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
In a classic and shocking case of disgrace and dishonour to this country, the law enforcement agencies are currently struggling to cover up a damaging and humiliating scandal of having conspired to forge the signature of a Palapye Chief Magistrate, Rebecca Motsamai in an unlawful acquisition of the much-publicised 2019 warrant of arrest against Isaac Kgosi, the former director of the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS).
The cloak-and-dagger arrest was led by the DIS director, Brigadier Peter Magosi supported by the Botswana Police, Botswana Defence Force (BDF), with the Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) which accused Kgosi of tax evasion, in the backseat.
Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) constituent members are struggling to reach an agreement over the allocation of wards for the imminent ward by-elections across the country.
Despite a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) and Alliance for Progressives (AP) are said to be active, but the nitty-gritties are far from being settled.
The eight bye-elections will be a precursor of a somewhat delayed finalisation of the brittle MoU. The three parties want to draw a plan on how and who will contest in each of the available wards.
This publication has gathered that the negotiations will not be a run off the mill because there is already an impasse between the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) which is a UDC constituent and AP (currently negotiating to join umbrella).
The by-elections joint committee met last week at Cresta President Hotel in a bid to finalise allocation but nothing tangible came out of the gathering, sources say.
The cause of the stalemate according to those close to events, is the Metsimotlhabe Ward which the two parties have set their eyes on.
In 2019, he ward was won by Botswana Democratic Party’s (BDP) Andrew Sebobi who unfortunately died in a tragic accident in February last year.
Sebobi had convincingly won by 1 109 votes in the last elections; and was trailed by Sephuthi Thelo of the UDC trailed him with 631 votes; while Alliance for Progressives’ Innocent Moamogwe got 371 votes.
Thelo is a BCP candidate and as per UDC norm, incumbency prevails meaning that the BCP will contest since they were runners up. On the other hand, AP has also raised its hand for the same.
“AP asked for it on the basis that they have a good candidate but BCP did not agree to that request also arguing they have a better contestant,” one UDC member confided to this publication.
Notwithstanding Metsimotlhabe Ward squabble, it is said the by-election talks are almost a done deal, with Botswana National Front (BNF) tipped to take Boseja South ward in Mochudi East constituency. Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) will be awarded Tamasane Ward in Lerala/Maunatlala constituency, sources say.
“But the agreement has to be closed by National Executive Committee (NEC),” emphasized the informant.
The NEC is said to have been cautioned not to back the wrong horse but rather rate with reason and facts.
UDC President, Duma Boko has told this publication that, “allocation is complete with two wards already awarded but with only one yet to be finalized,” he could not dwell into much details as to which party got what and the reasons for the delay in finalisation.
Chairperson of the by-elections committee, Dr. Phenyo Butale responded to this publication regarding the matter: “As AP we contested and as you may be aware we signed the MoU with UDC and BPF to collaborate on bye-elections. The opposition candidate for all bye-elections will be agreed by these parties and that process is still ongoing,” he said when asked if AP is interested on the ward and how far with the talks on bye-elections.
Butale, a former Gaborone Central Member of Parliament, who is also AP Secretary General continued to say, “As the chairperson of the bye-elections committee we are still seized with that matter. We should also do some consultations with the local structures. Once the process is complete we will issue a notice for now we cannot talk about the other two while the other is still pending the other one”.
Butale further clarified: “There is no such thing as AP and BCP not in agreement. It is an issue of signatories discussing and determining the opposition candidates across the three wards.”
Apart from the three wards, there are five more council wards that UDC is yet to allocate to cooperating partners.
FROM PALAPYE MEET: BPP CAUTION NEC MEMBERS
With the UDC cheerful from last weekend’s meeting in Palapye, the meeting however was very tense on the side of both BCP and BNF, with only BPP flexing its muscle and even lashing out.
BCP going into the meeting, had promised to ask difficult questions to the UDC NEC.
BCP VP and also acting Secretary General, Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang, presented their qualms which were addressed by UDC Chairperson Motlatsi Molapisi, informants say.
