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Botswana scores 70% in economic freedom

The 2019 Index of Economic Freedom puts Botswana’s score at 70%, making its economy the 36th freest in the 2019 Index. Its overall score has decreased by 0.4 point, with declines in judicial effectiveness, government integrity, and fiscal health exceeding improvements in the score for tax burden, labor freedom, and government spending.

Botswana is ranked 3rd among 47 countries in the Sub-Saharan Africa region, and its overall score is above the regional and world averages. Through fiscal discipline and sound management, Botswana has transformed itself from one of the world’s poorest countries to a middle-income country. Economic policy is guided by the government’s efforts to diversify the economy away from dependence on the volatile mining sector and towards agriculture, services, and manufacturing. The regulatory environment encourages growth, and openness to foreign investment and trade promotes competitiveness and resilience. The independent judiciary provides strong protection of property rights.

Sparsely populated Botswana has a land area larger than Spain and is dominated by the vast Kalahari Dessert. Botswana has abundant diamond and other natural resources, a market oriented economy, and one of Africa’s highest sovereign credit ratings, and ecotourism in its extensive nature preserves is helping to diversify the economy.

The 2019 Index further says increase in Botswana’s property rights and intellectual property rights scores caused its overall score in the Property Rights Alliance’s 2017 International Property Rights to improve as well. Courts enforce commercial contracts. Botswana remain rated the African continent’s least corrupt country, but there are almost no restrictions on the private business activities of public servants, and an increase in tender-related corruption has been reported.

The top personal income tax rate is 25 percent, and the top corporate tax rate is 22 percent. Other taxes include property, inheritance, and value-added taxes. The overall tax burden equals 24.9% of total domestic income. Over the past three years, government spending has amounted to 33.7 percent of the country’s output, and budget deficits have averaged 1.8% of GDP. Public debt is equivalent to 15.6% of GDP

The regulatory environment protects the overall freedom to establish and run a business relatively well. A one-stop shop for entrepreneurs is in place, and the process for business closings has become easy and straightforward. Employment regulations are relatively flexible, maize, diesel, and petroleum are subject to price controls, and the government continues other subsidies through state-owned enterprises.

The combined value of exports and imports is equal to 97.1% of GDP. The average applied tariff rate if 0.6%. As of June 30 2018, according to WTO, Botswana had 21 nontariff measures in force. Foreign investment in some sectors is restricted. Generally, adhering to global standards in the transparency of banking supervision, the financial sector provides considerable access to credit and has expanded.

Meanwhile, Botswana recorded a trade gap of P339.5 Million in May 2019 compared to P2.5 Million surpluses in the same month a year ago. Imports soared 56% of P6,5 Million, boosted by acquisitions of diamonds at 425%. Main imports partners were South Africa at the value of 53% of total imports, followed by Canada 20.1%, France 5.8% and Russia 5.6%. In contrast, exports declined 9.6% to P6 Million, amid lower sales of diamonds (-8.3%); machinery and electrical equipment (-26.8) and vehicles and transport equipment (-49.9%).

Main export partners were Belgium at 24% of total sales, India 20%, the UAE 17.4% and South Africa 8.4%. Balance of Trade averaged P-96.72 Million from 2005 until 2019, reaching an all-time high of P4102.21 Million in March 2017 and a record low of P-6683 Million in July of 2012.

Balance of Trade in Botswana is expected to be -116.59 Million Pula by the end of this quarter, according to the Trading Economics Global Macro Models and analyst’s expectations. Looking forward, Balance of Trade in Botswana is estimated to stand at -91.10 in 12 months’ time. In long-term the Botswana Balance of Trade is projected to trend around P255 Million in 2020, according to Trading Economics models.

