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CMB wants P650 million from Bona Life CEO Vaka

Gaborone based attorney, Gabriel Kanjabanga of Kanjabanga and Associates, has, when representing Capital Management Africa (Pty) Ltd (CMB) and Rapula Okaile unearthed that the current value of Bona Life is roughly sitting at zero.

Both Okaile and CMB are the shareholders of Foudello (Pty) Ltd which in turn owns 100% of Bona Life Insurance (Pty) Ltd. Collectively they own 65% of the issued equity of Foudello. A scathing letter written to Reginah Sikalesele-Vaka and leaked to the Weekend Post suggests that CMB wants 650 million pula for mismanagement of Bona Life and her unlawful conduct.  

“CMB has suffered damages due to your unlawful conduct and we are instructed to seek damages against you in your personal capacity in the amount of 650 million pula. We await your substantive response hereto so that CMB may consider their position,” CMB lawyer said threatening the Bona Life CEO. Vaka is not only the CEO of Bona Life but also Director of Bona Life and Foudello. She is also a shareholder of Foudello, owning 25% of the issued equity in her own name and thus she owns 25% of Bona Life.

According to Kanjabanga, although they do not intend to litigate the matter by way of correspondence they want to place on record some of the instances of unlawful actions. As CEO they say she has “mismanaged Bona Life to the extent that your actions has resulted in massive destruction of shareholder value, resulting in Bona being declared insolvent by your statutory actuaries, QED.”

He added that the mismanagement of Bona is in fact, confirmed by the valuation letter from QED dated 30 September 2017, and relevant portion reads: “as at the valuation date the company was insolvent and also did not meet the solvency requirements as required by the Act.”
It is understood that the deterioration in solvency position by Bona was mainly driven by: the investment mismatch on the annuity book; the new business strain as a result of the high volumes of the new business sold; the continued expense overrun; and poor investment returns.      

The lawyer also pointed out that “you continued to negotiate with CMB to arrange a capital injection of some 100 million pula into Bona. The capital injection was much needed capital input required by Bona in order for your mismanagement not to be so patently obvious, so as not to alert the Regulator as to the true state of Bona’s financial position come the end March 2018 reporting period.” In fact you confirmed, he said in writing through an email, “I know very well what you have told me and I know very well that I am in deep, deep trouble. Thank you for reminding me of both counts.”

Bona remains insolvent at this stage

Instead of a successful company, it is understood that Bona Life is now insolvent. Kanjabanga asserted that “this latter state of affairs is solely as a result of your calculated interference in a dispute which does not concern you and/or Bona, for the sole purpose of your self-created need to have a scape goat to blame for your mismanagement of Bona.”

Your unlawful actions, he said although intended for the benefit of Bona, falls outside the course and scope or your duties and obligations as a Director and/or CEO and is, in fact, a serious breach of your fiduciary duties. Your actions were malicious, vexatious, conducted for your own benefit and unlawful.

This, the lawyer continues, is evidenced by that which they (Bona) reported in their September 2017 Valuation Letter, namely “as the valuation date the company was insolvent and also did not meet the solvency requirements as required by the Act.”We recommend an immediate cessation of writing new annuity business until the following conditions are met; capital is injected to return the company to at least 150% solvency with additional capital made available to finance the expected future new business strain. In addition, that the company performs 3 year business plan to assess its future capital needs and illustrate its plans for returning to meeting the minimum solvency requirements.  

Why Vaka reported CMB to NBFIRA and DCEC

Kanjabanga continued to tell Vaka in the communication that: “in an attempt to cover up your mismanagement you undertook two actions; firstly you maligned your shareholder, CMB by making various misrepresentations to both the Non-Bank Financial Institutions Regulatory Authority (NBFIRA) and the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC).”


Your misrepresentations, he said relating to reporting CMB to NBFIRA were solely designed to provide you with a scapegoat for your own mismanagement of Bona and assist you in avoiding your self-created and admitted ‘deep deep trouble’ in which you find yourself. He said the Bona CEO made critical and material representations to NBFIRA and DCEC by stating in one letter dated 9 January 2018 to NBFIRA that CMB manages 133 million pula of Bona assets while in fact CMB does not manage any assets for Bona and no contract to the contrary exists. “Your misrepresentation was purely designed to create the impression that Bona’s investments would be at risk, something that is far removed from the truth,” CMB lawyers of record insisted.  

