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Govt has to pronounce official position of EVMs

The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) will officially kick start preparing for next year’s crucial general election with registration process bringing the 3rd of September until the 11th of November 2018. With only a few months left before 2019 general elections, it is necessary for government to make an official pronouncement on the use of the controversial Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).

This is in the interest of the nation in more ways than one. First, it is necessary for IEC itself to know well in time the method of voting they will use in order to adequately prepare for the elections. Secondly, the citizens, whom these elections are meant for, should have trust in the entire process, and making last minute decisions would not help in terms of delivering free and credible elections.  

President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s administration has on more than two occasions hinted at the possibility of reversing the introduction of EVM but they are yet to make an official pronouncement on their position. The debacle and the suspicions involving the EVM seem to be lurking around without meaningful progress or consensus on the matter. It is important to note that elections are a very sensitive process and should be treated with care and caution – something we have managed to do as a country since 1965.

We must learn from the past failures and avoid these hiccups going forward. In 1999, Festus Mogae had to invoke the state of emergence constitutional provision because of some casual approach by government in the election process. What would be necessary for Masisi government do to, in order to reverse the controversial amendment to the Electoral Act will be parliament intervention through another amendment. Of course Masisi has the necessary majority to make this decision and he should do it in the interest of the nation.

Experience from other jurisdiction that held elections recently teaches us that there are better ways to deliver election results quicker, even without using an EVM. IEC should take a leaf from their methods, one of them, is doing the counting at polling stations and sending results to the central station for tallying. It has proved to be efficient and effective. Instead of pursuing the EVMs, it should have been necessary for government to consider discarding their current arrangement were the counting takes place at a central point. This has been the major cause of delays in releasing election results.

It seems the EVM case is still far from being heard and it will drag a little longer before the courts. Botswana Congress Party (BCP), through its lawyers seeks to argue that the Electoral Act as amended to introduce EVMs for voting is unconstitutional. It is also urging the Court to declare that EVMs violate the fundamental democratic principles of transparency and openness which are a pre- requisite for elections.

The BCP further argues that EVMs can be tampered with and therefore unsafe to be used for choosing a government. The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has on the 23rd March 2017 delivered a notice to abide by the decision of the Court indicating that the IEC shall not oppose the court case and will do as directed by the Court. With Masisi having committed to revive the All Party Conference, it is necessary that these forum is used to map a way forward before it is too late. The earlier the better if we are to have another free and fair election, in which the citizens have trust in the entire process.

Next week August 25th Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) will go to its crucial primary elections which were postponed a week ago amid allegations of its system having been hacked or tempered with. This will pave way for the 2019 general elections which have already raised a lot of controversies and the citizens are prepared to reject the outcome of the elections especially if the EVM will be imposed on them.

Recently we have witnessed bloodshed in the neighboring Zimbabwe where people did not accept the outcome of the elections where the Sunday's inauguration of Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa was halted after a legal challenge by the opposition against the election result. MDC leader Nelson Chamisa says he has evidence to show that he was cheated out of the 30 July presidential vote. His party says the poll was marred by "mammoth theft and fraud", but the electoral commission insists that there was "no skullduggery".

It is our view that, election matters are too sensitive to be left to government or MPs alone to decide. Actually, they are not the right people to decide. It is the public which has the right to decide the manner in which they would elect their government. That is the basis of democracy.

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Jewellery manufacturing plant to create over 100 jobs

30th January 2023

The state of the art jewellery manufacturing plant that has been set up by international diamond and cutting company, KGK Diamonds Botswana will create over 100 jobs, of which 89 percent will be localized.

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Investors inject capital into Tsodilo Resources Company

25th January 2023

Local diamond and metal exploration company Tsodilo Resources Limited has negotiated a non-brokered private placement of 2,200, 914 units of the company at a price per unit of 0.20 US Dollars, which will provide gross proceeds to the company in the amount of C$440, 188. 20.

