The Association of Former Members of Botswana Parliament chaired by former Cabinet Minister and property mogul, David Magang has chastised former President Lt Gen Dr Ian Khama for dividing the country.
According to a communique from the Association of Former Members of the Botswana Parliament, it was established on the 24th September 2018 under Section 6 (1) of the Registration of Societies Regulations of the Societies Act. The statement further says the Association is a non-profit making and independent organization whose membership is drawn from former members of the Botswana Parliament from various political parties. Recently Government took a decision to reward all former Members of Parliament with 20% of the basic salary of current Legislators which translates to about P8000 a month.
The objectives of the Association, among others, are: To mobilize all former members of the Botswana Parliament into an association; To provide collective opinions or pronouncements on matters of national interest and importance; and to advise Government, the nation at large or any other institution on any matter that may be within its competence.
“At its Annual General Meeting (AGM) held in Gaborone on the 11th May 2019, while acknowledging that the nation faces many varied challenges, the Association resolved to formally express concern about the following issues which are current and also present grave risk to the stability of the nation and her core values and principles,” reads a release from the Association.
At the apex of issues raised by the former MPs is what they contextualize as, “The national instability and anxiety created by the Former President His Excellency Dr. Lt. Gen. Seretse Khama Ian Khama emanating from his unfounded appeal for sympathy from across the nation. We observe with regret that his sympathy seeking antics are fast turning into promotion of regionalism and tribalism.”
According to the Magang chaired Associatuion, their collective view is that the Former President’s actions and utterances are uncalled for and must be rejected by all those who live in “this beautiful country if we are to preserve our national peace and tranquility that we have enjoyed over the years and have become the envy of many a nation.” The Association further calls upon the Former President to desist from his divisive gatherings and statements and play his role as a statesman who has enjoyed the support and recognition of Batswana during his term of office.
“Our plea is informed by the diligent job our other former Presidents did in their retirement. They did not only subordinate themselves and allowed space for their successors to run the affairs of the nation but also became ambassadors of Botswana across the globe through their noble peace-making efforts. We believe this immediate past Former President must do the same,” writes the former Members of Parliament.
The latest rebuke aimed at Khama follows another statement released last week by 39 Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Members of Parliament in which the legislators expressed pain at “the gross contravention of the BDP culture which was displayed at a meeting addressed by Former President, H.E. Lt. Gen. Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama, in Serowe on 04th May 2019.”
They pointed out that the Party would ordinarily not make a statement when one of their own derails in a manner of such magnitude, but noted that a former State President is no ordinary member, having been a holder of the highest position in the BDP and the Republic. “In its 57 years history, BDP has remained welded together by the selfless service of its members, and leaders alike.
The desire to put the interest of the nation and party before those of individuals is the reason for its strong foundations. The recent events are foreign to our party and cannot be allowed to pass by without any counsel. We hereby offer this much needed counsel,” reads their statement. The message of tribalism and regionalism was further echoed in this statement when the 39 MPs wrote, “Batswana are reminded that this nation was not built on regionalism and tribalism nor on anything that borders on those.
We should not let the afore-mentioned to divide this party and the nation. We grew up in a united Botswana and cannot afford to rob future generations of the same kind of environment that our forebearers left for us. Botswana comes first, our political parties and individual interests are secondary. The BDP has not harmed the Former President in anyway and therefore there is no need for him or anyone else to encourage its membership to leave or turn against it. We collectively call for sanity to prevail.”
Corruption, GBV worry EX MPs
From 11th May meeting the Association noted another area of concern to be crime with particular emphasis on gender-based violence and child abuse. The former MPs said these crimes against “the most vulnerable of our society are against our morality, our culture and laws of our country.” They called upon perpetrators of these heinous crimes to desist from their acts of criminality. “We further plead with the civil society to play a bigger role in reducing the impact of this national crisis.
The Association also requests Government and Parliament to not only review the relevant laws to make them more stringent but to also provide support and resources to those institutions that are tasked with providing the much-needed care and support to victims of these crimes.” The Association of Former Members of Botswana Parliament also informed the nation that they are alarmed by the high levels of corruption in the economy that is being reported in the print media.
“Incidences of corruption seems to have literally spiraled out of control during the past ten years. To this end, we call upon Batswana to embrace the fight against corruption in all its forms across the economy. We encourage all citizens to give support to all institutions of Government tasked with investigating corruption in order to bring perpetrators to book. We believe that these institutions must be afforded the required resources and the necessary operational independence they need to be effective in their critical mission.”
