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.
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.”