Money supply in Botswana decreased to P170 Million in April from P175 Million in March 2019. Money supply averaged P121 Million from 2008 until 2019, reaching an all-time of P181 Million in October of 2018 and a record low of P652 Million in October 2009.
Central Bank Balance Sheet in Botswana increased to P77275 Million in April from P74225 Million in March 2019. Central Bank Balance Sheet in Botswana averaged P68852.80 Million from 2007 until 2019, reaching an all-time high of P89975 Million in April 2015 and a record low of P50627 Million in January 2007.

Bank Lending Rate in Botswana remained unchanged at 6.5% in May from 6.5% in April 2019. It averaged 9.4% from 2009 until 2019, reaching an all-time high of 17% in January 2009 and a record low of 6.5% in October 2017. The Bank Lending Rate is expected to be 6.8% by the end of this quarter, according to Trading Economic Global Macro Models and Analysts expectations. Looking forward, analysts estimate Bank Lending Rate in Botswana to stand at 6% in 12 months’ time. In the long-term, the Botswana Bank Lending rate is projected to trend around 6.8% in 2010.

In Botswana, the bank lending rate is weighted average rate of interest charged on loans by commercial banks to private individuals and companies. Consumer Credit in Botswana increased to P361 Million in May from P355 Million in April 2019. It averaged P202 Million from 2007 until 2019, reaching an all-time high of P361 Million in May 2019 and a record low of P632 Million in January 2007.

Loans to Private Sector in Botswana decreased to P228 31,20 Million in May from P228 61,39 Million in April 2019. The sector is averaged P144 Million from 2007 until 2019, reaching an all-time high of P232 Million in November 2018 and a record low of P437 Million in January 2007. Foreign Direct Investment in Botswana increased by P745 Million in the first quarter of 2019. It is averaged P886 Million from 2004 until 2019, reaching an all-time high of P363 Million in the fourth quarter of 2015 and a record low of P-143 Million in the first quarter of 2016.

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Transgender persons in Botswana live a miserable life

23rd November 2020
Transgender persons

An international report complied in South Africa dubbed ‘Legal Gender Recognition in Botswana’ says that the transgender and gender non-conforming people in Botswana live a miserable life. The community experiences higher levels of discrimination, violence and ill health.

In this report, it has been indicated that this is because their gender identity, which does not conform to narrowly define societal norms, renders them more vulnerable. Gender identity is a social determinant of health, which means that it is a factor that influences people’s health via their social context, their communities and their experiences of social exclusion. The Ministry of Health and Wellness has recognized this, and transgender people are considered a vulnerable population under the Botswana Second National Strategic Framework for HIV and AIDS 2010-2017.

In a recent study that shed light on the lived experiences of transgender and gender non-conforming people in Botswana, transgender persons often experience discrimination because of their gender identity and expression. The study was conducted by the University of Cape Town, LEGABIBO, BONELA, as well as Rainbow Identity Association and approved by the Health Ministry as well as the University of Botswana.

Of the 77 transgender and gender non-conforming people who participated in the study, less than half were employed. Two thirds, which is approximately 67% said that they did not have sufficient funds to cover their everyday needs. Two in five had hidden health concerns from their healthcare provider because they were afraid to disclose their gender identity.

More than half said that because of their gender identity, they had been treated disrespectfully at a healthcare facility (55%), almost half (46%) said they had been insulted at a healthcare facility, and one quarter (25%) had been denied healthcare because of their gender identity.

At the same time, the ‘Are we doing right’ study suggests that transgender and non-conforming people might be at higher risks of experiencing violence and mental ill-health, compared to the general population. More than half had experienced verbal embarrassment because of their gender identity, 48% had experienced physical violence and more than one third (38%) had experienced sexual violence.

The study showed that mental health concerns were high among transgender and gender non-conforming people in Botswana. Half of the transgender and gender non-conforming study participants (53%) showed signs of depression. Between one in four and one in six showed signs of moderate or severe anxiety (22% among transgender women, 24% among transgender men and 17% among gender non-conforming people).

