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Botswana loses its shine as Africas beacon of democracy world study

Known worldwide as Africa’s shining example of democracy, Botswana has this week slipped down further on its world ranking on democracy. According to a recently released 2019 Democracy Index, formulated and compiled by the research firm Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), the flawed recent elections are widely to blame.  

Botswana has been categorised under “flawed democracies” among countries like Lesotho, Cape Verde, South Africa, Ghana, and Namibia. Botswana was under the same category also in 2018.  The report further points out that 2019 generally saw setbacks for democracy in Africa, with Botswana having gone through election protests through petitions. However, its states that: “Botswana High court has dismissed electoral fraud petitions and a legal battle regarding disputed election results is likely to continue in the first half of 2020.”

Having secured a re-election, the world report however observes that President Masisi and the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), will remain in power throughout the forecast period with limited risks to political stability. It also points out that enduring international concerns over poor controls covering anti-money-laundering will hurt the government’s efforts to improve Botswana’s business environment.

The economy, it says will continue to remain heavily mineral-dependent, and as a result economic growth will fluctuate according to external demand and prices for diamonds. The average global score for democracy also slipped to 5.44, from 5.48 in 2018, which is the worst global score since the index was first published in 2006. The EIU termed 2019 as “the year of democratic setbacks and global protest”. 23 out of 44 African countries saw a worsening in their scores, while 11 saw marginal improvements.

Reached for a comment, opposition UDC Spokesperson Moeti Mohwasa could not mince his words to express his party’s position which are in agreement with the Democracy Index that Botswana deteriorated, categorizing her under a flawed democracy twice in a row.

“This is correct. The international community is beginning to see our democratic flaws through this veil of stability. So it’s not only us who are picking this up talking about it. President Masisi should smell the coffee and act immediately to ensure that we do not slide downwards further,” he told WeekendPost in a brief interview on Thursday.  

The same sentiments were echoed by Professor David Sebudubudu, a lecturer at the University of Botswana, in the Department of Political and Administrative Studies, who also noted that it does not come as a surprise as Botswana has been declining in most of the Freedom Index since 2008. “Botswana has been declining for some time since 2008, even if you look at various index including Freedom Index,” he stressed.

In the flawed democracy category, the UB Professor explained that countries such as Botswana, are deemed to be having elections freely, respecting civil liberties but “with defects in the way they operate”, for example with regard to media freedom. Professor Sebudubudu justified that as an example Media in Botswana is weak, adding that, it is because of many factors including the unofficial advertising ban on some private newspapers and the Media Practitioners Act among others.

He added that even on issues of governance structures, Botswana now seems complacent. For instance, not only is the media is fragile, but our Parliament is also weak, he emphasized. “There are more Ministers than ordinary ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Members of Parliament. This is wrong in terms of democracy and separation of powers.” According to the UB Don, there have not been movement on the oversight institutions although President Mokgweetsi Masisi pledged to make them different and independent but until then there have not been any movement.

“Even the way Masisi treats corruption, it still remains more of a Public Relations exercise to attract or appeal to donors. We have long said that anti-corruption institutions should be independent. Masisi should stop pledges but execute reforms and make fully independent institutions such as the Directorate of Economic Crime and Corruption (DCEC) and Independent Electoral Commission (IEC),” he stressed.   

Professor Sebudubudu continued: “honours is now on Masisi to demonstrate that he is different from Khama so that we do not continue with the same institutions that were under former President Ian Khama and to some extent Festus Mogae. We want to see substantive changes because as we all know, Khama treated people badly by shrinking their freedoms and civil liberties. So there should be reforms.”

According to the UB educationalist, it’s been 53 years and some issues have been talked about for long enough, it is therefore that government should ensure institutions are reformed to take the country out of a flawed democracy to a full democracy like Mauritius.  Meanwhile, according to the study, Mauritius is the only sub-Saharan country to be deemed a “full democracy,” in Africa earning a score of 8.22 out of 10. Of Africa's other nations, 15 are categorised as “hybrid democracies,” which include Nigeria, the continent's most populous state, and 22 “authoritarian.”

Bottom of the list is Democratic Republic of Congo, with 1.13 points. Africa's average score retreated to 4.26 last year after 4.36 in 2018 to reach its lowest level since the aftermath of the global financial crisis, according to the EIU's annual Democracy Index.
“More than 15 African Presidents have governed for more than a decade, some of them since their countries achieved independence,” the EIU said.

It further points out that “some of these countries have sought to project an image of democracy without putting in place sufficient institutions or election-monitoring mechanisms to back it up. As such, even if held on time, elections do not automatically lead to representative governments.” The Democracy Index is based on a basket of five factors – civil liberties, political culture, political participation, governance and electoral process – as monitored in 165 states and two territories.

