Disgruntled former Botash PTY (Ltd) Managing Director Montwedi Mphathi remains uncertain about his future with the soda ash mining company, two months after his unceremonious dismissal last year in October.
Speaking to The Botswana Gazette over the weekend, Mphathi said he was left in the lurch since the seemingly futile promise by Minister Sadique Kebonang who had wanted to reinstate him. Sounding dejected but in a rather diplomatic tone, Mphathi said ‘‘I am just in the dark as to what is going on right now because the minister has become increasingly hard to reach. I however remain hopeful he will resolve this matter and it might just be he is still held up with other issues in his ministry.’’
Following his dismissal from work, Mphathi pinned his hope of returning to work on Kebonang who had made it explicitly clear he was against the board’s decision to expel Mphathi without giving him the opportunity to defend himself over allegations levelled against him, which included insubordination after he suspended an officer against the board’s advice. Kebonang had managed to convince his colleagues in cabinet that Mphathi deserved to be reinstated but the BotAsh board did not budge. As negotiations continued between Kebonang and Board Chairman, Ian Forbes, the board offered Mphathi a new role as a “consultant” which he turned down. Mphathi was offered a 12-month contract from 15th December 2015 which he turned down. ‘‘This letter serves to advise you that since your termination of employment with Botash on the 31st October 2017, the Board has reconsidered our position and would like to offer you an opportunity to be re-employed by Botash,’’reads part of the letter.
Mphathi was meant to hold the position of Executive Consultant, reporting directly to the Botash Board. ‘‘You will be required to be involved in assisting the Chairman and the Board in all matters of strategy, including major capex projects and with the objective to formalize a plan which will result in the doubling of BotAsh’s profitability over the next 5 years,’’ stated the offer letter. Mphathi declined the offer as he was still hopeful Kebonang will be able to prevail over Forbes and his colleagues in the board. Two and a half months down the line, nothing has happened and Mphathi is worried his potentially unfair dismissal might die a natural death.
Reached for comment on Sunday, Minister Kebonang admitted that nothing had moved much since Mphathi was offered a different position. He however said he would be engaging the other shareholder, Chlor Alkali Holdings (CAH) Group, South Africa, to get them to offer Mphathi his original position.
‘‘As you may appreciate it, we are both 50/50 shareholders and in terms of the shareholder agreement, the other shareholder retains the right to appoint management. It’s a delicate process which we are handling with the necessary sensitivity,’’ the minister said.