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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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No end in sight for Nam, Botswana borderline feud

27th July 2021
Namibian-report

Despite the President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi and his Namibian counterpart, Hage Geingob giving an impression that the borderline security disputes are a thing of the past and that diplomatic ties remain tight, fresh developments from Namibia suggest otherwise, following Geingod’s close confidante’s attack on Botswana and its army.

Giving a Zambezi region state of the affairs last week, a Geingob-appointed governor of Zambezi region, Colonel Lawrence Ampofu, a retired Colonel in the Namibian Defence Force, former plan combatant during the liberation struggle of Namibia, in a written speech, charged at the BDF and condemned their killings of the Namibians as unacceptable.

“The security situation within our borders remains calm. The incidence of the Botswana Defence Force shootings and wanton killings on the Nchindo Brothers on 05 November 2020 and other 37 Namibian lives lost since independence remain a serious challenge with our neighbor, Botswana.

Our residents living along the Chobe, Linyanti and Kwandu rivers are living under constant threats, harassment, fear, intimidation and killings and such activities are condemned and not acceptable,” he said under the safety and security title.

The attack suggests that Namibia has not bought Botswana’s story. Ampofu was part of the entourage that accompanied Geingob to the three Nchindo brothers and their cousin who were gunned down by the BDF, and is reported to be privy to the details of the unpublished Botswana-Namibia joint investigations report about the killings as a governor or political head of the region which has eight electoral constituencies.

The report contains the sensitive details of how the three Namibians referred as poachers by the BDF – and Fisherman by the Namibian government were gunned down on 5 November last year along the Chobe River.  They were Tommy (48), Martin (40) and Wamunyima Nchindo (36), and their cousin Sinvula Muyeme (44).

His views are not really in contrast to his President’s views who also described the BDF as trigger happy in a scripted report to his cabinet.

The Zambezi region is located in the extreme north east part of Namibia and covers a total of 14,667.6 square kilometres. “We share borders with Angola, Zambia to the north, Zimbabwe to the east and Botswana to the South,” he said.

Sampofu was first appointed governor of the former Caprive Region in 2010 by the former Namibian president, Hifikepunye Pohamba and was reappointed as Zambezi governor by President Dr.Hage Geingob in 2015, a term running to 2025.

37 Namibia residents killed by Botswana army so far

Sampofu is a man who continues to insist that Botswana has killed 37 residents of his region. A video posted by the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) shows him alleging that at least 37 Namibians were killed by the BDF, after he met with the community at Impalila.

“It is true, the BDF started long ago. As we speak 37 lives have been lost here in Impalila along the Chobe river going to Linyanti and Kwado rivers up to Lizauli. All those families lost their loved ones,” Ampofu said in the video posted by NBC.

It is not known how the BDF, which has maintained their position that the Namibians were engaging in illegal activities of poaching, treats the constant attacks by the Namibian authorities, but they have repeatedly vowed to continue protecting the country’s sovereignty and natural resources.

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Masisi gives KBL the “middle finger”

27th July 2021
President Masisi

Botswana’s premier brewer and leading distributor of beer, Kgalagadi Breweries Limited (KBL), this month dragged the government of Botswana to court after President Mokgweetsi Masisi imposed an alcohol ban with immediate effect. KBL labelled the decision as unjustifiable, irrational and that it overrides the rights that are enshrined in the constitution.

This week, Masisi through attorneys representing the government disparaged the case in his written affidavit of KBL’s application, referring to it as frivolous and that it ought to be dismissed with costs on a punitive scale.

In his court papers, Masisi reminded KBL that Botswana is a Republic whose laws find validity from the constitution, and in terms of Section 17 of the constitution the President is empowered to declare a State of Emergency and that it is a common cause that Botswana is under such state.

“It is common course that there is in existence emergency powers (Covid-19) Regulations 2020 as amended from time to time which is solely designed to regulate the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.

Masisi pointed out that he denies that the application before Court is proper such as to challenge the lawfulness and validity of a regulation made and a notice published in the exercise of a legislative function in accordance with the Emergency Powers Act which empowers the President to make regulations as appear to him to be necessary and expedient for securing public safety.