The research firm noted decline in civil liberties, including press freedom and freedom of speech, across the world and blamed it for the global democratic regression. It also blamed the regression on the growing influence of unelected and unaccountable institutions, widening gap between political parties and the national electorate and important decisions being decided by ‘experts’ behind closed doors instead of the political arena.

According to the EIU, worldwide, only 76 countries can be considered to be democracies, and of these, just 22 can be considered “full democracies,” although this is an increase of two over 2018. Fifty-four countries, accounting for more than a third of the world's population, are authoritarian, it said.  

Around the globe, the average score for democracy – rated on a scale of zero to 10 – fell from 5.48 in 2018 to 5.44 in 2019, driven by declines in Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa, the EIU said. Norway topped the index with an overall score of 9.87, while North Korea was at the bottom with a score of 1.08.

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BTC launches the 3rd Francistown Marathon 2024 and handover proceeds to the 2nd Francistown Marathon beneficiaries

8th December 2023

Botswana Telecommunications Corporation Limited (BTC) has announced that its 3rd Francistown Marathon will be held on Saturday 20th April 2024 at Obed Itani Chilume Stadium in Francistown. The BTC Francistown Marathon is officially recognised by World Athletics and a Comrades Marathon Qualifier will offer race categories ranging from 42.2km, 21.1 km, 10km, 5km fun run, 5km peace run for children and has introduced a 5km and 10km categories for wheelchairs athletics.

BTC also used this opportunity to announce beneficiaries who received donations from proceeds made from the 2nd BTC Francistown Marathon that was held on April 23rd 203.  BTC donated a play area, plastic chairs and wooden tables for pupils worth a total of thirty eight thousand, one hundred and three pula, fifty thebe each (P38, 103.50) to Monarch Primary School, Tatitown Primary School, Mahube Primary School and Gulubane Primary School. Ditladi and Boikhutso clinics each received a donation of benches, television sets and 10, 000 litre water tanks worth thirty seven thousan, eight hundred and ninety eight pula (P 37, 898.00). Additionally, BTC also donated seventy thousand pula (P70,000.00) to their marathon technical partner, Francistown Athletics Club (FAC) which will be used for daily operations as well as to purchase equipment for the club.

The BTC Francistown Marathon aligns seamlessly with BTC’s corporate social investment programme, administered through the BTC Foundation. This programme is a testament to BTC’s dedication to community development, focusing on key areas such as health promotion. The marathon, now in its third year, not only promotes a healthy lifestyle but also channels all proceeds to carefully chosen charities as part of BTC’s commitment to impactful and sustainable projects.

Speaking at the launch, the BTC Managing Director Mr Anthony Masunga stated that the marathon underscores BTC’s commitment to community upliftment and corporate social investment. He stated that “the annual event which has been in existence since 2016, having taken a break due to the covid and other logistical issues, is instrumental to the economic upliftment of the city of Francistown”. He congratulated all the beneficiaries for having been nominated to receive the donations, adding that “the donation of proceeds from the 2023 marathon aims to highlight BTC’s commitment and heart for Batswana and our continued impact in the different industries”.

He further stated that through this marathon, “we demonstrate our steadfast commitment to having a good influence on our communities, this event is a manifestation of our dedication to promoting education and a healthier, more active society”.  He concluded by stating that “BTC looks forward to another successful marathon that will leave a lasting positive influence on the greater Francistown community and the country at large” he said.

Giving welcome remarks, the Councillor for Donga, Honourable Morulaganyi Mothowabarwa stated that “he is ecstatic that BTC is collaborating with the City of Francistown on yet another installment of the Marathon”. He continued to offer his support to BTC to enable this marathon to continue over the coming years, stating that the “CSI element is a welcome development that helps empower our communities”, he said.

The 3rd BTC Francistown Marathon is officially open for registrations and athletes may use the following platforms to register and pay; through Smega by dialling *173# and choosing opton 5, then choose Option 3 for the Francistown marathon, at any BTC store or by visiting the BTC website and clicking on the BTC Francistown Marathon and choosing the relevant options.

 

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Letsholo lauds President Masisi’s digitization in fight against corruption

8th December 2023

Thapelo Letsholo, Member of Parliament for Kanye North, delivered a moving speech at the United Nations International Anti-Corruption Day commemoration, praising President Dr. Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi’s digitalization initiative in the fight against corruption. Letsholo highlighted the importance of embracing digitalization in governance as a crucial step in curbing corrupt practices.

