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Political uncertainty in Botswana frights foreign investors

Think tanks and pundits alike have predicted that Botswana’s next week Wednesday polls will not be easy or free flowing. This wave of uncertainty has not only descended on politicians, foreign investors are also showing less confidence in Botswana markets.

Beginning of this year, rating agency Moodys said it expects limited election-related policy uncertainty in Botswana, Namibia, Senegal and Ghana, “given their track records of political stability.” But the political climate of Botswana has become more divisive and has sprung out before the eyes of international media, much to the evident fear of foreign investors. In his presentation, when making an analysis of African capital markets titled ‘Driving liquidity in African capital markets’, the Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) Chief Executive Officer Thapelo Tsheole, highlighted limited foreign investor participation as one of the factors contributing to the continent’ s susceptibility to illiquidity. Tsheole also said African markets also suffer from; lack of financial literacy, high transaction costs, buy-and-hold strategies and small retail investor.

Market experts also told this publication that there was a lot of uncertainty during the beginning of this year going on towards this month’s polls. The main worry, according to experts, is the issue of the former president joining opposition, as that can mean instability in the Botswana political ground. No one was confident that the ruling BDP will win but now there is little hope hence foreign investors will remain reluctant in putting their money in a political uncertain country. Surveys and researches predicts that the 2014 elections BDP 46 percent vote will shrink even further. BDP got a popular vote of 53.3 percent in 2009. According to Afrobarometer survey conducted in July/August, BDP would enjoy a 2-to-1 lead over the opposition UDC 44 percent to 22 percent.

Beginning of this year, Africa’s leading bank by assets said BDP will win, but without an outright majority. The bank said an ongoing feud between the current president and his predecessor has wrought political unrest in the country. However the bank was still hopeful of Botswana even before this month polls saying: “We view the current political turmoil as temporary; we expect no significant deviation from the current economic policy, even if the BDP lost the election.”

A lot of action has not been seen in the local bourse this year and many believe it is because foreign investors are scared to invest in Botswana, especially before this month’s highly contested elections. This year there has been a trend of narrow decrease in Domestic Company Index. Even if the Domestic Company Index increases, it was with a very small significance.

Where the markets stands before the next Wednesday polls

According to Motswedi Securities’ recent Daily Financial Market Highlights released this week, while foreign investment on local markets has been low, activity improved more than tenfold on Thursday on the local bourse as compared to the previous trading session, with 244,000 shares moving through the market, worth a little under P529, 000. According to Motswedi’s Equity Market Summary, the highest performer was FNBB, which for the second consecutive day led the trades, only this time crossing 121,000 shares valued at P344, 000. From the previous day's 4 thebe climb, FNBB gained a further 5 thebe in the day's session the stock climbed to a year high of P2.85/share.

“It seems that demand for the bank's stock is strong, as can be reflected by the strides the share price is taking to extend its year to date – of which currently stands at 16.3%. On the losers end, Sechaba lost the one thebe it gained earlier on in the week. The stock moved back to its week-opening price of P20.56/share – courtesy of a small 100 shares changing ownership,” said Motswedi Securities.

According to Stockbrokers Botswana’s recent market commentary, the DCI ticked up by 0.16 percent to close the week at 7472.45. The FCI was flat, closing at 1564.54 points. BTCL was the biggest gainer this week, up 4 thebe to close at 105 thebe. Total turnover for the week amounted to BWP14, 961,093 as 1,846,272 securities exchanged hands. ETF NewGold held the lion’s share of turnover with 82 percent. BTCL’s share was 4 percent while Letshego’s was 3 percent.

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African countries call on WHO to increase funding

2nd February 2023

Minister of Health Dr Edwin Dikoloti says Africa member states call on World Health Organization (WHO) to ensure equitable resource allocation for 2024-2025. Dr Dikoloti was speaking this week at the WHO Executive Board Meeting in Geneva, Switzerland.

He said countries agreed that there is need to address the budget and funding imbalances by increasing the programme budget share of countries and regions to 75% for the next year.

“The proposed budget for 2024-2025 marks an important milestone as it is the first in Programme Budget in which country offices will be allocated more than half of the total budget for the biennium. We highly welcome this approach which will enable the organization to deliver on its mandate while fulfilling the expectations for transparency, efficiency and accountability.”

The Botswana Health Minister commended member states on the extension of the General Programme of Work (GPD 13) and the Secretariat work to monitor the progress towards the triple billion targets, and the health-related SDGs.

“We welcome the Director’s general proposed five priorities which have crystalized into the “five Ps” that are aligned with the GPW 13 extension. Impact can only be achieved through close coordination with, and support to national health authorities. As such, the strengthening of country offices is instrumental, with particular focus on strengthening national health systems and on promoting more equitable access to health services.”

According to Dr Dikoloti, the majority of countries with UHC index that is below the global median are in the WHO Africa region. “For that, we call on the WHO to enhance capacity at the regional and national levels in order to accelerate progress. Currently, the regional office needs both technical and financial support in order to effectively address and support country needs.”

