Board inquiry on maladministration underway
Damning allegations of maladministration have surfaced at the Copyright Society of Botswana (COSBOTS) so much that the organization is currently subject to a board administered inquiry.
In candid documents, seen by the Voice Newspaper, and anonymous sources embedded deep within the organization, detailed minutes of board meetings that transpired on the 4th and 9th of August have come to light.
In a document titled “Legal Opinion” authored by Board Secretary – Pearl Mahlala she explicitly notes the lack of a quorum at board meetings and hence a lack of adequate governance.
“At all general meetings, whenever a majority of board members are present at the meeting, a quorum is deemed to be present. This is wrong and contravenes the company laws of Botswana.”
She then advises that the lack of governance be remedied with immediate effect;
“This means that a quorum should be present if a majority of members and proxies are present and not when a majority of board members are present. This needs to be rectified as the decisions of the company must be made by members who represent a majority” she concluded on the matter.
This invariably begs the question as to how many resolutions were passed without a quorum and subsequently enacted.
One resolution that was passed (whether with quorum or not is unknown) was the decision to purchase a vehicle for the CEO – Thato Mokobi (when).
It was agreed that a deposit be paid and the balance liquidated over a period of 36 or 48 months.
However, this instruction was disregarded and instead P430 000 was paid up front.
According to sources, this sum spent, which is close to half a million Pula was equivalent to what the organization was distributing to members at the time.
In an interview, Mokobi unequivocally stated that he was not at liberty to discuss such information as it was subject to an on-going board inquiry.
He did however state that after the conclusion of the inquiry, he may be permitted to comment on the matter.
Perhaps the most damning revelation in the document is the irregularity of an agreement to purchase property exceeding P3 million for COSBOTS purposes.
It is procedural for such matters to undergo measures set by the Board Procurement committee which is tasked with assessing all submitted proposals and conduct due diligence pertinent to risk management and compliance.
It is also mandatory to have three proposed properties for consideration so an informed decision can be made.
However, this was not the case at COSBOTS as the Board Procurement Committee was not consulted and only one property was offered and subsequently accepted by the CEO.
Mahlala notes in the report;
“The way the whole process was conducted could raise suspicions of wrongdoing and mismanagement of funds if the relevant authorities like DIS or DCEC become aware of this.
It is not too late to correct this anomaly owing to the fact that the transaction has not yet been finalized. Let’s rectify this.”
The report also goes on to address the contracting of Onquest (PTY) LTD which primarily serves to verify use of content and reconciliation between media buyers in order to distribute royalties to members.
However, the reports provided by Onquest are said to be lacking in content as COSBOTS still mainly distributes royalties based on the work of the Department of Broadcasting Services.
Onquest is said to only contribute 5% of what it has been contracted to do. The report goes on to assert;
“It would be a mismanagement of funds by the people in charge of the running of the organization to continue to pay OnQuest (PTY) LTD a ridiculous amount of more than P150,000 every month if its failing to meet its obligations under the agreement signed by the parties.
In addition to this, the amount of money paid to OnQuest (PTY) LTD constitutes 30% or more of what is usually distributed to the members of the company, which does not make economic sense at all.
This needs to be rectified immediately as if the relevant authorities like DCEC and DIS could learn about this anomaly, the management of COSBOTS would definitely be taken to task and made to account.”
When Mokobi was probed on the dealings between COSBOTS and OnQuest, he once again declined to comment stating that COSBOTS and OnQuest have a contract and it would be negligent to divulge such information without first consulting the other party.
To further exacerbate the already rampant maladministration running through the organization is the “tendency of using unlawful and non-existent tariffs which have not been approved by the CEO.
Other sources also complained of ill treatment while working for the organization. They said Mokobi’s management style is aggressive, confrontational and that he is unapproachable.
The complaints are corroborated in the report which states that;
“After officers had written to the CEO raising issues relating to their salaries and welfare the CEO made it clear that he was going to dismiss or fire them one by one for unionizing and that he was disgusted by their conduct”
When quizzed on his management style, Mokobi dismissed the accusations leveled against him as sheer public opinion.