This week former president, Lt Gen Seretse Khama Ian Khama confirmed to WeekendPost that he is ready to testify in court against Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) in a landmark case where Kamal Jacobs is challenging President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s legitimacy as party president.
The case was withdrawn last week after Jacobs’s attorneys sought with the court to go and make amendments in their filling affidavits and they have since refiled this week. Former president Khama is expected to testify in court on whether he did resign as BDP president and therefore opening a vacancy to be filled by his then Vice President in Government, Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi or not. Masisi has since became the state President but Kamal is only questioning his status as party leader.
When presenting the Khama enjoiner proposal, Kamal Jacobs’ lawyer, Kagisano Tamocha asked court to postpone the matter to allow for consultation with Khama to physically come to court to testify against Masisi and BDP or at least pen an affidavit in support of his application questioning Masisi’s legitimacy as party president.
The former President says his lawyers advised him that indeed it is the BDP who should write the affidavit and provide proof of any written letter if indeed he resigned. He confirmed that failure to do so the court will have to ask him to come and testify, a move which he confirmed that he is prepared to take. “My client is not saying Masisi is not the president of the BDP but that we want clarity as to who is the president, that’s all,” Jacobs’s attorney told WeekendPost outside court.
He continued to state that they only want the court to assist interpret the BDP constitution on the party presidency which is in dispute while adding that they contend that former state President Khama did not resign his position as party president and therefore he still holds the position. “We have never been in contact with Khama to enjoin in the matter but we thought his coming in would assist tell the court with regard to whether he resigned or not because the presidency of Masisi can only come where there is a vacancy. When there is a vacancy, the VP takes over as party president. We believe the last president to be elected party president was and still is Khama at Ave Maria during a party congress in Gaborone,” Tamocha observed.
When Jacobs’ lawyer asked Justice Christopher Gabanagae to postpone the matter to allow for Khama to be enjoined, he briefly and out rightly ruled against the application. “So the refusal to enjoin Khama in the case by the judge Chris Gabanagae then killed everything together,” Tamocha highlighted. He was also worried that the application was objected to by the Judge without giving Khama an opportunity to state whether he would like to be enjoined into the proceedings or not.
According to Jacobs’ lawyer, they also believed that Masisi would either have to withdraw his immunity under section 41 of the country’s constitution to allow for a proper determination of the question brought forth in relation to the presidency of the BDP. He said this bearing in mind that one of their prayers to court were seeking that the sitting of Committees of the Central Committee including the Committee headed by the 4th respondent (Peter Siele) in terms of article 33 of the constitution of the 1st respondent, and the appeals committee is not proper because they have not been appointed by a substantive president, whom they believe it should have been Khama and not Masisi.
“This was one of our strongest points for our case. But the tactic didn’t work for Khama to enjoin as it was prematurely dismissed.” When opposing Jacobs' request for a postponement, BDP lawyer Basimane Bogopa of Bogopa, Manewe, Tobedza and Company said Jacobs had known all along that Khama was integral to his case. And therefore should have made his mind on whether to continue with the case or not and not delay case just to withdraw at last minute.
His partner, Busang Manewe also pointed out that Jacobs and his lawyer did not get proper advice as they have all known that the president of country cannot be sued both in his official and private capacity which include as acting as BDP president per section 41 (1) of the constitution of Botswana. The BDP submitted that the case be dismissed and costs be awarded against Jacobs. However he promised that the case will be re-instituted and will come back stronger and with more solid points.
In the matter BDP was cited as the 1st respondent, 2nd respondent being President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi while the 3rd is Peter Siele in his capacity as BDP Electoral Board chairperson. The 4th respondent is Kingsley Sebele the Appeal’s Board chairperson, and the 5th is the regional chairperson for BDP Southern region; while Thapelo Matsheka the Lobatse parliamentary primary winner is the 6th respondent with Khama enjoined in lately as the 7th respondent.
The election for the BDP parliamentary candidate in Lobatse was contested by Matsheka who garnered 1,376 votes, the incumbent Lobatse legislator Sadique Kebonang only got 1,073 votes while Jacobs amassed only 1,219 votes. Another candidate Lone Bome attained 66 votes, Patrick Kebailele got 218 and Ahmed Shabeer Ishmail only attained 317 votes cast.
