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Khama chieftaincy under attack

Two senior ministers recently impressed upon President Mokgweetsi Masisi in a private meeting, persuading him to suspend former president Lt Gen Ian Khama from his chieftaincy, WeekendPost has established.  

Information gathered by this publication reveals that the two cabinet ministers, who also served under Khama’s administration; Minister of Defence, Justice and Security Shaw Kgathi and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Relations Unity Dow want Khama to stop going around the country addressing Kgotla meetings. There are reports that is former president is allowed to go on the loose, he will harm the ruling party’s electoral prospects given the influence he still possess countrywide.

Khama broke ranks with the ruling party few months after leaving office, with some believing that he is determined to outcome of 2019 general elections in key constituencies. In a recent interview with WeekendPost the former president said a Kgotla is open to everyone including but not limited to government officials, landboards, politicians and Dikgosi (in which he fall) to address meetings.

 But when he left office on the 1st April this year, Khama made it very clear that he will be not be going to take the role of a Kgosi but will rather work closely with Dikgosi in Serowe and consult as in when the need arises. After stepping down and leaving public office as State President Ian Khama continued his work from Office of the former President continuing mostly with his charity work. He entrusted the longtime serving Kgosi Sediegeng Kgamane to continue as Bangwato regent.   

According to one of the local newspapers in 1973, Kgosi Seepapitso IV was suspended for one year because he was purported to have on several occasions behaved in a manner deemed unbecoming for a Kgosi and was perceived as a poor performer in the execution of his chieftaincy functions.  The Chieftainship Act of 1966 conned the Chiefs to the authority of the state as well as adumbrating their functions in the tribe.

Of particular significance was the authority which is vested in the President to recognize the designation of the Chief by the tribe and to suspend and dispose him following a judicial commission of enquiry. Subsequent legislation substantially consolidated the power of the President and the responsible Cabinet Minister. In spite attempts by successive governments to emasculate it, the institution of Bogosi has stayed vibrant and is still revered highly today by the people and it is here to stay.

Kgosikgolo Kgafela II was de-recognised by Lebonaamang Mokalake, Minister of Local Government on 28th October 2011 as provided for in the Bogosi Act of 2008. Kgafela was being de-recognised for having (a) frustrated Government efforts to consult and communicate with Kgatleng community on developmental issues that affect the community; (b) abused his powers by ordering Dikgosana in Kgatleng to ignore and frustrate Ministers’ efforts in their bid to hold meetings in Kgatleng District; and (c) incited Dikgosana to be insubordinate and refuse to carry- out lawful orders from Ministers.

It is worth noting that Bangwato’s chieftaincy has been under the hands of regiments since 1925. According to Bogosi Act of 2008 article 7, appointment of Motshwarelela Bogosi (1) is arranged where a person designated as Kgosi under section 6 is for any reason unable to assume Bogosi, or where a person recognized as a Kgosi is unable to take up the functions of that office, it shall be the duty of the tribe or the person so recognized as Kgosi, as the case may be, to designate another member (in this Act referred to as "Motshwarelela Bogosi") of the tribe according to customary law, or the established norm and practice of such tribe.  

(2) Subject to the provisions of section 9, the Minister shall, by notice published in the Gazette, appoint the person designated in terms of subsection (1) to be Motshwarelela Bogosi. (3) A person appointed as Motshwarelela Bogosi of a tribe shall exercise and perform to the exclusion of all other persons, the functions of the Kgosi.

Withdrawal of recognition from Kgosi, as stipulated in the Act, the Minister may, by notice published in the Gazette, at any time, withdraw recognition from a Kgosi if- (a) the Kgosi has been deposed and his or her appeal against the deposition has been dismissed or the period allowed for appealing has elapsed without an appeal having been brought; or (b) the Minister considers it to be in the public interest to withdraw recognition.

Both Ministers are said to be taking revenge on the former President Ian Khama. Unity Dow who lost elections in Kgatleng West was later brought in by President Khama and appointed Minister of Education. It is reported that Dow and Khama fell out at some point after the latter labeled the former incompetent as Ministry of Education was further sinking into woes. Bobonong Member of Parliament Kgathi who is also the Minister of Defence, Justice and Security is also not on good terms with his former boss.

Kgathi lost BDP primary elections to Francisco Kgoboko but got a lifeline as this week party politburo ordered a re- run. At the launch of Francisco Kgoboko Trust a few months back leading to the primary elections in Mabolwe, in Bobirwa Khama narrated how Kgathi tried to force him to cancel his acceptance to officiate at the event which was well attended. Former President who spoke at length against Kgathi, said he was shocked to hear the minister ordering him to cancel his participation at the launch.

He went on to label Kgathi power hungry and disrespectful to him as Bangwato Kgosikgolo. According to Khama Kgathi was also blocking Dikgosi from attending the launch. He went on to say a constituency is not a personal property as it is open to contest, words that did not sit well with Kgathi. While contacted for comment Kgathi said he has no idea about the said meeting and directed this reporter to Dr Dow before hanging up.

For his part the former President Ian Khama told WeekendPost that he overheard the developments but will not dwell much on them because they are baseless. He described Kgathi as someone bitter after the Mabolwe incident where Khama officiated. “Those people are bitter “, said former president Ian Khama. Continued efforts to get a comment from government spokesperson John Dipowe proved futile since his phone rang unanswered the whole week.

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Mowana Mine to open, pay employees millions

18th January 2022
Mowana Mine

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.”

Negotiated estate is P35, 563,000

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Councilors’ benefits debacle-savingram reveals detail

18th January 2022

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.

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Households spending to drive economic recovery

17th January 2022

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.”

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