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Kgosi will not be caged, ‘his case is not that serious’

The much awaited arrival of the controversial former Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) Chief, Colonel Isaac Kgosi finally occurred in the early morning of Tuesday this week, albeit without controversy as initially anticipated.

Kgosi appeared before the Broadhurst Regional Magistrate court for the first time in six months after being away in Malaysia where he was said to be seeking medical attention. Appearing before Magistrate Masilo Mathaka was Director of Public Prosecution Thato Dibeela, together with defense attorneys, Unoda Mack and Thabiso Tafila. The DPP moved an application to beseech the court to order the accused person’s passport to be seized thereby returning it to the Botswana Police Service (BPS).

Furthermore Dibeela moved an application that the court make an order to have Kgosi conduct a medical check-up by a government doctor through a report and an escort to the nearest government facility. Despite the heavy escort that was expected, prior to allegations that the accused was a terrorist, Kgosi was seen leaving in a government car with Detective Senior Superintendent Sergeant Marapo of Serious Crimes.

The report that came back from the government facility indicated that the accused has a permanent injury on his back. However Dibeela argued that the orthopedic surgeon formed an opinion on the basis of scan result reports which he might have had sight of not the tests conducted by Marina Hospital. 

When arguing on whether or not Kgosi should be incarcerated Dibeela indicated that, “the doctor made a recommendation of the accused person. The doctor needed to have more time to examine the accused person, however he recommends what should happen and facilities and immunities that should be provided to the accused person, we can provide those whilst he is in prison and all these were recommended by a medical doctor.”

Tafila objected and argued that, ‘State had always had doubts the first time they were given a report from Malaysia which explained Kgosi’s condition, now an independent government doctor here in Botswana has proved it, my client is not well. There are certain conditions that were made by his doctor in Malaysia for him to travel here.”  When stressing his argument, Tafila pointed out to the court that Kgosi had promised to be before the Magistrate on the 3rd and indeed he availed himself, disputing that the State cannot act surprised by Kgosi’s arrival.

“He is back now, what more do we want from him? He is a sick person, now it’s like we are being vengeful. Why are we in such a hurry to keep him in prison before he is convicted?” he said.  In delivering his ruling, Magistrate Masilo ruled that Kgosi’s warrant of arrest be suspended, “Kgosi has bridged his conditions of bail and that is undeniable but there has been consistency that he is not well and was today confirmed by a government medical doctor. His incarceration will not be the most considerable thing to do. He presented himself in court today. Besides his charges are not that serious,” he said.

 Kgosi’s bail conditions include surrendering his passport. Exclusive information reaching this publication is that the former DIS Spy Chief once again beat the DIS, Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Botswana Police Services (BPS), Criminal Investigations Department (CID), and Interpol at their own game. None of the aforementioned departments where aware of when Kgosi would arrive in Botswana. Kgosi’s warrant of arrest was said to have been standing and all were said to have been on red alert to have him arrested as soon as he entered the country.

Despite the common knowledge that was availed to the court through his attorneys; Mack and Tafila, the prosecution denied any knowledge of Kgosi’s arrival. A close source to this publication revealed that Kgosi evaded all tight security boarder checks via South Africa into Botswana from Malaysia without any one from the Interpol, DIS, DPP, BPS, CID dumbfounded the country. 

It is revealed that most of the security agents had thought Kgosi would travel via the airport, where most had been on alert and were prepared to arrest him. Kgosi’s passports point out that he arrived in Botswana Tuesday 3rd, the day he was to appear before court. However the State argued that there were some gaps in Kgosi’s travelling documents of which Kgosi rubbished through his attorney Tafila, stating that there are certain countries that do not make a stamp, however they only produce documents of which he said he could avail to the court.

Kgosi is also implicated in the controversial Welheminah Maswabi code name “Butterfly” case in which they are accused of working together on common grounds with the former President Ian Khama, to finance and terrorise the country. Butterfly is alleged to have transferred the sum of P29 million to former DIS Director General, Isaac Kgosi. The transfer occurred shortly after Kgosi had made remarks that he will, “topple this Government”, when he was arrested earlier this year at Sir Seretse Khama International Airport.

Butterfly was granted bail a week before Kgosi arrived from Malaysia. The nation was left astonished to learn that evidence against the accused was fabricated and false. On financing terrorism and being a terrorist is a charge that on itself which carries a life imprisonment sentence. The State prosecutors say this could be a motivating factor for one not to stand trial.