Bona conspired with BPOPF to obtain 100 million pula funds

“Further, Gift Noko, an employee of Bona, admits in his letter purportedly addressed to NBFIRA on 12 January 2018, whilst it is, in fact, dated 10 August 2017, that you conspired with the Botswana Public Officers Pension Fund (BPOPF) to obtain funding from it in order to bail out Bona and thus, you. It must also be pointed out that you represented that BPOPF is a shareholder of Bona, a representation you know to be false,” Kanjabanga highlighted.  

This conspiracy he added that was driven by a carefully devised scheme to obtain injection of further funds, sourced from the BPOPF, into Bona. Having regard to your tract record of mismanagement, these funds would no doubt have been improperly managed with resultant losses, attorney said.   

“Further implying your role as instigator of various misrepresentations against CMB, is the BPOPF letter dated 17 January 2018, headlined ‘coordination of efforts regarding CMB.’ It is evident that the BPOPF is attempting to use a statutory instrument to unlawfully reverse a contractual failing of its own making, which unlawful conduct you have assisted and/or advanced through your false claims.” Your unlawful actions resulted in the obliteration of the shareholder value of Bona, and consequently Foudello, Kanjabanga asserted. To set the record straight he said CMB holds no assets of BPOPF, and that no asset management functions are conducted through CMB. He reminded Vaka that there were discussions to merge CMB with Fleming and then possibly to inject Fleming into Bona.

Bona was to be listed on Botswana Stock Exchange

It was intended to list Bona during late 2018 or 2019 on the Botswana Stock Exchange in the manner as proposed by Vaka. It bears mentioning that you proposed that the 40% of equity held by the Botswana Opportunities Partnerships should be sold so as to create the free float, while you would retain your entire 25% shareholding, lawyer mentioned to the Bona CEO.


“The expected valuation on listing was estimated at one billion pula, which means your 25% would have been worth 250 million pula. Based on this, the shareholding valued of the 65% shareholders would have been 650 million pula. Now, however, your wanton obliteration of shareholder value of bona has rendered the aforesaid valuation unattainable.”

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Botswana imports in numbers

1st March 2021
Botswana-imports

For so many years, Botswana has been trying to be a self-sufficient country that is able to provide its citizens with locally produced food products. Through appropriate collaborations with parastatals such as CEDA, ISPAAD and LEA, government introduced initiatives such as the Horticulture Impact Accelerator Subsidy-IAS and other funding facilities to facilitate horticultural farmers to increase production levels.

Now that COVID-19 took over and disrupted the food value chain across all economies, Botswana government introduced these initiatives to reduce the import bill by enhancing local market and relieve horticultural farmers from loses or impacts associated with the pandemic.

In more concerted efforts to curb these food crises in the country, government extended the ploughing period for the Southern part of Botswana. The extension was due to the late start of rains in the Southern part of the country.

Last week the Ministry of Agriculture extended the ploughing period for the Northern part of the country, mainly because of rains recently experienced in the country. With these decisions taken urgently, government optimizes food security and reliance on local food production.

When pigs fly, Botswana will be able to produce food to feed its people. This is evident by the numbers released by Statistics Botswana on imports recorded in November 2020, on their International Merchandise Trade Statistics for the month under review.

The numbers say Botswana continues to import most of its food from neighbouring South Africa. Not only that, Batswana relies on South Africa to have something to smoke, to drink and even use as machinery.

According to data from Statistics Botswana, the country’s total imports amounted to P6.881 Million. Diamonds contributed to the total imports at 33%, which is equivalent to P2.3 Million. This was followed by food, beverages and tobacco, machinery and electrical equipment which stood at P912 Million and P790 Million respectively.

Most of these commodities were imported from The Southern African Customs Union (SACU). The Union supplied Botswana with imports valued at over P4.8 Million of Botswana’s imports for the month under review (November 2020). The top most imported commodity group from SACU region was food, beverages and tobacco, with a contribution of P864 Million, which is likely to be around 18.1% of the total imports from the region.

Diamonds and fuel, according to these statistics, contributed 16.0%, or P766 Million and 13.5% or P645 Million respectively. Botswana also showed a strong and desperate reliance on neighbouring South Africa for important commodities. Even though the borders between the two countries in order to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus, government took a decision to open border gates for essential services which included the transportation of commodities such as food.

