- Accused of insubordination and abuse of office
- He defied Board and suspended Corporate Aff airs Manager
- Friends and associates flown in company private jet
- Other Managers face disciplinary hearing
- Botash fined P3million by SARS
- P8million goes missing
- Production targets not met
- Board gives Minister Sadique Kebonang the middle finger
Botash Managing Director Montwedi Mphathi had just arrived from a private holiday in Dubai when he was summoned to an extra ordinary Board meeting at Grand Palm in Gaborone last week Tuesday. Mphathi went to the meeting clutching a file that contained documents he had intended to present to the Board as justification for his decision to suspend Corporate Affairs Manager Victoria Lekoma. The Board had apparently warned him against the suspension but he defied their orders and went ahead to place Lekoma on ice.
At the Grand Palm meeting, the Board never gave Mphathi the opportunity to make a presentation. Instead, he was asked to stay outside while Board members, led by Chairman Ian Forbes, deliberated on his fate. The agenda of the meeting was solely about Mphathi. After a while, some Board members filed out of the meeting room and only three stayed behind whereupon Mphathi was summoned inside. His fate had been sealed. Forbes broke the sad news. The Board had resolved to terminate Mphathi’s contract in terms of the contractual obligations. He was afforded a last ride in the company private jet so he could travel to Sowa Town and clear his desk and collect some of his personal paraphernalia, including a portrait of his wife that had been decorating his plush office.
HOW DID IT ALL START?
Information gathered by this publication indicates that for a considerable period of time, Mphathi had been leading a divided organisation. Botash had been riddled with factions in the management team. The animosity within management had been so toxic it is said Mphathi had even stopped eating at the company cafeteria out of concern he may be poisoned. Mphathi hired a Private Investigator to look into several operations within the company, including investigation on some of the employees. Within a week of arrival at Sowa Town, the private investigator had allegedly discovered rot within the company, a highly placed insider revealed.
The employees accused Mphathi of many things, chief among them, purging out those who disagreed with him. Some of the accusations were reported to the private investigator while a litany of other wrongdoings were routed through the company’s whistleblowing and ethics committee.
It all started at the beginning of the year with the dismissal of Procurement Manager, Miriam Raborokgwe and an attempt to replace him with Allen Lekwape. Corporate Affairs Manager Victoria Lekoma prevailed over Mphathi and instead bring into the company fold Ronnie Yane who, as it turned out, was fired last month on his hospital bed at Tati River clinic where he had been admitted. Mphathi thereafter suspended Lekoma. Lekoma as chairperson of ethics committee had written an email urging all employees to declare their company interests, something that is said to have incensed Mphathi as he felt it was insubordination to issue the memo without his consent.
In addition Wame Tshaila, former Marketing Manager was laid off, and replaced with one Tshepho Sedimo who it has been discovered, by the private investigator, does not have tertiary qualifications and only has a form 5 certificate, information gathered indicates. It is said Mphathi wanted Botash to sponsor him for a degree program but the Board refused. Efforts to contact Sedimo since last week were futile.
During the Makgadikgadi epic, Public Relations Coordinator Kefilwe Batsalelwang-Kebafetotse had a altercation with Mphathi’s Personal Secretary Karabo Kiyo. As a result of the altercation Kebafetotse was summoned before a disciplinary hearing. She was found guilty and given a final warning. She appealed and insisted her appeal to be heard by a board member and not Mpahthi. He refused to recuse himself and dismissed her. Still at Makgadikgadi, it was reported that the company aeroplane was used to ferry Mphathi’s friends and associates (names known to this publication) from Gaborone to the Makgadikgadi epic show. The private jet is said to have made about five trips.
Similarly, Herbert Kebafetotse (SHE Manager) is currently on suspension after he was accused of embezzling company funds. Allegations made against him at the time, suggested that he took money claiming to use it to hire casual labourers who were taking care of rhinos that were donated to Botash by the Khama Rhino Sanctuary. Reports now reveal that the money was found to have been deposited into the Khama Rhino Sanctuary.
Financial reports indicate that Botash mysteriously lost P8million. Following the revelations, Systems Accountant was suspended while Accounts Clerk was charged and dismissed. He appealed his case internally and exonerated. He was ordered to be reinstated but when he reported back for duty, security barred him from the premises.
Botash is said to be a regular at Labour and Industrial court and mostly loses the cases or settles out of court at a huge cost to the company. But Botash’s legal difficulties do not end with Industrial Court litigation. The company has been slapped with a P3million penalty by the South African Revenue Services (SARS) and more heads are expected to roll as a result as the Board of Directors is said to be on a mission to ‘clean’ the rot at the company.
While she has resumed duty after being suspended, Corporate Affairs Manager Victoria Lekoma is not yet out of the woods as she is scheduled to appear before a disciplinary hearing on Thursday. It is said however, that much of the rot happened during the period when Mphathi had stripped her of her responsibilities, and that she is expected to answer allegations at the hearing for which she was not responsible. She was not available when reached for comment.
While Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security Sadique Kebonang is said to be displeased with the manner in which Mphathi was fired, the Board of Directors, especially from the South African shareholders is said to be livid with Mphathi and were of the view they needed to expel him in order to safeguard their investment as 50 percent shareholders in Botash.
Questions sent to Mpathi were not responded, his inboxes indicate the inquiries were received. This publication will still afford those mentioned the right of reply at anytime should they want it.