Former President Ian Khama has said the tussle between him and his successor President Mokgweetsi Masisi can only be resolved if the two of them can face each other privately as former friends without involvement of third parties.
Khama said the two of them can talk from where they left off before giving him the baton on the 1st of April 2018. “The best outcome will be to continue where we left off: where I thought we had a good understanding and relationship,” Khama told this publication, adding that, “You do not need a mediator.” He stressed that all that President Masisi was to do, was to simply make a single phone call and call him for a private meeting where they can talk one-on-one on their own.
“I have never said to a single one that when he [Masisi] say let’s meet, I would say ‘no, I do not want to meet you’. All he needs is a call, that is if he thinks there is something that he wants to talk about,” said Khama. While Khama claims that the fallout between them started when President Masisi refused him access to the presidential aircraft in April and refusal of State media coverage, impeccable sources in the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) also claim that the watershed moment was Masisi’s choice for Vice President.
They contend that Khama wanted Masisi to appoint his (Khama) brother, Tshekedi Khama the Vice President, not Slumber Tsogwane. Khama had also wanted to have control of government after leaving office, sources indicated. Asked to comment on the believe that the two fell out as a result of President Masisi going against the principles of a secret meeting he allegedly had with him before handing over the baton, Khama became cagey.
Among the things reportedly discussed involved the appointment of Vice President and other key figures in the upper echelons of power. “We had a lot of secret meetings discussing many things,” Khama said. When asked to comment specifically on the meeting where they discussed how President Masisi was to rule, Khama said: “I will never tell him how to run the country; otherwise he would not be doing some of the things he is doing now. Masisi is the president, he can do what he likes, hiring and firing. And some of them I do not like. But as a former president, I know some things people will not like. So, nna I am just going on with my life.”
Khama noted that if the differences were not going to be resolved, “Nna ke siame. Even now I am not asking for aircraft. I am flying privately. If they do not want to help me, fine, I will go my own way, they go their own way, and we will see where it takes us.”
KHAMA’S ALLEGED MASTER PLAN TO OUST MASISI
On the allegations that Khama was doing everything possible to oust the President Masisi, Khama confirmed that he was also alive to the said allegations against him. The allegations purport that Khama has three strategies in place, the first one being to have a Member of Parliament to table a motion of no confidence against President Masisi in November. If the plan does not succeed, Khama will then wait for next year’s Special Congress where he will have his younger brother Tshekedi to challenge President Masisi.
BDP constitution provides that during an election year, the party meets for the purpose electing party president. If this plan also fails, Khama will then resort to the formation of a break-away party. It is believed that he will not be fully active in the party during its early stages but he will be pulling the strings from behind. While he confirmed knowledge of the said allegations against himself, Khama said people were just accusing him for anything that other people are planning against Masisi.
“I do not know why anything that has been planned against Masisi by other people they say it is me. Why should they say it is me because other people are planning them?” he asked. Asked what will be his reaction should those alleged to be planning to oust President Masisi succeed, Khama said he will not comment on that. He said that whatever strong feeling he has against President Masisi, he will not talk about it.
This publication can confirm that the new party which will start next year July with at least six members of parliament plus one former MP as of now. Two MPs, who recently won BDP primaries elections [names known to this publication], will assume the positions of President and Secretary General.
I’M NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR MABAILA’S ACTIONS
Khama has also highlighted that he should not be blamed for Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Mogoditshane parliamentary Tshephang Mabaila’s actions which led to him being slapped with a five year suspension from the party last week after being found guilty by the Disciplinary Committee. “I am not responsible for Mabaila’s actions. I have not sent him to do whatever he was alleged to have done,” he said.
Mabaila was last week slapped with a five year suspension by the party’s disciplinary committee. When it was put to Khama that there was a strong allegation that he influenced the young man to misbehave because of his tussle with President Masisi, Khama said, “If people out there choose to support me it does not mean that I send them to misbehave. The issue is between me and Masisi,” said Khama.
Immediately after the verdict was delivered, Mabaila disclosed that he will stand as an independent candidate in Mogoditshane and cursed those who conspired to have him suspended especially Alfred Madigele and Setlhomo Lelatisitswe. “I am happy that Madigele lost the primary elections in Molapowabojang-Mathethe and I am hoping that Lelatisitswe will lose in Boteti East,” he said.â€¨
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.”