In an effort to silently deal with former President Lt Gen Dr Ian Khama who is on a mission to fight back what he deems injustice against his person, the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and the Government on the one hand appear to have devised a modus operandi to stop the marauding Khama.
Key to this method of push back against the former President is a move to deny him access to facilities that are under government control; while on the other hand the ruling party will not amplify his sentiments by responding to them. Khama and the BDP are on the war path with the former accusing the latter of breaching the constitution of the party and subverting democracy. Meanwhile the former President has numerous cases lined up in the courts where seeks to claim compensation from Government after he was denied services which he feels are legally recognized by the law.
Since handing over power to President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi, there has not been peace between the former President and his successor. This past week he made known his intentions to quit the ruling party and to support the opposition and various independent candidates. There is however a school of thought that the BDP will employ similar machinery with that used in the run up to Kang congress. “It is very important that the party’s veterans speak out against Khama. The current leadership does not need to fight back, but rather use respected veterans to put Khama in his place,” asserted a party senior official.
FORMER MPS BLAST KHAMA
BDP former Members of Parliament released a statement telling that Khama is not bigger than the party. “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,” they wrote.
The 39 MPs stated that they hold the view that all are equal before the BDP constitution and that of the Country. We are convinced that our long and proud history is not the result of the labour of a select few, it is rather the product of the collective. “No person who holds, or who has held BDP membership nor who has had the privilege of office should lay sole claim to its illustrious governance and service delivery to the people. Successive generations have built their legacies on the foundations of past cadres. For this reason, we wish to caution those who may be made to believe the contrary.”
HOW THE BDP INTENDS TO DEAL WITH KHAMA
Ruling BDP top politburo has this week distanced themselves from commenting on the utterances that were made by both the party ex leader Ian Khama and some of his subjects at a Serowe meeting where he (Khama) was consulting them (tribe) on his intention to dump the party. Khama is the paramount chief of Ga-Mmangwato region in the Central District, the most populated region in the country and therefore possesses command and influence to sway elections in the region – which is a BDP stronghold.
At the meeting, the Ga-Mmangwato chief also emphasised that the area is a BDP iron grip and the party should therefore be mindful of that especially in light of the rift that still exists between Khama and the incumbent president Mokgweetsi Masisi. The rift has led to the Serowe meeting where Masisi and his administration was dismissed and the tribe vowed to follow Khama wherever he goes in his political trajectory. Khama and Bangwato accused Masisi and his government of sabotage, diminishing his legacy and generally not treating him well.
“We need to ask ourselves on whether the BDP has authority of that gathering addressed by a paramount chief (Khama) to his subjects/tribe. It was not a meeting of the BDP. So as a BDP SG, I cannot discuss the utterances made therein. I won’t even unpack the decisions of that kgotla. It is uncalled for,” Balopi told Weekend Post in an interview this week.
As BDP, Balopi stressed that they see the meeting of Serowe as more of a kgotla meeting, even though it was held at showgrounds, than a BDP political forum and hence their limitations in taking an official position on it. Balopi continued: “so, I cannot contest or protest what was said therein. As BDP re agela mahoko a kgosi mosako (which is translated to that the party respects the outcome of the kgotla meeting).
On behalf of the BDP high command the SG also stated that he “also have no appetite or energy to respond to the gathering of a kgotla system. Decisions of the kgotla are not something of public debate. I respect the sanctity of the place. As the Setswana saying mahoko a mantle otlhe meaning freedom of expression is also respected at the kgotla. According to Balopi, however he said the party, in respect to Khama, also hold in high regard Setswana maxim that susu ilela suswana gore suswana le ene a go ilele (loosely translated that elders should also respect the young ones for them to also return the gesture).
“The remarks were very unfortunate. But, as BDP we believe in a contestation of ideas where everyone can express themselves freely. We also believe in freedom of association. We want everyone to be able to articulate their voices without hindrance but without necessarily ridiculing others,” Balopi said. He continued: “we cannot stop anyone to criticise our party, but, our freedom of expression ends where the other one starts. And so, as a member of the BDP we should adhere to the party constitution as well as rules and regulations.”
As the BDP we have processes and procedures, he said adding that ga re iphetlhele batho kana ope hela (we don’t poke people without reason or any basis). “As BDP we respect our elders especially leaders who came before us. And so we are mindful that we deal with them on different, and various levels. We dealing with different people, and so we also employ different approaches.” Balopi confirmed that therefore they will not take any disciplinary action on Khama especially because it was not a party event but a kgotla function.
“For the fact that we say we respect him, even if he has said a lot of things against the party does not automatically equate to suggestions that are going around that we fear the man,” he told this publication. If it was the meeting of BDP, Balopi said they would have taken action because the party has processes and procedures in place. “So this was not the case.” On whether some BDP legislators Phillip Makgalemele, Ignatious Moswaane and Master Goya also faces an axe or disciplinary action he said: “I can safely say that is not true. It is news to me. We have never had anything of that sort.”
