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Thursday, 18 April 2024

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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Nigerians, Zimbabweans apply for Chema Chema Fund

16th April 2024

Fronting activities, where locals are used as a front for foreign-owned businesses, have been a long-standing issue in Botswana. These activities not only undermine the government’s efforts to promote local businesses but also deprive Batswana of opportunities for economic empowerment, officials say. The Ministry of Trade and Industry has warned of heavy penalties for those involved in fronting activities especially in relation to the latest popular government initiative dubbed Chema Chema.

According to the Ministry, the Industrial Development Act of 2019 clearly outlines the consequences of engaging in fronting activities. The fines of up to P50,000 for first-time offenders and P20,000 plus a two-year jail term for repeat offenders send a strong message that the government is serious about cracking down on this illegal practice. These penalties are meant to deter individuals from participating in fronting activities and to protect the integrity of local industries.

“It is disheartening to hear reports of collaboration between foreigners and locals to exploit government initiatives such as the Chema Chema Fund. This fund, administered by CEDA and LEA, is meant to support informal traders and low-income earners in Botswana. However, when fronting activities come into play, the intended beneficiaries are sidelined, and the funds are misused for personal gain.” It has been discovered that foreign nationals predominantly of Zimbabwean and Nigerian origin use unsuspecting Batswana to attempt to access the Chema Chema Fund. It is understood that they approach these Batswana under the guise of drafting business plans for them or simply coming up with ‘bankable business ideas that qualify for Chema Chema.’

Observers say the Chema Chema Fund has the potential to uplift the lives of many Batswana who are struggling to make ends meet. They argue that it is crucial that these funds are used for their intended purpose and not siphoned off through illegal activities such as fronting. The Ministry says the warning it issued serves as a reminder to all stakeholders involved in the administration of these funds to ensure transparency and accountability in their disbursement.

One local commentator said it is important to highlight the impact of fronting activities on the local economy and the livelihoods of Batswana. He said by using locals as a front for foreign-owned businesses, opportunities for local entrepreneurs are stifled, and the economic empowerment of Batswana is hindered. The Ministry’s warning of heavy penalties is a call to action for all stakeholders to work together to eliminate fronting activities and promote a level playing field for local businesses.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Trade and Industry’s warning of heavy penalties for fronting activities is a necessary step to protect the integrity of local industries and promote economic empowerment for Batswana. “It is imperative that all stakeholders comply with regulations and work towards a transparent and accountable business environment. By upholding the law and cracking down on illegal activities, we can ensure a fair and prosperous future for all Batswana.”










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Merck Foundation and African First Ladies mark World Health Day 2024

15th April 2024

Merck Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany marks “World Health Day” 2024 together with Africa’s First Ladies who are also Ambassadors of MerckFoundation “More Than a Mother” Campaign through their Scholarship and Capacity Building Program. Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation emphasized, “At Merck Foundation, we mark World Health Day every single day of the year over the past 12 years, by building healthcare capacity and transforming patient care across Africa, Asia and beyond.

I am proud to share that Merck Foundation has provided over 1740 scholarships to aspiring young doctors from 52 countries, in 44 critical and underserved medical specialties such as Oncology, Diabetes, Preventative Cardiovascular Medicine, Endocrinology, Sexual and Reproductive Medicine, Acute Medicine, Respiratory Medicine, Embryology & Fertility specialty, Gastroenterology, Dermatology, Psychiatry, Emergency and Resuscitation Medicine, Critical Care, Pediatric Emergency Medicine, Neonatal Medicine, Advanced Surgical Practice, Pain Management, General Surgery, Clinical Microbiology and infectious diseases, Internal Medicine, Trauma & Orthopedics, Neurosurgery, Neurology, Cardiology, Stroke Medicine, Care of the Older Person, Family Medicine, Pediatrics and Child Health, Obesity & Weight Management, Women’s Health, Biotechnology in ART and many more”.

As per the available data, Africa has only 34.6% of the required doctors, nurses, and midwives. It is projected that by 2030, Africa would need additional 6.1 million doctors, nurses, and midwives*. “For Example, before the start of the Merck Foundation programs in 2012; there was not a single Oncologist, Fertility or Reproductive care specialists, Diabetologist, Respiratory or ICU specialist in many countries such as The Gambia, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Central African Republic, Guinea, Burundi, Niger, Chad, Ethiopia, Namibia among others. We are certainly creating historic legacy in Africa, and also beyond. Together with our partners like Africa’s First Ladies, Ministries of Health, Gender, Education and Communication, we are impacting the lives of people in the most disadvantaged communities in Africa and beyond.”, added Senator Dr. Kelej. Merck Foundation works closely with their Ambassadors, the African First Ladies and local partners such as; Ministries of Health, Education, Information & Communication, Gender, Academia, Research Institutions, Media and Art in building healthcare capacity and addressing health, social & economic challenges in developing countries and under-served communities. “I strongly believe that training healthcare providers and building professional healthcare capacity is the right strategy to improve access to equitable and quality at health care in Africa.

Therefore, I am happy to announce the Call for Applications for 2024 Scholarships for young doctors with special focus on female doctors for our online one-year diploma and two year master degree in 44 critical and underserved medical specialties, which includes both Online Diploma programs and On-Site Fellowship and clinical training programs. The applications are invited through the Office of our Ambassadors and long-term partners, The First Ladies of Africa and Ministry of Health of each country.” shared Dr . Kelej. “Our aim is to improve the overall health and wellbeing of people by building healthcare capacity across Africa, Asia and other developing countries. We are strongly committed to transforming patientcare landscape through our scholarships program”, concluded Senator Kelej.

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Interpol fugitive escapes from Botswana

15th April 2024

John Isaak Ndovi, a Tanzanian national embroiled in controversy and pursued under a red notice by the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol), has mysteriously vanished, bypassing a scheduled bail hearing at the Extension 2 Magistrate Court in Gaborone. Previously apprehended by Botswana law enforcement at the Tlokweng border post several months earlier, his escape has ignited serious concerns.

Accused of pilfering assets worth in excess of P1 million, an amount translating to roughly 30,000 Omani Riyals, Ndovi has become a figure of paramount interest, especially to the authorities in the Sultanate of Oman, nestled in the far reaches of Asia.

The unsettling news of his disappearance surfaced following his failure to present himself at the Extension 2 Magistrate Court the preceding week. Speculation abounds that Ndovi may have sought refuge in South Africa in a bid to elude capture, prompting a widespread mobilization of law enforcement agencies to ascertain his current location.

In an official communiqué, Detective Senior Assistant Police Commissioner Selebatso Mokgosi of Interpol Gaborone disclosed Ndovi’s apprehension last September at the Tlokweng border, a capture made possible through the vigilant issuance of the Interpol red notice.

At 36, Ndovi is implicated in a case of alleged home invasion in Oman. Despite the non-existence of an extradition treaty between Botswana and Oman, Nomsa Moatswi, the Director of the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP), emphasized that the lack of formal extradition agreements does not hinder her office’s ability to entertain extradition requests. She highlighted the adoption of international cooperation norms, advocating for collaboration through the lenses of international comity and reciprocity.

Moatswi disclosed the intensified effort by law enforcement to locate Ndovi following his no-show in court, and pointed to Botswana’s track record of extraditing two international fugitives from France and Zimbabwe in the previous year as evidence of the country’s relentless pursuit of legal integrity.

When probed about the potential implications of Ndovi’s case on Botswana’s forthcoming evaluation by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), Moatswi reserved her speculations. She acknowledged the criticality of steering clear of blacklisting, suggesting that this singular case is unlikely to feature prominently in the FATF’s assessment criteria.


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