Botswana Development Corporation (BDC), government investment arm this week delivered impressive sets of financial results for the year ended June 2018, mirroring a good dispatch of their ongoing five-year strategy which commenced in 2015.
The strategy was set-up by Managing Director Bashi Gaetsaloe who took over the reins in 2014 at a time when the corporation was embattled with corruption, maladministration and failing investments. At a stakeholder briefing hosted by the company in Gaborone this Thursday, Gaetsaloe observed that the 2018 trading period continued to be a challenging year economically both in domestic and global markets explaining that BDC was not spared from this toughened trading environment.
“However in the midst of these external factors, we have continued to make progress. We are now in the fourth year of our five-year strategy and we remain committed to our ambition to double the business in this strategic period,” he said. During the period under review the BDC Group raked in Profit-before-Tax of P187 million, mirroring an increase of 39 percent when gauged against P135 million registered in the prior year ended June 2017. The Group recorded a hike of 5 percent in asset base ending the trading year at 4.1 billion pula compared to 3.9 billion pula in 2017.
BDC also realised growth in interest income of 20 percent to P42million against P35 million reported during the prior year. When delivering these sets of financial figures BDC acting Chief Finance Officer Maranyane Makhondo said this was a reflection of the expected growth in debt assets, a milestone achieved in correlation with the corporation’s business strategy to rebalance the equity/debt asset profile.
“We successfully drove an increase in investment asset values at Group level with financial results for the year under review reporting an accumulative 5 percent year on year growth of Group assets to P4.1 billion,” reiterated Makhondo. Further zooming into the BDC Group’s financial highlights for the period under review indicates that income closed the year at P444 million against last year’s P403 million, reflecting a 10 percent growth year on year.
Company Profit before Tax increased by 18 percent to P244 million in 2018 from P206 million reported in 2017. Managing Director, Bashi Gaetsaloe shared that in addition to the reported financial results, his company also takes pride in the Moody’s Investors Service reaffirmation of their Baa2/Prime2 rating with a stable outlook.
“The rating agency recognised our strong liquidity and capital buffers, and assumption of a high probability of government support hence our issuer ratings entail a standalone credit profile of b1, which balances what Moody’s recognizes as a strong company solvency and liquidity position against a high concentration of strategic participation in large equity investments.”
Gaetsaloe further added that during the year 2018 BDC moved from equity investment to debt instruments with a view to align their portfolio composition to their investment mandate of just being financers and not operators “we shrunk our equity injections and hiked our debt instruments because our job is not to run businesses but just support, thus we took a deliberate stance to minimize our equity skates with a view to allow entrepreneurs , promoters and business owners to run these business so we have been moving with a small minority stake investment wave to archive this” he said.
When updating stakeholders on BDC’s investment portfolio Chief Investment Officer (CIO) Moatlhodi Lekaukau shared that the company has stretched its investment outlook with a view to expand its African footprint and diversity the corporation’s revenue streams and various market reach. He shared that the corporation has closed in on a first international deal as well as upcoming transactions both in East and West Africa.
Lekaukau revealed that in Nigeria BDC is 80 percent wrapping up a lucrative transaction that would see the corporation hold a significant stake in an undisclosed telecommunication company that operates consumer based mobile business. “We are excited about this transaction, the company is one of the top five in Nigeria, and we know the country hosts a large vibrant market so we a looking at impressive returns from this deal,” explained Lekaukau adding that an investment in the Ghana energy sector is also in the offing.
The Chief Investment Officer also shared that in Uganda, BDC will be investing in an oil refinery business, “we are cautious with this offshore investments, but they are key to our diversification strategy which seeks to expand our footprints into other vibrant and bigger markets and East Africa as well as West Africa presents that, especially in the energy and telecommunication sectors” said Lekaukau.
Commenting on these investments Managing Director Gaetsaloe added that BDC’s investments outside boarders of Botswana present a great opportunity for the company’s ambitions of being a window for Botswana’s economic aspiration. “Once we take a Botswana investment company outside our boarders we send a good image of Botswana’s economic capacity and ability, as we close these deals we create linkages with some of these companies to come and explore possible joint ventures here in Botswana with local companies as well as explore other potential business opportunities” said the BDC MD.
BDC’S FIVE- YEAR STRATEGY
Speaking to the five-year strategy Gaetsaloe explained that the strategy was bearing fruits. “We believe that our five-year strategy has delivery results, over the cause of the last four years we have returned BDC to profitability with cumulative profits of P784 million pula, paid off debt of P500 million and transferred P285 millions of listed stock to the public. We have also transferred business and assets worth over P300 million pula to local firms and Batswana, and reduced our loss making subsidiaries from nine to two. This are commendable sets of achievements,” he said.
