A group calling itself, BPOPF Watchdogs, with a tagline “Our Pension Our concern” has emerged to tackle “the unfortunate incidences of the Botswana Public Officers Pensioners Fund (BPOPF) financial scandals emanating from deceitful and misappropriation of funds.”
The BPOPF Watchdogs, which is scheduled to meet teachers who are in Gaborone for marking has already written letters to the BPOPF and other stakeholders. In a letter written to the Chief Executive Officer of BPOPF, BPOPF Watchdogs notes that the Pension Fund has a list of local and offshore fund managers legally sanctioned to invest on behalf of the fund, consequently bringing dividends that are supposed to benefit members as interest.
The coming to life of this pressure group is linked to the ongoing tussle between BPOPF and Capital Management Botswana (CMB). The Group is convinced that the information coming out is not complete and wants to get to the bottom of the matter. It has already engaged international organisations and local partners to gather information which they will then share with the public about the status of the BPOPF.
It is now public knowledge that the BPOPF invested the sum of P477 million in the Botswana Opportunity Partnership (BOP) to be managed by CMB in terms of the BOP agreement between the two. CMB then disposed of the investment and only paid P50 million to BPOPF. The BPOPF has tried to tell the court that a balance of P400 million is missing.
The tussle between the two entities is motivated by the urge to regain assets which are estimated at a value of close to P477 million. Shareholders of CMB are accusing Non-Bank Financial Institution Regulatory Authority and Botswana Public Officers Pension Fund (BPOPF) of using false information to motivate the court to liquidate CMB. “CMB was appointed by BOP as its fund manager and CMB, in its capacity as General
Partner delegated responsibility for the management of BOP to CMB in its capacity as fund manager. BPOPF made a capital commitment1 to contribute up to BWP500,000,000 to BOP. In 2015 and 2016 various drawdown notices were issued to BPOPF by CMB on behalf of BOP for the purpose of investing in certain identified private equity investments and for agreed fund expenses and fees. BPOPF duly paid the aforesaid drawdown notices amounting in aggregate to some BWP470,000,000.00.”
According to the BPOPF Watchdogs Coordinator, Mpho Maruping, “For almost the past ten years, Botswana public service employees have endured painful financial period, some years passed without salary hikes, while others had insignificant salary increase. Public service employees had to take focus to their pension fund since workers had no salary increment. Some public service workers had to make additional contributions in order to increase their revenue.”
In a letter to the BPOPF CEO, Maruping notes that though the BPOPF has Board of Trustees consisting of representatives drawn from various segments; the employer representation, the trade representation, the management representation and the independent personnel – The representation has a fiduciary role of ensuring that people’s money are used prudently and by taking responsible decision on disbursement of money for investment.
He further states that there are allegations that some Board of Trustees have connections with fund managers. Unfortunately there had been corruption cases involving some fund managers which and led to marathon legal battles, and that does not boarder well with the owners of the fund, being bona-fide members.
“There have also been lapses in administration duties of BPOPF duties, inability to issue out members’ individual financial statements and no prompt official report has been rendered out. Members are quite aware that their accrued capital used for investment, however in the mist of these funds misappropriation news, BPOPF recently lost shares they purchased from one comp0any listed in the stock market. This had caused more uncertainties amongst members.”
He further notes that “BPOPF WATCHDOGS” vows to raise alarm and play an oversight role to sensitize that public on dutiful responsibility of the Board of Trustees and fair usage of people’s pension. “Additional, allegations are rampant that retired public service employees often face difficulties in getting their dues due to administration lapse of readily available finances. Painful the tax instituted against the total accrued is unjustified.
For retirees to get their benefits the employer gathers historical information of the retirees’ assets and insures they are properly taxed. Though taxes are regulated by Botswana Unified Revenue Services we have strong conviction that pensioners should be exempted from tax, or if any, pensioners should be charged a low percentage.” Maruping notes that they have a plan of action that we intend to execute without fail, which is attached herein to appreciate our plan of actions.
“We would like your organizations to assist us carry-out our campaign diligently without fail. Your organization will be remembered for being paragon of change and protection of poor public service employees from deceitful and corrupt characters.” Maruping wants the Watchdogs to meet BPOPF management “pertaining to disturbing news concerning Botswana Public Officers Pension Fund.
We strongly believe that as members we are entitled to protect our accrued capital and ensure that the ideas of BPOPF are fulfilled. Additionally, our watchdog roles encompass the obligation to ensure that those entrusted with the responsibility of protecting our valued assets perform their tasks dutifully.” He says their first objective is to ensure that our social insurance is in safe hands, therefore our initiative to engage in truth-finding actions which include visitation to BPOPF Management.
What the Watchdogs want to establish:
State of choppies shares Ensuring our funds are in safe hands State of retired public service employees Members individual financial statements BPOPF Fund managers both local and offshores Allegations o9f misappropriation and corruption cases
Former Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Member of Parliament for Gaborone North, Haskins Nkaigwa has confirmed his departure from opposition fold to re-join the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).
Nkaigwa said opposition is extremely divided and the leadership not in talking terms. “They are planning evil against each other. Nothing much will be achieved,” Nkaigwa told WeekendPost.
“I believe my time in the opposition has come to an end. It’s time to be of value to rebuilding our nation and economy of the country. Remember the BDP is where I started my political journey. It is home,” he said.
“Despite all challenges currently facing the world, President Masisi will be far with his promises to Batswana. A leader always have the interest of the people at heart despite how some decisions may look to be unpopular with the people.
“I have faith and full confidence in President Dr Masisi leadership. We shall overcome as party and nation the current challenges bedevilling nations. BDP will emerge stronger. President Masisi will always have my backing.”
