Interview: Adv. Selebalo Ntepe

In this article we sat down with Adv. Selebalo Ntepe, Deputy Chairman of the Institute of Directors Lesotho, to discuss governance across the African diaspora.

Adv. Selebalo Ntepe is the Deputy Chairman of the Institute of Directors Lesotho, and a member of the Institute of Directors South Africa. He is currently serving as a Board member for Lesotho Flour Mills Pty Ltd- the biggest milling company in Lesotho, and the Chairman of its Audit and Risk Committee, and a member of the Lerotholi Polytechnic Council(Board), and is holding fort as the Chairman of its Audit and Risk Committee. He was the youngest ever member of Lesotho’s Premier League Board(Committee) which operates under the auspices of the Lesotho Football Association. He is a Director to his Corporate Governance consultancy company named Corpowise Pty Ltd, since 2014, and currently works as a Corporate Secretary at a trade and investment agency namely Lesotho National Development Corporation which drives the national economic development.

Hi, Selebalo! Tell us about yourself - who are you and what do you do?

Hi, I’m Adv. Selebalo Ntepe, a young Corporate Governance practitioner with experience in corporate governance, compliance, corporate secretarial practice, education policy and law. My experience spans the education, justice, sports (football), trade and investment sectors. I’ve been involved as a member of boards in various sectors. I was part of a team of corporate governance practitioners that developed Lesotho’s first governance code, named the Mohlomi Corporate Governance Code. I was entrusted to present its highlight during its international launch, and I’ve also presented in webinars alongside giants in corporate governance such as Prof. Patrick Dunne.

We’d love to know more about the history of governance in Lesotho!

For the longest time, Lesotho has been following the South African King Reports as a yardstick of corporate governance in its organisations as there was none. The Institute of Directors Lesotho launched the country’s first Code, called the Mohlomi Corporate Governance Code, on the 2 September 2021. The Code’s principles draw inspiration from two great leaders in the 17th century:Chief Mohlomi and King Moshoeshoe I, Lesotho’s founding father.

For a short introduction on Chief Mohlomi and King Moshoeshoe I’s principles, you can watch a keynote address by Prof. Max Du Preez here.

How would you like to influence other African countries, and people across the diaspora?

To give them confidence and understanding that some concepts embraced in various literature today are not novel to Africa, and that researching and documenting their true history and knowledge could usher in an era of a transformational Africa.

How do you wish to inspire the younger generation?

To enlighten and encourage them to do away with the notion that life begins at 40 years, but it can begin at an early age with the right attitude. This is because we live in a Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous (VUCA) world, where at age 40 your ideas or concepts might be irrelevant.

Why is it important to understand Black History?

Chief Mohlomi, the black southern African philosopher of the 17th century, had a very powerful philosophy called ‘’botho (sotho), ubuntu (Zulu)’ meaning humanity.

In one of his quotes, he said, ‘A responsible leader pursues peaceful and productive alliances, accommodates stakeholders, and uses new instruments of power to create intergenerational value.’

Had the colonisers and the world embraced such kind of African philosophy, racial discrimination, oppression, and white supremacy could have been alien in this world. These examples show the need to understand the true black history and give it room to have a positive influence in today’s world.

In a world where corporations are becoming more important than governments, what advice would you give to your fellow governance professionals?

The quote by Chief Mohlomi that I previously mentioned is a pillar to Lesotho’s first Corporate Governance Code premised on the philosophy of Transformational Leadership, and the three outcomes of Peace, (1st Code with this outcome) Productivity and Intergenerational Value.

COVID-19 has taught how important the relationship between the three outcomes is. Without Productivity, and Intergenerational Value, Peace cannot be guaranteed, and in the same vein, without Peace, Productivity becomes stagnant; hence no value shall be created. This is a mindset and trajectory that I advise fellow governance professionals to start embracing.

What has been the impact of The Chartered Governance Institute in Lesotho?

There is a Chartered Governance Institute of Southern Africa based in South Africa, which Lesotho is part of. It has recently opened several company secretaries eyes, that they need more skills over and above legal and compliance, due to the nature of their roles as gatekeepers of governance in entities. There is also an emerging interest to pursue such qualification with the UK Chartered Governance Institute due to a slight difference in the structuring of their modules.

What inspires you?

An ethical governance environment, be it in an organisation or a nation.

You’ve worked in a range of sectors – what did this teach you?

First, it taught me humility, as I began my career in the public service already in possession of an LLB qualification but being paid at the rate of High School certificate. Without regret, I laid a foundation for the establishment of a new Legal and Human Rights unit of Lesotho’s Correctional Service. My diverse experience has also taught me that a multi-disciplinary approach to problem-solving is key.

What experiences do you think have shaped you the most as a professional?

Though the peers that I graduted university with considered my job in the Correctional Service to be a lowly one, the training and experience in that organisation taught me about discipline, self-awareness, and leadership at a very young age.

How do you celebrate Black History Month?

I celebrate it by reading African History books, and I am currently researching a place called the Cradle to Mankind in Mpumalanga in South Africa with Stone Henges, in the hope of visiting soon!

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