Imports from South Africa recorded in November 2020 stood at P4.615 Million, which accounted for 67.1% of total imports during the month under review. Still from that country, Botswana bought food, beverages and tobacco worth P844 Million (18.3%), diamonds, machinery and fuel worth P758 Million, P601 Million and P562 Million respectively.

Botswana also imported chemicals and rubber products that made a contribution of 11.7% (P542.2 Million) to total imports from South Africa during the month under review, (November 2020).

The European Union also came to Botswana’s rescue in the previous year. Botswana received imports worth P698.3 Million from the EU, accounting for 10.1% of the total imports during the same month. The major group commodity imported from the EU was diamonds, accounting for 86.9% (P606.6 Million), of imports from the Union. Belgium was the major source of imports from the EU, at 8.9% (P609.1 Million) of total imports during the period under review.

Meanwhile, Minister of Finance and Economic Development Thapelo Matsheka says an improvement in exports and commodity prices will drive growth in Sub-Saharan Africa. Growth in the region is anticipated to recover modestly to 3.2% in 2021. Matsheka said this when delivering the Annual Budget Speech virtually in Gaborone on the 1st of February 2021.

He said implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA), which became operational in January 2021, could reduce the region’s vulnerability to global disruptions, as well as deepen trade and economic integration.

“This could also help boost competition and productivity. Successful implementation of AfCFTA will, of necessity, require Member States to eliminate both tariffs and non-tariff barriers, and generally make it easier to do business and invest across borders.”

Matsheka, who is also a Member of Parliament for Lobatse, an ailing town which houses the struggling biggest meat processing company in the country- Botswana Meat Commission, (BMC), said the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) recognizes the need to prioritize the key processes required for the implementation of the AfCFTA.

“The revised SACU Tariff Offer, which comprises 5,988 product lines with agreed Rules of Origin, representing 77% of the SACU Tariff Book, was submitted to the African Union Commission (AUC) in November 2020. The government is in the process of evaluating the tariff offers of other AfCFTA members prior to ratification, following which Botswana’s participation in AfCFTA will come to effect.”

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Sheila Tlou: On why women don’t get votes

1st March 2021
Sheila Tlou

BARAPEDI KEDIKILWE

Women continue to shadow men in politics – stereotypes such as ‘behind every successful man there is a woman’ cast the notion that women cannot lead. The 2019 general election recorded one of Botswana’s worst performances when it comes to women participation in parliamentary democracy with only three women elected to parliament.

Botswana’s former Minister of Health, Professor Sheila Tlou who is currently the Co-Chair, Global HIV Prevention Coalition & Nursing Now and an HIV, Gender & Human Rights Activist is not amused by the status quo. Tlou attributes this dilemma facing women to a number of factors, which she is convinced influence the voting patterns of Batswana when it comes to women politicians.

Professor Tlou plugs the party level voting systems as the first hindrance that blocks women from ascending to power. According to the former Minister of Health, there is inadequate amount of professionalism due to corrupt internal party structures affecting the voters roll and ultimately leading to voter apathy for those who end up struck off the voters rolls under dubious circumstances.

Tlou also stated that women’s campaigns are often clean; whilst men put to play the ‘politics is dirty metaphor using financial muscle to buy voters into voting for them without taking into consideration their abilities and credibility. The biggest hurdle according to Tlou is the fallacy that ‘Women cannot lead’, which is also perpetuated by other women who discourage people from voting for women.

There are numerous factors put on the table when scrutinizing a woman, she can be either too old, or too young, or her marital status can be used against her. An unmarried woman is labelled as a failure and questioned on how she intends on being a leader when she failed to have a home. The list is endless including slut shaming women who have either been through a divorce or on to their second marriages, Tlou observed.

The only way that voters can be emancipated from this mentality according to Tlou is through a robust voter education campaign tailor made to run continuously and not be left to the eve of elections as it is usually done. She further stated that the current crop of women in parliament must show case their abilities and magnify them – this will help make it clear that they too are worthy of votes.

And to women intending to run for office, Tlou encouraged them not to wait for the eleventh hour to show their interest and rather start in community mobilisation projects as early as possible so that the constituents can get to know them and their abilities prior to the election date.

Youthful Botswana National Front (BNF) leader and feminist, Resego Kgosidintsi blames women’s mentality towards one another which emanates from the fact that women have been socialised from a tender age that they cannot be leaders hence they find it difficult to vote for each other.

Kgosidintsi further states that, “Women do not have enough economic resources to stage effective campaigns. They are deemed as the natural care givers and would rather divert their funds towards raising children and building homes over buying campaign materials.”