During the last four year BDC approved P952 million to fund new projects and creating over 1200 new jobs. The government investment arm established a Reserved fund and an Investment Fund which are capitalized at over P230 million. “We have always wanted to have a buffer fund to accommodate possible shocks, that way our funders and lenders have confidence in our borrowings, to say if there was a shock to our income streams we would continue to meet our repayments obligations,” he said. Going forward, Gaetsaloe reiterated that BDC would be aligned directly to the national vision 2036 of achieving a high income economy for Botswana.
“We are a self-funding company that strives to pay-out an increasing dividend to our shareholder, being government, on year-on-year basis, we gather our funding by borrowing from local banks and capital market so that we can invest on commercial projects that drive industrialization, and create employment for Batswana,” he said.
BDC paid dividends to Botswana Government for the past three trading years since 2015 after a decade of loss making. “We raise funds, deploy fund and look after these funds to achieve shareholder value and for the year under review we have successfully driven growth across the business including significantly net worth by P700 million since 2014,” said Gaetsaloe.
In a classic and shocking case of disgrace and dishonour to this country, the law enforcement agencies are currently struggling to cover up a damaging and humiliating scandal of having conspired to forge the signature of a Palapye Chief Magistrate, Rebecca Motsamai in an unlawful acquisition of the much-publicised 2019 warrant of arrest against Isaac Kgosi, the former director of the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS).
The cloak-and-dagger arrest was led by the DIS director, Brigadier Peter Magosi supported by the Botswana Police, Botswana Defence Force (BDF), with the Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) which accused Kgosi of tax evasion, in the backseat.
Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) constituent members are struggling to reach an agreement over the allocation of wards for the imminent ward by-elections across the country.
Despite a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) and Alliance for Progressives (AP) are said to be active, but the nitty-gritties are far from being settled.
The eight bye-elections will be a precursor of a somewhat delayed finalisation of the brittle MoU. The three parties want to draw a plan on how and who will contest in each of the available wards.
This publication has gathered that the negotiations will not be a run off the mill because there is already an impasse between the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) which is a UDC constituent and AP (currently negotiating to join umbrella).
The by-elections joint committee met last week at Cresta President Hotel in a bid to finalise allocation but nothing tangible came out of the gathering, sources say.
The cause of the stalemate according to those close to events, is the Metsimotlhabe Ward which the two parties have set their eyes on.
In 2019, he ward was won by Botswana Democratic Party’s (BDP) Andrew Sebobi who unfortunately died in a tragic accident in February last year.
Sebobi had convincingly won by 1 109 votes in the last elections; and was trailed by Sephuthi Thelo of the UDC trailed him with 631 votes; while Alliance for Progressives’ Innocent Moamogwe got 371 votes.
Thelo is a BCP candidate and as per UDC norm, incumbency prevails meaning that the BCP will contest since they were runners up. On the other hand, AP has also raised its hand for the same.
“AP asked for it on the basis that they have a good candidate but BCP did not agree to that request also arguing they have a better contestant,” one UDC member confided to this publication.
Notwithstanding Metsimotlhabe Ward squabble, it is said the by-election talks are almost a done deal, with Botswana National Front (BNF) tipped to take Boseja South ward in Mochudi East constituency. Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) will be awarded Tamasane Ward in Lerala/Maunatlala constituency, sources say.
“But the agreement has to be closed by National Executive Committee (NEC),” emphasized the informant.
The NEC is said to have been cautioned not to back the wrong horse but rather rate with reason and facts.
UDC President, Duma Boko has told this publication that, “allocation is complete with two wards already awarded but with only one yet to be finalized,” he could not dwell into much details as to which party got what and the reasons for the delay in finalisation.
Chairperson of the by-elections committee, Dr. Phenyo Butale responded to this publication regarding the matter: “As AP we contested and as you may be aware we signed the MoU with UDC and BPF to collaborate on bye-elections. The opposition candidate for all bye-elections will be agreed by these parties and that process is still ongoing,” he said when asked if AP is interested on the ward and how far with the talks on bye-elections.
Butale, a former Gaborone Central Member of Parliament, who is also AP Secretary General continued to say, “As the chairperson of the bye-elections committee we are still seized with that matter. We should also do some consultations with the local structures. Once the process is complete we will issue a notice for now we cannot talk about the other two while the other is still pending the other one”.
Butale further clarified: “There is no such thing as AP and BCP not in agreement. It is an issue of signatories discussing and determining the opposition candidates across the three wards.”