Mowana Copper Mine in Dukwi will finally pay its former employees a total amount of P23, 789, 984.00 end of this month. For over three years Mowana Copper Mine has been under judicial management. Updating members, Botswana Mine Workers Union (BMWU) Executive Secretary Kitso Phiri this week said the High Court issued an order for the implementation of the compromise scheme of December 9, 2021 and this was to be done within 30 days after court order.
“Therefore payment of benefits under the scheme including those owed to Messina Copper Botswana employees should be effected sometime in January latest end of January 2022,” Kitso said. Kitso also explained that cash settlement will be 30 percent of the total Messina Copper Botswana estate and negotiated estate is $3,233,000 (about P35, 563,000).
Messina Copper was placed under liquidation and was thereafter acquired by Leboam Holdings to operate Mowana Mine. Leboam Holdings struck a deal with the Messina Copper’s liquidator who became a shareholder of Leboam Holdings. Leboam Holdings could not service its debts and its creditors placed it under provisional judicial management on December 18, 2018 and in judicial management on February 28, 2019.
A new company Max Power expressed interest to acquire the mining operations. It offered to take over the Mowana Mine from Leboam Holdings, however, the company had to pay the debts of Leboam including monies owed to Messina Copper, being employees benefits and other debts owed to other creditors.
The monies, were agreed to be paid through a scheme of compromise proposed by Max Power, being a negotiated payment schedule, which was subject to the financial ability of the new owners. “On December 9, 2021, Messina Copper liquidator, called a meeting of creditors, which the BMWU on behalf of its members (former Messina Copper employees) attended, to seek mandate from creditors to proceed with a proposed settlement for Messina Copper on the scheme of compromise. It is important to note that employee benefits are regarded as preferential credit, meaning once a scheme is approved they are paid first.”
A savingram the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development sent to Town Clerks and Council Secretaries explaining why councilors across the country should not have access to their terminal benefits before end of their term has been revealed.
The contents of the savingram came out in the wake of a war of words between counselors and the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development. The councilors through the Botswana Association of Local Authorities (BALA) accuse the Ministry of refusing to allow them to have access to their terminal benefits before end of their term.
This has since been denied by the Ministry. In the savingram to town councils and council secretaries across the country, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development Molefi Keaja states that, “Kindly be advised that the terminal benefits budget is made during the final year of term of office for Honorable Councilors.” Keaja reminded town clerks and council secretaries that, “The nominal budget Councils make each and every financial year is to cater for events where a Councilor’s term of office ends before the statutory time due to death, resignation or any other reason.”
The savingram also goes into detail about why the government had in the past allowed councilors to have access to their terminal benefits before the end of their term. “Regarding the special dispensation made in the 2014-2019, it should be noted that the advance was granted because at that time there was an approved budget for terminal benefits during the financial year,” explained Keaja. He added that, “Town Clerks/Council Secretaries made discretions depending on the liquidity position of Councils which attracted a lot of audit queries.”
Keaja also revealed that councils across the country were struggling financially and therefore if they were to grant councilors access to their terminal benefits, this could leave their in a dire financial situation. Given the fact that Local Authorities currently have cash flow problems and budgetary constraints, it is not advisable to grant terminal benefits advance as it would only serve to compound the liquidity problems of councils.
It is understood that the Ministry was inundated with calls from some Councils as they sought clarification regarding access to their terminal benefits. The Ministry fears that should councils pay out the terminal benefits this would affect their coffers as the government spends a lot on councilors salaries.
Reports show that apart from elected councilors, the government spends at least P6, 577, 746, 00 on nominated councilors across the country as their monthly salaries. Former Assistant Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Botlogile Tshireletso once told Parliament that in total there are 113 nominated councilors and their salaries per a year add up to P78, 933,16.00. She added that their projected gratuity is P9, 866,646.00.
A surge in consumer spending is expected to be a key driver of Botswana’s economic recovery, according to recent projections by Fitch Solutions. Fitch Solutions said it forecasts household spending in Botswana to grow by a real rate of 5.9% in 2022.
