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New broom Glaum facing BCL heap of muck

A less known but old company from the South African city of Cape Town, Sanek Trust Recovery Services, this week assumed the heavy task of managing the insolvent mine of BCL and provisional liquidation of  Tati and BCLI.

BCL creditors and the nation waited in anticipation for the man who is going to replace Nigel Dixon-Warren who was fired abruptly, and Trevor Glaum is now at helm. Leading a company established in 1970, Glaum has a bigger challenge of liquidating a 63 year old mine whose abrupt liquidation was a matter of controversy since BCL was placed under liquidation which stalled for three years.

No much information of how Glaum or his company Sanek landed the role of BCL liquidation but on Wednesday this week outgoing liquidator Nigel Dixon-Warren wrote a communication that was spread to creditors and other stakeholders announcing that he is stepping down. Furthermore Dixon-Warren announced the takeover by Glaum of Sanek. Dixon-Warren announced that Sanek’s Glaum will be the sole liquidator of the controversial BCL liquidation starting from Wednesday this week following his (Dixon-Warren)’s resignation on Tuesday of the same week.

Glaum will also be a jointly co-provisional liquidator of BCL Investments or BCLI with Stephen Gore of Sanek. BCLI is an investment arm owned by BCL Limited. BCL limited also owns the BCL mine.Dixon-Warren also reminded that on the 26 July 2019 the Court of Appeal issued a provisional order that the estates of BCL and BCLI should be inter alia wound up as one company, in terms of section 468 of the Companies Act.

The matter has been referred back to the High Court to determine the time periods before which the order will become final. Glaum together with Sivalutchmee  Moodliar, his colleague at Sanek, are co-provisional liquidators of Tati mine which is owned by BCL Limited with a stake of  85 percent.

Political interference

When handing over BCL to Dixon-Warren in October 2016 the then vice president Mokgweetsi Masisi who is now the state leader pleaded that the man be given a chance without any interference.  However Dixon-Warren found himself caught in a political storm as his liquidation fees caught the attention of legislators who felt he was getting too much or was out to rip government off. Dixon-Warren’s call for resignation came as a backlash coming from across the entire political divide agreeing that his head be chopped.

A political pressure started by an MP coming from an area with people who are affected by the closure of the mine who asked how much the Dixon-Warren was earning for BCL liquidation, and then it reached a minerals minister who also felt the liquidator was a liability. The BCL closure and its liquidation has become a huge political project and Glaum’s character will be tested beyond measure as politics became the demise of his predecessor.

Financial position of BCL

In the Tenth Status Report to the creditors the outgoing BCL liquidator Dixon-Warren said the financial position of BCL since 26 October 2016 was at P108 923 527. This is the money reflected 19 days after BCL was closed.  “On 28 February 2019 the level of funding in the estate went down rapidly to P78.5 million and the rate continues to diminish. Government of Botswana is the lead creditor in this liquidation with and its claims against BCL account for a total of P1.35 billion or 94 percent of the proven claims,” Dixon-Warren.

Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security Eric Molale recently told Parliament that government has already spent  P600 million on liquidation since the process began in 2016.Glaum will see himself out of the total recurrent budget estimates for the financial year 2019/2020 which is P733 061 670 and represents an increase of P327 127 210 or 81 percent from this year’s allocation of P405 934 460 because the significant increase is mainly due to BCL funding for rehabilitation.

This means the mine will continue to gobble a lot from government fiscal budget in this coming financial year. In his report to creditors Dixon-Warren said for the Phase 1 of the project of rehabilitation around P50 million and P100 million is needed, hinting that more money from the government until winding off.

Legal battles waiting for Glaum

Glaum got into an office which is not without a headache or stress. The hot seat of being a BCL liquidator also comes with burning litigations being thrown from all places as the mine was closed down abruptly while overlooking at many underlying legal issues. Standing tall before Glaum is the fight for the sale of Nkomati and Tati mines with Russian mining giant Norilsk.

Another impending legal tussle waiting for Glaum and Sanek is the one with a Zimbabwean mining company RioZim. The outgoing liquidator Dixon-Warren reported to the creditors recently  that he already has commenced recovery proceedings against RioZim in Zimbabwe for P340 million owed to BCL. In this court application BCL alleges that it is owed P340 million for some minerals sold to its Zimbabwean counterpart RioZim. In this application BCL seeks to attach RioZim refinery or have it put under the hammer.

“The replacement liquidator will need to apply to the High Court of Zimbabwe to be recognized as a foreign liquidator in order to continue with this litigation. Thereafter, the replacement liquidator will need to file security with the Zimbabwean Master in order to be allowed to proceed with the litigation,” Dixon-Warren who is handing over to Glaum advised creditors in his last liquidation report.