Meanwhile, Vice President of the Alliance for Progressives (AP), Wynter Mmolotsi agrees that women’s participation in politics in Botswana remains a challenge. To address this Mmolotsi suggested that there should be constituencies reserved for women candidates only so that the outcome regardless of the party should deliver a woman Member of Parliament.

Mmolotsi further suggested that Botswana should ditch the First Past the Post system of election and opt for the proportional representation where contesting parties will dutifully list able women as their representatives in parliament.

On why women do not get elected, Mmolotsi explained that he had heard first hand from voters that they are reluctant to vote for women since they have limited access to them once they have won; unlike their male counterparts who have proven to be available night or day.

The pre-historic awarding of gender roles relegating women to be pregnant and barefoot at home and the man to be out there fending for the family has disadvantaged women in political and other professional careers.

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SEZA’s P126 million tender heads to court

1st March 2021

Special Economic Zone Authority’s (SEZA) P126 million Master Planning of Pandamatenga Special Economic Zones Business Case, Urban & Landscapes tender is in court after one of bidders, Moralo Design challenged its disqualification from the tender.

SEZA is transforming Pandamatenga into an Agropolis which will combine modern farming with top notch industrial, residential, commercial and recreational land use. The project is measured at 137, 007 ha which comprises of 84, 500 ha for commercial production, 12 400 ha for the subsistence production, 107 ha will be for Agro-processing while 40 000 ha will be for the Zambezi Integrated Agro-commercial Project (ZIACDP).

In their court papers, Moralo Designs, represented by Jones Moitshepi Firm, said they received a letter from SEZA on or around the 12th November 2020 notifying that their bid has been disqualified at the technical evaluation stage of the tender adjudication process.

In their response, Lonely Mogara who is Chief Executive Office of SEZA said Moralo Designs is not entitled to be heard by the court as the company never participated in the disputed tender hence SEZA knows the bidder as Moralo Design Consortium.

“Moralo Designs had failed to establish any right to be heard by the court. The fact that they had submitted a tender was not guarantee that they would be awarded the tender,” he said.
“The reasons for the disqualification of Moralo Design Consortium’s bid were valid and justified because their bid was insufficient as it lacked vital information as required by the terms of reference.”

SEZA Chief said the requirements for the work plan and project programme were clearly stated in the Invitation To Tender (ITT). Moralo Design Consortium was not penalised for non-existent requirements.  In disqualifying the bid by Moralo Designs Consortium, Mogara further indicated that SEZA considered that there was a requirement for a programme and work plan.

“The purported “project programme” that was submitted by Moralo Design Consortium failed to depict the activity durations, activity phasing and interrelations, milestones, delivery dates of reports and logical sequence of activities constituent with methodology and showing a clear understanding of the terms of reference,” said Mogara in responding affidavit.

He said the ITT required that there be provision of delivery dates within the programme hence Moralo Designs Consortium failed to consult with SEZA when they felt that such a requirement would be impossible to provide.  He continued to say there was an avenue available when the tender was being prepared, but they failed to use it.

“Moralo Designs’ application for interim relief lacks merit and only seeks to delay SEZA from completing the evaluation and award of a tender that will serve the greater good of the nation,” said Mogara.

He went on to say Moralo Designs has no prospects of succeeding in its review application as the possibility of court granting the review are so remote in that the court does not possess the requisite technical knowhow on what constitutes an adequate work plan and what ought to be contained in it.

A bidder disqualified for failure to provide adequate information has no right to be protected by the court. Irreparable harm can only be suffered by one who has shown that there exists a right in so far as having stood the chance of being awarded the tender.

The financial benefit likely to be derived by Moralo Designs- which is highly unlikely- is outweighed by the nature of the project. In the unlikely event that the application for review is successful, they can claim for damages.  The availability of such remedy weighs in favour of the interdict being refused. The refusal stands to benefit the nation more than the financial interest that Moralo Designs seeks to protect.

Moralo Designs failed to establish the urgency of their application. They waited for more than a month and half after the disqualification to approach the court on urgency. Meanwhile when delivering the State of the Nation Address (SONA) last year, President Mokgweetsi Masisi revealed that the detailed design and construction of 12 steel grain silos — with an overall storage capacity of 60 000 metric tonnes — is underway at the Pandamatenga SEZ and the P126 million project will be completed by August 2021.

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