Botswana Public Officers Pension Fund (BPOPF) is picking up the pieces after their recent high profile court victory against Capital Management Botswana (CMB) and its Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Rapula Okaile.
In the judgement of the case which BPOPF were in pursuance together with Non-Bank Financial Institutions Regulatory Authority (NBFIRA), three Court of Appeal Judges; Justice Ian Kirby, Justice Singh Walia and Justice Jacobus Brand ruled that “the appeals of both the first appellant (BPOPF) and the second appellant (NBFIRA) are allowed.” They also set aside Justice Omphemetse Motumise’s judgement and replaced it to confirm appointment of Peter Collins as Statutory Manager of CMB.
In light of the appointment, BPOPF CEO Boitumelo Molefhe told Weekend Post in an interview this week following a press briefing in Gaborone that Collins has taken charge and BPOPF is banking on him to direct way forward. “We are now going to be guided by CMB new Statutory Manager Peter Collins; he is a very important and key person going forward for all of us,” Molefhe said.
She emphasised that “Collins is going to make recommendations for all of us and they will be looked at by Non-Bank Financial Institutions Regulatory Authority (NBFIRA) and if they agree with them they will be implemented.” The BPOPF CEO also said Collins will lead investigation into a proper inquiry on how they lost close to 500 million pula of pensioner’s funds that was invested in CMB.
“We need a proper inquiry (that will be led by Collins) into how on earth this whole thing happened and that are we likely to receive the lost assets, and which one, including finding out if we can recover further assets beyond Okavango Wilderness and Cell city,” Molefhe highlighted.
According to the pension Fund CEO, they drew some lessons from the whole circus that put 60 billion worth pension fund into risks. “We learnt that next time there should do a thorough due diligence and make sure that they know the customer very well before any partnerships agreements.”
Why BPOPF committed to increase assets: P500 million to P880 million
The BPOPF CEO further told this publication separately after the press conference that initially they had wanted to increase assets they invested at CMB from P500 million to P880 million because they felt it was reasonable. Molefhe explained the transaction: “it was at a time in which the relationship between us as BPOPF and CMB was in good health. They were compliant. They were doing the draw down and they were laying down the money, they were actually investing the money. So we thought it would make a lot of sense to increase the capital which under weighed the dividends and increase them.”
She further observed that they wanted to allow CMB to make that capital rising for the company so as to allow for additional money in which the Advisory board approved it about three months later and that was also done in accordance with the partnerships agreements, Molefhe pointed out. “But shortly after that they started breaching those agreements and that’s when we started reminding them that they have to comply and do their quarterly reports to see their valuations and that is when they disagreed and refused saying they won’t do that.”
Molefhe added: “That is when we went ahead and told them that because of the major breaches and even that additional capital of P880 million is now null and void because there were conditions that they should give the valuation reports and even the auditors were concerned about it asking why they are refusing the valuations.” Private equity, she said, when they come and raise capital with you they need to show you that they have a pipeline and you have to be confident in the pipeline.
Will BPOPF locate the assets and repossess them?
In terms of the assets the BPOPF CEO said, “I think for these two; Okavango Wilderness and Cell City — am still confident that we will repossess them because they were/are still subjects of the court that is they are under Statutory Manager, they were even frozen, there was no trading allowed on them. It is a lot of money to the tune of P150 million and the share keeps increasing and there is also dividend.”
BPOPF appoints new board chairperson Solomon Mantswe
According to BPOPF CEO the Pension Fund has dully constituted new board with 11 trustees. They have also “appointed Solomon Mantswe as Chairman of the board effective 1 July 2018.” He will serve for a 5 year contract. “New board under Mantswe supports us as was evident in the just ended court case. There is a very cordial relationship,” Molefhe told this publication.
CMB wanted to settle matter outside court
In an interesting twist of events, BPOPF CEO also mentioned to Weekend Post in the interview that she heard CMB had wanted to settle the matter outside court although she denied it in the press conference. When asked separately she said “there may have been some kind of attempts to settle the matter outside court. This happened after the matter was lodged before court.
In fact it happened recently, I just heard recently. I heard it was from the CMB side and not BPOPF. It is certainly cannot be from our side as we believed in this case and had great prospects of winning as it turned out.” She insisted on the matter: “From our side we could have engaged our legal team. We never talked about wanting to settle. You just can’t settle by street talk without following due process and rational.”
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.