- Attorney General stopped Molale from dissolving board
- Confirms that eventually board will be dissolved
- Some Board members embroiled in corruption-allegations
- Molale says DCEC is about to conclude investigations
The Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security Eric Molale said it is just a matter of time before he dissolves the Botswana Energy Regulatory Authority (BERA) board of directors which has been recently marred by corruption claims.
BERA is responsible for providing an efficient energy regulatory framework for Electricity, Gas, Coal, Petroleum products, Solar and all forms of renewable energy. It was established through the Botswana Energy Regulatory Act 2016 and started its operations on the 1st of September, 2017.
Molale made the revelations at a press conference held last week at the Avani hotel. He was asked on why he has kept the BERA board up to now, despite corruption investigations by the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC).
“It is just a matter of time. In fact let me tell you. I am not a patient man. My Ministry and I had already taken a decision to dissolve the BERA board, but I was stopped by our attorneys at the Attorney General (AG). I was told that I have to follow the right procedure,” Molale said, adding that he has to allow some processes to take effect first before he can take action. “So we have to wait, because I cannot just dismiss the board without having satisfied legal requirements. The DCEC is also about to conclude their investigations,” said Molale.
The Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) is investigating the board of the Botswana Energy Regulatory Authority (BERA) for awarding some members salary increments in an unprocedural, possibly unlawful manner.
The board is made up of eight members, four of whom work full-time at the Authority’s offices in Lobatse. Benard Ndove the chair, Omphile Madimade the Deputy, Raza Chitita and Jonathan Moseki are the non-executive board members. The full time board members are Kenneth Kerekang, Matsapa Motswetla, Sidney Mogapi and Kelebogile Moremi.
Allegations are that when the item of the increment came up for discussion during a board meeting, a few months back, the full-time members didn’t recuse themselves. This non-recusal is now being viewed to have been in contravention of Section 18 of the BERA Act whose first sub-section reads in full: “Every member shall, immediately upon commencement of a meeting, at which any matter which is the subject of consideration and in which the member is directly or indirectly interested in a private capacity, disclose such interest and shall not take part in any consideration or discussion of or vote on any question concerning the matter.”
The increment took effect on April 1 this year, meaning that the directors, who reportedly earn around P100 000 a month, would have earned it twice. The matter reached DCEC, whose officers are said to have started investigating whether the actions of the four full-time members were not in contravention of Section 18.
One of the four board members is Kenneth Kerekang who is one third of the suspect cast in the National Petroleum Fund (NPF) money-laundering case. As Sunday Standard reported last week, his membership of the BERA board contravenes another provision in the BERA Act. Section 12 of the Act empowers the minister to suspend a board member “against whom criminal proceedings are instituted for an offense in respect of which a sentence of imprisonment may be imposed, and whilst that member is so suspended, he or she shall not carry out any duties or be entitled to any remuneration.”
Criminal proceedings have been instituted against Kerekang for an offense (money laundering) in respect of which a sentence of imprisonment (a maximum of 10 years imprisonment or a maximum of P20 million fine or both) may be imposed if the court finds him guilty. The alleged laundering of P250 million from the NPF occurred while Kerekang was still the Director of the Department of Energy. He is BERA’s point man on petroleum.
BERA CEO Rose Seretse has told the Parliament Statutory Body on State Enterprises that there is a matter under investigation relating to a member who has a business relationship with BERA.
A company associated with BERA chairman, Ndove, Pipe King Services supplied BERA with computers worth P34 384.00 in October 2018. The Chairman is also accused of having handpicked the BERA executive team, save for one without advertising the positions. The matter is also under investigation.