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Friday, 19 April 2024

BPOPF roars, CMB says bring it on!


Capital Management Botswana (CMB) says it is unfazed by suggestions that it is being investigated for misappropriation of Botswana Public Officers Pension Funds (BPOPF) monies. The troubled company has through its attorney, Gabriel Kanjabanga insisted that every dealing it had with BPOPF was done in the true spirit of the contract between the two parties.

The CMB management says it has tried in vain to demonstrate and account for the funds committed in the Botswana Opportunity Partnership (BOP), the vehicle that bonded them with BPOPF. “As a private Equity organization there is a limited partner and the General Partner. In this case, BPOPF is the Limited partner and had committed 880 Million Pula to a Fund called BOP. The initial commitment was P500 Million before CMB demonstrated that they had a very good pipeline and potential to invest the funds with good assets.”

According to CMB, there is no hiding from the fact that the following investments were made in the spirit of the contract with CMB: Wilderness Safari at the tune of P150 Million; Kawena Holdings with a cash injection of P150 Million; AGILE University got P50 Million; Cell City t/a GoldWing got a P 50 Million; while Bona Life was given P 50 Million. CMB directors are adamant that the Share Certificates and Shareholders Agreement were availed.  


However, in the statutory managers’ last report, Kawena, the biggest retail and distributor in SADC was said to be unaccounted for. Kawena Distributors (Pty) Ltd, formerly Manica Mineworkers Suppliers (Pty) Ltd commenced its business operations in 1987. Manica companies have been entrenched in Mozambique for over 100 years. Kawena is a wholly owned subsidiary of Sherewa Investments (Pty) Ltd. The Sherewa Investment Group looks after various businesses in the Southern African region, operating in South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

Their core business, Kawena Distributors, has earned the trust of the Mozambican mine-workers through product and service delivery, stretching back almost 30 years and is widely considered an institution in the country. Over the years Kawena diversified, leveraging off the relationships forged with various ministries, principal suppliers and extensive infrastructural networks within Mozambique.

Kawena now has four major business units that encompass: Kawena Distributors, Sherewa Trading, Pemba Business Park and Procurement and the Kawena/ OK Zimbabwe partnership. Since BPOPF has announced that it is all systems go through the statutory manager to locate “missing assets”, it will be interesting to see if this publicly visible company will not share information with the authorities.


According to CMB, they were Bona Life asset Managers. Bona Life had to manage the liability part as CMB managed the asset. According to them this combination emanates from the fact that in an annuity business which Bona Life is involved in, clients purchase annuities with a promise that they will be paid back with interest and this effectively creates a liability. This has to be matched with concomitant assets. “And that would be where CMB gets in to find suitable assets. CMB managed to get three assets namely: Manor Squad in Durban at P60 Million with a return of 10%; BDC flats for 13.5 Million; and Storage Solutions for P60 Million. The total assets aggregate to P133.5 Million.”

According to CMB it became apparent that Regina Vaka (CEO of Bona Life) was not interested in acquisition of tangible assets to meet the liability profile, the business became insolvent to the extent that she requested for recapitalization of P100 Million from CMB. “CMB could not agree to the model of taking funds from clients and putting them in the bank to earn a lesser interest than the one promised annuitants did not make economic sense. Ms Vaka opted to report CMB to the Regulator (NBIFRA) as if CMB was running Bona Life. She continued to report CMB to DCEC for an allegedly missing P133.5 Million which was later accounted for with ease.”


According to CMB management the focus moved to BPOPF since there is an alleged P400 Million missing.  “The Courts have been consistent with the fact that the assets for P450 Million have been bought, eliminating issues of misappropriation of funds at the time. The point of contention is to do with those P450 Million assets being disposed for P 50 Million. Effectively CMB is to account for P400 Million worth of assets. This will be very easy to account for in the manner that there is Wilderness Safari at P150 Million; Kawena P150 Million; Cell City at P 50 Million; and Bona Life P 50 Million.”  


CMB management says Judges in local courts across the country should always reveal their connections to litigants and lawyers. “These links can be social – they may have been law school classmates or share common friends – political, financial or ideological. In some instances the two may have mutual investment interests. They might be in-laws. While it’s unavoidable that such relationships will occur, when they do create a perception of bias, a judge is duty-bound to at the very least disclose that information, and if it creates an actual bias, allow a different judge to take over.”

