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Gaetsaloe’s zigzag exit from BDC

Botswana Development Corporation (BDC) this week announced they have parted ways with their Managing Director Bashi Gaetsaloe. BDC Head of Strategy & Corporate Affairs, Boitshwarelo Lebang issued a brief statement confirming Gaetsaloe has left the organisation to pursue other opportunities.

 “BDC confirms the departure of Bashi Gaetsaloe from the employ of BDC as Managing Director to pursue other opportunities with immediate effect, the Corporation wishes to thank Bashi for his contribution to BDC and wish him well in his future endeavours,” reads a statement from Ms Lebang. Gaetsaloe who was appointed to the helm of the Government investment arm in April 2014, then a cash strapped organization with a stake in liquidating companies and failed national investment projects.

Gaetsaloe developed a 5 year strategy to return the wholly state owned government entity to profitability. Just half way through into the strategy, the former KPMG boss announced an over P200 million profit as of June 2016, making 100% growth in profits compared to over P100 million registered in 2015. However fast forward towards the completion of his strategy the BDC shareholder, Botswana Government is of the view that in a nutshell Bashi’s leadership failed to support the national course of industrialization and generation of new jobs.

Weekend post has established that Bashi Gaetsaloe was asked to resign, terminating his stay at BDC just two months before his contracts ends in March this year. “It’s what you call constructive dismissal. They asked him to resign otherwise they were going to fire him,” shared a highly placed source this Thursday.  This publication has established that contrary to public perception that the wholly owned government arm was making skyrocketing profits and satisfying its shareholder with dividend pay-out since Gaetsaloe’s takeover, Government is not convinced.

“His main undoing was that he had not made any money for BDC. He was just selling off what he termed non-performing assets and divesting from some minor industries then declaring revenue generated from these transactions as profits,” said a source close to the BDC Board.

DID HE RESIGN OR WAS HE PUSHED?

Gaetsaloe resigned from BDC on 14 January 2019 but was later slapped with a dismissal letter on 15 January 2019. He had written a resignation letter dated 14 January 2019 to Minister of Investment Trade and Industry, Bogolo Kenewendo but was asked to wait on the resignation.

In his letter Gaetsaloe indicated that, “I am proud of the work I have accomplished at BDC over the past 5 years.   I have led my team to claw this business back from imminent collapse to the successful enterprise we are today.  The business I inherited in 2014 had been losing about P100M a year for 5 years, was cashflow insolvent, with a heavily contaminated loan book, and had a reputation in tatters.

In 5 short years, I have built a strong, ethical and profitable business with cumulative profits of P784 Million, a fully funded pipeline, and over 1200 new jobs created.  While there is still much to accomplish, I am proud of what has been accomplished to date and believe these successes belong to all of BDC’s stakeholders.”

He had wanted to serve a three (3) months’ notice period working closely with the Board to ensure a smooth transition and handover period. “I believe very much in the role that BDC can and should play in the future growth and success of this country.  I am honored for the opportunity to lead this company and stand ready to assist in any way that I can to ensure its continued growth,” he said.

WHERE TO FOR GAETSALOE?

Bashi Gaetsaloe who couldn’t not be reached for comment is said to be heading for Barclays Bank top post, one of the country‘s leading money spinning corporate organisation. Though no statement released yet from the bank, Gaetsaloe is rumoured to be joining Barclays as Managing Director replacing Reinette Van Der Merwe whose contract is coming to an end.

Commercial banks have been under pressure from their regulator Bank of Botswana to localise their executive managerial positions, particularly CEO/MD positions. Observers submit that with Van de Merwe, a South African, leaving there is no way Barclays would replace her with another expatriate so they are under pressure to appoint a local.

“He didn’t make money for BDC, that’s why Public Accounts Committee rejected his P1 billion cash injection capital proposal, just disposing off some assets and declaring that as profits does not spark confidence, so government couldn’t risk that, Luckily for him he had already started negotiations with Barclays, of which we are yet to witness closing a deal,” said another source close to the echelons of power.

IN COMES LEKAUKAU?

