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AP formed to accommodate anti-Masisi brigade

The newly formed Alliance for Progressives (AP) is lurking in the shadows for disgruntled Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) members who are not amused by the ascendance of Vice President, Mokgweetsi Masisi to the highest office in the land.

This is according to Nehemiah Modubule, the chairman of the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD). He theorises that Ndaba Gaolathe, Wynter Mmolotsi and company were never into the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) project. “It is common knowledge that the Ndaba group was against joining UDC in 2011 as their argument was that we needed to grow our party first. The other reason they advanced then was that BMD should not join forces with the BNF as that would jeopardise maBDP who wanted BMD to be their next home if things go wrong in the BDP.

This group was worried that by joining hands with leftist organisations like the BNF madokrag won’t join us,” narrates Modubule, who further claimed to have evidence to the meetings that captured the sentiments of Gaolathe and his team.  He says they at the BMD are not surprised by the decision of AP leaders to bolt out of the UDC, “they never wanted to be part of UDC they were just bound by a majority decision supported by Gomolemo Motswaledi (MHSRIP) then,” he adds.

Modubule continues, “All one can read from what AP is doing now is to open a window for maDomkrag; they have been captured by MaDomkrag who are not happy with Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi becoming the Head of State in April  next year. The blunder they make is to forget that Daniel Kwelagobe their Godfather had promised them to come over once BMD was formed but that never came to be. I wonder what makes them to think that this time maDomkrag ba ba ba reelang will join them.”

The BMD chairman is not amused by what he terms “propaganda being peddled by AP leadership against the BMD”. He stated that the truth of the matter is that some in the AP are from families who used to run this country and accumulated a lot of wealth allegedly under dubious circumstances. “The fact that we are about to take over government makes them uncomfortable and fear that their inherited properties may not be save under the UDC leadership. Remember UDC promised Batswana that once we assume the state power we are going to investigate as to how some people acquired their many properties,” says Modubule.

He said some in the AP leadership are living in fear hence their break away from BMD by extension UDC so as to try and split the opposition vote and “secure their inheritance”. Modubule said: “this is the only reason why our colleagues have decided to form a party at the eleventh hour.”

AP WAS FORMED BEFORE THE UDC VERDICT

According to Modubule when the BMD went for the Bobonong congress those who recently formed Alliance for Progressives were busy setting up structures parallel to those of the BMD, “little did we know that they were indeed setting up structures for their new party.”
Modubule said the structures that they set up prior to Bobonong are the ones they used to hold a congress at Bobonong Junior Secondary School ignoring the properly constituted congress at Matshekge. “This is the place where Ndaba Gaolathe, Wynter Mmolotsi, Phenyo Butale and others were elected to lead the new party. There is no doubt that they went to Bobonong prepared for their own congress, just as they went to UDC with a certificate in their pocket,” he observes.

According to the BMD chairman, “it was a waste of time for UDC and BMD of the UDC to go into pains of trying to find a way of bringing some sanity in the BMD as Ndaba and company had already decided on forming a new party that would accommodate madomkrag as initially planned. I should mention here and now that I do not want to see a situation where we replace BDP with another BDP. My argument is simple I would prefer a mixture of some former BDPs and long-time serving opposition parties.”

THE SIDNEY PILANE QUESTION

Modubule says Sidney Pilane’s name is being used as scapegoat because “the truth of the matter is that Wynter Mmolotsi is a man allergic to the truth. I believe deep down in his heart Mmolotsi knows that Pilane has done absolutely nothing that warrants such hatred against him.” The BMD chairman insists that Mmolotsi started “the propaganda ya letlhoo mo go Sidney Pilane after the Gantsi Congress.”

“Comparing Sidney to Wynter one would go for Pilane as Wynter is only a propagandist who has nothing to offer to the organisation. Just imagine a whole Vice President failing to honour a congress resolution. In Gantsi a resolution was passed that all MP’s should contribute P1000.00 monthly towards running of the organisation and he failed to contribute even once. Only three MP’S contributed, that is, Ndaba Gaolathe, Gilbert Mangole and Dr. Tlamelo Mmatli,” says Modubule.

Modubule explains the Pilane contribution to BMD politics, “Pilane resigned from the BMD, though not a member of the BMD he continued to assist the movement and that is how the BMD survived for many years. At the inception of the organisation it was Guma Moyo and Sidney Pilane and to some extent Lindelwa Maripe who were footing the bill of the organisation. When Guma left, Sidney Pilane continued to assist the movement to this date.”