Could CMB have found themselves sandwiched by politically connected big shots in their case? The Court of Appeal has ruled for all to read. Meanwhile CMB management has one big fear – they posit that experts in the field are of the view that once the assets are muscled from CMB there is a chance that they could be disposed at close to nothing leaving pensioners with peanuts. CMB is also concerned that the DCEC made sure they are stripped of all their sources of funds so that they cannot afford any legal representation. 

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Nigerians, Zimbabweans apply for Chema Chema Fund

16th April 2024

Fronting activities, where locals are used as a front for foreign-owned businesses, have been a long-standing issue in Botswana. These activities not only undermine the government’s efforts to promote local businesses but also deprive Batswana of opportunities for economic empowerment, officials say. The Ministry of Trade and Industry has warned of heavy penalties for those involved in fronting activities especially in relation to the latest popular government initiative dubbed Chema Chema.

According to the Ministry, the Industrial Development Act of 2019 clearly outlines the consequences of engaging in fronting activities. The fines of up to P50,000 for first-time offenders and P20,000 plus a two-year jail term for repeat offenders send a strong message that the government is serious about cracking down on this illegal practice. These penalties are meant to deter individuals from participating in fronting activities and to protect the integrity of local industries.

“It is disheartening to hear reports of collaboration between foreigners and locals to exploit government initiatives such as the Chema Chema Fund. This fund, administered by CEDA and LEA, is meant to support informal traders and low-income earners in Botswana. However, when fronting activities come into play, the intended beneficiaries are sidelined, and the funds are misused for personal gain.” It has been discovered that foreign nationals predominantly of Zimbabwean and Nigerian origin use unsuspecting Batswana to attempt to access the Chema Chema Fund. It is understood that they approach these Batswana under the guise of drafting business plans for them or simply coming up with ‘bankable business ideas that qualify for Chema Chema.’

Observers say the Chema Chema Fund has the potential to uplift the lives of many Batswana who are struggling to make ends meet. They argue that it is crucial that these funds are used for their intended purpose and not siphoned off through illegal activities such as fronting. The Ministry says the warning it issued serves as a reminder to all stakeholders involved in the administration of these funds to ensure transparency and accountability in their disbursement.

One local commentator said it is important to highlight the impact of fronting activities on the local economy and the livelihoods of Batswana. He said by using locals as a front for foreign-owned businesses, opportunities for local entrepreneurs are stifled, and the economic empowerment of Batswana is hindered. The Ministry’s warning of heavy penalties is a call to action for all stakeholders to work together to eliminate fronting activities and promote a level playing field for local businesses.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Trade and Industry’s warning of heavy penalties for fronting activities is a necessary step to protect the integrity of local industries and promote economic empowerment for Batswana. “It is imperative that all stakeholders comply with regulations and work towards a transparent and accountable business environment. By upholding the law and cracking down on illegal activities, we can ensure a fair and prosperous future for all Batswana.”










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Merck Foundation and African First Ladies mark World Health Day 2024

15th April 2024

Merck Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany marks “World Health Day” 2024 together with Africa’s First Ladies who are also Ambassadors of MerckFoundation “More Than a Mother” Campaign through their Scholarship and Capacity Building Program. Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation emphasized, “At Merck Foundation, we mark World Health Day every single day of the year over the past 12 years, by building healthcare capacity and transforming patient care across Africa, Asia and beyond.

I am proud to share that Merck Foundation has provided over 1740 scholarships to aspiring young doctors from 52 countries, in 44 critical and underserved medical specialties such as Oncology, Diabetes, Preventative Cardiovascular Medicine, Endocrinology, Sexual and Reproductive Medicine, Acute Medicine, Respiratory Medicine, Embryology & Fertility specialty, Gastroenterology, Dermatology, Psychiatry, Emergency and Resuscitation Medicine, Critical Care, Pediatric Emergency Medicine, Neonatal Medicine, Advanced Surgical Practice, Pain Management, General Surgery, Clinical Microbiology and infectious diseases, Internal Medicine, Trauma & Orthopedics, Neurosurgery, Neurology, Cardiology, Stroke Medicine, Care of the Older Person, Family Medicine, Pediatrics and Child Health, Obesity & Weight Management, Women’s Health, Biotechnology in ART and many more”.

