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Study urges local millionaires to sponsor Education

A recent study titled: “Education financing research report at national level; the case of Botswana”, released this week has recommended that the rich people in Botswana should sponsor the education sector in the country.

Having analysed the Botswana context and based on other experiences in the country the study came up with some innovative options to provide additional resources to the education segment.“Some of these ways are taxing multi-millionaires; putting a levy on the mining sector, as well as increasing Official development assistance (ODA) support, and curbing illicit financial flows in the mining sector to make more resources available as government revenue,” study posits.

According to the study, Botswana has about 5 Multi-Millionaires; Abdul Satar Dada who owns Associated Investment Development Cooperation (AIDC), he is worth US$50 million. There is also Gulaam Husain Abdoola, owner of Turn Star Holdings, worth US$25 million; then Chandrakanth P Chauhun, from Sefalana Group and is worth US$12 million; as well as Ramachandran Ottapathu, Chief Executive Officer of Choppies who owns 19.5% in Choppies valued at US$60 million.

In addition there is Farouk Essop Ismail, Deputy CEO of Choppies who owns Far Properties worth US$35 Million and also 14.6% in Choppies worth US$45 million. Alexander Forbes, one of the Billionaires and philanthropist of the world states that‚ business was originated to produce happiness and not to pile up money.

Therefore, “these 5 rich people in Botswana and any upcoming rich persons could be taxed in a manner that their taxes are made special to meet education needs in the country,” study highlights. The study came with the recommendation after finding that the education financing model in Botswana is heavily dependent on government providing the resources.

Although government has provided resources to education sector above 20% and 6% of Botswana Gross Domestic Products (GDP), the resources are not adequate due to growing needs of the sector; resources to education sector are provided through a number of channels or line ministries creating coordinating challenges. It states that other than financing the sector from pubic resources, the sector does not have other innovative financing models. “Experiences of financing needs at the tertiary level have led to the education sector to begin to search for new innovative financing mechanisms as dependency on public resources is not sustainable,” it stresses.

Study suggests Botswana should also introduce education Levy

In addition to taxing millionaires, the study points out that Botswana is probably the only country in Southern Africa that has an alcohol levy imposed to generate funds for rehabilitation of alcoholics and to meet alcohol related ill health in public hospitals. Introduced in 2008, the levy rates have been increased over the years and over 1.2 billion Pula has been collected. Although the inception, management and its utilization has been a borne of contention in the country, resources have been generated that could go a long way to deal with effects of alcohol consumption in the country.

Borrowing a leaf from this and knowing well the importance of education to the country and that it is amongst the top five government priorities, the study states that “an education levy could be imposed also on certain commodities such as alcohol or fuel just to generate additional resources for education.”

Freezing up some portion of foreign reserves for education

According to the Reserve Bank of Botswana, foreign reserves are assets held by the Bank of Botswana in foreign currencies. The reserves are accumulated mainly through surpluses on the balance of payments together with increases to the value of existing foreign currency investments. The report states: It is important for Botswana to maintain adequate foreign exchange reserves to be able to meet the demand for foreign currency to pay for imports of goods and services on an ongoing basis, as well as meet other international payment obligations, including the costs of servicing international debt.  

“Much as the Botswana government has such reserves aimed at meeting import needs of the country as well as making sure that the country does not suffer from economic shocks, some of the reserves could be used to meet domestic needs such as financing education with the ever growing needs in the sector. The education sector can request special provision from the MFDP so that it could have the education budget increased,” it states.

The bank states that as at the end of 2014, the reserves had increased by 16.7 percent from P67.8 billion recorded a year earlier, due to net foreign exchange inflows and the depreciation of the Pula against major international currencies. The reserves were sufficient to cover approximately 18.5 months of imports of goods and services. As of April 2015, the reserves were P89.4 billion, the equivalent of 20 months of import cover.

Cost Sharing arrangement crops again

Most technicians in the study were of the opinion that much as the Botswana government provides 99.1% of financing to basic education services, this is not sustainable in the light that domestic resources are dwindling due to a number of reasons ranging from loss of revenue as some players in the private sector are shutting down operations in Botswana; there is also a growing need for financing to other social sectors such as health.

“It was therefore suggested that a cost-sharing model be introduced whereby parents and guardians who are well-to-do, should be able to meet costs of footing education for their wards and those that are not able to meet such costs can them be taken under government support programme fully,” it posits. Currently parents and guardians do not pay school fees for basic education but only at senior secondary level. Although this came out loud and repeatedly from many technicians, they were also quick to indicate that this will require political will to be implemented.