In his view, it is therefore illogical to say Pilane is on a mission to destroy the BMD and then target the UDC. “The man has helped in making sure that the BMD is sustained. Other people are just busy doing everything in their power to discredit Pilane while he is busy assisting the organisation to grow.” Modubule says if Pilane was sent to destroy the Party in order to weaken the opposition it means it was a mission agreed upon by all who left the BDP at the time of inception of the movement that includes the Vice President of the AP.

“How on earth would a man whose mission is to destroy use his resources to help build a movement whose sole aim is to unseat the ruling party? In the Goodhope- Mabule by elections Pilane contributed P20,000 plus food for our foot soldiers by so doing he was assisting the UDC to grow. The Vice President of AP should not think that we will buy his hatred for Pilane to be our hatred too. NO.”

Modubule says they have asked Mmolotsi on several occasions to inform them what wrong Pilane has done which could indicate that indeed he was an agent of the BDP but he has failed to do so. He says they have since concluded that his was just hatred towards Pilane.
“Pilane is not an angel, he is human and like all other human beings he is bound to have flaws but you cannot compare him to AP Vice President. I am not even sure as to how Mmolotsi got the position of Vice President when the party has not yet held a congress but he is already a Vice President,” observes Modubule.  

WILL UDC ASSUME STATE POWER IN 2019?

“I have no doubt that the UDC will assume state power in 2019 as it stands for the liberation of our people and it is a progressive movement. I wonder whether by naming some organisation progressive when its actions are regressive will make it progressive,” Modubule’s view point. He says the BMD is here to stay and they are not going to be intimidated. “We are a party in our own right le ha gone bangwe ba utsule maloko a rona. We shall re-build our beloved organisation. Call us sekgapha or moitlobo at your own risk.

Kgang ya moitlobo was used so much by the late Dr Kenneth Koma when launching NDF. He said ‘party e ile go setse moitlobo hela’. What happened; the party is no longer visible moitlobo is now the party. BMD ke molatswana o tshela mo molapong wa UDC,” says Modubule.
Modubule assured BMD members that their party is alive and kicking hence no need to panic. He says they should relax and just concentrate on rebuilding the movement.

MODUBULE THE TROUBLE MAKER?

“I can confidently tell you that I am not like that. All that you read being said by Wynter is just not true. As far as I am concerned I always stay on the side of the constitution and not a person. In 2008 when I was expelled from the BNF it was again a hot debate between me and Cde Otsweletse Moupo. The argument was on the interpretation of the BNF constitution. We (Temporary Platform) argued that 2008 was supposed to be a congress year as the last ordinary congress was held in 2005.The BNF, as some of you might know goes for its national congress after every three years.”

Modubule continues to narrate his ‘rebellious’ journey: “In 2007 comrade Moupo called a special congress and it was an elective congress. His argument was that we cannot hold the ordinary congress because we held a special congress the previous year. Our view was that the special congress does not replace a mandatory congress which was due in 2008.

The fact that we held a special congress did not automatically mean replacement of a mandatory congress. We maintained that position and it was picked by the media and we were then asked to refrain from influencing other comrades to adopt our position and that we should not discuss our position with the media. We refused to budge and we were suspended and ultimately expelled from the party for insubordination. It is surprising that some people are using this example as go tshwenya game. I was not acting as a lone wolf. I was with the likes of Elmon Tafa, Monageng Mogalakwe, Akanyang Magama, Lebogang Letsie and others.”  

Modubule continues, “I served the BNF for 27 years and held a number of portfolio responsibilities including that of the National Chairman. I also lead an organisation called United Socialist Party (PUSO) formed in 1994 which joined BNF as a group member in 1998. It means PUSO existed as a standalone party for four (4) years. I was requested by the late Dr Kenneth Koma along with Lemogang Ntime and others to re-join the BNF. I do not believe that I was a trouble maker otherwise how would they request a trouble maker to come and help revive the BNF.

It was tough when eleven members of Parliament resigned from the party along with scores of councillors. We addressed series of rallies explaining to Batswana as to what happened and comforting them.” “Those who say I was a trouble maker in the BNF know very little or nothing at all as to what was happening in the BNF then.” Modubule ended the interview with words of one of the great philosophers of the world when he said ’’He who has not investigated has no right to speak’’.