Furthermore, the President revealed that the decision to ban alcohol sales was not arrived at willy-nilly, but rather that there had been careful considerations that the risks posed by Covid-19 had increased and therefore it was expedient and necessary to suspend all liquor licenses.

Moreover, Masisi denied that the decision to reinstate the ban should be made by the Director of Health Services as indicated by KBL in their nature of the application, “the Director is to cause the notice to be published in the Gazette after consultation with the President.”

Masisi indicated that the role of the Director of Health Services is to publish a regulation made by the President.

He further, reminded KBL that the power to make regulations in a State of Public Emergency in accordance with the EPA lies with the President, “such power includes the amendment of any enactment, suspending the operation of any enactment or modification of an enactment.”

According to Masisi, his decision to ban alcohol sales was based on evidence provided by the Director of Health Services who indicated to him that there was a sudden spike in the transmission of the Covid-19 virus following the reinstatement of liquor licenses.

Another piece of advice tendered by the Director of Health to Masisi was that bars and other liquor outlets were some of the major hotspots in the sense of such being high-risk areas at which the virus spread rapidly.

“Alcohol was one of the major causes of non-compliance with the health protocols that were put in place to control the spread of the Covid-19 virus. Further, there was an indication that more arrests were made on people failing to adhere to Covid-19 protocols more particularly at places where there were gatherings,” he contended.

He pointed out that therefore, it was expedient and or necessary to preserve lives and to reduce the risks of transmissions of the virus to reinstate the suspension of liquor licenses.

Moreover, the President says that it must be noted that he avers that the Director of Health Services is a credible source on matters of public health of which he also accordingly gave due weight to the Director’s advice on deciding to reinstate the ban through the impugned notice.

“I am aware and was always aware at the time of promulgating the regulation complained of that it shall negatively affect some sectors of the economy. However, after due consideration and receipt of advice, I decided to give priority to the safety and health of the nation,” Masisi said.

He presaged KBL that it would not be prudent and in the best interest of the nation to ignore a health emergency such as Covid-19 and gave preference to trading and making of profits by the applicant. “The results would only be catastrophic to the extent that when we emerge from the scourge we would be left with a depleted and ailing nation from Covid-19 and its side effects.”

Furthermore, his written affidavit further pointed out that the decision to reinstate the ban on alcohol was taken notwithstanding understanding and appreciation of the economic hardships that would befall the country.

However, he said he deliberately made the decision based on the evidence provided to him by the Director of Health, whose evidence he believes to be credible to give public/safety and health priority over economic considerations in some sectors.

In making the decision, Masisi states that he was and considered different options including allowing for sale of alcohol consumption off premises, however the evidence he had been provided with suggested that such other alternatives would not achieve the overall objective of securing public safety and health by reducing the risk of the spread of the virus.

“By the time I imposed the ban, alcohol was already being sold for consumption off-premises. This did not work. The information provided to me by the Director and the Presidential Task-Force team demonstrated that consumers purchased alcohol and then loitered and consumed it within the peripheries of bars and other liquor outlets,” he said.

Attached to the affidavit as emphasis, were photographs and videos of Gaborone West, Phase 4 in mid-June 2021, which he explains circulated on social media and was brought to his attention.

“I need not say much about the photos as they depict a crowd exceeding 50 gathered at the parking area of a bar. There is little or no regard to Covid-19 protocols. It was clear to me and my advisors, including the Director of Health Services and members of the Presidential Task-Force team that the total ban of alcohol was necessary to manage the risk of increase in infections, to understand what seems to have led to an increase in the risk of infection when alcohol is present I was advised by the Presidential Task-Force team that scientifically there has been evidence that alcohol narrows physical distance,” he argued.

Masisi says that allegations made by KBL are serious allegations of infringement of fundamental rights yet they fail to state how imposition and reinstatement of the suspension of liquor licenses out of necessity and expediency of the health of the nation infringes on the rights as alleged.

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Gov’t gives parallel statements on COVAX

27th July 2021
COVAX---lelatisitswe

In  an embarrassing turn of events that depicts disintegration in government communication on the fight against COVID-19, President Mokgweetsi Masisi and Assistant Minister of Health & Wellness, Sethomo Lelatisitswe gave two conflicting statements on the same matter, same day, just minutes apart.