Apart from the three wards, there are five more council wards that UDC is yet to allocate to cooperating partners.
FROM PALAPYE MEET: BPP CAUTION NEC MEMBERS
With the UDC cheerful from last weekend’s meeting in Palapye, the meeting however was very tense on the side of both BCP and BNF, with only BPP flexing its muscle and even lashing out.
BCP going into the meeting, had promised to ask difficult questions to the UDC NEC.
BCP VP and also acting Secretary General, Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang, presented their qualms which were addressed by UDC Chairperson Motlatsi Molapisi, informants say.
It is said Molapisi is fed up and concerned by some UDC members especially those in the NEC who ‘wash party’s dirty linen in public’.
Insiders say the veteran politician cautioned the NEC members that they “will not expel any party but individuals who tarnish the image of the UDC.”
It is not the first time BPP play a paternalistic role as it once expressed its discontent with BCP in 2020, saying it should never wash UDC linen in public.
At first it is said, BPP, the oldest political formation in Botswana, claims disappointment on BCP stance that UDC should be democratised especially by sharing their stand with the media. Again, BPP was not happy with BCP leader Dumelang Saleshando’s decision to air his personal views on social media regarding the merger of UDC party.
Botswana Police Service (BPS) Commissioner, Keabetswe Makgophe, has of late been dousing raging fires from various quarters of society following the infiltration of the police fingerprint system by the Directorate on Intelligence and Security (DIS), WeekendPost has learnt.
Fresh information gleaned from a number of impeccable sources, points to a pitiable working relationship between the two state organs. Cause of concern is the DIS continuous big brother role to an extent that it is now interfering with other institutions’ established mandates.
BPS which works closely with the DIS has been left exasperated by the works of the institution formed in 2008. It is said, the DIS through its Information Technology (IT) experts in collusion with some at BPS forensics department managed to infiltrate the Fingerprint system.
The infiltration, according to those in the know, was for the DIS to “teach a lesson” to some who are on their radar. It is said the DIS is playing and fighting dirty to win the fights they have lost before.
By managing to hack the police finger print system, a number of renowned businessmen and other politically exposed persons found their fingers in the system. What surprised the victims is the fact that they have never been charged of any wrongdoing by the police and they were left reeling in shock to learn that their fingers are on the data-base of criminals.
In fact, some of those who their fingerprints were falsely included in the records of those on the wrong side of law learnt later when other errands demanded their fingerprints.
“We learnt later when we had to submit and buy some documents and we were very shocked,” one politician who is also a businessman confided to this publication this week.
“We then learn that there are some fabricated criminality recorded for us, as to when did we commit those remained secret to the police, but then we had to engage our lawyers on the matter and that is when we were cleared,” said the politician-cum- tenderpreneur.
The lawyers have confirmed engaging the police and that the matters were settled in a gentlemen’s agreement and concluded.
All these happened behind the scenes with the police top brass oblivious only to be confronted by the irked lot, police sources also add. The victimized group who most of them have been fighting lengthy battles with the DIS read malice and did not blink when it was revealed that these were done by the DIS.
“And it was clear that they (DIS) are the ones in this dirty war which we don’t understand. Remember when we sue, it will be the Police at the courts not the DIS and that is why we agreed to a ceasefire more so they also requested that be kept under carpet,” said the victim.
Nonetheless, the Police through its spokesperson Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, briefly said: “we do not have any system that has been hacked.” On the other hand DIS mouthpiece Edward Robert was not in office this week to comment on the matter.
Reports however say DIS boss, Peter Magosi, who most of the victims accuse of the job, is said to have met his police counterpart Makgophe to put the matter to bed.
COVID-19 RAVAGES POLICE
As frontline workers, Police have not escaped the wrath of Covid-19. Already the numbers of those infected has reached the highest of high and they suggest that they be priorities on vaccine rollout.
“Our job is complicated, firstly we arrest including those who are non-compliant to Covid protocols and we go to accidents and many more. These put us at risk and it seems our superiors are not bothered,” said one police officer this week.
The cops further complain about that working spaces are small, as such expose them to contact the virus.
“Some tests positive and go for quarantine while the rest of the unit will be left without even test carried out. If at all the bosses are serious all the police officers should every now and then be subjected to testing or else we will be no more because of the virus,” added another officer based in Gaborone.
The government has since placed teachers on the priority list for the vaccines, it remains to be seen whether the police, who also man road blocks, will be considered.
“But our bosses should convince the country leadership about this, if not then we are doomed,” concluded a more senior officer.