Tony Blair’s wife to lead Khama’s independent inquiries
By Dave Baaitse
In an interview with WeekendPost this week, former President Lt Gen Seretse Khama Ian Khama took time to clear the mist surrounding his ‘crash landing’ statement that he made during his press conference on Monday at Maharaja Conference Centre.
The former President also confirmed that a British barrister, lecturer, and writer, Cherie Blair (née Booth), who is married to former United Kingdom Prime Minister, Tony Blair will lead independent investigations into the alleged missing P100bn which he is implicated in. “Those affidavits were totally fabricated, what it takes for a government to engage in criminality and illegally take to court information which is being concerted by themselves”. Khama explained that the crush landing will come because, it will be revealed that this was false.
Secondly Khama confirms that he and his associates implicated in the matter are going to sue for defamation and it will cost government a lot because there are many of them. “You cannot just put out something like that, the damage they trying to do to is huge”. Former President Ian Khama confirmed to WeekendPost that he personally met the wife of former Prime Minister Tony Blair a few weeks back during his official trip to United Kingdom.
Khama did not only meet Cherie Blair but a number of some influential people whom he said he could not disclose nor converse on their discussions owing to their privacy. However, Khama confirmed that Blair and her law firm Omnia, are hitting the ground running. “They will be setting out their team soon and we expect them to resume work in less than two months”, he said.
According to their website Omnia Strategy LLP is an international law firm that specializes in dispute prevention and resolution around the globe. Led by Cherie Blair CBE, QC, the firm is committed to achieving their clients’ objectives no matter the size, complexity or nature of the challenge. “We believe in delivering real value and our lean model and flexible fee structures mean we are consistently more competitive than other firms while maintaining impeccable standards of client service and an exceptional success rate”.
They have a unique approach. In an increasingly inter- connected and fast-paced society, Omnia clients’ problems require more than one- dimensional legal solutions. In response, Omnia’s creative cross- disciplinary approach and worldwide network provide an answer. Unlike conventional law firms, their unique law plus model combines remarkable legal capabilities with an unrivalled multi- disciplinary skillset across: policy, business and communications.
“We promise our clients partner- led service from an elite team of handpicked experts ensuring we always engage precisely the right people for every matter”. In his statement he read at the press conference Khama said he is implicated in the said case by a certain Jako Hubona, an investigator employed by Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC), in an affidavit which he deposed on 28th October 2019 and was filed with the High Court on the same date. In the same affidavit Hubona said:
He has received a report alleging that on 9 June 2008, 3 Special Unit Accounts were created by Bank of Botswana, under the instruction of former President Ian Khama, and the erstwhile Director General of Directorate of Intelligence and Security Service, Isaac Seabelo Kgosi;
On July 2009, the funds from one of the alleged Bank of Botswana accounts were transferred to HSBC Bank in Hong Kong, the reference being to purchase intelligence equipment
The funds were transferred through various offshore accounts around the world, and in 2015 such funds were deposited into various South African bank accounts; That the creation of the said accounts was unlawful because they were created without the knowledge of the Accountant General; and That Ms. Maswabi had control and access to accounts that monies were eventually transferred to.
Khama stated that the allegations in Hubona’s affidavit are false and were deliberately and maliciously fabricated with the nefarious intention to tarnish his name and all those mentioned in the said affidavit. “Let me also announce that I have commissioned Cherie Blair CBE, QC and her law firm, Omnia Strategy, to undertake an independent and thorough inquiry into the allegations in the affidavit. I look forward to receiving the Omnia Report and I expect it will contribute to our understanding of this state sponsored scandal”, said former President Khama.
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Batswana owe banks P79 billion
The Minister of Finance, Peggy Serame, has disclosed that the total bank credit extended by commercial banks amounted to P79 billion, out of which P53.4 billion was retail loans and advances to households.
Parliament was informed this week in response to a question by the Member of Parliament for Selibe-Phikwe West and Leader of Opposition (LOO), Dithapelo Keorapetse.
â€śAs at 31st December 2022, loans and other advances extended to households by banks constituted the largest share of bank-lending at 67.6 percent, the majority of which was unsecured personal loans at P36.2 billion (67.8%),â€ť said Serame.
She added that the total household Debt to GDP ratio was 21.9%, while the total private business credit to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio was 10.8%.
On the other hand, it was noted that outstanding mortgage loans extended to households were P14.2 billion (26.6% of household debt) or 5.9% of GDP. Overall, total bank credit as a ratio of GDP stood at 32.7 percent.
It was acknowledged that there are 10 deposit-taking banks in the country, that is, nine commercial banks and one statutory bank (Botswana Savings Bank). This statistics excludes the National Development Bank (NDB), which is a development finance institution. The nine commercial banks include an indigenous bank, Botswana Building Society Bank Limited (BBSBL), which was issued with a commercial banking license by the Bank of Botswana in October 2022.