It is said Molapisi is fed up and concerned by some UDC members especially those in the NEC who ‘wash party’s dirty linen in public’.
Insiders say the veteran politician cautioned the NEC members that they “will not expel any party but individuals who tarnish the image of the UDC.”
It is not the first time BPP play a paternalistic role as it once expressed its discontent with BCP in 2020, saying it should never wash UDC linen in public.
At first it is said, BPP, the oldest political formation in Botswana, claims disappointment on BCP stance that UDC should be democratised especially by sharing their stand with the media. Again, BPP was not happy with BCP leader Dumelang Saleshando’s decision to air his personal views on social media regarding the merger of UDC party.
Botswana Police Service (BPS) Commissioner, Keabetswe Makgophe, has of late been dousing raging fires from various quarters of society following the infiltration of the police fingerprint system by the Directorate on Intelligence and Security (DIS), WeekendPost has learnt.
Fresh information gleaned from a number of impeccable sources, points to a pitiable working relationship between the two state organs. Cause of concern is the DIS continuous big brother role to an extent that it is now interfering with other institutions’ established mandates.
BPS which works closely with the DIS has been left exasperated by the works of the institution formed in 2008. It is said, the DIS through its Information Technology (IT) experts in collusion with some at BPS forensics department managed to infiltrate the Fingerprint system.
The infiltration, according to those in the know, was for the DIS to “teach a lesson” to some who are on their radar. It is said the DIS is playing and fighting dirty to win the fights they have lost before.
By managing to hack the police finger print system, a number of renowned businessmen and other politically exposed persons found their fingers in the system. What surprised the victims is the fact that they have never been charged of any wrongdoing by the police and they were left reeling in shock to learn that their fingers are on the data-base of criminals.
In fact, some of those who their fingerprints were falsely included in the records of those on the wrong side of law learnt later when other errands demanded their fingerprints.
“We learnt later when we had to submit and buy some documents and we were very shocked,” one politician who is also a businessman confided to this publication this week.
“We then learn that there are some fabricated criminality recorded for us, as to when did we commit those remained secret to the police, but then we had to engage our lawyers on the matter and that is when we were cleared,” said the politician-cum- tenderpreneur.
The lawyers have confirmed engaging the police and that the matters were settled in a gentlemen’s agreement and concluded.
All these happened behind the scenes with the police top brass oblivious only to be confronted by the irked lot, police sources also add. The victimized group who most of them have been fighting lengthy battles with the DIS read malice and did not blink when it was revealed that these were done by the DIS.
“And it was clear that they (DIS) are the ones in this dirty war which we don’t understand. Remember when we sue, it will be the Police at the courts not the DIS and that is why we agreed to a ceasefire more so they also requested that be kept under carpet,” said the victim.
Nonetheless, the Police through its spokesperson Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, briefly said: “we do not have any system that has been hacked.” On the other hand DIS mouthpiece Edward Robert was not in office this week to comment on the matter.
Reports however say DIS boss, Peter Magosi, who most of the victims accuse of the job, is said to have met his police counterpart Makgophe to put the matter to bed.
COVID-19 RAVAGES POLICE
As frontline workers, Police have not escaped the wrath of Covid-19. Already the numbers of those infected has reached the highest of high and they suggest that they be priorities on vaccine rollout.
“Our job is complicated, firstly we arrest including those who are non-compliant to Covid protocols and we go to accidents and many more. These put us at risk and it seems our superiors are not bothered,” said one police officer this week.
The cops further complain about that working spaces are small, as such expose them to contact the virus.
“Some tests positive and go for quarantine while the rest of the unit will be left without even test carried out. If at all the bosses are serious all the police officers should every now and then be subjected to testing or else we will be no more because of the virus,” added another officer based in Gaborone.
The government has since placed teachers on the priority list for the vaccines, it remains to be seen whether the police, who also man road blocks, will be considered.
“But our bosses should convince the country leadership about this, if not then we are doomed,” concluded a more senior officer.