Further, the study revealed that many had attempted suicide: one in three transgender women (32%), more than one in three transgender men (35%) and three in five gender non-conforming people (61%).

International research, as well as research from Botswana, suggests that not being able to change one’s gender marker has a negative impact on access to healthcare and mental health and wellbeing. The study further showed that one in four transgender people in Botswana (25%) had been denied access to healthcare. This is, at least in part, linked to not being able to change one’s gender marker in the identity documents, and thus not having an identity document that matches one’s gender identity and gender expression.

In its Assessment of Legal and Regulatory Framework for HIV, AIDS and Tuberculosis, the Health Ministry noted that “transgender persons in Botswana are unable to access identity documents that reflect their gender identity, which is a barrier to health services, including in the context of HIV. In one documented case, a transwoman’s identity card did not reflect her gender identity- her identity card photo indicated she was ‘male’. When she presented her identity card at a health facility, a health worker called the police who took her into custody.”

The necessity of a correct national identity document goes beyond healthcare. The High Court of Botswana explains that “the national identity document plays a pivotal role in every Motswana’s daily life, as it links him or her with any service they require from various institutions. Most activities in the country require every Motswana to produce their identity document, for identification purposes of receiving services.”

According to the Legal Gender Recognition in Botswana report, this effectively means that transgender, whose gender identity and expression is likely to be different from the sex assigned to them at birth and from what is recorded on their identity document, cannot access services without risk of denial or discrimination, or accusations of fraud.

In this context, gays and lesbians advocacy group LEGABIBO has called on government through the Department of Civil and National Registration to urgently implement the High Court rulings on gender marker changes. As stated by the High Court in the ND vs Attorney General of Botswana judgement, identity cards (Omang) play an important role in the life of every Motswana. Refusal and or delay to issue a Motswana with an Omang is denying them to live a complete and full-filing life with dignity and violates their privacy and freedom of expression.

The judgement clarified that persons can change their gender marker as per the National Registrations Act, so changing the gender marker is legally possible. There is no need for a court order. It further said the person’s gender is self-identified, there is no need to consult medical doctors.

LEGABIBO also called on government to develop regulations that specify administrative procedure to change one’s gender marker, and observing self-determination process. Further, the group looks out for government to ensure members of the transgender community are engaged in the development of regulations.

“We call on this Department of Civil and National Registration to ensure that the gender marker change under the National Registration Act is aligned to the Births and Deaths Registry Act to avoid court order.

Meanwhile, a gay man in Lobatse, Moabi Mokenke was recently viciously killed after being sexually violated in the streets of Peleng, shockingly by his neighbourhood folks. The youthful lad, likely to be 29-years old, met his fate on his way home, from the wearisome Di a Bowa taverns situated in the much populated township of Peleng Central.

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Khato Civils fights back, dares detractors

23rd November 2020

CEO of Khato Civils Mongezi Mnyani has come out of the silence and is going all way guns blazing against the company’s adversaries who he said are hell-bent on tarnishing his company’s image and “hard-earned good name”

Speaking to WeekendPost from South Africa, Mnyani said it is now time for him to speak out or act against his detractors. Khato Civils has done several projects across Africa. Khato Civils, a construction company and its affiliate engineering company, South Zambezi have executed a number of world class projects in South Africa, Malawi and now recently here in Botswana.

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UDC petitioners turn to Saleshando

23rd November 2020
Dumelang Saleshando

About ten (10) Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) parliamentary candidates who lost the 2019 general election and petitioned results this week met with UDC Vice President, Dumelang Saleshando to discuss the way forward concerning the quandary that is the legal fees put before them by Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) lawyers.

For a while now, UDC petitioners who are facing the wrath of quizzical sheriffs have demanded audience with UDC National Executive Committee (NEC) but in vain. However after the long wait for a tete-a-tete with the UDC, the petitioners met with Saleshando accompanied by other NEC members including Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang, Reverend Mpho Dibeela and Dennis Alexander.

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