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Vendors ready for the Tobacco Control Bill

21st September 2021
Vendors

Some vendors have been misled
Vendors thrive on households goods and fresh produce

Despite the previous false allegations that the Tobacco Control Bill will lead to several 20 000 vendors across the country losing their jobs, several local vendors have expressed that they are ready for the bill and because vendors sell mostly household goods

“This is something that we openly accept and receive as street vendors, the problem is some of our counterparts were misled and made to believe that we will not be allowed to sell cigarettes on our stalls.

Some of us got to understand that the bill states that we have to be licensed to sell cigarettes, we are not supposed to sell them to children under the age of 18 years of age and eliminating the selling of single sticks. We understand that this agenda is meant to develop a healthy nation but not take us down,” said Mbimbi Tau a vendor who operates from Mogoditshane.

The Tobacco Control Bill has been passed in several countries and street vendors are operating properly without any challenges faced. Tau further mentioned that there is no way that the Tobacco Control Bill will affect their business operations, all they have to do as vendors are to get the required documentation and do what the bill requires.

Another vendor Busani Selalame who operates from Gaborone Bonnington North was not shy to express his support towards the Tobacco Control Bill, “the problem is that some people within our sector have been misled and now they think that the bill is meant to take our operations down and completely stop selling cigarettes.

I support the fact that we are not supposed to sell cigarettes to children who are under the age of 18 years of age this has always been wrong, as parents we should be cautious of such and ensure that our children are disassociated with cigarettes,” said Selalame.

The Tobacco Control Bill prohibits advertising, promotion and sponsorship by the tobacco industry to prevent messages, cues, and other inducements to begin using tobacco, especially among the youth, to reassure users to continue their use, or that otherwise undermine quitting.

Renowned economist Bakang Ntshingane is of the view that since vendors sell household goods and fresh produce they are likely to keep on making profits despite what the Tobacco Control Bill comes with. He further stated that the Tobacco Control Bill will not be of harm on the local economy since the country does not manufacture or produce any tobacco related products.

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BANCABC Botswana poised for growth amid tough operating environment

21st September 2021
BANCABC

BancABC Botswana, the BSE-listed bank today announced its half year results for the six months ended 30 June 2021, against a subdued economic backdrop, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and related lockdowns.

BancABC has remained resilient in the current operating environment as business activity increased in the first half of 2021, with Real GDP up by 0.7% in the first quarter compared to a contraction of 4.6% in the previous quarter. Commenting on the results, Managing Director Kgotso Bannalotlhe said, “Currently, economic activity is relatively stable.

While COVID-19 placed significant pressure on the economy and our overall business, BancABC Botswana has shown remarkable resilience amid a tough operating environment.  While the bank operates in an environment that is seeing a rise in COVID-19 infections, it is encouraging that the business has maintained a healthy capital adequacy ratio as well as being successful in improving total expenses with focus on cost containment across the board.”

The retail segment saw an increase in customer deposits this year, signalling an improvement from the previous period and strengthening the current funding mix. This segment has built great momentum and continues to advance its digital strategy, through various products such as the mobile banking app, SARUMoney, as well as enhanced product offerings such as the introduction of fash cash. The Bank has invested in its digital capabilities to ensure a seamless and hassle-free banking experience for all its customers.

The commercial segment was successful in reducing the cost of funding. In addition, Treasury and Global Markets performed well, doubling from the previous comparative period. The current year performance across the bank’s different segments is testament to the bank’s strong income lines, aiding the Bank’s resilience during this time.

“The Bank experienced slow loan book growth due to a constrained economic environment, however, we remain optimistic that as the economy recovers, credit appetite amongst the Bank’s customer-base will increase. In addition, we reported good non-interest revenue, driven by increased trading income on the back of improved margins and volumes. Our outlook remains positive as we expect momentum across the different segments to improve over time,” said Ratang Icho-Molebatsi, BancABC Botswana Finance Director.

In April 2021, BancABC Botswana’s ultimate holding company, Atlas Mara Limited, as well as ABC Holdings Limited and Access Bank Plc announced an agreement to a proposed acquisition of 78.15% of BancABC Botswana. The transaction presented an opportunity for BancABC Botswana’s strong retail banking operation to merge with Access Bank’s wholesale banking capabilities, augmenting itself as one of Africa’s leading banks.

“The transaction provides significant scope for revenue diversification and growth in the corporate and SME banking segment. Increased access to trade finance, treasury, international payments and loans through the wider distribution network offered by Access Bank’s presence in the key trade corridors that connect Africa to the rest of the world, presents solid opportunities for BancABC Botswana”, commented Icho-Molebatsi “With the transaction, BancABC Botswana’s customers stand to benefit from best-in-class digital platforms and product suites, leveraging Access Bank’s group IT infrastructure as well as other fintech solutions”, said Bannalotlhe.