According to Letsholo, the implementation of digital systems in government services can significantly reduce direct interactions between citizens and officials, which often serve as fertile grounds for corruption. By minimizing these opportunities for illicit activities, the efficiency and transparency of public services can be enhanced. Letsholo pointed to Estonia’s success in digital governance as an example, where public services have become more transparent, accessible, and efficient.

The MP commended President Masisi’s commitment to digitalization and E-Governance, emphasizing that it aligns with global anti-corruption standards. He called for full support and active participation from all sectors to ensure the success of this initiative.

Letsholo also stressed the importance of improving detection methods and refining whistleblower laws to effectively combat corruption. He highlighted the unseen and unspoken facets of corruption as its lifelines, emphasizing the need for robust detection mechanisms and a system that encourages and protects whistleblowers.

Addressing the societal role in fighting corruption, Letsholo focused on the crucial role of everyday citizens and civil servants who often witness corrupt practices firsthand. He acknowledged the existing reluctance to report corruption due to the perceived risks of repercussions. To change this narrative, Letsholo advocated for creating an environment where staying silent is deemed more detrimental than speaking out. He called for a cultural shift where the potential benefits of exposing corruption outweigh the risks, ensuring that whistleblowers are protected and feel secure in coming forward.

Letsholo called for collective responsibility and action in creating a system that not only detects and reports corruption but also supports those who stand against it. He expressed hope that under President Masisi’s digitalization initiatives, the future of governance in Botswana will be characterized by integrity, transparency, and accountability. Letsholo’s speech resonated with the sentiments of hope and determination that permeated the commemoration, emphasizing the need for unity in the fight against corruption.

In summary, Letsholo lauded President Masisi’s digitalization initiative in the fight against corruption, highlighting its potential to curb corrupt practices, enhance efficiency and transparency in public services, and align with global anti-corruption standards. He emphasized the importance of improving detection methods, refining whistleblower laws, and creating an environment where speaking out against corruption is encouraged and protected. Letsholo called for collective responsibility and action in creating a future characterized by integrity, transparency, and accountability in governance.

 

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FaR property assets value clock P1.47 billion

6th December 2023

FaR Property Company (FPC) Limited, a property investment company listed on the Botswana Stock Exchange, has recently announced its exceptional financial results for the year 2023. The company’s property asset value has risen to P1.47 billion, up from P1.42 billion in the previous year.

FPC has a diverse portfolio of properties, including retail, commercial, industrial, and residential properties in Botswana, South Africa, and Zambia. The company owns a total of 186 properties, generating rental revenues from various sectors. In 2023, the company recorded rental revenues of P11 million from residential properties, P62 million from industrial properties, and P89 million from commercial properties. Overall, the company’s total revenues increased by 9% to P153 million, while profit before tax increased by 22% to P136 million, and operating profit increased by 11% to P139 million.

One notable achievement for FPC is the low vacancy rate across its properties, which stands at only 6%. This is particularly impressive considering the challenging trading environment. The company attributes this success to effective lease management and the leasing of previously vacant properties in South Africa. FPC’s management expressed satisfaction with the results, highlighting the resilience of the company in the face of ongoing macroeconomic challenges.

The increase in profit before tax can be attributed to both an increase in income and effective control of operating expenses. FPC managed to achieve these results with fewer employees, demonstrating the company’s efficiency. The headline earnings per linked unit also saw an improvement, reaching 26.92 thebe, higher than the previous year.

Looking ahead, FPC remains confident in its competitiveness and growth prospects. The company possesses a substantial land bank, which it plans to develop strategically as opportunities arise. FPC aims for managed growth, focusing on consumer-driven developments and ensuring the presence of supportive tenants. By maintaining this approach, the company believes it can sustainably grow its property portfolio and remain competitive in the market.

In terms of the macroeconomic environment, FPC noted that inflation rates are decreasing towards the 3% to 6% range approved by the Bank of Botswana. This is positive news for the company, as it hopes for further decreases in interest rates. However, the fluctuating fuel prices, influenced by global events such as the war in Ukraine and oil output reductions by Russia and other Middle Eastern countries, continue to impact businesses, including some of FPC’s tenants.

FPC’s property portfolio includes notable assets such as a shopping mall in Francistown with Choppies Hyper as the anchor tenant, Borogo Mall located on the A33 main road near the Kazungula ferry crossing, and various industrial and commercial properties in Gaborone leased to Choppies, Senn Foods, and Clover Botswana. The company also owns a shopping mall in Mafikeng and Rustenburg in South Africa.

The majority of FPC’s properties, 85%, are located in Botswana, followed by 12% in South Africa and 3% in Zambia. With its strong financial performance, competitive position, and strategic land bank, FPC is well-positioned for continued growth and success in the property market.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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