Glaum will also have to put on his legal amour and lock horns with construction and building materials giant PPC which is said to have failed to adequately rehabilitate the waste rock dump over which it was granted a lease by BCL. This litigation is on-going.  According to documents, the quantum of this claim has yet to be finally determined but will amount to several million Pula, according to Dixon-Warren.

BCL should also sue Air Liquide for failing to deliver equipment pre-liquidation to a subsidiary of Tati and as a consequence of this failure substantial storage costs have been incurred by the BCL Group, the BCL is claiming P20 million for any incurred damages or liabilities. Outgoing BCL liquidator said these goods which Air Liquide failed to deliver are stored in Belgium, South Korea and France.Air Liquide deals supplies industrial and specialty gases to the steel, automotive & fabrication, food & beverage, mining, petrochemical, pharmaceutical and glass industries.

Glaum leads BCL as it will go on head-on with Barclays Botswana for what the previous liquidator in the last creditors report being the Twelfth Status Report said the bank for three years failed to return a sum of P1.4 million which was incorrectly paid to the BCL pre-liquidation account. Glaum may also decide to go to court as Dixon-Warren suggested in the creditors report the bank has ignored several attempts by BCL to have the money recovered or the account in question closed.

Sale of the mine

Selling BCL mine has been a daunting task for Dixon-Warren who said many fear investing on an old mine which will come with a lot of uncertainties. Glaum inherits that problem of the mine which remains unable to get a buyer. Many investors are reported to be at qualms with the P2.8 billion which should be set aside for Environmental Rehabilitation Liability even in the event of a closing plan when the mine goes for closure. The sum of P2.8 billion was seen as an environmental rehabilitation and reclamation obligation by a report carried out by Dixon-Warren in 2015 and this amount remains an obligation few buyers would be willing to accept given the present value on site at BCL.

However there are reports that there has been interest shown from around the world. In an interview this year, Dixon-Warren did not want to divulge names of who he met as interested in buying the mine. Dixon-Warren said he has dealt with a number of international companies who have the skills, expertise and finance for BCL, but “none of them has made any offer after undertaking initial assessments of information. It doesn’t take much to assume who those big companies might be.”

Glaum and Sanek

As Glaum and Sanek take over the ruins that is left of the legendary BCL it is not clear whether the company has what it takes to handle the mine. Sanek is an acronym for Suid Afrikaanse Nasionale Ekseketeurskamer. In its website Sanek touts itself for being able to manage liquidation of a large property, Glen Anil, which was listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (as it then was) found itself in financial difficulty and was wound up.

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DIS blasted for cruelty – UN report

26th July 2022
DIS BOSS: Magosi

Botswana has made improvements on preventing and ending arbitrary deprivation of liberty, but significant challenges remain in further developing and implementing a legal framework, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention said at the end of a visit recently.

Head of the delegation, Elina Steinerte, appreciated the transparency of Botswana for opening her doors to them. Having had full and unimpeded access and visited 19 places of deprivation of liberty and confidentiality interviewing over 100 persons deprived of their liberty.

She mentioned “We commend Botswana for its openness in inviting the Working Group to conduct this visit which is the first visit of the Working Group to the Southern African region in over a decade. This is a further extension of the commitment to uphold international human rights obligations undertaken by Botswana through its ratification of international human rights treaties.”

Another good act Botswana has been praised for is the remission of sentences. Steinerte echoed that the Prisons Act grants remission of one third of the sentence to anyone who has been imprisoned for more than one month unless the person has been sentenced to life imprisonment or detained at the President’s Pleasure or if the remission would result in the discharge of any prisoner before serving a term of imprisonment of one month.

On the other side; The Group received testimonies about the police using excessive force, including beatings, electrocution, and suffocation of suspects to extract confessions. Of which when the suspects raised the matter with the magistrates, medical examinations would be ordered but often not carried out and the consideration of cases would proceed.

“The Group recall that any such treatment may amount to torture and ill-treatment absolutely prohibited in international law and also lead to arbitrary detention. Judicial authorities must ensure that the Government has met its obligation of demonstrating that confessions were given without coercion, including through any direct or indirect physical or undue psychological pressure. Judges should consider inadmissible any statement obtained through torture or ill-treatment and should order prompt and effective investigations into such allegations,” said Steinerte.

One of the group’s main concern was the DIS held suspects for over 48 hours for interviews. Established under the Intelligence and Security Service Act, the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) has powers to arrest with or without a warrant.

The group said the “DIS usually requests individuals to come in for an interview and has no powers to detain anyone beyond 48 hours; any overnight detention would take place in regular police stations.”

The Group was able to visit the DIS facilities in Sebele and received numerous testimonies from persons who have been taken there for interviewing, making it evident that individuals can be detained in the facility even if the detention does not last more than few hours.