The Association whose Secretary is former MP, Shirley Segokgo and Treasurer is Isaac Mabiletsa said it offers this advice and counsel with the hope that Batswana will reflect on these issues and challenges facing the nation and in turn engage each other constructively in their neighborhoods, workplaces and other meeting places with a view of encouraging each other to choose unity and security as a nation before any other interests. Some of the notable names in the list of those who subscribe to the Association include former Vice President, Ponatshego Kedikilwe.
FaR Property Company (FPC) Limited, a property investment company listed on the Botswana Stock Exchange, has recently announced its exceptional financial results for the year 2023. The company’s property asset value has risen to P1.47 billion, up from P1.42 billion in the previous year.
FPC has a diverse portfolio of properties, including retail, commercial, industrial, and residential properties in Botswana, South Africa, and Zambia. The company owns a total of 186 properties, generating rental revenues from various sectors. In 2023, the company recorded rental revenues of P11 million from residential properties, P62 million from industrial properties, and P89 million from commercial properties. Overall, the company’s total revenues increased by 9% to P153 million, while profit before tax increased by 22% to P136 million, and operating profit increased by 11% to P139 million.
One notable achievement for FPC is the low vacancy rate across its properties, which stands at only 6%. This is particularly impressive considering the challenging trading environment. The company attributes this success to effective lease management and the leasing of previously vacant properties in South Africa. FPC’s management expressed satisfaction with the results, highlighting the resilience of the company in the face of ongoing macroeconomic challenges.
The increase in profit before tax can be attributed to both an increase in income and effective control of operating expenses. FPC managed to achieve these results with fewer employees, demonstrating the company’s efficiency. The headline earnings per linked unit also saw an improvement, reaching 26.92 thebe, higher than the previous year.
Looking ahead, FPC remains confident in its competitiveness and growth prospects. The company possesses a substantial land bank, which it plans to develop strategically as opportunities arise. FPC aims for managed growth, focusing on consumer-driven developments and ensuring the presence of supportive tenants. By maintaining this approach, the company believes it can sustainably grow its property portfolio and remain competitive in the market.
In terms of the macroeconomic environment, FPC noted that inflation rates are decreasing towards the 3% to 6% range approved by the Bank of Botswana. This is positive news for the company, as it hopes for further decreases in interest rates. However, the fluctuating fuel prices, influenced by global events such as the war in Ukraine and oil output reductions by Russia and other Middle Eastern countries, continue to impact businesses, including some of FPC’s tenants.
FPC’s property portfolio includes notable assets such as a shopping mall in Francistown with Choppies Hyper as the anchor tenant, Borogo Mall located on the A33 main road near the Kazungula ferry crossing, and various industrial and commercial properties in Gaborone leased to Choppies, Senn Foods, and Clover Botswana. The company also owns a shopping mall in Mafikeng and Rustenburg in South Africa.
The majority of FPC’s properties, 85%, are located in Botswana, followed by 12% in South Africa and 3% in Zambia. With its strong financial performance, competitive position, and strategic land bank, FPC is well-positioned for continued growth and success in the property market.
The Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) has taken a significant step towards diversifying its energy mix by signing a power purchase agreement with Sekaname Energy for the production of power from coal bed methane in Mmashoro village. This agreement marks a major milestone for the energy sector in Botswana as the country transitions from a coal-fired power generation system to a new energy mix comprising coal, gas, solar, and wind.
The CEO of BPC, David Kgoboko, explained that the Power Purchase Agreement is for a 6MW coal bed methane proof of concept project to be developed around Mmashoro village. This project aligns with BPC’s strategic initiatives to increase the proportion of low-carbon power generation sources and renewable energy in the energy mix. The use of coal bed methane for power generation is an exciting development as it provides a hybrid solution with non-dispatchable sources of generation like solar PV. Without flexible base-load generation, the deployment of non-dispatchable solar PV generation would be limited.
Kgoboko emphasized that BPC is committed to enabling the development of a gas supply industry in Botswana. Sekaname Energy, along with other players in the coal bed methane exploration business, is a key and strategic partner for BPC. The successful development of a gas supply industry will enable the realization of a secure and sustainable energy mix for the country.
The Minister of Minerals & Energy, Lefoko Moagi, expressed his support for the initiative by the private sector to develop a gas industry in Botswana. The country has abundant coal reserves, and the government fully supports the commercial extraction of coal bed methane gas for power generation. The government guarantees that BPC will purchase the generated electricity at reasonable tariffs, providing cash flow to the developers and enabling them to raise equity and debt funding for gas extraction development.
