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Trade Commission CEO admits negligence

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TSAONE SEGAETSHO

The CEO of the newly established Botswana Trade Commission (BOTC) Mphoeng Tamasiga said he decided to “take risks” and operate the organization alone after its Board of Directors was dissolved.
Tamasiga said this after being put under pressure by Parliamentary Committee on Statutory Bodies and Public Enterprises over how and why the organisation was operating without a board. Parliament had learnt, through a letter, that Tamasiga had been running the organisation alone without a board to supervise him. The letter raises allegations of corruption, maladministration and abuse of office against Tamasiga.
“Within the first month of his stay in office, the CEO appointed four senior staff members of the Botswana Trade Commission without the involvement and approval of the Board,” committee Chairman Samson Moyo Guma quoted the letter to him.
It emerged from the letter also that the posts of four executives were not advertised and that Tamasiga single handedly conducted and appointed candidates. Packages for the same executives were created by him, according to the letter Guma was reading.
With this conduct, according to the letter which is also before the Ombudsman and DCEC, Tamasiga contravened the Botswana Trade Commission Act of 2013 which states that appointees made by the CEO were subject to board approval. The BOTC board was however dissolved in March this year after short operation from 2015. Tamasiga was himself appointed in February this year and only had a functional board for one month.
The job of BOTC CEO, according to an advertisement on Sunday Standard published on 28 May 2015, is to “report to the Chairperson of BOTC Board to ensure that the Commission actively pursues the implementation of BOTC’s mandate through all of its programs and operations.” His core functions should also be to “reporting to the Board of the Commission and guided by the Botswana Trade Commission Act, 2013.”
In an attempt to mount a defense, Tamasiga appeared to shift responsibility to the board, saying he thought it had given him responsibility to appoint workers before it was dissolved. “The Board was absent and I took all the decisions. In the absence of the Board, I thought as the CEO, I had to take risks…I took risks to run the organisation alone,” he proffered.
It also emerged during the enquiry that BOTC rents a 760 meter square office space at Masa Centre, CBD for P79 000 a month. This is despite the parastatal operating with only 6 employees who include Tamasiga. He however explained that the board had envisaged that there would be up to 38 employees, hence the size of the office. He added that they were also stuck with the office since the rental lease period was three years and there was no option to terminate.
In his usual element, Guma then ordered Tamasiga to go and ask Trade Minister, Vincent Seretse why the Commission was operating without a board.

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