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P60 billion of pensioners’ funds up for grabs

Acting on behalf of Capital Management Botswana and Rapula Okaile (a shareholder in CMB), Gabriel Kanjabanga of Kanjabanga and Associates is demanding 10 million pula from Botswana Public Officers Pension Fund (BPOPF) in damages against what they say is falsehoods against CMB and its associates.  

BPOPF is the biggest pension fund for public servants in Botswana, and the third largest in Africa with a monetary value which has now reached a whooping 60 billion pula. According to a damning letter to BPOPF Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Boitumelo Molefhe, which has been passed to Weekend Post, the lawyer of CMB seeks a retraction of the said falsehoods peddled against them.

“We are instructed to hereby institute a damages claim against you in the order of 10 million pula, and to seek a written undertaking from retracting your false allegations, and committing to cease making falsehoods against CMB, its employees, its owners, and related parties,” he stated in the letter. The falsehoods they refer to include that BPOPF CEO “have in various fora, falsely stated that a very senior government figure is engaged in criminal conduct with our clients.”

“Your allegations that CMB officers held meetings with Private Secretary to the President (PSP) Carter Morupisi to discuss your dismissal (as BPOPF CEO) is simply ridiculous in the extreme and smacks either of your desperation to besmirch our client (CMB), or alternatively, that you have extremely low levels of self esteem.”

The CMB attorney said the allegations made by the CEO are serious in nature and have the potential, and have caused significant reputational and other commercial and other commercial damage to our clients (CMB). Further, “you know your statements to be false, as you have access to the share register of CMB, it having been shown to you when you repeated yet another false claim which you alleged was told to you by Rhys Carr, to wit, that Martin M. Mokgatlhe, founder of Motswedi Securities, is a “secret” shareholder in CMB.”

Carr was a former Director of CMB, who left CMB in acrimonious circumstances and was later embroiled in court matter in Botswana between Brian White and 3G Mobile (Botswana) (Pty) Ltd (CMA was previously a 50% shareholder), in which Carr’s questionable dealings with 3G Mobile were laid bare in the court record.

In the instance of the claims against Makgatlhe, Kanjabanga said BPOPF CEO has accepted the evidence of the CMB share register, but in the instance of accusations against PSP Morupisi, she continues to peddle the falsehoods with wanton abandon, despite having access to the self-same standard of evidence, being the shareholder record.

We are aware; he said that your relationship with Carr endures and that you regularly seek to source ‘dirt’ from Carr, including enticing him to elicit ‘dirt’ from the estranged wife of Tim Marsland, a fellow CMB Director. “It is therefore perverse that you base your accusations on such highly questionable sources. We can state unequivocally that Carr has not provided you with any hard evidence to back up his falsehoods, simply because such evidence does not exist. You, therefore, are equally unable to back up your allegations with any hard evidence,” the lawyer warned.

According to the CMB lawyer, BPOPF CEO used the basis of the false accusations, which she knows to be false, to report CMB to DCEC. “We wish to suggest to you that you seek legal advice as to your actions, as the intentional making of a false statement to the authorities in an extremely serious matter. We intend to point this out to DCEC,” the CMB Counsel threatened.

He continued: “It is clear that the falsehoods you are peddling and the reporting of this to DCEC are simply a ruse by you to influence the legal proceedings currently underway as between the BPOPF and CMB. Quite clearly, one must wonder why you need to go to extreme lengths if you are so confident in your case.”

In light of your very obvious action that you have brought the office of the CEO of an important institution like the BPOPF into such obvious disrepute, the lawyer asserted that he again calls for a transparent and public enquiry into the actions and the actions of the BPOPF Secretariat, covering not only CEO very questionable dealings on this matter, but also the reason why, under her watch, virtually every citizen and local asset management company has been largely shut down as a result of actions undertaken by the CEO which includes Fleming, Afena (Kgori) and now CMB.

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UDC founder warns against merger

19th October 2020
Ex UDC Convener: Mpotokwane

Lebang Mpotokwane, one of the conveners who presided over the opposition cooperation talks that resulted in the formation of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), has advised against changing the current umbrella model in favour of a merger as proposed by others.

The Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leader, Dumelang Saleshando recently went public to propose that UDC should consider merging of all opposition parties, including Alliance for Progressives (AP) and Botswana Patriotic Front (BNF).

Saleshando has been vehemently opposed by Botswana National Front (BNF), which is in favour of maintaining the current model.  BNF’s position has been favoured by the founding father of UDC, who warned that it will be too early to ditch the current model.

“UDC should be well developed to promote the spirit of togetherness on members and the members should be taught so that the merger is developed gradually. They should approach it cautiously. If they feel they are ready, they can, but it would not be a good idea,” Mpotokwane told WeekendPost this week.

Mpotokwane and Emang Maphanyane are the two men who have since 2003 began a long journey of uniting opposition parties in a bid to dethrone the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BCP) as they felt it needed a strong opposition to avoid complacency.

Tonota born Mpotokwane is however disappointed on how they have been ejected from participating in the last edition of talks ahead of the 2019 general elections in which BCP was brought on board.  However, despite the ejection, Mpotokwane is not resentful to the opposition collective.

He said the vision of opposition unity was to ultimately merge the opposition parties but he believes time has not arrived yet to pursue that path. “The bigger picture was a total merger and we agreed that with three independent parties, members might be against merger eventuality so the current model should be used until a point where they are now together for as long as possible,” he said.

“UDC should gradually perform better in elections and gain confidence. They should not rush the merger. We have been meeting since 2003, but if they rush it might cause endless problems. If they are ready they can anyway,” he advised. For now the constituent parties of the umbrella have been exchanging salvos with others (BCP and BNF).

