With the current Maun West legislator who is also the Paramount Chief of Batawana, Kgosi Tawana Moremi II hanging his political microphones and returning back to Bogosi, political candidates in his constituency are scrambling for his attention and licking their lips hoping for endorsements from Kgosi.
Tawana joined Ntlo ya Dikgosi in 1995 until 2008 where he actively joined politics, winning elections for the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) in 2009. However he ditched the party in 2011 to join the then newly formed Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) after being an independent MP for some few months. Just like any paramount chief, the soft spoken Kgosi commands high respect from his tribesmen and has aggressively advocated for improvement of their lives.
Now, since he is not contesting for political office, those who want to succeed him are eyeing possible endorsement. Sources close to him however say, “Tawana is an independent person who is not influenced by anyone or anything. He is clear that he will make his opinion at the right time and we are also waiting to hear that. Remember he never consults anyone when he takes a decision,” a source close to the royal family told Weekendpost.
With Tawana now expected to make endorsement at the ‘right time’, those tussling for his constituency relishes that opportunity. Maun West constituency has so far attracted three names; Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Dumelang Saleshando, BDP- Reaboka Mbulawa, as well as Alliance for Progressive’s (AP) Moalosi Sebati. Initially, Tawana anointed Sebati’s candidature and withdrew his endorsement when the candidate defected from BMD to AP.
In an interview with Weekendpost, Tawana’s rival in 2014, Mbulawa says they have a cordial relationship with Kgosi and they are from the same blood line. “We have always had a good relationship even after I lost the elections to him in 2014. We are related. His uncles are also my uncles so the relation is deep. We dine together but I don’t know his intentions, but I will respect any decision he takes. But I will be glad if he could push me to go to parliament. This is not to say I am forcing him to, I don’t need anyone to send me there but looking at his popularity you cannot deny that.”
In 2014 UDC’s Tawana won Maun West comfortably after garnering 7271, with Mbulawa getting 5335 and BCP‘s George Lubinda managing 2359. The pendulum before Saleshando’s arrival was swinging in favour of Mbulawa in the absence of Kgosi Tawana, but now it could be an insurmountable mountain for the BDP’s money man-Mbulawa and Sebati.
On the other hand Saleshando, who is not new in the area through origins, also does not mind being endorsed by Kgosi Kgolo. “We have always had a good relationship, even now we do talk. I have heard people saying he is endorsing me because of the positives he shared about me on social media. Well, if that is what endorsement means is fine. But I would like that to be made publicly. As to who he endorses it’s up to him or you can just ask him. No doubt he is an influential figure especially in the constituency we are vying for,” he said in an interview.
ALSO CONSPIRE AGAINST MASISI ON HUNTING BAN LIFT
The candidates apart from ‘seeking’ endorsement from Tawana also wants President Mokgweetsi Masisi to quickly lift the hunting ban as it compound the human/wildlife conflict. “This is the government sponsored conflict by not erecting the fence. This hunting ban is a BDP thing and Masisi should act and stop playing to the gallery, we have always maintained that the hunting ban should be lifted and that is what they should do,” said Saleshando.
Masisi’s party member Mbulawa also concurs with Saleshando on the matter. “We need policies that would harmonize the conflict. The lifting of the hunting ban is one of those, remember when the ban was implemented it automatically killed the Problem Animal Control (PAC) which was very key in managing the wild animals and it should be resuscitated when the ban is lifted. This should be done quickly because the conflict is real,” he said.
Another candidate in the area Sebati says it is high time the government implement curling especially on elephant populations which statistics says it has more than doubled. Botswana is home to 154,000 elephants, a third of Africa's total elephant population. “I think lifting of the ban is the right move because in the past there was hunting and they never got extinct but now with this numbers they are even impoverishing the locals as they destroy their source of income and kills people. So we should curl them and have a quota, the population is overcrowded and government seems to be prioritizing them than our people.”
The elephants matter is so serious that an elephants summit comprising of SADC nations was held in Kasane to see how best to manage these mammals. Masisi after the summit is expected to reveal whether hunting ban will be lifted. He was handed a report about possibilities of lifting the ban early this year and he is yet to reveal what’s next.
Not only is hunting ban a challenge, but the candidates including Maun East ‘s Goretetse Kekgonegile of UDC are of the view that with North West district being one of the leading contributors of the GDP through tourism, government must do something. At the top of their grievances is poor infrastructure especially road networks, poverty as a result of unemployment and availability of basic services like water.
“There is need for a total paradigm shift because there is erosion of our indigenous means because the BDP allows the spread of Foot and Mouth which at the end see farmers struggling to make ends meet due to unpalatable cattle at BMC. This is one area that should really be worked on if we are serious about electorates,” stated Kekgonegile.