Further, with Access Bank expanding its footprint into Botswana, it will position the Bank to deliver a more complete set of banking solutions to Batswana across the country”, concluded Bannalothle.

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Botswana secures P1.5 billion from African Development Bank 

21st September 2021
Peggy Serame

 Last Friday, the board of Directors of the African Development Bank Group authorised a $137 million (P1.5 billion) loan to support Botswana’s Post COVID-19 pandemic economic recovery.

The funds, extended under the Bank Group’s Botswana Economic Recovery Support Program, will be used to enact multi-sector reforms that will increase spending efficiency, create jobs and drive inclusive growth.

The project has three components: enhancing domestic resource mobilisation and mitigating fiscal risks to enhance macroeconomic performance and create fiscal space for spending on social safety nets; supporting private sector-led agriculture and industry to bolster productivity and value addition and increase job opportunities, and offering business development services to micro and small enterprises to advance social protection and gender equity. The three components are expected to reinforce one another.

“The African Development Bank is providing support for reforms to enhance private sector-led agriculture and transformation of the industrial sector,” said Leila Mokadem, Director General of the Southern Africa Regional Development and Business Delivery Office. “Agriculture value addition can serve as a springboard for industrialisation and job creation,” she added.

The project aligns with the Bank Group’s Ten-Year Strategy (2013-2022) and its High Five strategic priorities, particularly Industrialise Africa and Improve the quality of life of the people of Africa. The African Development Bank observed that Botswana has a very low risk of debt distress and a positive medium-term growth outlook. However, a lack of economic diversification exposes the country to significant vulnerabilities.

The Bank Group’s active portfolio in Botswana amounts to UA 57.7 million ($81.9 million) and comprises four projects. The financial sector accounts for the largest share of the portfolio by industry (97.1%), followed by agriculture (1.7%) and industry (1.2%). In the past, the African Development Bank partnered with various Botswana government agencies to accelerate economic growth.

On the 21st of February 2020, the bank signed a thematic Line of Credit (LoC) of P900 Million for a 10-year tenor with Botswana Development Corporation (BDC), a wholly state-owned investment agency. This was during that time, the single largest transaction of its nature to ever take place in Botswana.

The LoC was penned to support the BDC’s long-term strategy to scale up its investments in critical sectors, including manufacturing, transport and service sectors, with the overall objective of supporting the transformation and industrialisation of the Botswana economy. BDC eyed a more comprehensive socio-economic benefit with this partnership, including attracting investments into the economy and employment creation.

The African Development Bank is a multilateral development finance institution. It has an overarching objective to spur sustainable economic development and social progress in its regional member countries (RMCs) through mobilising and allocating resources for investment and providing policy advice and technical assistance to support development efforts.

This transaction was poised to support further BDC’s focus on safeguarding its balance sheet to ensure financial sustainability whilst fulfilling its mandate as the Botswana Government’s principal investment arm.

The COVID-19 pandemic has landed massive blows on Botswana; apart from claiming more than 2300 lives thus far, the contagious plague has exacerbated existing growth challenges. The effects of the pandemic have led to an estimated real gross domestic product (GDP) contraction of 7.9% in 2020, according to the World Bank, worse than that of the 2009 global financial crisis.

The contraction reflects the impact that reduced global demand, travel restrictions and social distancing measures have had on output in crucial production and export sectors, including the diamond industry and tourism.

Botswana’s fiscal deficit is set to widen to 11.3% of GDP in FY2020/21, from 5.6% in FY2019/20, reflecting a sharp decline in mineral revenues, a sticky public sector wage bill, and the impact of the COVID-19 spending. Similarly, the current account deficit is estimated to have widened to 8 percent of GDP in 2020 following the sharp decline in diamond exports.

Developments in the global diamond industry will significantly impact the short-term recovery, given Botswana’s dependence on the commodity. While recovery is expected in 2021 due to a favourable outlook for the diamond industry, the economic impact of COVID-19 is likely to be deep and long-lasting. The P1.5 billion African Development Bank loan comes after the World Bank approved a P2.5 billion boost for Botswana early this year.

The Programmatic Economic Resilience and Green Recovery Development Policy Loan (DPL) will support the implementation of Botswana’s Economic Recovery and Transformation Plan and is designed to strengthen COVID-19 pandemic relief while bolstering resilience to future shocks.

In August, Botswana received the International Monetary Fund (IMF) 189 Special Drawing Rights allocation worth P3 billion. The IMF SDR is a non-currency asset that Botswana can convert into hard currency by trading it with other IMF member countries.

 

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