Mascom contract sets tongues wagging

By John Churu, Gaborone, Botswana

A Mascom Wireless management contract, which is currently being held by a Portuguese company PETI, has come under scrutiny with local entities vying for the lucrative deal. The most prominent force in the tussle for the Mascom management contract are members of the Botswana Public Officers Pension Fund (BPOPF) Board of Trustees, which is also a shareholder in Mascom through its stake in a company called Deci investments – one of the shareholding companies.

Another shareholder in the Mascom Wireless stable is MTN through Econet Wireless, among others. 

Information in Biztechafrica’s possession says PETI has been in providing management services to Mascom for the past 15 years – with some individuals within the shareholding structure feeling that this is “too long to outsource management services.”

The contract for PETI will cease soon but there is likelihood that it will be renewed. In the meantime, one of the shareholding companies that had tendered for the management contract through its board of trustees is opposed to this renewal of the PETI contract. Sectors of the BPOPF appreciate the fact that Mascom currently has almost 99% of its management in the country being locals, whereas only 3 are foreigners.

“We want to lobby so that PETI is allowed to continue for a while but at the same time training a citizen for the top job,” said a member of BPOPF who spoke on conditions of anonymity. BPOPF manages a Fund with an estimated value of up to USD4.2billion. It is believed it has the financial acumen to invest in strategic projects  and set bigger agendas. Mascom on the other hand is mooting listing on the Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) so that citizens will be in a position to purchase shares.

“Awarding a management contract to a shareholder will mean that they get money on a monthly basis as payment for management services and later benefit from the shareholding dividends,” according to insiders.

In a bid to put a damper on the flaring management impasse, the Mascom spokesperson, Tebogo Lebotse, said: “The company prides itself as a community oriented corporate citizen that employs 99% Batswana.”            

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