Race for Debswana top post

SHARE   |   Wednesday, 06 May 2020   |   By Phillimon Mmeso
FROM (L-R); Mphathi, Thamane, Armstrong, Koolatotse FROM (L-R); Mphathi, Thamane, Armstrong, Koolatotse

The Board of Directors of diamond miner -Debswana is said to be anxious to finalise the appointment of a substative Managing Director to replace Albert Milton, who died after a short illness last year.

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Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security, Lefoko Moagi told The Patriot on Sunday that he has been advised that interviews are still being conducted. “They are still doing interviews of those who applied for the post and after that they will brief government as the shareholder,” he said.

Lefoko denied that as government they have a preferred candidate whom they want apointed to lead Debswana. Information gathered by this publication shows that several potential candidates are interested in leading the blue chip mining company, that produces the best diamonds by value the world over. A number of names of top Executives have been bandied about as frontrunners in the race.

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Lynette Armstrong

She is currently the acting Managing Director after being appointed following the demise of Milton last year. She is leading the race.

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Armstrong was the chief financial Officer of Debswana since 2015 after rising through the ranks since joining the company in 2002. Those who are gunning for her appointment argue that the business has appetite for her because traditionally the MD position doesn’t require a miner or metallurgist. “Certainly De Beers will vouch for her because of her strength in shareholder distribution,” argues an insider adding that another advantage is that she is a Motswana.

Another issue that is said to be putting Debswana under pressure is the women empowerment issue who are the consumers of their product. Debswana and its parent company De Beers have strong women empowerment initiatives, that delibverately target to empower young women in mining. One of the products of Debswana is Lucara Managing Director Naseem Lahri   who is doing a sterling job in the mining industry.

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Montwedi Mphathi

He is also regarded as favorite for a section of the board based on his performance as MD at BCL Mine and Botash Mines where he turned the fortunes of the two mines before he unceremoniously left. This is not the first time that his name surfaced at Debswana as he was once touted to become Chief Operations Officer when Balisi Bonyongo was the MD.

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“The board was divided about his appointment and eventually the post was made redundant,” revealed a source.

The main undoing for Mphathi is said to his hard handed attitude towards the workers and has a bad history with Botswana Mine Workers Union (BMWU) which might work against him. “The diamond industry is a very sensitive one and even if you feel hard done you don’t just fire people or clash with the board of directors as he did at Botash,” observed an insider.

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Thabo Thamane

He is an outsider but inside sources have indicated that some within government enclave has suggested that he be considered for the post. Thamane’s contract is coming to an end very soon as Chief Executive Officer of Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA).

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“Though he has no experience in the mining sector, Thamane has proved that he is capable manager and will do well as MD for Debswana,” revealed one source.

His undoing will be his lack of experience in the mining sector.

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Koolatotse Koolatotse

He is currently the General Manager for Jwaneng Mine having been appointed last year with more than 20 years’ experience in the mining sector. He joined Debswana in 1998 where he progressed to the position of section manager in 2006 before joining DiamonEx, Lerala Diamond Mine as a Mine Manager and moved to Morupule Coal Mine in 2009 as Operations Readiness Manager.

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Koolatotse with his immense experience in the mining industry especially Debswana armed also with prestigious Executing Strategy for Results from London Business School is also considered to be in the race for the managing director position.



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