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Botswana’s Strive for High Income Economy – Billionaire Advice from Masiyiwa

A highly charged event, attended in large numbers by young people hungry for a billionaire advice from Zimbabwe’s wealthiest man Strive Masiyiwa alongside Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi.

Many of the attendants were youthful entrepreneurs or aspiring to be one, leading the take home lessons from the Telecom tycoon was a push for young people‘s venture into ICT businesses. An embodiment of ICT and digital business world himself, Strive who is the founder of Mascom Wireless, Botswana leading mobile network services provider and Charmin of Econet Group, a pan African telecommunication giant says entrepreneurship is about providing solutions to everyday challenges.  Held under the theme "Unlocking youth entrepreneurship through knowledge based economy” Masiyiwa was in Botswana at the invitation of President Masisi.

Amongst other discussions between the two, Africa’s newest Billionaire committed to investing in fiber Internet and training in Botswana, starting in the next few months. Lamenting on the proposition President Masisi noted that this would mean easy and affordable internet access to Batswana and more jobs opportunities for young people. President Masisi announced that a model for the deal is currently being developed and investment will be sealed by next week.

Strive Masiyiwa who started his entrepreneurship journey when he was only 25 says he had been running a business from 1986 to 1993 when he came to the realization that telecommunications was needed in Africa. In 1997, he sold his belongings and came to Botswana. Wrestling against some top industry players including Vodacom in order to bring a mobile telecommunications service to Botswana ,in his pitch to Government , Strive projected that he would have 120 000 subscribers within the first 5 years. Prior to the Tuesday meeting Mr Masiyiwa shared on his social media platforms that his plan was to list Mascom wireless after acquiring majority shareholding.

“I never stopped being a shareholder of the company at any time, and it’s now been 21 years. This is my baby, A few months ago I approached MTN, and told them I now have the money to buy the shares that they originally bought from me and wanted to exercise my right to buy them out as per our original agreement.” He revealed

Masiyiwa says he will soon have majority shareholding of a company he started over 2 decades ago as Masiyiwa Communications.”After a few months of negotiating with MTM, we reached a deal. I’m paying them $300m equivalent to P3 billion , which means they have done very well, as they originally paid less than $70m , P700 million.” he said

Masiyiwa says as soon as he completes the acquisition of the MTN shares in what he hope will be the biggest public listing ever undertaken in Botswana, he to sell shares to anyone who can raise about 100 Pula (about $10). “I have already instructed our management to begin a sale process to ordinary Botswana citizens” he says

The Zimbabwean Billionaire also revealed his proposal to other shareholder being Botswana Public Officers Pension Fund (BPOPF) “I have also suggested to our partner, the Botswana Public Officers Pension Fund (BPOPF), to also sell some of its own shares directly to their members, thousands of civil servants. It is actually possible to set up a scheme in which the civil servants buy shares, using deductions on their salaries.

They can also restrict trading of such shares amongst themselves” he said. At the Tuesday meeting President Mokgweetsi Masisi that his administration will have more engagements with business people who are willing to invest in Botswana for betterment of lives of Batswana and transforming Botswana’s economy from an upper middle income to a high income economy “We have committed ourselves to leveraging on information technology as a key contributor to economic growth and employment creation whilst also enabling an efficient and effective private sector” he said.

Masisi noted that Botswana‘s Vision 2036 also recognizes the importance of investment in research, science, technology and innovation to enable the country’s transformation to knowledge based economy. “In this context, we have spelt out in our National Vision that an enabling environment, including digital access and a relevant regulatory framework will be improved to enable the development of a private sector led ICT industry”

President Masisi told hundreds of attending youth that Government was committed to the development of the national high speed Information and Communications Technology (ICT) infrastructure to enable and facilitate the provision of online services, applications and content. “We are also committed to a knowledge based economy which will contribute in no small measure, to our concerted efforts of diversifying our economy thus creating employment for the youth” he said.

However contrary to jubilant welcome and positive feedback from Batswana regarding Strive Masiyiwa’s visit, Leader of Opposition Duma Boko rubbished the town hall meeting as a waste of time. Boko says Masiyiwa is a business man who is anti democracy and pro government exploitation and ruthless capitalistic dealings “Strive Masiyiwa is the same man who cut internet in Zimbabwe to silence hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans when they were protesting against his friend President Mnangangwa” said Boko when addressing a UDC rally in Masunga this opining that Botswana can make its millionaires without the help of anyone. “If a Zimbabwean like Strive can be a billionaire so can an ordinary Motswana from Masunga, we don’t need Masiyiwa here, since he founded Mascom, what has he done for Botswana?” said Boko

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Khan: Boko, Masisi are fake politicians

18th January 2021
Masisi & Boko

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.

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Ookeditse rejects lobby for BPF top post

18th January 2021

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.

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BDP cancels MPs retreat

18th January 2021
President Masisi

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.

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