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Pro Civil inherits Basarwa curse

A locally registered company and diamond mining production rookie, Pro Civil, has inherited the risk of owning Ghaghoo mine, which sat for two years without operating.  Gem Diamonds, which dumped the mine in 2017, citing lower revenue and earnings, is reported to have received about P55 million, as a “once off upfront payment”, Ghagoo mine from Pro Civil.

Reports are that after Pro Civil parts with P55 million, it will then assume the environmental liability currently associated with Ghagoo mine. In March, this publication received information that the mine which is located in the heart of Central Kgalagadi Game Reserve (CKGR), is struggling to find a potential buyer as no investor would touch “such a big open pit mine which is expensive to operate.”

Owner of Ghagoo mine, Gem Diamonds, bowed out from operating the mine in 2017, citing volatile and suppressed diamond market for the size and quality stones produced at the mine. According to its financials which were released in the first quarter of this year, prices achieved for Ghaghoo mine decreased from US$ 210 per carat in early 2015 to US$ 142 per carat in December 2016, and this caused Gem Diamonds Board to throw the towel in on the mine. Gem Diamonds had to halt operations earlier 2017, due to lower revenue and earnings before being placed in a care and maintenance in February, the same year. 

This publication’s investigations have revealed that after closing shop in 2017, Ghagoo assets were at the risk of deteriorating due to an earthquake of magnitude 6.5 with an epicenter 25 km from the mine. This   happened during the initial process of care and maintenance and damaged the seal of the underground water fissure causing flooding. Since last year, care and maintenance at the mine has been a lot of dewatering of the underground water and resealing of the fissure, according to reports.

Pro Civil is inheriting a mine whose history is synonymous with controversy. A few years back explorers were stopped by attempts from Basarwa and international sympathizers on digging the ground that “belongs to Basarwa.” The move to mine in the land synonymous with Basarwa and wildlife, CKGR, has always been seen as “stealing Bushmen tribal land.”

The company which will own Ghagoo mine, Pro Civil, is jointly owned by Batswana; Town Planner cum Project Manager, Mmoloki Poloko and Tumisang Poloko.  The duo’s dream of owning mining assets was made realised recently, when the local anti-trust body; Competition Authority, approved Pro Civil’s takeover of Gem Diamonds Botswana and Ghaghoo mine.

“The Authority determined through the analysis of the facts of the merger, that the proposed transaction is not likely to result in substantial lessening of competition, nor endanger the continuity of services in the market for mining of diamonds in Botswana and as such does not raise any competition concerns. Furthermore, there are no public interest concerns that have been identified,” said the Competition Authority.

Gem Diamonds Botswana’s parent company seems to have diverted full focus to Lesotho, where it has been enjoying success.  In its financial results released in March, Gem Diamonds showed positive results in 2018 and all the credit is to its ever growing Letseng mine in the mountainous country. In 2018, Letseng’s financial performance was underpinned by strong operational results with a record of 15 gigantic diamonds greater than 100 carats. During the same year, Letseng also discovered a 910 carat; Lesotho Legend, which was sold for US$40 million hence further boosting the miner’s revenues.

Speaking of the sale of Botswana business to Pro Civil CEO of Gem Diamonds Clifford Elphick said: “This sale is in line with our strategic objective to dispose of non-core assets. Gem Diamonds remains focused on optimizing production and efficiency at the Letšeng mine in Lesotho."

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Khan: Boko, Masisi are fake politicians

18th January 2021
Masisi & Boko

While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.

Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.

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Ookeditse rejects lobby for BPF top post

18th January 2021
LAWRENCE-OOKEDITSE

Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.

Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.

Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”

“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.

He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.

He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.

According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.

There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.

Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.

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BDP cancels MPs retreat

18th January 2021
President Masisi

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.

“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication.
The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.

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