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Mowana Mine to open, pay employees millions

18th January 2022
Mowana Mine

Mowana Copper Mine in Dukwi will finally pay its former employees a total amount of P23, 789, 984.00 end of this month. For over three years Mowana Copper Mine has been under judicial management. Updating members, Botswana Mine Workers Union (BMWU) Executive Secretary Kitso Phiri this week said the High Court issued an order for the implementation of the compromise scheme of December 9, 2021 and this was to be done within 30 days after court order.

“Therefore payment of benefits under the scheme including those owed to Messina Copper Botswana employees should be effected sometime in January latest end of January 2022,” Kitso said. Kitso also explained that cash settlement will be 30 percent of the total Messina Copper Botswana estate and negotiated estate is $3,233,000 (about P35, 563,000).

Messina Copper was placed under liquidation and was thereafter acquired by Leboam Holdings to operate Mowana Mine. Leboam Holdings struck a deal with the Messina Copper’s liquidator who became a shareholder of Leboam Holdings. Leboam Holdings could not service its debts and its creditors placed it under provisional judicial management on December 18, 2018 and in judicial management on February 28, 2019.

A new company Max Power expressed interest to acquire the mining operations. It offered to take over the Mowana Mine from Leboam Holdings, however, the company had to pay the debts of Leboam including monies owed to Messina Copper, being employees benefits and other debts owed to other creditors.

The monies, were agreed to be paid through a scheme of compromise proposed by Max Power, being a negotiated payment schedule, which was subject to the financial ability of the new owners. “On December 9, 2021, Messina Copper liquidator, called a meeting of creditors, which the BMWU on behalf of its members (former Messina Copper employees) attended, to seek mandate from creditors to proceed with a proposed settlement for Messina Copper on the scheme of compromise. It is important to note that employee benefits are regarded as preferential credit, meaning once a scheme is approved they are paid first.”

Negotiated estate is P35, 563,000

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Councilors’ benefits debacle-savingram reveals detail

18th January 2022

A savingram the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development sent to Town Clerks and Council Secretaries explaining why councilors across the country should not have access to their terminal benefits before end of their term has been revealed.

The contents of the savingram came out in the wake of a war of words between counselors and the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development. The councilors through the Botswana Association of Local Authorities (BALA) accuse the Ministry of refusing to allow them to have access to their terminal benefits before end of their term.

This has since been denied by the Ministry.  In the savingram to town councils and council secretaries across the country, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development Molefi Keaja states that, “Kindly be advised that the terminal benefits budget is made during the final year of term of office for Honorable Councilors.”  Keaja reminded town clerks and council secretaries that, “The nominal budget Councils make each and every financial year is to cater for events where a Councilor’s term of office ends before the statutory time due to death, resignation or any other reason.”

The savingram also goes into detail about why the government had in the past allowed councilors to have access to their terminal benefits before the end of their term.  “Regarding the special dispensation made in the 2014-2019, it should be noted that the advance was granted because at that time there was an approved budget for terminal benefits during the financial year,” explained Keaja.  He added that, “Town Clerks/Council Secretaries made discretions depending on the liquidity position of Councils which attracted a lot of audit queries.”

Keaja also revealed that councils across the country were struggling financially and therefore if they were to grant councilors access to their terminal benefits, this could leave their in a dire financial situation.  Given the fact that Local Authorities currently have cash flow problems and budgetary constraints, it is not advisable to grant terminal benefits advance as it would only serve to compound the liquidity problems of councils.

It is understood that the Ministry was inundated with calls from some Councils as they sought clarification regarding access to their terminal benefits. The Ministry fears that should councils pay out the terminal benefits this would affect their coffers as the government spends a lot on councilors salaries.

Reports show that apart from elected councilors, the government spends at least P6, 577, 746, 00 on nominated councilors across the country as their monthly salaries. Former Assistant Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Botlogile Tshireletso once told Parliament that in total there are 113 nominated councilors and their salaries per a year add up to P78, 933,16.00. She added that their projected gratuity is P9, 866,646.00.

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Households spending to drive economic recovery

17th January 2022

A surge in consumer spending is expected to be a key driver of Botswana’s economic recovery, according to recent projections by Fitch Solutions. Fitch Solutions said it forecasts household spending in Botswana to grow by a real rate of 5.9% in 2022.