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Botswana still weighing in on Maseko’s assassination

27th January 2023

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Lemogang Kwape says Botswana has not taken any position regarding the killing of a renowned human rights lawyer, Thulani Maseko, who was gunned down at his house in Mbabane, Eswatini.

In a brief interview with WeekendPost, Dr Kwape said Botswana has not yet taken any position regarding his death. He said the purported incident should be thoroughly probed before Botswana can form an opinion based on the findings of the inquiries.

“Botswana generally condemns any killing of human life by all means,” says Dr. Kwape. He wouldn’t want to be dragged on whether Botswana will support the suspension of Eswatini from SADC.

“We will be guided by SADC organ Troika if they can be an emergency meeting. I am not sure when the meeting will be called by Namibian president,“ he said.

However, the Namibian president Hage Geingob notes with deep concern reports coming out of Eswatini about the killing of Mr. Maseko. In a statement, he called upon the “Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini to ensure that the killing of Maseko is swiftly, transparently and comprehensively investigated, and that any or all persons suspected of committing this heinous crime are brought to justice.”

Maseko was chairperson of the Multi-Stakeholder Forum which was established as a coalition of non-State actors to advocate for a process of national political dialogue aimed at resolving the security and political challenges confronting the Kingdom.

“SADC expresses its deepest and heartfelt condolences to the family of Mr. Maseko, his friends, colleagues, and to the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini for the loss of Mr. Maseko. In this context, SADC further calls upon the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini to remain calm, exercise due care and consideration whilst the appropriate structures conduct the investigations and bring the matter to completion,” the statement says.

Geingob reiterated the need for peaceful resolution of the political and security challenges affecting the country.

Meanwhile political activists are calling on SADC to suspend Eswatini from the block including the African Union as well.

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Kopong Murder: Accused interferes with witnesses again!

27th January 2023

State prosecutor, Seeletso Ookeditse revealed before the Broadhurst Magistrate Jobbie Moilatshimo that the third accused involved in the murder of Barulaganye Aston, has interfered with the State witnesses again.

The second and third accused (Lefty Kosie and Outlwile Aston) were previously accused of interference when they were caught in possession of cellphones in prison. They were further accused of planning to kill the deceased’s brother, who is currently the guardian to the children of the deceased.

Ookeditse indicated that Outlwile had earlier went to challenge the magistrate’s decision of denying him bail at the High Court before Judge Michael Motlhabi.

“The third accused approached the High Court and made a bail application, which was dismissed on the same day,” Ookeditse said.

However, even after the High Court verdict on their bail application, the duo (Kosie and Aston) has once again applied for bail this week.

Ookeditse plead with the court to stop the accused from abusing the court process.

“Yesterday, Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) received papers of his bail application filed before the Broadhurst Magistrates Court. However, the papers do not speak to changed circumstances, therefore this back and forth about bail must be put to a stop,” said the State prosecutor.

While giving evidence before court, the Investigations Officer, Detective Inspector Quite Zhalamonto, said his investigations have proved that there is interference continuing regarding the accused trio.

He told the court that on the 12th of January 2023, he received a report from Thato Aston, who is the son of the accused and the deceased. The son had alleged to the Investigation Officer that he received a call from one Phillip Molwantwa.

According to Zhalamonto, Thato revealed that Molwatwa indicated that he was from prison on a visit to the Outlwile Aston and went on to ask where he was staying and where his siblings (Aston’s children) are staying.

“Thato revealed that Phillip went on to ask if he or his siblings saw their father murdering their mother, and he was referring to the crime scene. Thato told me that he, however, refused to answer the questions as he was afraid especially because he was asked about where him and his siblings stay,” said Zhalamonto.

Zhalamonto alluded to the court that he then went to Orange to confirm the communication between Thato and Molwantwa where he found the case.

“I have arrested Philip yesterday and when I interviewed him, he did not deny that he knows Aston and that he has indeed called Thato and asked questions as to where him and his siblings resides even though he failed to give reasons for asking such questions,” Zhalamonto told the court.

He further revealed that Molwantwa indicated that he had received a call from an unknown man who refused to reveal himself.

“Phillip told me that the unknown man said he was sent by the accused (Aston), and that Aston had instructed him to tell me to check if there was still some money in his bank accounts, and he also wanted to know where the kids were residing, the unknown man even asked him to meet at Main Mall” the Investigation Officer told the court.

He further informed the court that he is working tirelessly to identify the “unknown caller” and the route of the cell number.

Furthermore, the fourth accused, Kebaleboge Ntsebe, has revealed to the court through a letter that she was abused and tortured by the Botswana Police Services. She wrote in her letter that she suffered miscarriage as a result of being beaten by the police.

Ntsebe is on bail, while a bail ruling for Aston and Kosie will be delivered on the 6th of next month

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