Botswana’s Key Education Priorities are articulated in the: National Policy on Education; the Revised National Policy on Education; the new Tertiary Education Policy; the National Vocational Training Policy; the National Credit and Qualification Framework; the Maitlamo Information Communications Technology (ICT) Policy, Vision 2016 (now Vision 2036), and the Science and Technology Policy, together with other government policies.

Current funding sources of education in Botswana

Meanwhile, current funding sources to the education sector in Botswana are: public resources through the National Budget; through Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) as grants and technical support from development partners; from the private sector and from parents and guardians of students through school fees and development fund payments.

The study looked at the financing model used for the last 8 years between 2010/2011 and 2017/2018 assessing existing financing documents, policies and their relevance and ability to provide education to persons in the hardest to reach areas of the country as well as to what extent the existing model is able to mobilize resources to adequately finance the sector.

It was conducted for the Botswana Coalition on Education for All (BOCEFA), with support from Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) through Africa Network Campaign on Education for All (ANCEFA) whose broad aim was to determine and suggest the best possible efficient and innovative education financing model for the country looking at the country context. In the study, Government officials were interviewed especially those from the Ministry of Finance Planning and Development; the Ministry of Basic Education (MOBE) Corporate services, the Ministry of Tertiary Education and Research and the Human Resources Development Council.

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State forged Kgosi’s arrest warrant

22nd July 2021
FORMER DIS BOSS: ISAAC KGOSI

In a classic and shocking case of disgrace and dishonour to this country, the law enforcement agencies are currently struggling to cover up a damaging and humiliating scandal of having conspired to forge the signature of a Palapye Chief Magistrate, Rebecca Motsamai in an unlawful acquisition of the much-publicised 2019 warrant of arrest against Isaac Kgosi, the former director of the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS).

The cloak-and-dagger arrest was led by the DIS director, Brigadier Peter Magosi supported by the Botswana Police, Botswana Defence Force (BDF), with the Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) which accused Kgosi of tax evasion, in the backseat.

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UDC parties discuss by-elections

22nd July 2021
UDC

Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) constituent members are struggling to reach an agreement over the allocation of wards for the imminent ward by-elections across the country.

Despite a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) and Alliance for Progressives (AP) are said to be active, but the nitty-gritties are far from being settled.

The eight bye-elections will be a precursor of a somewhat delayed finalisation of the brittle MoU. The three parties want to draw a plan on how and who will contest in each of the available wards.

This publication has gathered that the negotiations will not be a run off the mill because there is already an impasse between the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) which is a UDC constituent and AP (currently negotiating to join umbrella).

The by-elections joint committee met last week at Cresta President Hotel in a bid to finalise allocation but nothing tangible came out of the gathering, sources say.

The cause of the stalemate according to those close to events, is the Metsimotlhabe Ward which the two parties have set their eyes on.

In 2019, he ward was won by Botswana Democratic Party’s (BDP) Andrew Sebobi who unfortunately died in a tragic accident in February last year.

Sebobi had convincingly won by 1 109 votes in the last elections; and was trailed by Sephuthi Thelo of the UDC trailed him with 631 votes; while Alliance for Progressives’ Innocent Moamogwe got 371 votes.

Thelo is a BCP candidate and as per UDC norm, incumbency prevails meaning that the BCP will contest since they were runners up. On the other hand, AP has also raised its hand for the same.

“AP asked for it on the basis that they have a good candidate but BCP did not agree to that request also arguing they have a better contestant,” one UDC member confided to this publication.

Notwithstanding Metsimotlhabe Ward squabble, it is said the by-election talks are almost a done deal, with Botswana National Front (BNF) tipped to take Boseja South ward in Mochudi East constituency. Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) will be awarded Tamasane Ward in Lerala/Maunatlala constituency, sources say.

“But the agreement has to be closed by National Executive Committee (NEC),” emphasized the informant.

The NEC is said to have been cautioned not to back the wrong horse but rather rate with reason and facts.

UDC President, Duma Boko has told this publication that, “allocation is complete with two wards already awarded but with only one yet to be finalized,” he could not dwell into much details as to which party got what and the reasons for the delay in finalisation.

Chairperson of the by-elections committee, Dr. Phenyo Butale responded to this publication regarding the matter: “As AP we contested and as you may be aware we signed the MoU with UDC and BPF to collaborate on bye-elections. The opposition candidate for all bye-elections will be agreed by these parties and that process is still ongoing,” he said when asked if AP is interested on the ward and how far with the talks on bye-elections.

Butale, a former Gaborone Central Member of Parliament, who is also AP Secretary General continued to say, “As the chairperson of the bye-elections committee we are still seized with that matter. We should also do some consultations with the local structures. Once the process is complete we will issue a notice for now we cannot talk about the other two while the other is still pending the other one”.