Nkaigwa served as opposition legislator between 2014-2019 representing Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) under UDC banner. He joined BMD in 2011 at the height public servant strike whilst Gaborone City Deputy Mayor. He eventually rose to become the mayor same year, after BDP lost majority in the GCC.
Nkaigwa had been a member of Botswana National Front (BNF), having joined from Alliance for Progressives (AP) in 2019.
Botswana has received assistance worth over P100 million from Japanese government since 2019, making the latter of the largest donors to Botswana in recent years.
The assistance include relatively large-scale grant aid programmes such as the COVID-19 programme (to provide medical equipment; P34 million), the digital terrestrial television programme (to distribute receivers to the underprivileged, P17 million), the agriculture promotion programme (to provide agricultural machinery and equipment, P53million).
“As 2020 was a particularly difficult year, where COVID-19 hit Botswana’s economy and society hard, Japan felt the need to assist Botswana as our friend,” said Japan’s new Ambassador to Botswana, Hoshiyama Takashi.
“It is for this reason that grants of over P100 million were awarded to Botswana for the above mentioned projects.”
Japan is now the world’s fourth highest ranking donor country in terms of Official Development Assistance (ODA).
From 1991 to 2000, Japan continued as the top donor country in the world and contributed to Asia’s miracle economic development.
From 1993 onwards, the TICAD process commenced through Japan’s initiative as stated earlier. Japan’s main contribution has been in the form of Yen Loans, which are at a concessional rate, to suit large scale infrastructure construction.
“In Botswana, only a few projects have been implemented using the Yen Loan such as the Morupule “A” Power Station Rehabilitation and Pollution Abatement in 1986, the Railway Rolling Stock Increase Project in 1987, the Trans-Kalahari Road Construction Project in 1991, the North-South Carrier Water Project in 1995 and the Kazungula Bridge Construction Project in 2012,” said Ambassador Hoshiyama.
“In terms of grant aid and technical assistance, Japan has various aid schemes including development survey and master planning, expert dispatch to recipient countries, expert training in Japan, scholarships, small scale grass-roots program, culture-related assistance, aid through international organizations and so on.”
In 1993, Japan launched Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) to promote Africa’s development, peace and security, through the strengthening of relations in multilateral cooperation and partnership.
TICAD discuss development issues across Africa and, at the same time, present “aid menus” to African countries provided by Japan and the main aid-related international organizations, United Nations (UN), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Bank.
“As TICAD provides vision and guidance, it is up to each African country to take ownership and to implement her own development following TICAD polices and make use of the programmes shown in the aid menus,” Ambassordor Hoshiyama noted.
“This would include using ODA loans for quality infrastructure, suited to the country’s own nation-building needs. It is my fervent hope that Botswana will take full advantage of the TICAD process.”
Since then, seven conferences where held, the latest, TICAD 7 being in 2019 at Yokohama. TICAD 7’s agenda on African development focused on three pillars, among them the first pillar being “Accelerating economic transformation and improving business environment through innovation and private sector engagement”.
“Yes, private investment is very important, while public investment through ODA (Official Development Assistance) still plays an indispensable role in development,” the Japanese Ambassador said.
“For further economic development in Africa, Japan recognizes that strengthening regional connectivity and integration through investment in quality infrastructure is key.”
Japan has emphasized the following; effective implementation of economic corridors such as the East Africa Northern Corridor, Nacala Corridor and West Africa Growth Ring; Quality infrastructure investment in line with the G20 Principles for Quality Infrastructure Investment should be promoted by co-financing or cooperation through the African Development Bank (AfDB) and Japan.
Japan also emphasized the establishment of mechanisms to encourage private investment and to improve the business environment.
According to the statistics issued by Japan’s Finance Ministry, Japan invested approximately 10 billion US dollars in Africa after TICAD 7 (2019) to year end 2020, but Japanese investment through third countries are not included in this figure.
“With the other points factored in, the figure isn’t established yet,” Ambassador Hoshiyama said.
The next conference, TICAD 8 will be held in Tunisia in 2022. This will be the second TICAD summit to be held on the African continent after TICAD 6 which was held in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2016.
According to Ambassador Hoshiyama, in preparation for TICAD 8, the TICAD ministerial meeting will be held in Tokyo this year. The agenda to be discussed during TICAD 8 has not yet been fully deliberated on amongst TICAD Co-organizers (Japan, UN, UNDP, the World Bank and AU).
“Though not officially concluded, given the world situation caused by COVID-19, I believe that TICAD 8 will highlight health and medical issues including the promotion of a Universal Health Coverage (UHC),” said Hoshiyama.
“As the African economy has seriously taken a knock by COVID-19, economic issues, including debt, could be an item for serious discussion.”
The promotion of business is expected to be one of the most important topics. Japan and its partners, together with the business sector, will work closely to help revitalize private investment in Africa.
“All in all, the follow-up of the various programs that were committed by the Co-Organizers during the Yokohama Plan of Actions 2019 will also be reviewed as an important item of the agenda,” Ambassador Hoshiyama said.
“I believe that this TICAD follow-up mechanism has secured transparency and accountability as well as effective implementation of agreed actions by all parties. The guiding principle of TICAD is African ownership and international partnership.”
Directorate on Intelligence Services (DIS) Director General, Brigadier Peter Magosi is said to be hell-bent and pushing President Mokgweetsi Masisi to reshuffle his cabinet as a matter of urgency since a number of his ministers are conflicted.
The request by Magosi comes at a time when time is ticking on his contract which is awaiting renewal from Masisi.
This publication learns that Magosi is unshaken by the development and continues to wield power despite uncertainty hovering around his contractual renewal.