He continued to explain that the disciplinary procedure in the BDP is that, there have to be a complainant and a respondent but it has never been so with the law makers. “As a Secretary General and chief respondent, I have never received any report warranting any disciplinary action.” In terms of the BDP independents, he said they categorically state there is no independent candidates linked to BDP and that “it is either you are with us or against us.”
Independents, with regard to the law the Gaborone North aspirant said, are allowed by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) Act and so there is nothing wrong with those who want to contest as independent candidates. But the independents, he added also have to field in the 57 constituencies and come with their own manifestos and tell Batswana what they stand for. “But if a card carrying member of the ruling BDP goes independent then we will treat that person as opposition,” Balopi insisted.
The potential law maker stated that the opposition is allowed in Botswana and if one wants to join it they are free to do so. “It’s an open contest. We are ready for any form of opposition but we won’t allow opposition manifesting itself in the BDP. We don’t want to hurt ourselves from within,” Balopi concluded.
HOW GOV’T MACHINERY COMES IN
Former President Khama is involved in a number of charity events and he needs public facilities such as public halls and kgotla to hold such. Already Government has made its intentions known that it will deny the former president these facilities because they believe he is using them for political reasons. He was denied access to the Lady Khama Hall in Serowe for his controversial meeting where he announced his intention to exit the BDP. Although Government officials are coming up with creative excuses for denying Khama access to this facilities, it is very clear that there is a method to the madness.
To further buttress Government modus operandi on how they are likely to deal with former President Khama going forward, he was blocked from using the Khawa Kgotla for his infamous soup kitchen and he opted to host the event at the football grounds. Khama’s events are neither not supported by public servants, another move to slow the former President down.
On Thursday Khama clashed with Botswana Tourism Organization (BTO) after they sidelined him from the event. The former President pitched his own event. This followed his removal as tourism ambassador after Minister Kitso Mokaila wrote him a letter indicating that the position is not recognized by statutes.
Mowana Copper Mine in Dukwi will finally pay its former employees a total amount of P23, 789, 984.00 end of this month. For over three years Mowana Copper Mine has been under judicial management. Updating members, Botswana Mine Workers Union (BMWU) Executive Secretary Kitso Phiri this week said the High Court issued an order for the implementation of the compromise scheme of December 9, 2021 and this was to be done within 30 days after court order.
“Therefore payment of benefits under the scheme including those owed to Messina Copper Botswana employees should be effected sometime in January latest end of January 2022,” Kitso said. Kitso also explained that cash settlement will be 30 percent of the total Messina Copper Botswana estate and negotiated estate is $3,233,000 (about P35, 563,000).
Messina Copper was placed under liquidation and was thereafter acquired by Leboam Holdings to operate Mowana Mine. Leboam Holdings struck a deal with the Messina Copper’s liquidator who became a shareholder of Leboam Holdings. Leboam Holdings could not service its debts and its creditors placed it under provisional judicial management on December 18, 2018 and in judicial management on February 28, 2019.
A new company Max Power expressed interest to acquire the mining operations. It offered to take over the Mowana Mine from Leboam Holdings, however, the company had to pay the debts of Leboam including monies owed to Messina Copper, being employees benefits and other debts owed to other creditors.
The monies, were agreed to be paid through a scheme of compromise proposed by Max Power, being a negotiated payment schedule, which was subject to the financial ability of the new owners. “On December 9, 2021, Messina Copper liquidator, called a meeting of creditors, which the BMWU on behalf of its members (former Messina Copper employees) attended, to seek mandate from creditors to proceed with a proposed settlement for Messina Copper on the scheme of compromise. It is important to note that employee benefits are regarded as preferential credit, meaning once a scheme is approved they are paid first.”
A savingram the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development sent to Town Clerks and Council Secretaries explaining why councilors across the country should not have access to their terminal benefits before end of their term has been revealed.
The contents of the savingram came out in the wake of a war of words between counselors and the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development. The councilors through the Botswana Association of Local Authorities (BALA) accuse the Ministry of refusing to allow them to have access to their terminal benefits before end of their term.
This has since been denied by the Ministry. In the savingram to town councils and council secretaries across the country, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development Molefi Keaja states that, “Kindly be advised that the terminal benefits budget is made during the final year of term of office for Honorable Councilors.” Keaja reminded town clerks and council secretaries that, “The nominal budget Councils make each and every financial year is to cater for events where a Councilor’s term of office ends before the statutory time due to death, resignation or any other reason.”
The savingram also goes into detail about why the government had in the past allowed councilors to have access to their terminal benefits before the end of their term. “Regarding the special dispensation made in the 2014-2019, it should be noted that the advance was granted because at that time there was an approved budget for terminal benefits during the financial year,” explained Keaja. He added that, “Town Clerks/Council Secretaries made discretions depending on the liquidity position of Councils which attracted a lot of audit queries.”
Keaja also revealed that councils across the country were struggling financially and therefore if they were to grant councilors access to their terminal benefits, this could leave their in a dire financial situation. Given the fact that Local Authorities currently have cash flow problems and budgetary constraints, it is not advisable to grant terminal benefits advance as it would only serve to compound the liquidity problems of councils.
