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Gov’t warns up to caging BPOPF billions

The P60 billion worth Botswana Public Officers Pension Fund (BPOPF) has gotten Government thinking – with the litany of reports bordering on mismanagement, possible corruption, and poor investments decisions, Government bureaucrats are planning to establish a Public Investment Corporation of Botswana. In fact, a ‘Dream Team’ to kick start such an undertaking is already in place.

Those at the forefront of the idea are convinced that this will squarely complement President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi’s no nonsense approach to corruption and those with ‘sticky fingers’. The idea is supposed to be leveraged against the Public Investment Corporation (PIC), which is a South African state owned entity with R2.083 trillion (USD 150 Billion) of assets under management as of 31 March 2018. It is Africa's largest asset manager. Established in 1911, the Public Investment Corporation (SOC) Limited is one of the largest investment managers in Africa today and still growing despite an array of corruption scandals that were exposed when former President Jacob Zuma exited office.

The Botswana model is being conceptualized by Imtrex Investments, a consultancy firm specializing in multimillion Dollar projects in the economic spheres of Investments; Insurance; technology; and Commodities. The company is currently doing business in countries such as the UAE, United Kingdom, Niger, South Africa, Ghana, and Angola among other countries.

Some in the Asset Management space are skeptical about the formation of a Public Investment Corporation. They see it as a threat to the asset managers who already have a chunk of BPOPF funds to manage and invest. “It is very likely that this entity could put us out of business if the model is not supportive of those who are dependent on the BPOPF cake in the private space,” said one industry player who preferred anonymity. 

“The key objective of setting up the Public Investment Corporation of Botswana is to have a Government controlled Asset Management to manage the Botswana Public Officers Pension Fund. This is a replica of the South African approach. That way the Government will have a bigger say in how the Pension Fund Assets are managed while using the Corporation to channel the Funds into areas that will develop Botswana as a whole,” reads a position paper on the envisaged plan.

According to the Imtrex report, the areas to be targeted as Prime for investment will include, empowerment of local Batswana through share acquisition in big corporates; local infrastructure development; promotion of Batswana emerging black asset managers; and funding of housing projects. Imtrex has already assembled what it calls a “Dream Team” that will be tasked with setting up the Public Investment Corporation. The team boasts of lawyers, offshore investors, chartered accountants, Banking specialists; money market analysts among other skills.

Recent developments have revealed that the BPOPF, which invests on behalf of pensioners and government employees through asset managers, is highly exposed because of some investments decisions they have made in the past.  Some in the pension industry have even questioned the competency of those selected to serve in the Board of trustees. The BPOPF board is dominated by seconded Government officers, public union leaders, and a one or two independent trustees.

Imtrex believes that the Public Investment Corporation will have properly qualified people to advise on investment and avoid instances where BPOPF enters into poorly crafted agreements that over expose it. The BPOPF is currently before the court trying to squeeze P450 million out of Capital Management Botswana (CMB), a private equity company they had partnered with under the Botswana Opportunity Partnership (BOP) to make investments on behalf of the BPOPF.

After the BPOPF was presumed to have breached the terms of the contract, the CMB concluded that the BOP has collapsed and went to sell the P450 million worth of assets for P50 million to Capital Management Africa, a third party. The P50 million was paid to CMB because the agreement between BPOPF and CMB through BOP, stated that the assets could be sold at any price. Imtrex wants to deal with eliminating these shoddy boardroom glitches.

According to Imtrex, a well set up Public Investment Corporation will eliminate instance where the BPOPF has to be seen to be always fighting against asset managers who are not performing or those that are seen to be not in the good books of management especially the Chief executive Officer of the BPOPF. Other BPOPF deals highlighted that are used as justification for the Public Investment Corporation include the purchase of shares in companies that have questionable records. In some instances the BPOPF is said to have overpaid for assets.

The PIC of Botswana, will be a fully registered financial services provider, wholly owned by the Botswana Government, with the Minister of Finance and Economic Development as shareholder representative. Minister Nonofo Molefhi confirmed the development to Weekend Post but he indicated that the matter is still at an infant stage.

Investment specialist, Garry Juma is skeptical about Botswana employing a PIC model given the negative publicity that dogged the sector from the South Africa side. He gave example of the South African PIC model which has been dogged by corruption and malpractices. 
Imtrex was founded by Bongani Mhlanga who doubles as its Chief Executive Officer.

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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
LAWRENCE-OOKEDITSE

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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