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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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BDP decides Balopi’s fate

22nd November 2021
Balopi

The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Central Committee (CC) meeting, chaired by President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi late last month, resolved that the party’s next Secretary-General (SG) should be a full-time employee based at Tsholetsa House and not active in politics.

The resolution by the CC, which Masisi proposed, is viewed as a ploy to deflate the incumbent, Mpho Balopi’s political ambitions and send him into political obscurity. The two have not been on good terms since the 2019 elections, and the fallout has been widening despite attempts to reconcile them. In essence, the BDP says that Balopi, who is currently a Member of Parliament, Minister of Employment, Labour Productivity and Skills Development, and a businessman, is overwhelmed by the role.

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BDF-Namibians shootings autopsy report revealed

22nd November 2021
BDF

The Botswana Defence Force (BDF)-Namibians fatal shooting tragedy Inquest has revealed through autopsy report that the BDF carried over 800 bullets for the mission, 32 of which were discharged towards the targets, and 19 of which hit the targets.

This would mean that 13 bullets missed the targets-in what would be a 60 percent precision rate for the BDF operation target shooting. The Autopsy report shows that Martin Nchindo was shot with five (4) bullets, Ernst Nchindo five (5) bullets, Tommy Nchindo five (5) bullets and Sinvula Munyeme five (5) bullets. From the seven (7) BDF soldiers that left the BDF camp in two boats, four (4) fired the shots that killed the Namibians.

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Gov’t confused over Moitoi’s UN job application

22nd November 2021
VENSON MOITOI

The former Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi’s decision to apply for the positions of United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) and their deputies (DSRSG), has left the government confused over whether to lend her support or not, WeekendPost has established.

Moitoi’s application follows the Secretary-General’s launch of the third edition of the Global Call for Heads and Deputy Heads of United Nations Field Missions, which aims to expand the pool of candidates for the positions of SRSG) and their deputies to advance gender parity and geographical diversity at the most senior leadership level in the field. These mission leadership positions are graded at the Under-Secretary-General and Assistant Secretary-General levels.

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