It is understood that the Ministry was inundated with calls from some Councils as they sought clarification regarding access to their terminal benefits. The Ministry fears that should councils pay out the terminal benefits this would affect their coffers as the government spends a lot on councilors salaries.
Reports show that apart from elected councilors, the government spends at least P6, 577, 746, 00 on nominated councilors across the country as their monthly salaries. Former Assistant Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Botlogile Tshireletso once told Parliament that in total there are 113 nominated councilors and their salaries per a year add up to P78, 933,16.00. She added that their projected gratuity is P9, 866,646.00.
A surge in consumer spending is expected to be a key driver of Botswana’s economic recovery, according to recent projections by Fitch Solutions. Fitch Solutions said it forecasts household spending in Botswana to grow by a real rate of 5.9% in 2022.
The bullish Fitch Solutions noted that “This is a considerable deceleration from 9.4% growth estimated in 2021, it comes mainly from the base effects of the contraction of 2.5% recorded in 2020,” adding that, “We project total household spending (in real terms) to reach BWP59.9bn (USD8.8bn) in 2022, increasing from BWP56.5bn (USD8.3bn) in 2021.” According to Fitch Solutions, this is higher than the pre-Covid-19 total household spending (in real terms) of P53.0 billion (USD7.8bn) in 2019 and it indicates a full recovery in consumer spending.
“We forecast real household spending to grow by 5.9% in 2022, decelerating from the estimated growth of 9.4% in 2021. We note that the Covid-19 pandemic and the related restrictions on economic activity resulted in real household spending contracting by 2.5% in 2020, creating a lower base for spending to grow from in 2021 and 2022,” Fitch Solutions says.
Total household spending (in real terms), the agency says, will increase in 2022 when compared to 2021. In 2021 and 2022, total household spending (in real terms) will be above the pre-Covid-19 levels in 2019, indicating a full recovery in consumer spending, says Fitch Solutions. It says as of December 6 2021 (latest data available), 38.4% of people in Botswana have received at least one vaccine dose, while this is relatively low it is higher than Africa average of 11.3%.
“The emergence of new Covid-19 variants such as Omicron, which was first detected in the country in November 2021, poses a downside risk to our outlook for consumer spending, particularly as a large proportion of the country’s population is unvaccinated and this could result in stricter measures being implemented once again,” says Fitch Solutions.
Growth will ease in 2022, Fitch Solution says. “Our forecast for an improvement in consumer spending in Botswana in 2022 is in line with our Country Risk team’s forecast that the economy will grow by a real rate of 5.3% over 2022, from an estimated 12.5% growth in 2021 as the low base effects from 2020 dissipate,” it says.
Fitch Solutions notes that “Our Country Risk team expects private consumption to be the main driver of Botswana’s economic growth in 2022, as disposable incomes and the labour market continue to recover from the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.” It says Botswana’s tourism sector has been negatively impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic and the related travel restrictions.
According to Fitch Solutions, “The emergence of the Omicron variant, which was first detected in November 2021, has resulted in travel bans being implemented on Southern African countries such as South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Eswatini. This will further delay the recovery of Botswana’s tourism sector in 2021 and early 2022.” Fitch Solutions, therefore, forecasts Botswana’s tourist arrivals to grow by 81.2% in 2022, from an estimated contraction of 40.3% in 2021.
It notes that the 72.4% contraction in 2020 has created a low base for tourist arrivals to grow from. “The rollout of vaccines in South Africa and its key source markets will aid the recovery of the tourism sector over the coming months and this bodes well for the employment and incomes of people employed in the hospitality industry, particularly restaurants and hotels as well as recreation and culture businesses,” the report says.
Fitch Solutions further notes that with economies reopening, consumers are demanding products that they had little access to over the previous year. However, manufacturers are facing several problems. It says supply chain issues and bottlenecks are resulting in consumer goods shortages, feeding through into supply-side inflation. Fitch Solutions believes the global semiconductor shortage will continue into 2022, putting the pressure on the supply of several consumer goods.
It says the spread of the Delta variant is upending factory production in Asia, disrupting shipping and posing more shocks to the world economy. Similarly, manufacturers are facing shortages of key components and higher raw materials costs, the report says adding that while this is somewhat restricted to consumer goods, there is a high risk that this feeds through into more consumer services over the 2022 year.
“Our global view for a notable recovery in consumer spending relies on the ability of authorities to vaccinate a large enough proportion of their populations and thereby experience a notable drop in Covid-19 infections and a decline in hospitalisation rates,” says Fitch Solutions. Both these factors, it says, will lead to governments gradually lifting restrictions, which will boost consumer confidence and retail sales.
“As of December 6 2021, 38.4% of people in Botswana have received at least one vaccine dose. While this is low, it is higher than the Africa average of 11.3%. The vaccines being administered in Botswana include Pfizer-BioNTech, Sinovac and Johnson & Johnson. We believe that a successful vaccine rollout will aid the country’s consumer spending recovery,” says Fitch Solutions. Therefore, the agency says, “Our forecasts account for risks that are highly likely to play out in 2022, including the easing of government support. However, if other risks start to play out, this may lead to forecast revisions.”