As per the available data, Africa has only 34.6% of the required doctors, nurses, and midwives. It is projected that by 2030, Africa would need additional 6.1 million doctors, nurses, and midwives*. “For Example, before the start of the Merck Foundation programs in 2012; there was not a single Oncologist, Fertility or Reproductive care specialists, Diabetologist, Respiratory or ICU specialist in many countries such as The Gambia, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Central African Republic, Guinea, Burundi, Niger, Chad, Ethiopia, Namibia among others. We are certainly creating historic legacy in Africa, and also beyond. Together with our partners like Africa’s First Ladies, Ministries of Health, Gender, Education and Communication, we are impacting the lives of people in the most disadvantaged communities in Africa and beyond.”, added Senator Dr. Kelej. Merck Foundation works closely with their Ambassadors, the African First Ladies and local partners such as; Ministries of Health, Education, Information & Communication, Gender, Academia, Research Institutions, Media and Art in building healthcare capacity and addressing health, social & economic challenges in developing countries and under-served communities. “I strongly believe that training healthcare providers and building professional healthcare capacity is the right strategy to improve access to equitable and quality at health care in Africa.

Therefore, I am happy to announce the Call for Applications for 2024 Scholarships for young doctors with special focus on female doctors for our online one-year diploma and two year master degree in 44 critical and underserved medical specialties, which includes both Online Diploma programs and On-Site Fellowship and clinical training programs. The applications are invited through the Office of our Ambassadors and long-term partners, The First Ladies of Africa and Ministry of Health of each country.” shared Dr . Kelej. “Our aim is to improve the overall health and wellbeing of people by building healthcare capacity across Africa, Asia and other developing countries. We are strongly committed to transforming patientcare landscape through our scholarships program”, concluded Senator Kelej.

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Interpol fugitive escapes from Botswana

15th April 2024

John Isaak Ndovi, a Tanzanian national embroiled in controversy and pursued under a red notice by the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol), has mysteriously vanished, bypassing a scheduled bail hearing at the Extension 2 Magistrate Court in Gaborone. Previously apprehended by Botswana law enforcement at the Tlokweng border post several months earlier, his escape has ignited serious concerns.

Accused of pilfering assets worth in excess of P1 million, an amount translating to roughly 30,000 Omani Riyals, Ndovi has become a figure of paramount interest, especially to the authorities in the Sultanate of Oman, nestled in the far reaches of Asia.

The unsettling news of his disappearance surfaced following his failure to present himself at the Extension 2 Magistrate Court the preceding week. Speculation abounds that Ndovi may have sought refuge in South Africa in a bid to elude capture, prompting a widespread mobilization of law enforcement agencies to ascertain his current location.

In an official communiqué, Detective Senior Assistant Police Commissioner Selebatso Mokgosi of Interpol Gaborone disclosed Ndovi’s apprehension last September at the Tlokweng border, a capture made possible through the vigilant issuance of the Interpol red notice.

At 36, Ndovi is implicated in a case of alleged home invasion in Oman. Despite the non-existence of an extradition treaty between Botswana and Oman, Nomsa Moatswi, the Director of the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP), emphasized that the lack of formal extradition agreements does not hinder her office’s ability to entertain extradition requests. She highlighted the adoption of international cooperation norms, advocating for collaboration through the lenses of international comity and reciprocity.

Moatswi disclosed the intensified effort by law enforcement to locate Ndovi following his no-show in court, and pointed to Botswana’s track record of extraditing two international fugitives from France and Zimbabwe in the previous year as evidence of the country’s relentless pursuit of legal integrity.

When probed about the potential implications of Ndovi’s case on Botswana’s forthcoming evaluation by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), Moatswi reserved her speculations. She acknowledged the criticality of steering clear of blacklisting, suggesting that this singular case is unlikely to feature prominently in the FATF’s assessment criteria.


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