Reports further suggest that the likely candidate to replace Gaetsaloe is former Standard Chartered Chief Executive Officer Moathodi Lekaukau. He joined BDC last year as Chief Investment Officer. A,t BDC‘s financial results presentation late last year Moathodi Lekaukau who is one Botswana‘s highly qualified and experienced corporate executives shared that the investment House has already closed in on 1 international deal, which entails acquiring a significant stake in a telecommunications company in Nigeria.

"This is a consumer based mobile operator business in a much bigger economy, the company is one of the top five in Nigeria, so we are looking at impressive returns here," shared Lekaukau. The former Standard Chartered Bank Chief Executive continued to reveal that his investment drive landed him in Ghana where BDC is closing in on another lucrative deal with a leading company in Ghana’s energy sector " the deal is almost 80 % complete, these are high revenue companies in bigger markets with vibrant economic activity, so we have no doubt we will get satisfactory return on investment".

He further shared that the state owned enterprise is also currently conducting some due diligence in Uganda with a view to invest in the country's emerging oil industry "we are in talks with a Businessman in Uganda who is looking at setting up an oil refinery plant" highlighted Lekaukau.

The former captain and Stanchart house resigned from Botswana’s oldest bank in 2017, he is viewed by commentators and observers as the most likely to take up the driving seat at Fairscape Precinct. Recent financial results for the year ended June 2018 indicate that BDC Group registered a 39 % increase in Profit before Tax after raking in P187 million compared to P135 million realised in 2017. The Group’s asset base grew by 5 % to P4.1 billion from P3.9 billion last year. At company level BDC gathered P244 million in Profit before Tax compared to P206 million recorded in 2017, mirroring 18 % increase.

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Details emerge in suspected Batswana poachers in Namibia

28th June 2022
suspected Motswana poacher arrested

New details about a suspected Motswana poacher arrested in Namibian and his accomplice who is on the run were revealed when the suspect appeared in court this week.

The Motswana Citizen who was shot and wounded by Namibia’s anti poaching unit is facing criminal charges under criminal case number (CR NO 10/06/2022) which was registered at the Divundu Police Station in the Mukwe constituency of the Kavango East Region on 10 June 2022.

It is alleged that a patrol team laid an ambush after discovering a giraffe’s fresh carcass in a snare wire and hanging biltong.  According to the Charge Sheet, the suspect Djeke Dihutu, aged 40 years, is charged with contravening and transgressions of Nature Conservation Ordinance andcontravening Immigration Act 07 in Mahango Wildlife Core Area, Bwabwata National Park. Dihutu’s first court appearance was on the 17th of June 2022, Rundu and it was postponed to the 07 July 2022. He is currently hospitalized in hospital under Police Guards.

Commenting on this latest development, the Namibian Lives Matter Movement National Chairperson Sinvula Mudabeti applauded the Namibian Anti Poaching Unit for its compliance with what it called the universal instrument on the Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials adopted by the United Nations General Assembly resolution 34/169.

“We are aware that the duties of the police carry a great deal of risk, but our police has shown that they have a moral calling and obligation to protect even foreigners suspected of serious crimes on Namibian soil,” said Mudabeti.

According to him, whereas the Botswana Police Service, the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) and Directorate of Intelligence Service (DIS) have “very low moral ethics, integrity, accountability and honesty, the Namibian security agencies has shown very high levels of ethical leadership in the discharge of their duties even under duress.”

He said Namibian’s anti poaching unit has exercised one very important value, that is, the use of force only when it is reasonable and necessary. Mudabeti said this is in harmony with international best practices as enshrined in Article 2 of the UN instrument on law enforcement conduct, “In the performance of their duty, law enforcement officials shall respect and protect human dignity and maintain and uphold the human rights of all persons.

Our police have protected the life of a Botswana poacher and accorded him dignity, which is very foreign to our Botswana counterparts,” he said. He said article 3 of the same instrument above, calls for Law enforcement officials to use force only when strictly necessary and to the extent required for the performance of their duty.

“This provision emphasizes that the use of force by law enforcement officials should be exceptional; while it implies that law enforcement officials may be authorized to use force as is reasonably necessary under the circumstances for the prevention of crime or in effecting or assisting in the lawful arrest of suspected offenders, no force going beyond that was used by our Police,” he said.

Furthermore, Mudabeti said, whereas the universally accepted norm of the law of proportionality ordinarily permits the use of force by law enforcement, it is to be understood that such principles of proportionality in no case should be interpreted to authorize the use of force which is disproportionate to the legitimate objective to be achieved.

