Russian mining giant Nornickel, also known as Norilsk Nickel —the world’s largest refined nickel and palladium producer has opted out of a 2 year tussle with collapsed mining group BCL Limited. The two parties have been in dispute, in and out of the courts of law, where Norilsk was demanding over P2.7 billion for a contract signed in 2014 relating to the sale of its African assets to government wholly owned BCL.
The agreements included a 50 percent stake in South Africa’s Nkomati mine in Mpumalanga. On Tuesday Nornickel announced a decision to terminate the contract on what it terms BCL’s “material breaches of the contract”. The BCL –Norilsk emanates from Nornickel attempts to sell its African assets. Norilsk has been operating, on 85 percent ownership, Tati Nickel mine located east of Francistown.
Tati was acquired by BCL but no payment was made to Nornickel. BCL also acquired Nornickel’s 50 percent share in the Nkomati nickel mine and the contacts were signed in October 2014. The deal which BCL Group entered into through its wholly owned subsidiary BCL Investment to diversity the company’s portfolio became unconditional in September 2016 as BCL failed to perform its obligations to purchase the shares and pay the purchase price.
During that time the company was struggling financially and relying on government bailout. In October 2016, Botswana Government applied to the High Court of Botswana to place BCL entities into provisional liquidation. Ever since then, Nornickel, BCL and the Botswana government have been in a bitter dispute over more than US$277 million ( P2.9 billion) owed to Nornickel. BCL has since been dissolved into final liquidation under the watch of Nigel Dixon Warren.
Michael Marriott, Nornickel Africa’s Chief Executive, says Nornickel’s termination of the agreement means that it will no longer be requiring the BCL Group to purchase its interest in the Nkomati joint venture, of which African Rainbow Minerals owns the other 50 percent. African Rainbow is owned by South African billionaire Patrice Motsepe. “We will continue to seek damages from BCL for the significant loss Nornickel has suffered as a result of BCL’s failure to honour its obligations. We will also continue our claim against the Government of Botswana in respect of its involvement in the reckless trading of BCL,” he said.
Marriott further pointed out that Nornickel delivered on all its obligations to the BCL Group. “We are dismayed by their unwillingness to engage in a constructive dialogue with a foreign investor. We have made efforts in good faith to arrive at a compromise, but they have so far proved futile. Sadly, different branches of Botswana’s government and BCL’s representatives failed to agree on the approach to resolving the dispute, and in spite of the announcements by top public officials, the dispute has not been settled,” explained Nornickel boss.
Macheal Marriot said the claims Nornickel are pursuing now are aimed at recovering the significant loss the company has suffered as a result of the contract breaches by BCL and Botswana Government. He further underscored that the termination of the agreement will enable his company to pursue its own strategy for its African assets. This strategy according to Marriot entails focusing on the company’s key assets in Russia.
He said further decisions regarding Nkomati will be based on market conditions and the asset development strategy. On the other hand BCL Liquidator Nigel Dixon Warren told WeekendPost on Thursday that termination of the contract has a little or no bearing in their dealings as a company under liquidation. “We never agreed with the contract, that is why we were in dispute, we don’t agree to what they were demanding” he said.
Dixon Warren however said Nornickel‘s claim to seek damages from BCL for the significant loss it suffered as a result of BCL’s failure to honour its obligations might be given an ear by the Court of Appeal. “We understand they will approach the court of appeal and if they win, we will then register them as creditors like any other creditor demanding a share from the company‘s assets subject to its value after liquidation is complete,” he said.
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.
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.
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.