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Morupisi flexes muscles on Khama

Permanent Secretary to the President Carter Morupisi has ordered six employees who have been serving former President Ian Khama for several years to withdraw from the former President’s office and have since been redeployed to the State House effective 1st November 2018.

The affected parties worked at Khama’s official residence and his retirement office.  As per the country’s constitution the former President is entitled to have two workers at his residence but before he left office, Morupisi and then Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi allowed Khama to choose amongst his staff whom he will be going with.  PSP, using his authority had also seconded a third staff member to Khama’s residence so that if one goes on leave then they would still be two employees left at the post.


Just last week the three ladies, working at Khama’s residence received letters re-calling them and indicating that they have been re- deployed to State House.  Khama was not informed of the Office of the President (PSP) decision, he told this publication this week.   “Reference is made to our letter of Ref: OPC 4/201/546 600 I (27) dated 29th March 2018 in which you were re- deployed on secondment to Office of Former President III. Your re- deployment is hereby withdrawn with effect from 31st October 2018.

You are by this letter, re- deployed to State House, with effect from 1st November 2018. The re- deployment does not have any effect on your present salary scale and notch,” reads the letter. The other three employees include two supporting staff from Khama’s office and a gardener. The letters were signed by Chief Administration Officer, in the Ministry of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration, Thuso Ramodimoosi acting under instructions of the PSP, Morupisi.

Khama, who spoke to this publication this week regarding the recent development confirmed that he was never informed of the decision, and neither has he been assured that the staff will be replaced.  “These people are just being nasty. We are understaffed at the moment yet they went on to take more people from my office including the Administration Officer,” said Khama.

“Even though that’s a government house where I am staying, I work with people I know. I wouldn’t agree seeing people I don’t know inside my house,” said Khama who is known to very cautious with security details. Khama said owing to recent events, things are getting out of hand, and has since referred the matter to his lawyers.

“It needs legal intervention because it is unreasonable what they are doing. This was an agreement so if they wat to break the agreement they have to come back to me even though they have the authority to do so. It is not procedural in government to do so, certainly not the government I left. People are consulted,” said Khama. 

PROSPECTS OF RECONCILING WITH MASISI COLLAPSE

The stand- off between the Khama and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi was described last week as being irretrievable now. With all the events that have been unfolding between the two recently, the man in the middle is none other than Carter Morupisi.  A reconciliation exercise that was engineered by a delegation of BDP elders seems to be hitting a hard rock with the battle continuing unabated.  

Sources close to the development indicate that Masisi and Khama had reached a deal when the former was appointed Vice President. This deal was concerned mostly with the appointment of number two when Masisi ascends to power.  But the moment Khama cleared his desk and walked out of the State House, Masisi emerged from the woods to become his own man.   

Khama had understood that he will continue enjoying access to military aircrafts even after leaving the presidency, as provided for in the Green Book, which entails the benefits, that former president is entitled to. Part of these benefits, were amendments which Masisi was part of, as him and other ruling party MPs championed ‘Khama tailored’ retirement package.   

Masisi however is having none of that. To aggravate Khama’s fury, Masisi fired Director General of the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS), Colonel Isaac Kgosi the once feared man and Khama’s trusted ally. Kgosi was a key man, whom according to insiders would have been used by Khama to continue exerting influence on Masisi’s administration.

If that was not enough, Masisi replaced Kgosi with Brigadier Peter Magosi, Khama’s dye-in-the-wool enemy. Magosi was fired by Khama from the military in 2016 under cloudy circumstances. Masisi was flexing his muscle on key government institutions. This has frustrated Khama. DIS has been a strategic institution for Khama. Since its inception, the spy organ has been marred by controversy — ranging from illegal activities to unaccountability. But Khama remain steadfast in protecting it and its director. 

The former President Khama had tried to downplay his frustration with Masisi, but recently he has revealed it all. Khama has already given a lot of interviews to private media and every time he is more than willing to go at length about his relationship. Khama however revealed that his bond with Masisi is no more.

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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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