LAWRENCE SERETSE & SONNY SERITE
The most powerful woman in the banking sector, former Bank of Botswana (BoB) Governor Linah Mohohlo left the Central Bank effective October 2016, and together with the customary golden handshake that comes with the retirement of such senior position, Mohohlo left with all the material comforts that came with 23 (17 as Governor) years at her old job.
Just a few months before her retirement late last year, BoB bought the office of the Governor of BoB, a brand-new Mercedes Benz S400 HYBRID, the sleek vehicle valued at P1.3 million; P1,268 799.84 to be precise. When Mohohlo retired a few months later, Mohohlo bought the same car from BoB for a song.
Investigations by The Gazette reveals that Mohohlo bought the German-make car for only P600, 000. It is alleged that initially the former Governor made an offer to purchase the vehicle from BoB for P200, 000 but the Central Bank declined the offer, eventually settling on under half the vehicles purchase price. Mohohlo is also said to have made full use of BoB’s retirement policy in respect to household goods. Using the opportunities afforded by her retirement to buy expensive furniture and curtains that she had used at her official residence, at well below value. Included among some of the items she is said to have inherited are cutlery, crockery and several other home and garden implements. Mohohlo also allegedly uprooted air-conditioning units and the standby generator at the BoB official house citing that the furniture was purchased as per her personal specifications.
Responding to The Botswana Gazette enquiries, BoB Spokesperson Andrew Sesinyi said the former governor’s perquisites (benefits) and exit arrangements were handled in accordance with Bank’s policy and general conditions of service. He said it is consistent with bank policy that the occupant of a furnished official residence is given the first option to buy furniture and similar assets of the bank at the official residence, at the end of their contract of employment.
Sesinyi confirmed that Mohohlo exercised this option with respect of a “vehicle and some of the furniture items”.
In 2008 a leaked confidential correspondence from Bank of Botswana (BoB) between its then Governor, Linah Mohohlo, and the then Chief Internal Auditor, Joe Mutwalehe revealed that the Governor resided in a P 4,4 million palatial home, furnished at cost of P 1 million. The curtains alone for the auspicious residence at the time cost approximately P300, 000. The garden shed was valued at P10 000 and air conditioners were installed at a cost of P120 000, though the true cost of these improvements were not included in the report on the Governor’s house.
After Mohohlo’s retirement on 20 October 2016, the former governor delayed with vacating the official residence. There were media reports suggesting that BoB was contemplating legal action in an effort to evict her from its official residence. By December 2016, Mohohlo had been expected to have vacated the house in two months, however when she failed to adhere to the agreed date, Mohohlo sought for an extension, asking to be allowed to stay in the banks’ official house for six months after her retirement, until April 30, 2017.
In response to allegations that Mohohlo promoted her favourite employees just before she retired, Sesinyi said all staff promotions and appointments in the Bank are dealt with in accordance with the Bank’s general conditions of service and regulations governing the operations of the bank as well as the Bank of Botswana Act.
After her retirement, Mohohlo was appointed Coordinator for the Selebi Phikwe Economic Revitalisation/Recovery programme by President Ian Khama following the closure of BCL mine. The initiative has since received criticism for duplicating the Selebi-Phikwe Economic Diversification Unit (SPEDU).
This publication went to great lengths to contact Mohohlo but were met with numerous challenges as BoB public relations unit advised that they did not have her contacts. The SPEDU office in Selibe Phikwe similarly advised they did not have her contacts either. The Gazette, finally managed to get hold of a close associate who availed to this publication Mohohlo’s Personal Assistant’s telephone number. This publication was only then availed her email address. At the time of going to print, Mohohlo had not responded to our questions.