Bayport Botswana rocked by scandal over appointment of CEO

Nicholas Mokwena
Tuesday, 16 February 2016
Father Maphongo Father Maphongo

Bayport Financial Services Botswana is marred by controversy following the appointment of the incumbent Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Gerald Mabureza, Botswana Guardian can reveal.

Executives at the Botswana office are up in arms accusing the Bayport International group support office executives in Johannesburg, South Africa of using the CEO to sabotage the local office, where most managers are Batswana. It is alleged that the SA executives are using Mabureza to push out locals who question the decisions taken by the South African office.

“Some of these executives run companies which directly do business with Bayport. We suspect they are using our CEO here to facilitate their greedy initiatives in the local operation. They frustrate the Botswana office so that they can charge exorbitant management fees for tasks which local management can effectively execute. For this they opt to play hands on role rather than guidance. They are now planning to cut budgets for some of the departments and we are told restructuring is also on the cards”, said one manager at the Botswana office in Gaborone.

It is alleged that most of the sidelined managers are those who used to work with the former CEO Father Maphongo. Maphongo is now the Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors. It is alleged that Maphongo has been at the helm of the Botswana office for years even before the time Bayport took over from Money Quest Investment in 2010.

The support office in South Africa consists of top executives in Information Technology, Marketing, Business Development and Credit Sales among others who report to the head office in Mauritius.

“There is only one vote that comes from Botswana at board meetings because only Maphongo will be there since the passing away of another board member last year. One voice cannot have any impact.” In a development that compounds matters, Botswana Guardian has discovered that the current CEO was appointed but an advert for the same position was placed months later in local newspapers.

A communication seen by this publication, from Maphongo to staff dated June 27th 2014, confirmed the appointment of Marebuza by the Board. Marebuza was the Chief Finance Officer prior to his appointment.
Information uncovered by Botswana Guardian revealed that the advert for the CEO position was published on two local newspapers on the 1st and 3rd of August 2014.

The closing date for applications was the 14th of August 2014. A source within the management team at Bayport Botswana indicated that even though scores of Batswana applied for the post “There was no short-listing and no one was called for interviews”.

After two months a similar advert, this time without Bayport logo, was flighted in October 2014 in the Daily News as per a 24th September 2014 email from Kabo Tladi, the Human Resource Manager to Marketing Manager Geoffrey Pororo. The two adverts copies of which this publication has, are similar except that the October 2014 one does not have a logo and there has been an additional requirement for the post being ‘ACCA certified. Reasons for not using the logo could not be established.

However claims within the company are that the new advert was tailored to favour the current CEO. The case is said to be before Immigration South Central Office in the labour ministry for investigations. Bayport Management Ltd (BML) provides financial services tailored to the needs of consumers in developing markets. The company was founded in 2001 and is incorporated in Mauritius as a holding company for a number of subsidiaries. Through these subsidiaries, all operating under the Bayport Financial Services banner, BML provides unsecured loans to customers in developing markets.

The Bayport Financial Services brand is available in Botswana, Colombia, Ghana, Mozambique, Mexico, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia, servicing more than 558 000 customers through 420 branches and over 7 280 Bayporteers. Bayport Financial Services Botswana started trading in May 2010 on the strength of a partnership between Bayport, the Botswana government, parastatal organisations and trade unions, according to the company website.

Bayport Botswana loan book is estimated to be just under P300 million. Information gathered at the Botswana office suggests that the company has a healthy position, as it is second after Letshego in terms of market share. In terms of average loan size, Bayport Botswana is said to be the highest among African countries mainly due to the spending power by Batswana.

Responding to a questionnaire sent to him, Maphongo said “in terms of our internal policies, we do not comment on matters such as these allegations in the public domain. As a private company, with both local and international shareholders and with a long and proud history of investment in this market, we remain committed to our business.”

The executive Chairman said in Botswana and in all the other markets in which the group operates, to ensure the sustainability of the business and to ensure maximum leverage of international business model, they are constantly considering the optimisation of all aspects of their operations, in the best interests of their shareholders, employees and customers.

“We pride ourselves on our compliance with the laws and regulations of Botswana and are confident that all of our decisions and actions fall within these frameworks.” Regional Labour Officer at Immigration South-Central, Moatlhodi who is said to be handling the case could not be reached for comment.

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