“There are good reasons for and against merging the parties. Personally, I am in favour of merging the parties (including AP and BPF) into a single formation but I know it’s a complex mission that will have its own challenges,” Saleshando said when he made his position known a week ago.

“Good luck to those advocating for a merger, it will be interesting to observe the tactics they will use to lure the BPF into a merger,” former BNF councillor for Borakalalo Ward and former BNF Youth League Secretary General, Arafat Khan, opined in relation to BCP’s proposed position.

Mpotokwane, who is currently out in the cold from the UDC since he was ejected from the party’s NEC in 2017, said the current bickering and the expected negotiations with other parties need the presence of conveners.

“We did not belong to any party as conveners so we were objective in our submissions. If party propose any progressive idea we will support, if it is not we will not, so I would agree that even now conveners might be key for neutrality to avoid biasness,” he observed. Despite being abandoned, Mpotokwane said he will always be around to assist if at all he is needed.

“If they want help I will be there, I have always been clear about it, but surely I will ask few questions before accepting that role,” he said. UDC is expected to begin cooperation talks with both AP and BPF either this week or next weekend for both upcoming bye-elections (halted by Covid-19) and 2024 general elections and it is revealed that there will be no conveners this time around.

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BDP attaches Boko’s property

19th October 2020

The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) moved through its lawyers to attach the property of Umbrella for Democratic (UDC) President Duma Boko and other former parliamentary contestants who failed in their court bid to overturn the 2019 general elections in 14 constituencies.

WeekendPost has established that this week, Deputy Sheriffs were commissioned by Bogopa Manewe Tobedza and Company who represented the BDP, to attach the properties of UDC elections contents in a bid to recover costs.  High Court has issued a writ of execution against all petitioners, a process that has set in motion the cost recovery measures.

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COVID-19 exposes decay in the education system

19th October 2020
Education Systm

Botswana Sectors of Teachers Union (BOSETU) says COVID-19 as a pandemic has negatively affected the education sector by deeply disrupting the education system. The intermittent lockdowns have resulted in the halting of teaching and learning in schools.

The union indicated that the education system was caught napping and badly exposed when it came to the use of Information System (IT), technological platforms and issues of digitalisation.

“COVID-19 exposed glaring inefficiencies and deficiencies when it came to the use of ITC in schools. In view of the foregoing, we challenge government as BOSETU to invest in school ITC, technology and digitalization,” says BOSETU President Kinston Radikolo during a press conference on Tuesday.

As a consequence, the union is calling on government to prioritise education in her budgeting to provide technological infrastructure and equipment including provision of tablets to students and teachers.

“Government should invest vigorously in internet connectivity in schools and teacher’s residences if the concept of flexi-hours and virtual learning were to be achieved and have desired results,” Radikolo said.

Radikolo told journalists that COVID-19 is likely to negatively affect final year results saying that the students would sit for the final examinations having not covered enough ground in terms of curriculum coverage.

“This is so because there wasn’t any catch up plan that was put in place to recover the lost time by students. We warn that this year’s final examination results would dwindle,” he said.

The Union, which is an affiliate of Botswana Federation of Public, Private and Parastatal Union (BOFEPUSU), also indicated that COVID-19’s presence as a pandemic has complicated the role of a teacher in a school environment, saying a teacher’s role has not only transcended beyond just facilitating teaching and learning, but rather, a teacher in this COVID-19 era, is also called upon to enforce the COVID-19 preventative protocols in the school environment.

“This is an additional role in the duty of a teacher that needs to be recognized by the employers. Teachers by virtue of working in a congested school environment have become highly exposed and vulnerable to COVID-19, hence the reason why BOSETU would like teachers to be regarded as the frontline workers with respect to COVID-19,” says Radikolo.

BOSETU noted that the pandemic has in large scales found its way into most of the school environments, as in thus far more than 50 schools have been affected by COVID-19. The Union says this is quite a worrying phenomenon.

“As we indicated before when we queried that schools were not ready for re-opening, it has now come to pass that our fears were not far-fetched. This goes out to tell that there is deficiency in our schools when it comes to putting in place preventative protocols. In our schools, hygiene is compromised by mere absence of sanitizers, few hand-washing stations, absence of social distancing in classes,” the Union leader said.

Furthermore, Radikolo stressed that the shifting system drastically increased the workload for teachers especially in secondary schools. He says teachers in these schools experience very high loads to an extent that some of them end up teaching up to sixty four periods per week, adding that this has not only fatigued teachers, but has also negatively affected their performance and the quality of teaching.

In what the Union sees as failure to uphold and honour collective agreements by government, owing to the shift system introduced at primary schools, government is still in some instances refusing to honour an agreement with the Unions to hire more teachers to take up the extra classes.

“BOSETU notes with disgruntlement the use of pre-school teachers to teach in the mainstream schools with due regard for their specific areas of training and their job descriptions. This in our view is a variation of the terms of employment of the said teachers,” says Radikolo.

The Union has called on government to forthwith remedy this situation and hire more teachers to alleviate this otherwise unhealthy situation. BOSETU also expressed concerns of some school administrators who continuously run institutions with iron fists and in a totalitarian way.

“We have a few such hot spot schools which the Union has brought to attention the Ministry officials such as Maoka JSS, Artesia JSS, and Dukwi JSS. We are worried that the Ministry becomes sluggish in taking action against such errant school administration. In instances where action is taken, such school administrators are transferred and rotated around schools.”

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