The politicians also unanimously agree that it is high time the locals have a lion’s share in the tourism sector which from time immemorial has been on the hands of the foreigners. “The delta is given to the foreigners while Batswana are holding non-influential positions and it is clear that Masisi does not have a reverse strategy, yet he is talking about ‘Batswana ba Sekei,” added Saleshando.
Some vendors have been misled Vendors thrive on households goods and fresh produce
Despite the previous false allegations that the Tobacco Control Bill will lead to several 20 000 vendors across the country losing their jobs, several local vendors have expressed that they are ready for the bill and because vendors sell mostly household goods
“This is something that we openly accept and receive as street vendors, the problem is some of our counterparts were misled and made to believe that we will not be allowed to sell cigarettes on our stalls.
Some of us got to understand that the bill states that we have to be licensed to sell cigarettes, we are not supposed to sell them to children under the age of 18 years of age and eliminating the selling of single sticks. We understand that this agenda is meant to develop a healthy nation but not take us down,” said Mbimbi Tau a vendor who operates from Mogoditshane.
The Tobacco Control Bill has been passed in several countries and street vendors are operating properly without any challenges faced. Tau further mentioned that there is no way that the Tobacco Control Bill will affect their business operations, all they have to do as vendors are to get the required documentation and do what the bill requires.
Another vendor Busani Selalame who operates from Gaborone Bonnington North was not shy to express his support towards the Tobacco Control Bill, “the problem is that some people within our sector have been misled and now they think that the bill is meant to take our operations down and completely stop selling cigarettes.
I support the fact that we are not supposed to sell cigarettes to children who are under the age of 18 years of age this has always been wrong, as parents we should be cautious of such and ensure that our children are disassociated with cigarettes,” said Selalame.
The Tobacco Control Bill prohibits advertising, promotion and sponsorship by the tobacco industry to prevent messages, cues, and other inducements to begin using tobacco, especially among the youth, to reassure users to continue their use, or that otherwise undermine quitting.
Renowned economist Bakang Ntshingane is of the view that since vendors sell household goods and fresh produce they are likely to keep on making profits despite what the Tobacco Control Bill comes with. He further stated that the Tobacco Control Bill will not be of harm on the local economy since the country does not manufacture or produce any tobacco related products.
BancABC Botswana, the BSE-listed bank today announced its half year results for the six months ended 30 June 2021, against a subdued economic backdrop, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and related lockdowns.
BancABC has remained resilient in the current operating environment as business activity increased in the first half of 2021, with Real GDP up by 0.7% in the first quarter compared to a contraction of 4.6% in the previous quarter. Commenting on the results, Managing Director Kgotso Bannalotlhe said, “Currently, economic activity is relatively stable.
While COVID-19 placed significant pressure on the economy and our overall business, BancABC Botswana has shown remarkable resilience amid a tough operating environment. While the bank operates in an environment that is seeing a rise in COVID-19 infections, it is encouraging that the business has maintained a healthy capital adequacy ratio as well as being successful in improving total expenses with focus on cost containment across the board.”
The retail segment saw an increase in customer deposits this year, signalling an improvement from the previous period and strengthening the current funding mix. This segment has built great momentum and continues to advance its digital strategy, through various products such as the mobile banking app, SARUMoney, as well as enhanced product offerings such as the introduction of fash cash. The Bank has invested in its digital capabilities to ensure a seamless and hassle-free banking experience for all its customers.
The commercial segment was successful in reducing the cost of funding. In addition, Treasury and Global Markets performed well, doubling from the previous comparative period. The current year performance across the bank’s different segments is testament to the bank’s strong income lines, aiding the Bank’s resilience during this time.
“The Bank experienced slow loan book growth due to a constrained economic environment, however, we remain optimistic that as the economy recovers, credit appetite amongst the Bank’s customer-base will increase. In addition, we reported good non-interest revenue, driven by increased trading income on the back of improved margins and volumes. Our outlook remains positive as we expect momentum across the different segments to improve over time,” said Ratang Icho-Molebatsi, BancABC Botswana Finance Director.
In April 2021, BancABC Botswana’s ultimate holding company, Atlas Mara Limited, as well as ABC Holdings Limited and Access Bank Plc announced an agreement to a proposed acquisition of 78.15% of BancABC Botswana. The transaction presented an opportunity for BancABC Botswana’s strong retail banking operation to merge with Access Bank’s wholesale banking capabilities, augmenting itself as one of Africa’s leading banks.