“Our police have used force proportional to the situation at hand. Great work indeed! Article 6 urges law enforcement officials to ensure the full protection of the health of persons in their custody and, in particular, shall take immediate action to secure medical attention whenever required,” he said.

Mudabeti said the Botswana poacher was immediately taken to hospital whereas the Nchindo brothers who were captured on Namibian soil, beaten, tortured and executed while pleading to be taken to the hospital we left to die.

“The Namibian Doctor gave evidence in court that Sinvula Munyeme’s lungs showed signs of life (during the autopsy) and that he could have survived if he was accorded immediate medical assistance in time but was left to die while BDF soldiers looked and possibly ignored his cry for help,” he said.

Mudabeti said unlike in Botswana where there are no clear separation of powers between the BDF, Botswana Police Service, Department of Intelligence and their Directorate of Public Prosecutions,” we have a system that allows for checks and balances and allows our people and foreigners who are found on the wrong side of the law to be accorded the right to a fair trial.”

He said Botswana citizens are treated with dignity when apprehended in Namibia and not assaulted, tortured and executed. “We are a civilized country that respects international law in dealing with non-Namibian criminals. The Namibian Police have not mistreated the Botswana poacher but have given him the benefit of the doubt by allowing due processes of the law to be followed,” he said.

He added that, “We are a peace loving nation that has not repaid Botswana by the evil that Botswana has done to Namibia by killing more than 37 innocent and unarmed Namibians by the trigger happy BDF.” He concluded that, “Our acts of mercy in arresting Botswana citizens should never be mistaken for cowardice.”

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Gov’t, Unions clash over accommodation

28th June 2022
accomodation

The government has reportedly taken a decision to terminate provision of pool housing and subsidy for civil servants as it attempts to trim the public service wage bill.

This emerges in a dispute that is currently before the Labour Office headquarters lodged by unions representing thousands of civil servants across the country. This publication understands that the decision to cease providing pool housing and rental subsidy for public officers is part of proposals that government put on the table during its negotiations with public service unions in order for it to adjust salaries.

A letter from Labour Office addressed to the Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) shows that the directorate is cited as the First Respondent. The letter is titled, “Dispute lodged: Cessation of provision of pool housing and subsidy for pubic officers.”

“This serves as a notification and requirement to a mediation hearing,” the letter informed DPSM. According to the letter, the Botswana Teachers Union (BTU), Botswana Sectors of Educators Trade Unions (BOSETU) Botswana Nurses Union (BONU) and Botswana Land Board &Local Authorities &Health workers Union (BLLAHW) who lodged the complaint are cited as the Applicant.

“Please come for mediation hearing. The hearing will be conducted by Mr Lebang. The hearing is scheduled for date/time 29th June 2022, 09: 00HOURS at Block 8 District Labour Office, Gaborone. Please bring all relevant documents,” reads the letter in part.

According to a document described as a proposal paper on the negotiations on salaries and other conditions of employment of public officers by the employer (government), the government did not only propose to stop providing accommodation to civil servants but also put a number of proposals on the table.

The proposal papers states that the negotiations (which have since been concluded) cover three government financial years; 2022/23, 2023/24 and 2024/25. The government proposed an across the board salary adjustments as follows; 3% for the financial year 2022/23 effective 1st April 2022, across the board salary adjustment of 3.5% for the financial year 2023/24 effective 1st April 2023 subject to performance of the economy and across the board salary adjustment of 4% for the financial year 2024/25 effective 1st April 2024 subject to performance of the economy.

The government also proposed phasing out of retention and attractive (Scarce Skills) Allowance with a view to migration towards clean pay, renegotiate and set new timelines for all outstanding issues contained in the Collective Labour Agreement, executed by the employer and trade unions on the 27th August 2019, to ensure proper sequencing, alignment and proper implementation.
The government also proposed to freeze public service recruitment for the 2022/23 financial year and withdraw the financial equivalence of P500 million attached to vacancies from Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs).

Another proposal included phasing out of commuted overtime allowance and payment of overtime in accordance with the law and review human resource policies during the financial year 2022/23, 2023/24 and 2024/25.