Moreover, while arrest without a warrant is permissible only when there is a reasonable suspicion of a crime being committed, the evidence received indicates that arrests without a warrant are a rule rather than an exception, in contravention to article 9 of the Covenant.

Even short periods of detention constitute deprivation of liberty when a person is not free to leave at will and in all those instances when safeguards against arbitrary detention are violated, also such short periods may amount to arbitrary deprivation of liberty.

The group also learned of instances when persons were taken to DIS for interviewing without being given the possibility to notify their next of kin and that while individuals are allowed to consult their lawyers prior to being interviewed, lawyers are not allowed to be present during the interviews.

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention mentioned they will continue engaging in the constructive dialogue with the Government of Botswana over the following months while they determine their final conclusions in relation to the country visit.

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Stan Chart halts civil servants property loan facility

26th July 2022
Stan-Chart

Standard Chartered Bank Botswana (SCBB) has informed the government that it will not be accepting new loan applications for the Government Employees Motor Vehicle and Residential Property Advance Scheme (GEMVAS and LAMVAS) facility.

This emerges in a correspondence between Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance Boniface Mphetlhe and some government departments. In a letter he wrote recently to government departments informing them of the decision, Mphetlhe indicated that the Ministry received a request from the Bank to consider reviewing GEMVAS and LAMVAS agreement.

He said: “In summary SCBB requested the following; Government should consider reviewing GEMVAS and LAMVAS interest rate from prime plus 0.5% to prime plus 2%.” The Bank indicated that the review should be both for existing GEMVAS and LAMVAS clients and potential customers going forward.

Mphetlhe said the Bank informed the Ministry that the current GEMVAS and LAMVAS interest rate structure results into them making losses, “as the cost of loa disbursements is higher that their end collections.”

He said it also requested that the loan tenure for the residential property loans to be increased from 20 to 25 years and the loan tenure for new motor vehicles loans to be increased from 60 months to 72 months.

Mphetlhe indicated that the Bank’s request has been duly forwarded to the Directorate of Public Service Management for consideration, since GEMVAS and LAMVAS is a Condition of Service Scheme. He saidthe Bank did also inform the Ministry that if the matter is not resolved by the 6th June, 2022, they would cease receipt of new GEMVAS and LAMVAS loan applications.

“A follow up virtual meeting was held to discuss their resolution and SCB did confirm that they will not be accepting any new loans from GEMVAS and LAMVAS. The decision includes top-up advances,” said Mphetlhe. He advised civil servants to consider applying for loans from other banks.

In a letter addressed to the Ministry, SCBB Chief Executive Officer Mpho Masupe informed theministry that, “Reference is made to your letter dated 18th March 2022 wherein the Ministry had indicated that feedback to our proposal on the above subject is being sought.”

In thesame letter dated 10 May 2022, Masupe stated that the Bank was requesting for an update on the Ministry’s engagements with the relevant stakeholder (Directorate of Public Service Management) and provide an indicative timeline for conclusion.

He said the “SCBB informs the Ministry of its intention to cease issuance of new loans to applicants from 6th June 2022 in absence of any feedback on the matter and closure of the discussions between the two parties.”  Previously, Masupe had also had requested the Ministry to consider a review of clause 3 of the agreement which speaks to the interest rate charged on the facilities.

Masupe indicated in the letter dated 21 December 2021 that although all the Banks in the market had signed a similar agreement, subject to amendments that each may have requested. “We would like to suggest that our review be considered individually as opposed to being an industry position as we are cognisant of the requirements of section 25 of the Competition Act of 2018 which discourages fixing of pricing set for consumers,” he said.

He added that,“In this way,clients would still have the opportunity to shop around for more favourable pricing and the other Banks, may if they wish to, similarly, individually approach your office for a review of their pricing to the extent that they deem suitable for their respective organisations.”

Masupe also stated that: “On the issue of our request for the revision of the Interest Rate, we kindly request for an increase from the current rate of prime plus 0.5% to prime plus 2%, with no other increases during the loan period.” The Bank CEO said the rationale for the request to review pricing is due to the current construct of the GEMVAS scheme which is currently structured in a way that is resulting in the Bank making a loss.

“The greater part of the GEMVAS portfolio is the mortgage boo which constitutes 40% of the Bank’s total mortgage portfolio,” said Masupe. He saidthe losses that the Bank is incurring are as a result of the legacy pricing of prime plus 0% as the 1995 agreement which a slight increase in the August 2018 agreement to prime plus 0.5%.

“With this pricing, the GEMVAS portfolio has not been profitable to the Bank, causing distress and impeding its ability to continue to support government employees to buy houses and cars. The portfolio is currently priced at 5.25%,” he said.  Masupe said the performance of both the GEMVAS home loan and auto loan portfolios in terms of profitability have become unsustainable for the Bank.

