The Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) has met the October 18th deadline set by the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) to show course why they should not be suspended from the organisation. But in their response signed by the part secretary general, Gilbert Mangole, the BMD is defiant, hostile and promising “a fight to the bitter end.”
“We again place on record that the BMD does not accept the suspension conveyed by your letter as, not only is its purport unlawful, it is also entirely baseless,” reads the response from BMD. In the response the Sidney Pilane led party says “it raises technical grounds vitiating the decision to suspend and possibly expel the BMD from the UDC.”
Gilbert Mangole put forward a foundation to the response: “It is public knowledge that the decisions to suspend and expel were long made in informal bilateral meetings between the BCP and the BNF, and that the meetings past and the forthcoming meetings as well as correspondence entered into are mere formalities to give the appearance of some process, however illegal.”
Raising what he calls technical grounds, Mangole hinges into the UDC constitution which he says governs its affairs , he states that the founding members of the UDC are the BMD, the Botswana National Front (BNF) and the Botswana People’s Party (BPP). As for the Botswana Congress Party (BCP), Mangole is expressly clear that they are not a member of the UDC. “The BCP sought membership of the UDC…by process of negotiation.
Terms of their entry into membership of the UDC, including a new constitution and the division of constituencies, were agreed subject to all four parties executing written Memorandum of Agreement. A Transitional Team on which all four parties were to have equal representation was charged to incorporate a few changes that had been made to the Constitution drafted by the Stream and to draft the Memorandum of agreement aforesaid,” writes Mangole.
According to Mangole, the BCP expressly refused to participate in the work of the Transitional Team, which proceeded without the BCP and prepared an agreement aforesaid. “Documentary proof of the BCP’s refusal and of the existence of the written Agreement we have in our possession and will employ in the event of what seems to be certain litigation that will follow any attempt by you to implement decisions hostile to the BMD which you have already taken,” he writes to Duma Boko, the President of the UDC.
Mangole further claims that BCP’s refusal to participate in the work of the Transitional Team, and to sign the Agreement aforesaid, made it impossible to follow the constitutional process and the process required by the Societies Act which would have resulted in the BCP becoming a member in law of the UDC. The BMD secretary general says his president, Pilane described the process in detail in a presentation he made to the first meeting of the informal “NEC” of the UDC which he attended following the Movement’s Bobonong Congress. “Accordingly, the BCP is not and has not, at any time, become a member of the UDC.”
Mangole and his colleagues at the BMD are of the view that “the BCP may in consequence, not attend any lawful meetings of the UDC in the future nor participate in any decisions that the UDC might take. It need hardly be mentioned that no decision made by the UDC in the past, including the decision to suspend the BMD from the UDC made on 25 September 2018, in the presence of representatives of the BCP and in which they participated is lawful.”
He writes, “The BCP’s presence and its participation by representation at the meeting of 25 September 2018 during which the decision to suspend the BMD was taken vitiates any and all decisions made at that meeting.” Mangole’s letter further indicates that the presence of the BCP by representation in any future meetings of the UDC and its participation in those meetings and decisions made thereat will vitiate those meetings and all the decisions they may take.
BMD CLAIMS SUPPORT FROM BPP
Further in their response the BMD states that the BPP was represented at the meeting of 25 September 2018 at which the decision to suspend the BMD, “and to require us to show cause, was made.” “The BPP inform us that they had not been invited to that meeting, nor had they noticed that it was intended to make decisions conveyed by your letter of suspension dated 26 September 2018 at the meeting.
The BPP further inform us that Otlaadisa Otlaadisa, who may have been present at the meeting of 25 September 2018, and who may participated in the decisions in that meeting made, including the decision to suspend the BMD and to require us to show cause, was not authorized to attend that meeting and had not been given authority to support those decisions on behalf of the BPP.” According to Mangole, the BPP maintains that they are opposed to all the decisions which were made at the meeting of 25th September 2018.
BMD QUESTIONS THE NEC COMPOSITION
The BMD is also questioning the structure that met on 25 September 2018 and took decisions adverse to the BMD. Mangole posits that the structure that met on that date is not a structure of the UDC by reason, inter alia, of its composition and the manner by which it came into existence. “That it is loosely described as the NEC of the UDC does not make it so as that is a matter of law.”
“Accordingly, the “NEC” that met and took the decisions it did on 25 September 2018, and may do so in future, is not a structure of the UDC and was not and is not authorized to make decisions for and of the UDC.” Mangole and his team further question the quorum of the “NEC”, “Even if the structure that met and made the decisions it did on 25 September 2018 was a lawful structure of the UDC, which it was not then and is not now and will, without more, not be in the future, the absence of the BMD and the BPP rendered the meeting of 25 September 2018 no-quorate.”
Therefore, Mangole writes, “the BMD was, on 25 September 2018 and remains, a member of the UDC and was and is entitled to be invited to and to participate in meetings of and to participate in decisions that the UDC makes.” He states that there is no lawful basis for not inviting the BMD to UDC meetings. “The deliberate decision to not invite the BMD to the meeting of 25 September 2018 would, were that meeting lawful, vitiate that meeting and the decisions it took.” The BMD is of the view that it was suspended without due process albeit there are no grounds for suspension because no evidence substantiating the accusations has been furnished “a written request notwithstanding and that makes it impossible to answer meaningfully.”
BMD DEFENDS PILANE
Mangole also takes time defending Sidney Pilane against the allegations levelled against him. He says the president of the BMD has not, at anytime and anywhere, made any divisive and or toxic/ pronouncements as alleged. “Our president has not made any pronouncements out of turn, nor has he done anything that required the sanction and authority of the UDC without such authority.”
“Our president has not painted the alleged or any other picture of the UDC, nor has he ever said or done anything adverse to the UDC,” writes Mangole. The BMD also deny charges that Pilane disparaged the UDC, and that he has been uncooperative. They further indicate that Pilane has not tarnished or put the name of the UDC into disrepute.
Mangole writes that the BMD has honoured all bilaterals requested of them. “We did with the BCP in respect of Maun West and Francistown West, and we did with the BPP as concerns Francistown West. The BNF has never asked us for a bilateral. What they have done was request us to meet with them to negotiate who, between the BMD and the BNF, should present parliamentary candidates in Moshupa-Manyana and Lentsweletau Mmopane constituencies.
This was not an invitation to hold a bilateral; it was one to re-open negotiations to divide constituencies when the process had long been concluded with those constituencies being allocated to the BMD. Only BCP had sought Lentsweletau Mmopane but yielded to the BMD.” Mangole says all accusations levelled against them as a party and those against their president are without substance.
In conclusion the BMD secretary general says, “The reasons for suspending the BMD, and contemplating its expulsion, are false and contrived, and are an unlawful stratagem to steal BMD constituencies.” He sayd the the BCP and the BNF July 2018 conferences both separately but conspiratorially resolved on unlawful strategies to steal BMD’s constituencies from it.
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.”
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.
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.”