Butale further clarified: “There is no such thing as AP and BCP not in agreement. It is an issue of signatories discussing and determining the opposition candidates across the three wards.”

Apart from the three wards, there are five more council wards that UDC is yet to allocate to cooperating partners.

FROM PALAPYE MEET: BPP CAUTION NEC MEMBERS  

With the UDC cheerful from last weekend’s meeting in Palapye, the meeting however was very tense on the side of both BCP and BNF, with only BPP flexing its muscle and even lashing out.

BCP going into the meeting, had promised to ask difficult questions to the UDC NEC.

BCP VP and also acting Secretary General, Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang, presented their qualms which were addressed by UDC Chairperson Motlatsi Molapisi, informants say.

It is said Molapisi is fed up and concerned by some UDC members especially those in the NEC who ‘wash party’s dirty linen in public’.

Insiders say the veteran politician cautioned the NEC members that they “will not expel any party but individuals who tarnish the image of the UDC.”

It is not the first time BPP play a paternalistic role as it once expressed its discontent with BCP in 2020, saying it should never wash UDC linen in public.

At first it is said, BPP, the oldest political formation in Botswana, claims disappointment on BCP stance that UDC should be democratised especially by sharing their stand with the media. Again, BPP was not happy with BCP leader Dumelang Saleshando’s decision to air his personal views on social media regarding the merger of UDC party.

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DIS infiltrates Police fingerprint system

22nd July 2021
Makgope

Botswana Police Service (BPS) Commissioner, Keabetswe Makgophe, has of late been dousing raging fires from various quarters of society following the infiltration of the police fingerprint system by the Directorate on Intelligence and Security (DIS), WeekendPost has learnt.

Fresh information gleaned from a number of impeccable sources, points to a pitiable working relationship between the two state organs. Cause of concern is the DIS continuous big brother role to an extent that it is now interfering with other institutions’ established mandates.

BPS which works closely with the DIS has been left exasperated by the works of the institution formed in 2008. It is said, the DIS through its Information Technology (IT) experts in collusion with some at BPS forensics department managed to infiltrate the Fingerprint system.

The infiltration, according to those in the know, was for the DIS to “teach a lesson” to some who are on their radar. It is said the DIS is playing and fighting dirty to win the fights they have lost before.

By managing to hack the police finger print system, a number of renowned businessmen and other politically exposed persons found their fingers in the system. What surprised the victims is the fact that they have never been charged of any wrongdoing by the police and they were left reeling in shock to learn that their fingers are on the data-base of criminals.

In fact, some of those who their fingerprints were falsely included in the records of those on the wrong side of law learnt later when other errands demanded their fingerprints.

“We learnt later when we had to submit and buy some documents and we were very shocked,” one politician who is also a businessman confided to this publication this week.

“We then learn that there are some fabricated criminality recorded for us, as to when did we commit those remained secret to the police, but then we had to engage our lawyers on the matter and that is when we were cleared,” said the politician-cum- tenderpreneur.

The lawyers have confirmed engaging the police and that the matters were settled in a gentlemen’s agreement and concluded.

All these happened behind the scenes with the police top brass oblivious only to be confronted by the irked lot, police sources also add. The victimized group who most of them have been fighting lengthy battles with the DIS read malice and did not blink when it was revealed that these were done by the DIS.

“And it was clear that they (DIS) are the ones in this dirty war which we don’t understand. Remember when we sue, it will be the Police at the courts not the DIS and that is why we agreed to a ceasefire more so they also requested that be kept under carpet,” said the victim.

Nonetheless, the Police through its spokesperson Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, briefly said: “we do not have any system that has been hacked.” On the other hand DIS mouthpiece Edward Robert was not in office this week to comment on the matter.

Reports however say DIS boss, Peter Magosi, who most of the victims accuse of the job, is said to have met his police counterpart Makgophe to put the matter to bed.

COVID-19 RAVAGES POLICE

As frontline workers, Police have not escaped the wrath of Covid-19. Already the numbers of those infected has reached the highest of high and they suggest that they be priorities on vaccine rollout.

“Our job is complicated, firstly we arrest including those who are non-compliant to Covid protocols and we go to accidents and many more. These put us at risk and it seems our superiors are not bothered,” said one police officer this week.

The cops further complain about that working spaces are small, as such expose them to contact the virus.

“Some tests positive and go for quarantine while the rest of the unit will be left without even test carried out. If at all the bosses are serious all the police officers should every now and then be subjected to testing or else we will be no more because of the virus,” added another officer based in Gaborone.

The government has since placed teachers on the priority list for the vaccines, it remains to be seen whether the police, who also man road blocks, will be considered.

“But our bosses should convince the country leadership about this, if not then we are doomed,” concluded a more senior officer.

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