Healso said, when the agreement was signed in August 2018, the prime lending rate was 6.75% which made the pricing in effect at the time sufficient from a profitable perspective. “It has since dropped by a total 1.5%. The funds that are loaned to customers are sourced at a high rate, which now leaves the Bank with marginal profits on the portfolio before factoring in other operational expenses associated with administration of the scheme and after sales care of the portfolio,” said the CEO.

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Botswana ranked 129 in female MPs representation

26th July 2022
Minister of Finance & Economic Development Peggy Serame

The Global Gender Gap Index, a report published by the World Economic Forum annually, has indicated that Botswana is among countries that fare badly when it comes to representation of women in legislative bodies.

The latest Global Gender Gap Index, published last week, benchmarks the current state and evolution of gender parity across four key dimensions (Economic Participation and Opportunity, Educational Attainment, Health and Survival, and Political Empowerment). It is the longest-standing index which tracks progress towards closing these gaps over time since its inception in 2006.

This year, the Global Gender Gap Index benchmarked 146 countries. Of these, a subset of 102 countries have been represented in every edition of the index since 2006, further providing a large constant sample for time series analysis.

Botswana ranks number 66 overall (out of 146 countries), with good rankings in most of the pillars. Botswana ranks 1st in Health and Survival, 7th in the Economic Participation and Opportunity, 22nd in Educational Attainment, and 129th in Political Empowerment.

The Global Gender Gap Index measures scores on a 0 to 100 scale and scores can be interpreted as the distance covered towards parity (i.e. the percentage of the gender gap that has been closed). The cross-country comparisons aim to support the identification of the most effective policies to close gender gaps.

The Economic Participation and Opportunity sub-index contains three concepts: the participation gap, the remuneration gap and the advancement gap. The participation gap is captured using the difference between women and men in labour-force participation rates. The remuneration gap is captured through a hard data indicator (ratio of estimated female-to-male earned income) and a qualitative indicator gathered through the World Economic Forum’s annual Executive Opinion Survey (wage equality for similar work).

Finally, the gap between the advancement of women and men is captured through two hard data statistics (the ratio of women to men among legislators, senior officials and managers, and the ratio of women to men among technical and professional workers).

The Educational Attainment sub-index captures the gap between women’s and men’s current access to education through the enrolment ratios of women to men in primary-, secondary- and tertiary-level education. A longer-term view of the country’s ability to educate women and men in equal numbers is captured through the ratio of women’s literacy rate to men’s literacy rate.

Health and Survival sub-index provides an overview of the differences between women’s and men’s health using two indicators. The first is the sex ratio at birth, which aims specifically to capture the phenomenon of “missing women”, prevalent in countries with a strong son preference. Second, the index uses the gap between women’s and men’s healthy life expectancy.

This measure provides an estimate of the number of years that women and men can expect to live in good health by accounting for the years lost to violence, disease, malnutrition and other factors.
Political Empowerment sub-index measures the gap between men and women at the highest level of political decision-making through the ratio of women to men in ministerial positions and the ratio of women to men in parliamentary positions. In addition, the reported included the ratio of women to men in terms of years in executive office (prime minister or president) for the last 50 years.

In the last general elections, only three women won elections, compared to 54 males. The three women are; Nnaniki Makwinja (Lentsweletau-Mmopane), Talita Monnakgotla (Kgalagadi North), and Anna Mokgethi (Gaborone Bonnington North). Four women were elected through Specially Elected dispensation; Peggy Serame, Dr Unity Dow, Phildah Kereng and Beauty Manake. All female MPs — save Dow, who resigned — are members of the executive.

Overall, Botswana has 63 seats, all 57 elected by the electorates, and six elected by parliament. Early this year, Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) secretary general and Gaborone North MP, Mpho Balopi, successfully moved a motion in parliament calling for increment of elective seats from 57 to 61. Balopi contented that population growth demands the country respond by increasing the number of MPs.

In Africa, Botswana play second fiddle to countries like Rwanda, Namibia, South Africa, Burundi, and Zimbabwe who have better representation of women, with Rwanda being the only country with more than 50 percent of women in parliament.

The low number of women in parliament is attributed to Botswana’s current, electoral system, First-Past-the-Post. During the 9th parliament, then MP for Mahalapye East tabled a motion in parliament in which she sort to increase the number of Specially Elected MPs in parliament to augment female representation in the National Assembly.

The motion was opposed famously, by then Specially Elected MP, Botsalo Ntuane, who said the citizens were not in favour of such a move since it dilute democracy, instead suggesting the Botswana should switch to Proportional-Representation-System. Botswana is currently undergoing Constitutional Review process, with the commission, appointed in December, expected to deliver the report to President Mokgweetsi Masisi by September this year.

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