According to a statement from the group, proceeds from the private placement will be used for the betterment of the Xaudum iron formation project in Botswana and general corporate purposes.

The statement says every unit of the company will consist of a common share in the capital of the company and one Common Share purchase warrant of the company.

Each warrant will enable a holder to make a single purchase for the period of 24 months at an amount of $0.20. As per regularity requirements, the group indicates that the common shares and warrants will be subject to a four month plus a day hold period from date of closure.

Tsodilo is exempt from the formal valuation and minority shareholder approval requirements. This is for the reason that the fair market value of the private placement, insofar as it involves the director, is not more than 25% of the company’s market capitalization.

Tsodilo Resources Limited is an international diamond and metals exploration company engaged in the search for economic diamond and metal deposits at its Bosoto Limited and Gcwihaba Resources projects in Botswana.  The company has a 100% stake in Bosoto which holds the BK16 kimberlite project in the Orapa Kimberlite Field (OKF) in Botswana.

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Global CEOs Back Plan to Unlock $3.4 Trillion Potential of Africa Free Trade Area

23rd January 2023

African heads of state and global CEOs at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting backed the launch of the first of its kind report on how public-private partnerships can support the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

AfCFTA: A New Era for Global Business and Investment in Africa outlines high-potential sectors, initiatives to support business and investment, operational tools to facilitate the AfCFTA, and illustrative examples from successful businesses in Africa to guide businesses in entering and expanding in this area.

The report aims to provide a pathway for global businesses and investors to understand the biggest trends, opportunities and strategies to successfully invest and achieve high returns in Africa, developing local, sub-regional and continental value chains and accelerating industrialization, all of which go hand in hand with the success of the AfCFTA.

The AfCFTA is the largest free trade area in the world, by area and number of participating countries. Once fully implemented, it will be the fifth-largest economy in the world, with the potential to have a combined GDP of more than $3.4 trillion. Conceived in 2018, it now has 54 national economies in Africa, could attract billions in foreign investment, and boost overseas exports by a third, double intra-continental trade, raise incomes by 8% and lift 50 million people out of poverty.

To ease the pain of transition to its new single market, Africa has learned from trade liberalization in North America and Europe. “Our wide range of partners and experience can help anticipate and mitigate potential disruptions in business and production dynamics,” said Børge Brende, President, and World Economic Forum. “The Forum’s initiatives will help to ease physical, capital and digital flows in Africa through stakeholder collaboration, private-public collaboration and information-sharing.”

Given the continent’s historically low foreign direct investment relative to other regions, the report highlights the sense of excitement as the AfCFTA lowers or removes barriers to trade and competitiveness. “The promising gains from an integrated African market should be a signal to investors around the world that the continent is ripe for business creation, integration and expansion,” said Chido Munyati, Head of Regional Agenda, Africa, World Economic Forum.

The report focuses on four key sectors that have a combined worth of $130 billion and represent high-potential opportunities for companies looking to invest in Africa: automotive; agriculture and agroprocessing; pharmaceuticals; and transport and logistics.

“Macro trends in the four key sectors and across Africa’s growth potential reveal tremendous opportunities for business expansion as population, income and connectivity are on the rise,” said Wamkele Mene, Secretary-General, AfCFTA Secretariat.

“These projections reveal an unprecedented opportunity for local and global businesses to invest in African countries and play a vital role in the development of crucial local and regional value chains on the continent,” said Landry Signé, Executive Director and Professor, Thunderbird School of Global Management and Co-Chair, World Economic Forum Regional Action Group for Africa.

The Forum is actively working towards implementing trade and investment tools through initiatives, such as Friends of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area, to align with the negotiation process of the AfCFTA. It identifies areas where public-private collaboration can help reduce barriers and facilitate investment from international firms.

About the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2023

The World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2023 convenes the world’s foremost leaders under the theme, Cooperation in a Fragmented World. It calls on world leaders to address immediate economic, energy and food crises while laying the groundwork for a more sustainable, resilient world. For further information,

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