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LEGABIBO suspends CEO

Portia Mlilo
LEGABIBO CEO: Thato Moruti

Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO) Chief Executive Officer Thato Moruti has been suspended pending mismanagement of funds investigations.

Moruti is said to have spent over P2million on his personal expenses in a period of nine months. On the 6th of February, the board resolved to suspend Moruti on full pay until further notice. Modimo & Associates Law Firm was appointed to investigate circumstances leading to his suspension.

Head of Finance, Karabo Makhura and Botshelo Moilwa were appointed acting as Co-CEOs. However Makhura has since resigned from work for undisclosed reasons.

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According to a source who preferred not to be named for fear of victimisation, a membership AGM was held on May, 27th and the investigator’s report revealed that the CEO and senior management staff allegedly mismanaged donor funds for their personal use. He said when the Board suspended the CEO, some of the donors suspended expected funding pending the outcome of the investigation.

It has however since emerged that preliminary findings of the report were that the CEO had not committed any act of fraud or embezzlement but rather he could have violated the LEGABIBO Financial Policy and Guidelines. The findings also pointed to the need for the Board to improve on its oversight or fiduciary duty, to reasonably foresee losses to the organisation in the future.

When reached for a comment, LEGABIBO Board Chairperson Dr Sethunya Mosime confirmed the suspension of the CEO. Mosime also confirmed that the Head of Finance Makhura resigned and was to serve notice but the Board however terminated his contract with immediate effect on 30th May 2023, following a breach of internal policies.

Below is Mosime’s answers to a questionnaire sent to her concerning both the suspension of Moruti and allegations about the embezzlement of donor funds.

On the 6th February 2023 the CEO Thato Moruti got suspended with full pay and he is still being paid up to date. Can you confirm this?

Yes. This was in order to institute independent investigations on possible misconduct. Membership was further informed that the suspension was in full pay, pending the outcome of the investigation. This is a legal process that is protected by Botswana’s labour laws. A worker cannot be suspended without pay. The Board then appointed Botshelo Moilwa and Karabo Makhura as Co-CEO until further notice.

Modimo & Associates Law Firm was appointed to investigate circumstances leading to the suspension of LEGABIBO’s CEO. The independent investigation report was finally received on 26th May 2023. The findings of the report were that the CEO had not committed any act of fraud or embezzlement. However, the CEO could have violated the LEGABIBO Financial Policy and Guidelines.

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The findings also pointed to the need for the Board to improve on its oversight or fiduciary duty, to reasonably foresee losses to the organization in the future.

Head of Finance, Karabo Makhura, rumoured to have resigned before the AGM.

Yes, the former Head of Finance, Karabo Makhura, at the time of the AGM on 27th May 2023, had submitted a resignation letter and was serving one month’s notice from 26th May 2023. The Board however terminated his contract with immediate effect on 30th May 2023, following a breach of internal policies.

Is it true at the AGM an investigator report was presented, which indicated that the CEO and management staff mismanaged donor funds for their personal use?

Yes there was an AGM and an investigator report was presented. Internal processes such as disciplinary processes are still being organised.

Most Donors and funders are not aware of all this, some donors are rumoured to have withheld funding.

All our donors and funders have been apprised and the findings of the report have been shared with them.

When the Board suspended the CEO, some of the donors suspended expected funding pending the outcome of the investigation. However, they remained committed and supportive.

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Others continued with the funding, seeing the investigation as an internal matter within LEGABIBO that should not affect programming. We highly appreciated such support. Pursuit of good governance should be done without fear of losing funding.

Otherwise this could create a culture of fear that investigating Board members or employees comes at a high risk of donors pulling out.

Investigation report has indicated that the CEO spent over 2million on his personal expenses in a period of 9months.

This is not true.

Staff are said to be living in fear of losing their jobs.

The Board, employees and members have collectively been going through a necessary but difficult period that has left all of us having to hit the ground running in many different directions at the same time. LEGABIBO has emerged stronger.

The commitment displayed by staff, the Board, Members and partners at the recent AGM to support the movement bears testimony to the fact. It hasn’t been easy, but it has been an important transformational moment. Aluta Continua, and united even in the face of challenges, we remain.

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