After untidy skirmishes between the Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) and the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) over the ‘illegal’ flying of aircrafts over Botswana skies by the leader of the main opposition party, the former has availed a checklist of temporary admission of aircraft into the Botswana skies to the party’s lawyers.
After two of the aircrafts he was using for electioneering were grounded by the BURS and his pilots interrogated and later fined P50 000 by the tax collector, UDC President Duma Boko has taken steps to distill the process. The aircrafts were landed to Boko by Waleed Helicopter Services (PTY) Ltd. Boko recently instructed the UDC, Bayford and Associates to ask for a requisite BURS checklist for purposes of temporary importation into Botswana of aircraft intended for use in election campaign.
Dick Bayford, the UDC lawyer held a meeting with BURS officials on the 8th of May 2019 attended by attorney, Aobakwe Monamo and BURS General Manager, Investigations, Compliance and Enforcement Department, Mr Kanone B Molapo. The purpose of the meeting was to push BURS officials to share a checklist with the UDC for purposes of temporarily importing aircraft for election campaign.
“We explained to your Mr Molapo that our clients are desirous of importing into the country on temporary basis a fixed wing aircraft and helicopter for election campaign purposes and none other. That upon expiry of the period of their use in Botswana, as would be advised in due course, same would be re-exported,” reads Bayford’ memo dated 9th May 2019 to BURS. Bayford further notes that “Mr Molapo has not availed us a templated checklist of the requirements sought, but has drawn our attention to relevant provisions in both the Customs Act, 2018 and the Value Added Tax Act which are applicable.”
For the avoidance of doubt and to distill a common understanding on the said provisions and the advice rendered by Mr Molapo, Bayford took liberty to share his interpretation of the two Acts in relation to temporary importation of aircrafts for purposes of an election campaign. In terms of Section 184(1) BURS shall grant a temporary admission procedure where it is possible to ensure the identification of imported goods at the time of re-export. “In our respectful view, usage of the word “shall” denotes that once the condition precedent is met (ie assurance as to identification) it is mandatory upon BURS to grant a temporary admission procedure,” writes Bayford.
The UDC lawyer also notes that Mr Molapo had drawn their attention to section 185(1) of the Act which provides that BURS may clear goods for temporary admission without a standard customs declaration if it is satisfied that goods will be subsequently re-exported. “Our instructions are that the aircraft intended for temporary admission would be subsequently re-exported. They will be kept at all material time, save when they are in use, at an officially designated customs airport in Botswana until exportation and by reason of this fact, their subsequent re-exportation is assured. Therefore we pray that they be exempted from standard customs declaration,” says Bayford.
When addressing Section 189 of the Act which deals with temporary admission with conditional relief, Bayford notes that the Customs Act, “means of transport” may be placed under temporary admission procedure with conditional relief of import duties and taxes. “As the above provision is not mandatory, but consider upon yourselves a discretion, Mr Molapo advised that clients could make a proposal on imposition of conditional relief of import duties and taxes.”
UDC, through its lawyers proposed that their aircrafts, as and when they arrive in Botswana, be placed under temporary admission procedure with conditional relief of import duties and taxes. “We respectfully submit that such an exercise of discretion would in the circumstances be apposite considering the fact that same are not to be used for any commercial purposes, but as a facility for advancing the democratic process of electioneering guaranteed under the national constitution,” explained Bayford in his letter to BURS.
Section 196 of the Customs Act indicates that the customs office may require that a means of transport for commercial use that is registered abroad be subject to a customs document and adequate guarantee. The UDC has pleaded with the BURS to apply its discretion as per the law and exempt from the provisions.
In itsv response BURS has noted that section 184 authorizes it to allows “a temporary admission procedure where it is possible to ensure the identification of imported goods at the time of re-export” or where “in view of the nature of the goods or nature of the operations to be carried out, the absence of identification measures is not likely to lead to abuse of the procedure.” The BURS through Mr Molapo notes that “BURS may clear goods for temporary admission without a standard customs declaration if it is satisfied that the goods will be subsequently re-exported.”
Molapo further observes that if temporarily admitted goods are not the subject of a carnet, BURS may require the submission of a guarantee if it is satisfied that the goods will subsequently be re-exported. “Under section 189 (1) of the Act, goods, including means of transport “may be placed under the temporary admission procedure with conditional relief of import duties and taxes.” The essence of the provision is that there will be relief from, or suspension of, the otherwise chargeable duties/taxes on the affected goods/means of transport. However BURS is given latitude to impose such conditions as it deems fit to safeguard the suspended taxes. Such condition may be the guarantee requirement introduced by section 186 of the Act,” Molapo explained to UDC lawyers.
Molapo has advised UDC that they are required to submit a guarantee worth 12% of the market value of the aircraft and upon satisfying this condition the aircraft would be temporarily admitted for a period of not more than three months. “In case of conformance to all the stipulated condition, on exportation of the goods the undertaking for the payment of the otherwise payable taxes shall be discharged; in case of failure to export within the pre-stated timeframe or violation of any of the imposed conditions, then the hitherto suspended Value Added Tax (VAT) become payable, and reckoned from the date of first importation,” further explains Molapo.
The BURS General Manager also explained that the recipient of the services rendered by the owners of the aircraft (Waleed Helicopter Services Pty Ltd) should account for the VAT payable. On the full checklist, the UDC must provide a declaration concerning the aircraft; its itinerary; the goods onboard; any passengers and crew on board; the destination of such passengers’ crew and goods; and any stores on board; valuation of the aircraft. Finally the UDC must pay a temporary deposit equivalent to applicable duties and taxes.
So far Boko has used a 2017 Augusta A109SP which is valued at US$ 5 950 000 which translates to about P50 million of which 12% translates to P6 million. But depending on their age, other models could come at a bit lower prices of just under P20 million which would require the UDC to fork out about P2 million as guarantee to the BURS and further ensure that there is no violation of the preset conditions for the temporary admission of the aircraft or face penalties including paying all tax payable.
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.
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.
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.