“The transaction provides significant scope for revenue diversification and growth in the corporate and SME banking segment. Increased access to trade finance, treasury, international payments and loans through the wider distribution network offered by Access Bank’s presence in the key trade corridors that connect Africa to the rest of the world, presents solid opportunities for BancABC Botswana”, commented Icho-Molebatsi “With the transaction, BancABC Botswana’s customers stand to benefit from best-in-class digital platforms and product suites, leveraging Access Bank’s group IT infrastructure as well as other fintech solutions”, said Bannalotlhe.
Further, with Access Bank expanding its footprint into Botswana, it will position the Bank to deliver a more complete set of banking solutions to Batswana across the country”, concluded Bannalothle.
Last Friday, the board of Directors of the African Development Bank Group authorised a $137 million (P1.5 billion) loan to support Botswana’s Post COVID-19 pandemic economic recovery.
The funds, extended under the Bank Group’s Botswana Economic Recovery Support Program, will be used to enact multi-sector reforms that will increase spending efficiency, create jobs and drive inclusive growth.
The project has three components: enhancing domestic resource mobilisation and mitigating fiscal risks to enhance macroeconomic performance and create fiscal space for spending on social safety nets; supporting private sector-led agriculture and industry to bolster productivity and value addition and increase job opportunities, and offering business development services to micro and small enterprises to advance social protection and gender equity. The three components are expected to reinforce one another.
“The African Development Bank is providing support for reforms to enhance private sector-led agriculture and transformation of the industrial sector,” said Leila Mokadem, Director General of the Southern Africa Regional Development and Business Delivery Office. “Agriculture value addition can serve as a springboard for industrialisation and job creation,” she added.
The project aligns with the Bank Group’s Ten-Year Strategy (2013-2022) and its High Five strategic priorities, particularly Industrialise Africa and Improve the quality of life of the people of Africa. The African Development Bank observed that Botswana has a very low risk of debt distress and a positive medium-term growth outlook. However, a lack of economic diversification exposes the country to significant vulnerabilities.
The Bank Group’s active portfolio in Botswana amounts to UA 57.7 million ($81.9 million) and comprises four projects. The financial sector accounts for the largest share of the portfolio by industry (97.1%), followed by agriculture (1.7%) and industry (1.2%). In the past, the African Development Bank partnered with various Botswana government agencies to accelerate economic growth.
On the 21st of February 2020, the bank signed a thematic Line of Credit (LoC) of P900 Million for a 10-year tenor with Botswana Development Corporation (BDC), a wholly state-owned investment agency. This was during that time, the single largest transaction of its nature to ever take place in Botswana.
The LoC was penned to support the BDC’s long-term strategy to scale up its investments in critical sectors, including manufacturing, transport and service sectors, with the overall objective of supporting the transformation and industrialisation of the Botswana economy. BDC eyed a more comprehensive socio-economic benefit with this partnership, including attracting investments into the economy and employment creation.
The African Development Bank is a multilateral development finance institution. It has an overarching objective to spur sustainable economic development and social progress in its regional member countries (RMCs) through mobilising and allocating resources for investment and providing policy advice and technical assistance to support development efforts.
This transaction was poised to support further BDC’s focus on safeguarding its balance sheet to ensure financial sustainability whilst fulfilling its mandate as the Botswana Government’s principal investment arm.
The COVID-19 pandemic has landed massive blows on Botswana; apart from claiming more than 2300 lives thus far, the contagious plague has exacerbated existing growth challenges. The effects of the pandemic have led to an estimated real gross domestic product (GDP) contraction of 7.9% in 2020, according to the World Bank, worse than that of the 2009 global financial crisis.
The contraction reflects the impact that reduced global demand, travel restrictions and social distancing measures have had on output in crucial production and export sectors, including the diamond industry and tourism.
Botswana’s fiscal deficit is set to widen to 11.3% of GDP in FY2020/21, from 5.6% in FY2019/20, reflecting a sharp decline in mineral revenues, a sticky public sector wage bill, and the impact of the COVID-19 spending. Similarly, the current account deficit is estimated to have widened to 8 percent of GDP in 2020 following the sharp decline in diamond exports.
Developments in the global diamond industry will significantly impact the short-term recovery, given Botswana’s dependence on the commodity. While recovery is expected in 2021 due to a favourable outlook for the diamond industry, the economic impact of COVID-19 is likely to be deep and long-lasting. The P1.5 billion African Development Bank loan comes after the World Bank approved a P2.5 billion boost for Botswana early this year.
The Programmatic Economic Resilience and Green Recovery Development Policy Loan (DPL) will support the implementation of Botswana’s Economic Recovery and Transformation Plan and is designed to strengthen COVID-19 pandemic relief while bolstering resilience to future shocks.
In August, Botswana received the International Monetary Fund (IMF) 189 Special Drawing Rights allocation worth P3 billion. The IMF SDR is a non-currency asset that Botswana can convert into hard currency by trading it with other IMF member countries.