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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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Botswana still weighing in on Maseko’s assassination

27th January 2023

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Lemogang Kwape says Botswana has not taken any position regarding the killing of a renowned human rights lawyer, Thulani Maseko, who was gunned down at his house in Mbabane, Eswatini.

In a brief interview with WeekendPost, Dr Kwape said Botswana has not yet taken any position regarding his death. He said the purported incident should be thoroughly probed before Botswana can form an opinion based on the findings of the inquiries.

“Botswana generally condemns any killing of human life by all means,” says Dr. Kwape. He wouldn’t want to be dragged on whether Botswana will support the suspension of Eswatini from SADC.

“We will be guided by SADC organ Troika if they can be an emergency meeting. I am not sure when the meeting will be called by Namibian president,“ he said.

However, the Namibian president Hage Geingob notes with deep concern reports coming out of Eswatini about the killing of Mr. Maseko. In a statement, he called upon the “Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini to ensure that the killing of Maseko is swiftly, transparently and comprehensively investigated, and that any or all persons suspected of committing this heinous crime are brought to justice.”

Maseko was chairperson of the Multi-Stakeholder Forum which was established as a coalition of non-State actors to advocate for a process of national political dialogue aimed at resolving the security and political challenges confronting the Kingdom.

“SADC expresses its deepest and heartfelt condolences to the family of Mr. Maseko, his friends, colleagues, and to the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini for the loss of Mr. Maseko. In this context, SADC further calls upon the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini to remain calm, exercise due care and consideration whilst the appropriate structures conduct the investigations and bring the matter to completion,” the statement says.

Geingob reiterated the need for peaceful resolution of the political and security challenges affecting the country.

Meanwhile political activists are calling on SADC to suspend Eswatini from the block including the African Union as well.

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Kopong Murder: Accused interferes with witnesses again!

27th January 2023

State prosecutor, Seeletso Ookeditse revealed before the Broadhurst Magistrate Jobbie Moilatshimo that the third accused involved in the murder of Barulaganye Aston, has interfered with the State witnesses again.

The second and third accused (Lefty Kosie and Outlwile Aston) were previously accused of interference when they were caught in possession of cellphones in prison. They were further accused of planning to kill the deceased’s brother, who is currently the guardian to the children of the deceased.

Ookeditse indicated that Outlwile had earlier went to challenge the magistrate’s decision of denying him bail at the High Court before Judge Michael Motlhabi.

“The third accused approached the High Court and made a bail application, which was dismissed on the same day,” Ookeditse said.

However, even after the High Court verdict on their bail application, the duo (Kosie and Aston) has once again applied for bail this week.

Ookeditse plead with the court to stop the accused from abusing the court process.

“Yesterday, Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) received papers of his bail application filed before the Broadhurst Magistrates Court. However, the papers do not speak to changed circumstances, therefore this back and forth about bail must be put to a stop,” said the State prosecutor.

While giving evidence before court, the Investigations Officer, Detective Inspector Quite Zhalamonto, said his investigations have proved that there is interference continuing regarding the accused trio.

He told the court that on the 12th of January 2023, he received a report from Thato Aston, who is the son of the accused and the deceased. The son had alleged to the Investigation Officer that he received a call from one Phillip Molwantwa.

According to Zhalamonto, Thato revealed that Molwatwa indicated that he was from prison on a visit to the Outlwile Aston and went on to ask where he was staying and where his siblings (Aston’s children) are staying.

“Thato revealed that Phillip went on to ask if he or his siblings saw their father murdering their mother, and he was referring to the crime scene. Thato told me that he, however, refused to answer the questions as he was afraid especially because he was asked about where him and his siblings stay,” said Zhalamonto.

Zhalamonto alluded to the court that he then went to Orange to confirm the communication between Thato and Molwantwa where he found the case.

“I have arrested Philip yesterday and when I interviewed him, he did not deny that he knows Aston and that he has indeed called Thato and asked questions as to where him and his siblings resides even though he failed to give reasons for asking such questions,” Zhalamonto told the court.

He further revealed that Molwantwa indicated that he had received a call from an unknown man who refused to reveal himself.

