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Gov’t pays for reckless P450 million Norilsk deal

The decision by parliament to authorise P450 million debts by BCL to Norilsk mine was misinformed as the whole acquisition process was negotiated using under hand tactics, Parliamentary Accounts Committee (PAC) was told this week.

In a heated session of the PAC on Wednesday, it was disclosed that as per the South African laws, BCL was not eligible to buy stake in Nkomati mine under the financial state it was in. “BCL was supposed to demonstrate that they can buy the mine, they could operate and it could responsibly close it down, how did the approval to buy the 50 percent shares come about looking at the financial position of the BCL then?” PAC member Dithapelo Keorapetse asked.

It has emerged that the whole 50 percent share process with Norilsk was “fraud and a raw deal” as the Director General for minerals in South Africa never recommended to the South African minerals minister that BCL should buy the stake, but shockingly the deal was approved by the Botswana Minister anyway. What perturbed the PAC most was the fact that BCL finances were on sick bed hence there was no need to enter into the deal.

Noticing the piercing questions from PAC members especially from Keorapetse, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Mineral Resources Green Technology and Energy Security, Cornelius Dekop conceded that indeed they acted recklessly. “I must be the first to admit that we were very trigger happy to have come to parliament when negotiations were not concluded and have not done due diligence, we shouldn’t have come here for the money, we should have waited,” he revealed.

It has also surfaced that while negotiations were ongoing, Norilsk, surprisingly sat on the BCL board until three days before the deal was concluded. Another factor that raised eyebrows was the initial price for the 50 percent shares deal – a whopping 150 US Dollar which doubled to 450 US Dollar by the time BCL bought the stake.  

“We had to pay the amount because following the provisional liquidation of BCL, Norilsk filed for Arbitration in London Court and at the same time there were issues about their share owners agreement in South Africa and the original figure was P277million. So the government avoided the arbitration route as it felt reputation and diplomatic reasons were paramount hence opted for an out of court settlement,” said Dekop. As it stands the P450 million is yet to reach Norilsk since the government is playing wait and see game, another case involving Norilsk is looming in South Africa.

DIXON WARREN GOT P1.1 BILLION

The PAC session also revealed that to this day the government of Botswana has already paid P1.1 billion to take care of BCL liquidation. “The money paid to the liquidator is for the liquidation process including salaries of 400 of our employees and operating cost of the assets,” Dekop responded to PAC member Polson Majaga. “We are happy with the work of the liquidator what we are unhappy about is the amount he is telling us the liquidation process will be take. We are looking at influencing that period,” said Dekop.

GOVERNMENT, DE BEERS NEGOTIATIONS YET TO TAKE OFF

The negotiations between Government and De Beers over diamond mining in Botswana have not started in earnest according to Dekop. The government says it is looking at different negotiating points and the minerals policy committee has looked at those and they are finalizing them. However the accounting officer could not reveal any further details. “I should not get into the strategies but we have looked at all the aspects and we have all the options but for the comfort of everybody we will negotiate in good faith,” he said.

There has been concerns from certain quarters that De beers is enjoying monopoly hence the government should consider other players who will bring good offers to the table. From Dekop’s remarks it was nonetheless clear that De-Beers will be given priority because of the relationship it has established with government.

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Khan: Boko, Masisi are fake politicians

18th January 2021
Masisi & Boko

While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.

Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.

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Ookeditse rejects lobby for BPF top post

18th January 2021
LAWRENCE-OOKEDITSE

Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.

Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.

Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”

“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.

He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.

He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.

According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.

There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.

Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.

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BDP cancels MPs retreat

18th January 2021
President Masisi

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.

“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication.
The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.

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