The Commander-in-Chef told health practitioners and residents in Ramotswa that the COVAX facility has scammed African countries after billions were paid in a crowd funding effort to procure COVID-19 vaccines in bulk.

“We have pumped money as developing countries of the African continent into the COVAX Facility but the returns were not satisfactory, they cheated us,” the President said in Ramotswa.

According to President Masisi, the COVAX facility Vaccine only came in bits and pieces, frustrating the continent ‘s head immunity targets amid rapidly spreading Delta Variant which is currently reversing all progress made by Africa in containing the contagious virus.

“What we are getting is very small portions of the vaccine, they keep telling us that there is shortage of supply, this is not fair, but we have paid in advance, however what can we do, we have no choice but to spend more  money and look for other avenues of securing other available vaccines,” he said.

Meanwhile in Gaborone, Assistant Minister of Health and Wellness told Parliament that vaccine from COVAX facility is anchoring Botswana’s vaccination program.

“I am not aware of such information that COVAX facility is not delivering as expected, we are actually bolstered by COVAX facility in this country,” he said responding to a question from Mahalapye West Member of Parliament David Tshere who is also Chairman of Parliament Committee On Health and HIV/AIDS.

“We have received doses as ordered from the COVAX facility, and we are still receiving more, I have not seen that information which is purported to have been revealed by the President, unless its new information, we as the Ministry we are not aware of any frustrations by the COVAX facility,” he said.

COVAX is co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi and the World Health Organization (WHO), alongside key delivery partner UNICEF.

Its aim is to accelerate the development and manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines, and to guarantee fair and equitable access for every country in the world.

The facility is a global coalition that works to ensure fair and equitable access of COVID-19 vaccines around the world. So far, 190 countries have joined the COVAX initiative, including all 22 countries in the Eastern Mediterranean Region.

The COVAX Facility aims to have 2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines available for distribution across the globe by the end of 2021, targeting those most at risk (e.g. frontline health workers) and most vulnerable severe diseases and death (e.g. elderly and people with co-morbidities).

On other vaccination issues President Masisi revealed, still in Greater Gaborone vaccination centre visits, that Botswana has placed orders with Pfizer, a United States vaccine producer noting that they have promised to deliver next year.

Meanwhile, government kick-started phase two of the Covid-19 vaccination program this week, opening up for ages between 30 and 54.

President Masisi revealed that this was done because some elderly were reluctant to be inculcated.

“We can’t take forever trying to convince people to take vaccine, we moved to the next age segments because we cannot afford to have vaccines-which are already in shortage supply to just lie there,” he said.

On Friday, Ministry of Health revealed that it was receiving large numbers of people below the age of 55 lining up to be vaccinated.

In a statement the Ministry of Health said it, “acknowledges the huge turnout that marked the commencement of the Phase two COVID-19 vaccination program”.

Given this high turnout, especially in the Greater Gaborone region, the ministry announced an extension of operation hours in order to serve the huge crowds that had come for vaccination.

Of the nearly 85 000 doses that were being doled across the country as first doses, the majority of the Greater Gaborone vaccination sites were already getting depleted by 1800hrs on 22 July 2021.

As a result of this development, the ministry took a decision to discontinue the extended hours of operation announced yesterday for vaccination sites in Gaborone.

This means that vaccination sites in Gaborone and elsewhere in the country which still have some vaccines, will offer them in the normal working hours and days of the week.

The Ministry says it appreciates the great desire to be vaccinated shown by thousands of citizens and residents of this country and wishes to assure them that it will continue to expedite their vaccination every time vaccines become available. As has been communicated in various fora, more vaccines are expected in August 2021.

As at July 2021, Botswana has so far received 62, 400 doses of AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD bought through the Covax facility, 30,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine donated by the Republic of India, 19, 890 doses of the Pfizer vaccine bought through the COVAX facility, 200, 000 doses of the Sinovac vaccine, donated by the Peoples Republic of China and another 200, 000 doses of the Sinovac vaccine bought through bilateral negotiations with Sinovac company in China.

“We encourage Batswana to remain hopeful that although it’s taking longer than anticipated, enough COVID-19 vaccines will eventually arrive in our country. We urge them to always strictly abide by all COVID-19 protocols so that they protect themselves and others from this deadly virus,” the ministry said.

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