BCL Liquidator, Nigel Dixon-Warren says that creditors owed money by BCL are most unlikely to be paid their dues for a longer period of time if they will be paid at all.
Responding to a question asked by Councillor Moses Serite at the SPEDU Stakeholder engagement meeting on Monday, the BCL Liquidator noted that payment of creditors can only be made once the operations have been bought, but even then it will still take a considerable amount of time as there are operation costs involved. Serite had wanted to know when will former BCL employees be paid their terminal benefits as well as when will creditors’ payment be settled.
“Creditors are not going to be paid for a very long time if at all they will be paid,” said Dixon Warren. As for terminal benefits he said all terminal benefits have been paid, explaining that Government purchased the cost of former employees’ terminal benefits from its own accounts and it has since submitted a claim against BCL to recoup the money. This means that the Government of Botswana is one of the many creditors owed by BCL who will have to wait for much longer to be paid their dues.
The Liquidator who recently resigned from KPMG to focus on winding up BCL advanced that BCL mine should have long been put on Care and Maintenance a long time ago as it was “mining blind” without a proper mining plan which led to serious operational challenges. “BCL should have long been restructured as it was inefficient and it had serious safety problems,” he said.
In the Report of the Provisional Liquidator released last year in October, Dixon-Warren stated that the mine failed because it was unable to pay its debts with the main identified reasons for the company’s insolvency being very poor and inadequate governance and management. He reported that the BCL Board exercised poor governance over strategic direction and executive management “coupled with a weak, incompetent and inexperienced management team that was unable to adapt to changing market circumstances.”
A further cause of failure was the pursuit of the Polaris II Strategy considering the technical and financial capability within the BCL Group, Dixon-Warren had reported, explaining further that “many if not all of the investment decisions made under this strategy were of doubtful financial benefit to BCL and were questionable.”
The Liquidator noted in his report that BCL liquidation is the largest in Botswana’s history and that the BCL Group was Botswana’s second largest “private sector” employer after Debswana Diamond Company. On Monday, Dixon-Warren revealed that because BCL is a “different animal” that requires a lot of money to buy and operate, many potential investors have come and go unable to make a practical offer.
He stated that todate, 180 interested parties have registered their interest but no offer had been made. He took the opportunity to clarify issues surrounding the Dubai based investor whose announcement that it was doing due diligence on BCL had brought a little flicker of hope that finally the mine will be purchased and be reopened. Emirates Investment House, a consortium of United Arab Emirates (UAE) businessmen from Dubai were expected to pump billions of Pula into BCL but the deal did not fall through.
“The reality is that to buy and re-open BCL will need approximately 5 billion pula and any interested party should be able to demonstrate from the onset that they have or they have access to that amount of money,” said Dixon-Warren. He explained that when the company showed interest, he conducted his own investigation on the company and his finding indicated that the investor has no financial capacity to operate BCL. He said that he made his view known but was advised to continue the process with the company and allow them time to conduct due diligence on the operation, wasting time and money. “We have wasted a lot of public money on the process,” he said.
“I do not want BCL to be run by an inexperienced investor because BCL is fundamentally a different animal. This is a base metal operation and people make it as though I am sitting on a diamond mine,” said the Liquidator. However, he has revealed that currently they are two interested parties and that in due course, he will advertise an Expression of Interest (EOI) for interested parties to submit their proposals demonstrating their capability to purchase and operate BCL mine again.
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.