Jonathan Raheem Hosseini, the Chief Operations Officer (COO) of Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) who was tipped to be the next chief executive, has been fired Botswana Guardian can reveal. Hosseini was dismissed controversially on 28th August 2018. However, it appears there is more than meets the eye in the way Hosseini has been fired as he was originally cleared from all the six charges he faced by an independent Disciplinary Panel composed of professionals and constituted by the BPC Board.
Indications are that the matter may be settled in a court of law to determine whether the way the Board wants to separate with Hosseini is legal. The matter between the two has been dragging since early 2018. At some stage BPC suspended Hosseini pending investigation and hired Deloitte to do a forensic audit. Deloitte completed its assignment and handed over its findings to the Board.
Based on the Deloitte findings, the Board allegedly started another procedure under which sources and HR experts say the board allegedly colluded with the CEO Dr. Stefan Schwarzfischer and acted outside the bounds of BPC Policy, Procedure and Botswana law to unlawfully and unfairly dismiss Hosseini.
It all started on 4th July 2018 when a disciplinary hearing under Section G of the BPC Human Resource Policy and Procedure commenced against Hosseini. It is said the complainant was CEO Schwarzfischer. It is alleged that based on the seniority of the persons involved, BPC empanelled a body independent of its structures to preside over the disciplinary proceedings, and this resulted in the formation of a disciplinary hearing panel of highly respected legal, human resource, and business professionals.
The disciplinary hearing panel was chaired by a highly respected attorney (name withheld) selected by BPC. It is said that the Panel conducted the hearing explicitly in terms of BPC Disciplinary Policy and Procedure at every step of the proceedings, with the disciplinary hearing taking place between 4th - 20th July 2018. Close sources say the final written submissions from both Schwarzfischer as the complainant and Hosseini as the defendant were submitted on 30th July 2018.
Botswana Guardian investigation shows that on 2nd August 2018, the disciplinary hearing was concluded and closed, in terms of BPC Disciplinary Policy and Procedure Section G Clause 4, specifically Clause 4.6.15 and Clause 4.6.16. The disciplinary hearing panel found Hosseini not guilty on all sic (6) charges levelled against him.
The panel stated that no mitigation was required since Hosseini was not guilty. Sources say the BPC Management and, or Board misdirected themselves or deliberately failed to adhere to BPC Policy and Procedure and Botswana law during the period between 2nd August – 29th August 2018.Sources say in so doing the CEO completely failed to comply with his obligations under clause 4.6.19 of the Disciplinary Procedure and failed to respect clause 7.1.1 of the Disciplinary Policy.
The final blow
BG News has it in good authority that on 28th August 2018 Hosseini was asked to appear before the BPC main Board within a two hour notice. The Board allegedly informed him that they disagreed with the decision of the disciplinary hearing panel and without any further hearing, the Board told him that they choose to find him guilty, and now having been found guilty he was being asked to present mitigation.
It is alleged in that meeting Hosseini and his representative told the Board that they were operating outside of BPC Policy, Procedure and the laws of Botswana and that accepting to present a mitigation to their unlawful pronouncement of guilt would begin to validate their unlawful action, and further that in law mitigation is not presented to those who have not heard a matter themselves. It is said that Board went ahead allowing Schwarzfischer to present before it.
Subsequently the Board ruled contrary to BPC Disciplinary Policy, Procedure and the Laws of Botswana that having been found guilty by them of four charges Hosseini was dismissed with immediate effect. Botswana Guardian investigation found that the letter of “Termination of Contract of Employment” dated 29th August 2018 makes reference to termination “following the disciplinary panel’s findings”.
This according to the sources is dishonest and disingenuous as the disciplinary hearing panel appointed by the Board, after a month long hearing process, explicitly in a signed written judgement found Hosseini not guilty of all six charges and “fully exonerated” him.
Hosseini confirmed that he has been fired and reluctantly said, “as the process takes its course, I will be vindicated and, remain loyal and dedicated to BPC and the government and its objectives and most importantly to the nation that I dedicated my life to serving and look forward to get back to work at BPC soon in order to complete the work that I started.” At the time of going to press, both BPC spokesperson, Dineo Seleke and CEO, Schwarzfischer were not available for comment as their mobile lines rang unattended.
Jonathan Raheem Hosseini, the Chief operations Officer (COO) of Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) who was suspended pending investigation has been cleared of all charges.
However, BG News has reliably learnt that BPC is under the investigation radar of both the parent ministry and Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) both of whom are doing their independent investigations.Hosseini was the subject of a forensic investigation by Deloitte which was instituted by the board following a tip-off from a whistleblower. Amongst the allegations was that Hosseini was and remained a director of a family company named Tobela Solar Power (Pty) LTD when he joined BPC on 22nd May, 2017.
Records show that he only resigned on 1st September 2017. Tobela was awarded a 1 Megawatt (MW) solar power pilot project in the Shoshong constituency. Tobela was formerly known as Vase Settings Propriety Limited before it changed on 31st May, 2017 according to their certificate of incorporation.
In early September 2017, Directors of Tobela were listed as Morteza H Abkenari and Lister Tlale with the third being Jonathan Raheem Husseini who resigned on 1st September 2017. There was also talk of extending the tender to make it a 5MW. The Board and Human Resources Committee (BHRC) took issue with this and decided to suspend or lay Husseini on administrative leave pending the Deloitte forensic investigations.
Speaking to Botswana Guardian on the sidelines of a press conference of his ministry at Avani hotel, Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security, Eric Molale confirmed that the investigation on the COO has been concluded but, “they have not reported to me”.
But Molale said there were also other things that he needs to investigate, such as policy issues around Citizen Economic Empowerment. “If you take the North West Transmission line, BPC says it has complied with the requirements. I am saying no, so I have to then satisfy myself at that level to ensure that the citizen empowerment requirements of a huge project like those are actually investigated and I get a good picture of what is happening”.
He confirmed that the DCEC has received reports and are also making their own investigations, but could not share details citing the stringent DCEC modus operandi. However, he said this does not stop him from moving ahead to try and “remove pains that may be there at BPC”.
Asked if he had appointed any committee to investigate the BPC, Molale said, “No, It is an internal thing, and actually I am going to be visiting the project maybe in the next two weeks to also have first hand information and impressions on the ground”.
Hosseini could not be drawn to say if he was back at work citing company policy, which says that all company information is released by the Marketing and Communication Officer, Dineo Seleke or the CEO, Dr Stephan Schwartzfischer.