Moagi highlighted the benefits of developing a gas supply industry, including diversified primary energy sources, economic diversification, import substitution, and employment creation. He commended Sekaname Energy for undertaking a pilot project to prove the commercial viability of extracting coal bed methane for power generation. If successful, this initiative would unlock the potential of a gas production industry in Botswana.
Sekaname Energy CEO, Peter Mmusi, emphasized the multiple uses of natural gas and its potential to uplift Botswana’s economy. In addition to power generation, natural gas can be used for gas-to-liquids, compressed natural gas, and fertilizer production. Mmusi revealed that Sekaname has already invested $57 million in exploration and infrastructure throughout its resource area. The company plans to spend another $10-15 million for the initial 6MW project and aims to invest over $500 million in the future for a 90MW power plant. Sekaname’s goal is to assist BPC in becoming a net exporter of power within the region and to contribute to Botswana’s transition to cleaner energy production.
In conclusion, the power purchase agreement between BPC and Sekaname Energy for the production of power from coal bed methane in Mmashoro village is a significant step towards diversifying Botswana’s energy mix. This project aligns with BPC’s strategic initiatives to increase the proportion of low-carbon power generation sources and renewable energy. The government’s support for the development of a gas supply industry and the commercial extraction of coal bed methane will bring numerous benefits to the country, including economic diversification, import substitution, and employment creation. With the potential to become a net exporter of power and a cleaner energy producer, Botswana is poised to make significant strides in its energy sector.
It is not clear as to when, but before taking a festive break in few weeks’ time UDC leaders would have convened to address the ongoing deadlock surrounding constituency allocation in the negotiations for the 2024 elections. The leaders, Duma Boko of the UDC, Mephato Reggie Reatile of the BPF, and Ndaba Gaolathe of the AP, are expected to meet and discuss critical matters and engage in dialogue regarding the contested constituencies.
The negotiations hit a stalemate when it came to allocating constituencies, prompting the need for the leaders to intervene. Representatives from the UDC, AP, and BPF were tasked with negotiating the allocation, with Dr. Patrick Molotsi and Dr. Philip Bulawa representing the UDC, and Dr. Phenyo Butale and Wynter Mmolotsi representing the AP.
The leaders’ meeting is crucial in resolving the contentious issue of constituency allocation, which has caused tension among UDC members and potential candidates for the 2024 elections. After reaching an agreement, the leaders will engage with the members of each constituency to gauge their opinions and ensure that the decisions made are favored by the rank and file. This approach aims to avoid unnecessary costs and conflicts during the general elections.
One of the main points of contention is the allocation of Molepolole South, which the BNF is adamant about obtaining. In the 2019 elections, the UDC was the runner-up in Molepolole South, securing the second position in seven out of eight wards. Other contested constituencies include Metsimotlhabe, Kgatleng East and West, Mmadinare, Francistown East, Shashe West, Boteti East, and Lerala Maunatlala.
The criteria used for constituency allocation have also become a point of dispute among the UDC member parties. The issue of incumbency is particularly contentious, as the criterion for constituency allocation suggests that current holders of UDC’s council and parliamentary seats should be given priority for re-election without undergoing primary elections. Disadvantaged parties argue that this approach limits democratic competition and hinders the emergence of potentially more capable candidates.
Another disputed criterion is the allocation based on the strength and popularity of a party in specific areas. Parties argue that this is a subjective criterion that leads to disputes and favoritism, as clear metrics for strength and visibility cannot be defined. The BNF, in particular, questions the demands of the new entrants, the BPF and AP, as they lack a traceable track record to support their high expectations.
The unity and cohesion of the UDC are at stake, with the BPF and AP expressing dissatisfaction and considering withdrawing from the negotiations. Therefore, it is crucial for the leaders to expedite their meeting and find a resolution to these disputes.
In the midst of these negotiations, the BNF has already secured 15 constituencies within the UDC coalition. While the negotiations are still ongoing, BNF Chairman Dr. Molotsi revealed that they have traditionally held these constituencies and are expecting to add more to their tally. The constituencies include Gantsi North, Gantsi South, Kgalagadi North, Kgalagadi South, Good Hope – Mmathethe, Kanye North, Kanye South, Lobatse, Molepolole North, Gaborone South, Gaborone North, Gaborone Bonnignton North, Takatokwane, Letlhakeng, and Tlokweng.
The resolution of the contested constituencies will test the ability of the UDC to present a united front in the 2024 National Elections will depend on the decisions made by the three leaders. It is essential for them to demonstrate maturity and astuteness in resolving the constituency allocation deadlock and ensuring the cohesion of the UDC.