Carter Morupisi’s five (5) year reign as Mascom Chairman has ended. According to two (2) different sources, the Permanent Secretary to the President (PSP) handed his resignation recently almost a year since some members of the Botswana Public Officers Pension Fund (BPOPF) board of trustees wanted him out.
Morupisi assumed the chairmanship of Mascom by virtue of his position as chairman of the BPOPF board of trustees, which has a significant shareholding in Mascom with 40 percent indirect shareholding, while South Africa’s mobile network operator, MTN holds 53 percent indirectly.
As has been the norm, when appointed PSP in 2015 expectations were that Morupisi would relinquish his seat at BPOPF and hand it to the in-coming Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) Director Ruth Maphorisa, which would consequently see him cease to represent the fund at MASCOM, Morupisi however stood firm and refused to vacate the office citing that he had unfinished business at the multibillion Pula communications giant, where he said he was serving interests of BPOPF. Morupisi then, also said that hic contract was yet to come to an end, saying that he will step down when his term expires.
BPOPF Board of trustees last year submitted three names, Brigadier Charles Nkele of the Botswana Defence Force (BDF), Ishmael Selebogo from Botswana Pensioners’ Association and Boitumelo Molefe (CEO) as new representatives of the fund at Mascom. The three however were unable assume their positions at the telecommunications giant because Morupisi refused to vacate his position. The fund was driven to remove Morupisi as it preferred a chairman of the investment committee within the BPOPF board to assume chairmanship of Mascom.
Though not public information, Mascom under Morupisi’s leadership has managed to remain the leading mobile company in the country and contributed handsomely to BPOPF purse. Further, inside sources said that Morupisi has done a good job in preventing South Africa’s MTN to further acquisition of Mascom.
According to the 2015 telecom statistics by BOCRA for quarters ending June and September 2016, Mascom market share, by number of subscriptions was 53 percent, followed by Orange and Be Mobile at 32 and 15 percent respectively. In terms of broadband market share, Mascom enjoys a commanding 60 percent, followed by Orange and Be Mobile at 33 and 7 percent respectively.
Morupisi’s tenure as the chairman of Mascom was not all bed of roses as trade unions who are part of the board of trustees had a love/ hate relationship with him. Unions viewed Morupisi as enemy of the workers, and remained wary that as long as Morupisi remained part of BPOPF government had effectively hijacked the richest pensions fund in the country.
Last year a letter addressed to Mascom Board Chairman from Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) cited that there is ample evidence of victimization, persecution and discrimination of employees who have unionised at Mascom. The federation said “these circumstances have led to the unprocedural and unlawful dismissal of the Secretary General of the Union, the pending dismissal of the President of the Union and left the rest of membership petrified. Further to harassment of Union leaders and members, the Company is vigorously refusing to establish bargaining structures in the workplace for social dialogue to prevail.”
The federation also threatened that public servants whom they also represent cannot have their funds at BPOPF (majority shareholder at Mascom) being used to finance unethical trading and pay salaries of management who is undermining workers.
The letter further stated that it had become clear that the current Chief Executive Officer (CEO) was failing to manage Mascom and the realisation was that the Company was poised for failure under his stewardship. “Under his leadership Mascom will be shamed in public for its poor labour practices and this will regrettably blemish the Company’s image and hurt its sales. The Company needs a leader who will be able to turn around its image and instil good labour relations for sustainability of the Company,” Bofepusu said.