Limit political influence on regulators

Koobonye Ramokopelwa
Monday, 19 February 2018
Sadique Kebonang Sadique Kebonang

There is need for government to reduce undue political influence in the appointments of boards and the senior executive officers of parastatals especially in sensitive sectors such as energy, a consultant has proposed.  

David Mompati, the Managing Director of Duiker Energy made the suggestion during a panel discussion under the topic, ‘Thinking beyond the Fence – Growing Agriculture to feed the world and Fuelling our future: Sustainable and Profitable PPPs (Private Public Partnerships) Avenues’. “Investors need certainty,” said Mompati adding that, (investors) do not need a situation where if political leadership changes, the new ones will sing a totally different hymn. Mompati is a seasonedenergy expert who has worked for companies such as Tlou Energy and CIC Energy.

Speaking at the event which was organised by First National Bank Botswana (FNBB), Mompati said it was even more important for sector regulators such as Botswana Energy Regulatory Authority (BERA) to be devoid of political influence, given the critical role it plays in the economy.  As things stand, the board and the executive of BERA are appointed by cabinet on recommendation from the responsible minister, in this case minister Advocate Sadique Kebonang. For growth, the sector needs to be regulated by independent minded men and women of integrity who are not clouded by political influences. BERA became operational last year. It was established to regulate the energy and petroleum sector. BERA is currently under the leadership of Rose Seretse, as the Chief Executive Officer. Seretse was not at the seminar to respond to some of the suggestions made by Mompati, despite being invited as a panellist.  “She had an emergency meeting,” said an FNBB official. 

Reached for comment by Botswana Guardian last week, Kebonang, who is minister for Minerals Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security, said there is nothing wrong with the status quo. He brushed aside any suggestions that boards and executives will also be clouded in their judgment since they are appointed by politicians of the governing party. In the case of BERA, where he is responsible for appointing the board of directors and CEO, Kebonang said in the event that any player(s) in the energy sector is aggrieved by whatever the regulator’s decision, ‘they do not come to the minister but to a court of law’. BERA is responsible for regulating the energy sector which includes companies providing petroleum products power generation, distribution and transmission, among others. The sector’s total assets run into billions of Pula. Speaking at the same event, FNBB Economic Research Manager, Moatlhodi Sebabole said the ideal situation will be to have regulators ‘who enable the private sector to thrive’.

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