Still in December 2022, it was recorded that there were 376 non-bank lenders in Botswana consisting of 246 micro lenders, 66 finance companies, three leasing companies and 61 registered pawnshops.
According to Minister Serame, the loan book value representing the principal amount lent by these entities to individuals and to small, medium and micro Enterprises (SMMEs) is collated by the Non-Bank Financial Institutions Regulatory Authority (NBFIRA), which at 31stÂ of December 2021, the loan book values were P5.6 billion for micro lenders, P1.6 billion for finance companies, P225 million for leasing companies and P14 million for pawnshops.
Government policy is that price control is not effective or desirable, and, as such, interest rates are not regulated. Non-regulation may, among other things, result in an increase in non-interest rate fees and commissions, reduced price transparency, lower credit supply and loan approval rates.
â€śIt is important to note that, from a macroeconomic perspective, household debt in Botswana is neither a pandemic nor considered to be excessive. Indeed, the Bank of Botswanaâ€™s periodic and continuous assessments of household debt, including through the annual Household Indebtedness Surveys, suggest moderate household indebtedness and therefore, is of no apparent risk to the safety and soundness of the domestic financial system,â€ť said Serame.
She also alluded this assessment is validated by the recently concluded Financial Sector Assessment Programme (FSAP) on Botswana undertaken by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank Group.
Keorapetse however rebuked the issue of debt not being excessive and noted the Minister thinks itâ€™s fine for Batswana to be debt burdened in a way that their debts diminishes their quality of life.
â€śA significant portion of Batswanaâ€™s salaries go to servicing debts and because she doesnâ€™t see this as a challenge, there can never be any intervention from her side.Â There is no price regulation on interest, which can go up to 30%+ a month.Â Â Since President Masisi ascended to the high office in 2018, 2 384 Batswana were put in prison for failure to pay debts, that is 467 Batswana every year. So, for us, debt problems are big and concerning,â€ť said Keorapetse.
He said they are worried because Batswana are drowning in debts because of relative poverty, slave wages and unemployment/underemployment, they buy basic needs and services with borrowed money and noted predatory and unethical lending has become a major problem in Botswanaâ€™s financial sector.
How to fleece P14 million from Chinese investor
The modus operandi of how five men allegedly swindled a Chinese national P14 million last week continue to unravel. Highly placed sources from the intelligence, the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) and Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) revealed to this publication how the whole scam was concocted.
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ENVIRONMENT ISSUES: Masisi asks Virginia for help
President Mokgweetsi Masisi says the issue of sustainable natural resources management has always been an important part of Botswanaâ€™s national development agenda.
Masisi was speaking this week on the occasion of a public lecture at Virginia Polytechnic, under theme, â€śMerging Conservation, Democracy and Sustainable Development in Botswana.â€ť
Botswana, according to Masisi, holds the view that the environment is fragile and as such, must be managed and given the utmost protection to enable the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
â€śIt is necessary that we engage one another in the interchange of ideas, perspectives, visualizations of social futures, and considerations of possible strategies and courses of action for sustainable development,â€ť said Masisi.
On the other hand, dialogue, in the form of rigorous democratic discourse among stakeholders presents another basis for reconfiguring how people act on their environments, with a view to conserving its resources that â€śwe require to meet our socio-economic development needs on a sustainable basis,â€ť Masisi told attendees at the public lecture.
He said government has a keen interest in understanding the epidemiology and ecology of diseases of both domestic and wild animals. â€śIt is our national interest to forestall the dire consequences of animal diseases on our communities livelihoods.â€ť
President Masisi hoped that both Botswana and Virginia could help each other in curbing contagious diseases of wildlife.
â€śWe believe that Virginia Tech can reasonably share their experiences, research insights and advances in veterinary sciences and medicines, to help us build capacity for knowledge creation and improve efforts of managing and containing contagious diseases of wildlife. The ground is fertile for entering into such a mutually beneficial partnership.â€ť
When explaining environmental issues further, Masisi said efforts of conservation and sustainable development might at times be hampered by the emergence and recurrence of diseases when pathogens mutate and take host of more than one species.
â€śWater pollution also kills aquatic life, such as fish, which is one of humanityâ€™s much deserved sources of food. In this regard, One Health Approach imposes ecological responsibility upon all of us to care for the environment and the bio-diversity therein.â€ť
He said the production and use of animal vaccines is an important space and tool for conservation, particularly to deal with trans-border animal diseases.
â€śIn Botswana, our 43-year-old national premier pharmaceutical institution called Botswana Vaccine Institute has played its role well. Through its successful production of highly efficacious Foot and Mouth vaccines, the country is able to contain this disease as well as supply vaccines to other countries in the sub-region.:
He has however declared that there is need for more help, saying â€śWe need more capacitation to deal with and contain other types of microbial that affect both animals and human health.â€ť