“Phillip told me that the unknown man said he was sent by the accused (Aston), and that Aston had instructed him to tell me to check if there was still some money in his bank accounts, and he also wanted to know where the kids were residing, the unknown man even asked him to meet at Main Mall” the Investigation Officer told the court.

He further informed the court that he is working tirelessly to identify the “unknown caller” and the route of the cell number.

Furthermore, the fourth accused, Kebaleboge Ntsebe, has revealed to the court through a letter that she was abused and tortured by the Botswana Police Services. She wrote in her letter that she suffered miscarriage as a result of being beaten by the police.

Ntsebe is on bail, while a bail ruling for Aston and Kosie will be delivered on the 6th of next month

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Ngamiland Cattle Farmers Gain Green Zone Revenue

27th January 2023

Cattle farmers from Eretsha and Habu in the Ngamiland district, supported by the Community Based Trade (CBT) project, recently generated over P300 000.00 for sales of 42 cattle to the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) in Maun. This milestone was achieved through support from various stakeholders in conservation, commodity-based trade and the government, in collaboration with farmers. Ordinarily, these farmers would not have made this direct sale since the area is a designated Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) Red Zone.

Traditional livestock farming contributes toward livelihoods and formal employment in the North-West District (Ngamiland) of Botswana. However, primarily due to the increase in FMD outbreaks over the past two decades and predation by wildlife, the viability of livestock agriculture as a source of income has declined in the region. This has led to a greater risk of poverty and food insecurity. Access across the Okavango River (prior to the construction of a bridge) restricted access for farmers in Eretsha. This lack of access hampered sales of cattle beyond Shakawe, further discouraging farmers from investing in proper livestock management practices. This resulted in negative environmental impacts, poor livestock health and productivity.

To address this challenge, farmers are working with a consortium led by Conservation International (CI), with funding secured from the European Union (EU) to pilot a CBT beef project. The project focuses on supporting and enabling communal farmers to comply with standards and regulations that will improve their chances to access markets. An opportunity to earn higher income from cattle sales could incentivize the adoption of restorative rangelands management practices by farmers.

These collaborative efforts being piloted in Habu and Eretsha villages also include the Pro-Nature Enterprises Project for the People of Southern Africa, funded by Agence Française de DĂ©veloppement (AFD) and Le Fonds français pour l’environnement mondial (FFEM). This complementary funding from AFD and FFEM supports the implementation of the Herding4Health (H4H) model and Rangeland Stewardship Agreements across four rangeland sites in Southern Africa, including Habu and Eretsha, to incentivize best practices that could offer sustainability in the long term for livelihoods, conservation and human-wildlife coexistence.

“We spend a lot of money getting our cattle to Makalamabedi quarantine site, the herder spends on average two months taking care of the cattle before they are taken into quarantine – that needs money. All these costs lead to us getting less money from BMC,” said one of the farmers in the programme, Mr Monnaleso Mosanga.

Farmers that participate in the project agree for their cattle to be herded and kraaled communally by fulltime professional herders (eco-rangers). At the core of this pilot is the use of predator-proof bomas (cattle kraals), planned grazing systems and mobile quarantine bomas (electrified enclosures) for the cattle, facilitated in support with the Department of Veterinary Services. The first successful exit from the mobile quarantine bomas in the Habu and Eretsha villages, in December 2022, saw cattle quarantined on-site and directly transported to BMC in Maun. Farmers received almost double the average sales within this region, as costs including transportation to quarantine sites, herder’s fees and other associated costs incurred before qualifying for BMC sales were no longer included.

“This pilot mobile quarantine is leveraging the techniques and protocols we are using at our current permanent quarantine sites, and we are still observing the results of the project. The outcome of this pilot will be presented to the World Organisation of Animal Health to assess its effectiveness and potentially be approved to be used elsewhere,” said Dr Odireleng Thololwane, the Principal Veterinary Officer (Maun).

Through co-financing of almost P1 billion from the Botswana government and Green Climate Fund, these interventions will be replicated, through The Ecosystem Based Adaptation and Mitigation in Botswana’s Communal Rangelands project, across the country. Both projects aim to improve the economic benefits of cattle owners and multitudes of Batswana households, while contributing to land restoration and climate change efforts by the Botswana government

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