BoB bids emotional farewell to its most industrious and longest serving Governor whose rise to the top from the lowest entry point is a fairytale of what determination and never-say-die spirit can do for one.
Former Bank of Botswana (BoB) Governor Linah Mohohlo has been credited with the growth of the central bank across a number of areas that include research and economics as well as monetary operations.The bank held a farewell dinner for Mohohlo at a colourful event on Thursday night following her retirement from service last month. Mohohlo joined BoB in 1976 as secretary to the Deputy Director in the then Administration of the bank. BoB board member, Gordon Cunliffe, said Mohohlo spent a significant part of her career in the Financial Markets Department where she was instrumental in establishing the institutional and governance framework for the management of the country’s foreign exchange reserves and domestic market operations. “This included establishing the country’s long term fund for the benefit of future generations, the Pula Fund, and later becoming a founding member of the Santiago Principles adopted in Santiago, Chile by the International Forum of Sovereign Wealth Funds in conjunction with the OECD, in aid of responsible investing,” said Cunliffe.
Cunliffe said Mohohlo has made a significant impact on the central bank as a practical but visionary leader, inculcating a high performance culture embracing and demanding the highest standards of loyalty and devotion to duty. Mohohlo, who is longest serving Governor in the history of the bank with 17 years at the top, has received a number of national and international awards during her tenure at BoB, including the country’s highest public service award for efficient and devoted service. In her farewell speech, Mohohlo indicated that when she applied for a job at the bank four decades ago, she was not aware what the bank’s functions were, apart from the fact that it would produce Pula and Thebe to replace South African Rand and cents. “What was important to me at the time was that I got the job to be the Deputy Governor’s secretary and later the Governor’s Personal Assistant,” said Mohohlo, who was recently appointed Coordinator of Selebi-Phikwe Economic Revitalisation/Recovery Programme shortly after her retirement. Mohohlo described her journey to the top like a typical rag to riches story as she said she could not have dreamt back then that she would spend most of her adult life at the bank.
Having joined as a secretary and rising through the ranks and in the process accumulating a number of academic qualifications, Mohohlo said she has indeed grown up at the bank and, in the process, changed from the young early-twenties woman back then. Having arrived without a clue on the functions of BoB, Mohohlo said she soon discovered the fact that the bank did more than just issue currency. “It was fascinating for me to observe that my superiors and workmates were orchestrating some important events, many of which affected my daily life,” she said, adding that all these events sparked tremendous curiosity, thirst for knowledge and motivation to embark on improving her workmanship through on-the-job training; higher education and hard work. With the rapid growth and transformation of the country into an upper middle-income status, mounting foreign exchange reserves and rising bank liquidity, the central bank, Mohohlo said, has over the years moved into to gear, reorganising itself in order to cope with the more demanding tasks of, among others, safeguarding the soundness and efficiency of banks.
Other roles included investing in the country’s foreign exchange reserves; formulating and implementing monetary policy and ensuring that the exchange rate policy is on the right footing. The central bank has during Mohohlo’s tenure effected numerous changes as it learnt from the mistakes of other central banks. “Direct controls of banks, and directed lending in particular, were removed by the second half of the 1980’s; instead, a favourable environment was created for banks to manage risk and intermediate efficiently through competition,” she said. During that period, commercial bank mergers and acquisitions were permitted to consolidate institutional robustness.