The bullish Fitch Solutions noted that “This is a considerable deceleration from 9.4% growth estimated in 2021, it comes mainly from the base effects of the contraction of 2.5% recorded in 2020,” adding that, “We project total household spending (in real terms) to reach BWP59.9bn (USD8.8bn) in 2022, increasing from BWP56.5bn (USD8.3bn) in 2021.” According to Fitch Solutions, this is higher than the pre-Covid-19 total household spending (in real terms) of P53.0 billion (USD7.8bn) in 2019 and it indicates a full recovery in consumer spending.
“We forecast real household spending to grow by 5.9% in 2022, decelerating from the estimated growth of 9.4% in 2021. We note that the Covid-19 pandemic and the related restrictions on economic activity resulted in real household spending contracting by 2.5% in 2020, creating a lower base for spending to grow from in 2021 and 2022,” Fitch Solutions says.
Total household spending (in real terms), the agency says, will increase in 2022 when compared to 2021. In 2021 and 2022, total household spending (in real terms) will be above the pre-Covid-19 levels in 2019, indicating a full recovery in consumer spending, says Fitch Solutions. It says as of December 6 2021 (latest data available), 38.4% of people in Botswana have received at least one vaccine dose, while this is relatively low it is higher than Africa average of 11.3%.
“The emergence of new Covid-19 variants such as Omicron, which was first detected in the country in November 2021, poses a downside risk to our outlook for consumer spending, particularly as a large proportion of the country’s population is unvaccinated and this could result in stricter measures being implemented once again,” says Fitch Solutions.
Growth will ease in 2022, Fitch Solution says. “Our forecast for an improvement in consumer spending in Botswana in 2022 is in line with our Country Risk team’s forecast that the economy will grow by a real rate of 5.3% over 2022, from an estimated 12.5% growth in 2021 as the low base effects from 2020 dissipate,” it says.
Fitch Solutions notes that “Our Country Risk team expects private consumption to be the main driver of Botswana’s economic growth in 2022, as disposable incomes and the labour market continue to recover from the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.” It says Botswana’s tourism sector has been negatively impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic and the related travel restrictions.
According to Fitch Solutions, “The emergence of the Omicron variant, which was first detected in November 2021, has resulted in travel bans being implemented on Southern African countries such as South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Eswatini. This will further delay the recovery of Botswana’s tourism sector in 2021 and early 2022.” Fitch Solutions, therefore, forecasts Botswana’s tourist arrivals to grow by 81.2% in 2022, from an estimated contraction of 40.3% in 2021.
It notes that the 72.4% contraction in 2020 has created a low base for tourist arrivals to grow from. “The rollout of vaccines in South Africa and its key source markets will aid the recovery of the tourism sector over the coming months and this bodes well for the employment and incomes of people employed in the hospitality industry, particularly restaurants and hotels as well as recreation and culture businesses,” the report says.
Fitch Solutions further notes that with economies reopening, consumers are demanding products that they had little access to over the previous year. However, manufacturers are facing several problems. It says supply chain issues and bottlenecks are resulting in consumer goods shortages, feeding through into supply-side inflation. Fitch Solutions believes the global semiconductor shortage will continue into 2022, putting the pressure on the supply of several consumer goods.
It says the spread of the Delta variant is upending factory production in Asia, disrupting shipping and posing more shocks to the world economy. Similarly, manufacturers are facing shortages of key components and higher raw materials costs, the report says adding that while this is somewhat restricted to consumer goods, there is a high risk that this feeds through into more consumer services over the 2022 year.
“Our global view for a notable recovery in consumer spending relies on the ability of authorities to vaccinate a large enough proportion of their populations and thereby experience a notable drop in Covid-19 infections and a decline in hospitalisation rates,” says Fitch Solutions. Both these factors, it says, will lead to governments gradually lifting restrictions, which will boost consumer confidence and retail sales.
“As of December 6 2021, 38.4% of people in Botswana have received at least one vaccine dose. While this is low, it is higher than the Africa average of 11.3%. The vaccines being administered in Botswana include Pfizer-BioNTech, Sinovac and Johnson & Johnson. We believe that a successful vaccine rollout will aid the country’s consumer spending recovery,” says Fitch Solutions. Therefore, the agency says, “Our forecasts account for risks that are highly likely to play out in 2022, including the easing of government support. However, if other risks start to play out, this may lead to forecast revisions.”