The bullish Fitch Solutions noted that “This is a considerable deceleration from 9.4% growth estimated in 2021, it comes mainly from the base effects of the contraction of 2.5% recorded in 2020,” adding that, “We project total household spending (in real terms) to reach BWP59.9bn (USD8.8bn) in 2022, increasing from BWP56.5bn (USD8.3bn) in 2021.”  According to Fitch Solutions, this is higher than the pre-Covid-19 total household spending (in real terms) of P53.0 billion (USD7.8bn) in 2019 and it indicates a full recovery in consumer spending.

“We forecast real household spending to grow by 5.9% in 2022, decelerating from the estimated growth of 9.4% in 2021. We note that the Covid-19 pandemic and the related restrictions on economic activity resulted in real household spending contracting by 2.5% in 2020, creating a lower base for spending to grow from in 2021 and 2022,” Fitch Solutions says.

Total household spending (in real terms), the agency says, will increase in 2022 when compared to 2021. In 2021 and 2022, total household spending (in real terms) will be above the pre-Covid-19 levels in 2019, indicating a full recovery in consumer spending, says Fitch Solutions.  It says as of December 6 2021 (latest data available), 38.4% of people in Botswana have received at least one vaccine dose, while this is relatively low it is higher than Africa average of 11.3%.

“The emergence of new Covid-19 variants such as Omicron, which was first detected in the country in November 2021, poses a downside risk to our outlook for consumer spending, particularly as a large proportion of the country’s population is unvaccinated and this could result in stricter measures being implemented once again,” says Fitch Solutions.

Growth will ease in 2022, Fitch Solution says. “Our forecast for an improvement in consumer spending in Botswana in 2022 is in line with our Country Risk team’s forecast that the economy will grow by a real rate of 5.3% over 2022, from an estimated 12.5% growth in 2021 as the low base effects from 2020 dissipate,” it says.

Fitch Solutions notes that “Our Country Risk team expects private consumption to be the main driver of Botswana’s economic growth in 2022, as disposable incomes and the labour market continue to recover from the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.”
It says Botswana’s tourism sector has been negatively impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic and the related travel restrictions.

According to Fitch Solutions, “The emergence of the Omicron variant, which was first detected in November 2021, has resulted in travel bans being implemented on Southern African countries such as South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Eswatini. This will further delay the recovery of Botswana’s tourism sector in 2021 and early 2022.”  Fitch Solutions, therefore, forecasts Botswana’s tourist arrivals to grow by 81.2% in 2022, from an estimated contraction of 40.3% in 2021.

It notes that the 72.4% contraction in 2020 has created a low base for tourist arrivals to grow from.  “The rollout of vaccines in South Africa and its key source markets will aid the recovery of the tourism sector over the coming months and this bodes well for the employment and incomes of people employed in the hospitality industry, particularly restaurants and hotels as well as recreation and culture businesses,” the report says.

Fitch Solutions further notes that with economies reopening, consumers are demanding products that they had little access to over the previous year. However, manufacturers are facing several problems.  It says supply chain issues and bottlenecks are resulting in consumer goods shortages, feeding through into supply-side inflation.  Fitch Solutions believes the global semiconductor shortage will continue into 2022, putting the pressure on the supply of several consumer goods.

It says the spread of the Delta variant is upending factory production in Asia, disrupting shipping and posing more shocks to the world economy. Similarly, manufacturers are facing shortages of key components and higher raw materials costs, the report says adding that while this is somewhat restricted to consumer goods, there is a high risk that this feeds through into more consumer services over the 2022 year.

“Our global view for a notable recovery in consumer spending relies on the ability of authorities to vaccinate a large enough proportion of their populations and thereby experience a notable drop in Covid-19 infections and a decline in hospitalisation rates,” says Fitch Solutions.
Both these factors, it says, will lead to governments gradually lifting restrictions, which will boost consumer confidence and retail sales.

“As of December 6 2021, 38.4% of people in Botswana have received at least one vaccine dose. While this is low, it is higher than the Africa average of 11.3%. The vaccines being administered in Botswana include Pfizer-BioNTech, Sinovac and Johnson & Johnson. We believe that a successful vaccine rollout will aid the country’s consumer spending recovery,” says Fitch Solutions.  Therefore, the agency says, “Our forecasts account for risks that are highly likely to play out in 2022, including the easing of government support. However, if other risks start to play out, this may lead to forecast revisions.”

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