PEEPA board is said to have insisted on meeting with journalists to iron out issues and possibly stem the tide of negative media reports, despite protestations by Moumakwa that the board was encroaching into the Agency’s daily operations. Insiders this week revealed that the said meeting was a flop as it failed to stem tide, with a subsequent report quoting verbatim e-mail correspondence between Moumakwa, the human resources director and the company secretary, which shows that emails were leaked.
Contacted by Botswana Gazette, Moumakwa confirmed his suspension, but referred further questions to the board Chair. Meanwhile, PEEPA has instructed Armstrongs Attorneys to investigate Moumakwa’s alleged transgressions.
A week before the suspension, the board is said to have written a letter to Moumakwa instructing him to explain a few issues pertaining to the media reports within seven days. Moumakwa later wrote back asking for a five day extension, but somehow his response did not reach the board chair. However, he did respond to the board’s questionnaire. He was subsequently suspended for insubordination and acting in a manner that contravened the terms and conditions of his employment.
Further, the insiders insist that Moumakwa should not have been suspended on the basis of media reports as the board had never granted him audience to explain his actions. As the saga unfolds, reports indicate that this week Moumakwa is scheduled to meet with Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration Nonofo Molefhi and President Mokgweetsi Masisi. While PEEPA board did not respond by press time, The Botswana Gazette is willing to give the board a right of response in its next edition.