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.
THE KAWENA STORY
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.
BONALIFE VS CMB
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.”
CMB TROUBLES WITH BPOPF
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.”
AGGRIEVED BY THE COURTS
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.
The Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP)’s decision to reject and appeal the High Court’s verdict on a case involving High Court Judge, Dr Zein Kebonang has frustrated the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and Judge Kebonang’s back to work discussions.
JSC and Kebonang have been in constant discussions over the latter’s return to work following a ruling by a High Court panel of judges clearing him of any wrong doing in the National Petroleum Fund criminal case filed by the DPP. However the finalization of the matter has been hanged on whether the DPP will appeal the matter or not – the prosecution body has since appealed.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) top brass has declined a request by Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) to negotiate the legal fees occasioned by 2019 general elections petition in which the latter disputed in court the outcome of the elections.
This publication is made aware that UDC Vice President Dumelang Saleshando was left with an egg on his face after the BDP big wigs, comprising of party Chairman Slumber Tsogwane and Secretary General Mpho Balopi rejected his plea.
“He was told that this is a legal matter and therefore their (UDC) lawyer should engage ours (BDP) for negotiations because it is way far from our jurisdiction,” BDP Head of Communications, Kagelelo Kentse, told this publication.
This spelt doom for the main opposition party and Saleshando who seems not to have confidence and that the UDC lawyers have the dexterity to negotiate these kind of matters. It is not clear whether Saleshando requested UDC lawyer Boingotlo Toteng to sit at the table with Bogopa Manewe, Tobedza and Co, who are representing the BDP to strike a deal as per the BDP top echelons suggested.
“From my understanding, the matter is dealt with politically as the two parties are negotiating how to resolve it, but by far nothing has come to me on the matter. So I believe they are still substantively engaging each other,” Toteng said briefly in an interview on Thursday.
UDC petitioners saddled with costs after mounting an unprecedented legal suit before the court to try and overturn BDP’s October 2019 victory. The participants in the legal matter involves 15 parliamentary candidates’ and nine councillors. The UDC petitioned the court and contested the outcome of the elections citing “irregularities in some of the constituencies”.
In a brief ruling in January 2020, Judge President Ian Kirby on behalf of a five-member panel said: “We have no jurisdiction to entertain these appeals. These appeals must be struck out each with costs including costs of counsel”. This was a second blow to the UDC in about a month after their 2019 appeals were dismissed by the High Court a day before Christmas Day.
This week BDP attorneys decided to attach UDC petitioners’ property in a bid to settle the debts. UDC President Duma Boko is among those that will see their property being attached with 14 of his party members. “We have attached some and we are on course. So far, Dr. Mpho Pheko (who contested Gaborone Central) and that of Dr, Micus Chimbombi (who contested Kgalagadi South) will have their assets being sold on the 5th of February 2021,” BDP attorney Basimane Bogopa said.
Asked whether they met with UDC lawyers to try solve the matter, Bogopa said no and added. “Remember we are trying to raise the client’s funds, so after these two others will follow. Right now we are just prioritising those from Court of Appeal, as soon as the high court is done with taxation we will attach.”
Saleshando, when contacted about the outcomes of the meeting with the BDP, told WeekendPost that: “It would not be proper and procedural for me to tell you about the meeting outcomes before I share with UDC National Executive Committee (NEC), so I will have to brief them first.”
UDC NEC will meet on the 20th of next month to deal with a number of thorny issues including settling the legal fees. Negotiations with other opposition parties- Alliance for Progressives and Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) are also on the agenda.
Currently, UDC has raised P44 238 of the P565 000 needed to cover bills from the Court of Appeal (CoA). This is the amount in a UDC trust account which is paltry funds equating 7.8 per cent of the overall required money. In the past despite the petitioners maintaining that there was promise to assist them to settle legal fees, UDC Spokesperson, Moeti Mohwasa then said the party has never agreed in no way to help them.
“We have just been put in debt by someone,” one of the petitioners told this publication in the past. “President’s (Duma Boko) message was clear at the beginning that money has been sourced somewhere to help with the whole process but now we are here there is nothing and we are just running around trying to make ends meet and pay,” added the petitioner in an interview UDC NEC has in December last year directed all the 57 constituencies to each raise a minimum of P10, 000. The funds will be used to settle debts that are currently engulfing the petitioners with Sheriffs, who are already hovering around ready to attach their assets.
The petitioners, despite the party intervention, have every right to worry. “This is so because ‘the deadline for this initiative (P10, 000 per constituency) is the end of the first quarter of this year (2021),” a period in which the sheriffs would have long auctioned the properties.
President of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Duma Boko’s alliance with former President Lt Gen Ian Khama continues to unsettle some quarters within the opposition collective, who believe the duo, if not managed, will once again result in an unsuccessful bid for government in 2024.
While Khama has denied that he has undeclared preference to have Boko remaining as leader of UDC, many believe that the two have a common programme, while other opposition leaders remain on the side-lines.