At the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Women’s Wing Congress held over the weekend, the Dorcas Makgato camp whitewashed its opposition, among the victors was Debswana Diamond Company’s Group Manager, Public and Corporate Affairs, Esther Kanaimba-Senai, who clinched the Deputy Treasurer seat. Before the dust could settle, there are already murmurs of conflict of interest in the corporate governance expert community.
Analysts in corporate governance issues have argued that Kanaimba-Senai’s position is tantamount to conflict of interest since both positions that she holds are influential and she is holding public office. One analyst has posited that Debswana is a parastatal organization by virtue of Government owning a stake in it and it should provide its position on the matter. “Kanaimba-Senai is a Government employee like any person who works for a parastatal organization or a quasi-government organization,” argued the expert.
Another analysts corroborated the first one saying; “Sensitive companies like Debswana and BCL should have a policy that prohibits politicians’ involvement in board directorships or hold high public offices simultaneously.” The analyst referred this publication to an incident that occurred in 2009 where four Debswana employees were reportedly forced to re-consider their employment status after they carved their way into active politics citing issues of corporate governance and a new business strategy. A number of them who came from various political divides ended up reconsidering their options, one of them was Christopher Ramolemane, a former Jwaneng mayor. “Debswana even changed its policy to prohibit employees from doubling as politicians as the dispensation was said to constitute inappropriate business practice and affected efficiency,” said the analyst.
In an interview, Kanaimba-Senai said her position as BDP Women’s Wing treasurer is not considered conflictual by the company as long as she does not get paid for it. She emphasized that the Debswana policy was changed to state that should employees participate in politics, it should not be a paying position.
Quizzed on where her interests would lie should other company stakeholders or those within the party she is affiliated to neither differ nor fail to account to the public, Kanaimba-Senai responded by saying, “if such issues arise they would be resolved through the board of directors which makes the decisions.”
BDP Secretary General Mpho Balopi could not be reached to comment on the matter at press time.