The government argued that its proposals were premised on affordability and sustainability adding that it was important to underscore that the review of salaries and conditions of service for public officers was taking place at a time when there were uncertainties both in the global and domestic economies.

“Furthermore there is need to ensure that any collective labour agreement that is concluded does not breach the fiscal deficit target of 4% of GDP,” the proposal paper stated. The proposal paper further indicated that beyond salary adjustments, the Government of Botswana is of the view that a more comprehensive consideration “must be taken on the issue of remuneration in the public service by embracing principles such as total rewards compensation which involves taking a fully comprehensive and holistic approach to how our organization compensates employees for the work.”

The proposal paper also noted that, “Clearly, the increase in salaries and changes to other conditions of service which have monetary consequences will further increase the proportion of the budget taken by salaries, allowances and other monetary based conditions of services.”

“The consequential effect would be a reduction of the portion that can be used for other recurrent budget needs (e.g. maintenance of assets, consumable supplies such as medicines and books) and for development projects,” the proposal states.

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BPF NEC probes Serowe squabbles

28th June 2022
BPF

Opposition Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) National Executive Committee will in no time investigate charges party members worked with the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) membership to tip the scales in favour of the latter for Serowe Sub-council Chairmanship in exchange for deputy seat in a dramatic 11th hour gentleman’s deal, leaving the ruling party splinter under the political microscope.

In a spectacular Sub-council election membership last Thursday, the ruling BDP’s Lesedi Phuthego beat Atamelang Thaga with 14 votes to 12 for Serowe Sub-council Chairmanship coveted seat and subsequently the ruling party’s councilor Bernard Kenosi withdrew his candidacy in the final hour for the equally admired deputy chair paving the way for Solomon Dikgang of BPF, seen as long sealed ‘I scratch your back and you scratch mine’ gentleman’s agreement between the contenders.

Both parties entered the race with a tie of votes torn between 12 councillors each, translating for election race that will go down to the wire definitely. But that will not be the case as two BPF councilors shifted their allegiance to the ruling party during the first race for Chairmanship held in a secret ballot and no sooner was the election concluded then the ruling party answered back by withdrawing its candidacy for the deputy chair position to give BPF’s Dikgang the post on a silver platter unopposed.

BPF councilor Vuyo Notha confirmed the incident in an interview on Wednesday, insisting the party NEC was determined to “investigate the matter soon”. “During the race for the Chairmanship, two more BPF voted for alongside the ruling party membership. It was clear Dikgang voted alongside the BDP as immediately after the vote for Chairmanship was concluded, Kenosi withdraw his candidacy to render Dikgang unopposed as a payback,” Notha added.

As for the other vote, Makolo ward councilor will not be drawn for the identity preferring instead to say: “BPF NEC will convene all the councilors to investigate the matter soon and we will take from there.” Notha will also not be drawn to conclude may be the culprit councilors could have defected to the ruling party silently.

“If they are no longer part of us they should say so and a by-election be called,” was all he could say. As it stands now, the law forbids sitting Councilors and Parliamentarians from crossing the floor to another party as to do so will immediately invite for a new election as dictated by the law. Incumbent politicians will therefore dare not venture for the unknown with a by-election that could definitely cost their political life and certainly their full benefits.

Notha could also not be dragged to link the culprit councilors actions to BPF Serowe region Chairperson Tebo Thokweng who has silently defected to the ruling party and currently employed by the party businessman and former candidate for Serowe West Moemedi Dijeng as PRO for the highly anticipated cattle abattoir project in Serowe.

“As for Thokweng he has not resigned from the party but from the region’s chairmanship,” he said. WeekendPost investigations suggest Thokweng is the secret snipper behind the recruitment drive of the votes for the elections and is determined to tear the party dominance in Serowe and the neighbouring villages asunder including in Palapye going forward.

This publication’s investigations also show BPF’s Radisele and UDC’s Mokgware/Mogome councilors are under the radar of investigations for the votes-themselves associated with the workings and operations of Thokweng.

“NEC will definitely leave no stone unturned with their investigations to get into the bottom of the matter. Disciplinary actions will follow certainly,” Notha concluded, underscoring the need to toe the party line to set a good precedent. For the youthful councilor, the actions of his peers has set a wrong precedent which has to be dealt with seriously to deter future culprits.

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