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Guma blocks Tshekedi’s bill as committee hunts missing files

The Parliamentary Committee on Statutory Bodies and Public Enterprises this week moved to force the withdrawal of Botswana Tourism Organisation (BTO) Amendment bill which had sought to introduce the tourism levy under controversial circumstances.

Minister of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism, Tshekedi Khama was forced to withdraw the bill at the counsel of his lieutenants at the ministry. This was after the Chairperson of Parliamentary Committee on Statutory Bodies— Samson Guma furnished them with information regarding the illegality of bringing a bill which its matter was still being probed by the committee.

The bill, in the committee’s wisdom will only be brought before parliament after the report on the probing on maladministration and possible corruption at BTO has been tabled before parliament. Until then, in the view of the committee, the bill brought forward by the Khama, seeks to circumvent the findings of the report  and validates the unlawful actions taken by the minister, as established by the committee at the its last sitting in 2016.

However, the file which was expected to have helped compile the anticipated report is confirmed to be missing by the parliamentary staff, something which is likely to raise eyebrows on its whereabouts. Information gathered by the committee this week is that, the missing files, which form part of last year proceedings that examined the BTO scandal, were in the custody of Parliamentary Counsel, who was sized with the responsibility of compiling the report. This however has been complicated by the fact that the parliamentary counsel has since left his post in the wake of expiry of his contract.

The committee further learned from the Deputy Clerk that the parliamentary counsel, although now with the attorney general’s chambers has been asked with compiling the report. Members of the committee have however raised the credibility of the report if it is compiled without the input of the committee as it has always been the norm.  

Dr Phenyo Butale, legislator for Gaborone Central who is the committee member accoused the parliamentary of gross negligence as he said the confidential file, with information of such nature should have processes of keeping it safe. Jimmy Opelo, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism as well as Acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at BTO, Zibanani Hubona were called to give evidence on their involved in the creation of Tourism Levy which Khama seeks to present for approval in parliament.

The evidence, has brought more wrath to Minister Tshekedi whom Guma angrily again warned him against undermining the laws of the the republic. “Tell him he is abusing his office. This is a country and he is bound to act within the law,” Guma said. “Can there be order at his ministry. This is totally unacceptable.”  The new development reignites last year’s episodes in which the chairperson of the committee Guma and Khama exchanged several accusations after the former summoned the latter to give evidence before the committee.  

Khama last year appeared before the committee to answer for his alleged maladministration at the Ministry. This was on the back of developing events at the beleaguered BTO where the then CEO Brian Dithebe was instructed to cut his stay at the organisation short without any reasonable explanation. Dithebe’s work contract was abruptly terminated, allegedly at the instruction of the Minister.  

Another litany of findings revealed that Khama had among others acted beyond his powers by allowing BTO to operate without Board of Directors and usurping its powers. The committee established that Khama unlawfully made BTO to enter into series of contractual obligations such as opening of office in Dubai, which would have cost government P17 million as well as engaging foreign company to help government to collect the controversial tourism levy proposed by the minister himself.

Khama however has always believed that the probing on BTO and his ministry is politically motivated expressing this view when he appeared before the committee. “We know here it may look like the committee is doing its job, which I do not have a problem with. But me and you [Guma] know beyond the parameters of this wall there is politics behind it,” Tshekedi levelled the accusation.

His point was that, in as much as he admitted that his Ministry wasted huge sums of tax payers’ money, other Ministries had done the same and squandered billions of government money and yet they were not being grilled as his Ministry was. “I also want this [probing] extended to other institutions that have wasted billions of government money. And I’m glad my ministry has not wasted as much.”

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Masisi to dump Tsogwane?

28th November 2022

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and some senior government officials are abuzz with reports that President Mokgweetsi Masisi has requested his Vice President, Slumber Tsogwane not to contest the next general elections in 2024.

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African DFIs gear to combat climate change

25th November 2022

The impacts of climate change are increasing in frequency and intensity every year and this is forecast to continue for the foreseeable future. African CEOs in the Global South are finally coming to the party on how to tackle the crisis.

Following the completion of COP27 in Egypt recently, CEOs of Africa DFIs converged in Botswana for the CEO Forum of the Association of African Development Finance Institutions. One of the key themes was on green financing and building partnerships for resource mobilization in financing SDGs in Africa

A report; “Weathering the storm; African Development Banks response to Covid-19” presented shocking findings during the seminar. Among them; African DFI’s have proven to be financially resilient, and they are fast shifting to a green transition and it’s financing.

COO, CEDA, James Moribame highlighted that; “Everyone needs food, shelter and all basic needs in general, but climate change is putting the achievement of this at bay. “It is expensive for businesses to do business, for instance; it is much challenging for the agricultural sector due to climate change, and the risks have gone up. If a famer plants crops, they should be ready for any potential natural disaster which will cost them their hard work.”

According to Moribame, Start-up businesses will forever require help if there is no change.

“There is no doubt that the Russia- Ukraine war disrupted supply chains. SMMEs have felt the most impact as some start-up businesses acquire their materials internationally, therefore as inflation peaks, this means the exchange rate rises which makes commodities expensive and challenging for SMMEs to progress. Basically, the cost of doing business has gone up. Governments are no longer able to support DFI’s.”

Moribame shared remedies to the situation, noting that; “What we need is leadership that will be able to address this. CEOs should ensure companies operate within a framework of responsible lending. They also ought to scout for opportunities that would be attractive to investors, this include investors who are willing to put money into green financing. Botswana is a prime spot for green financing due to the great opportunity that lies in solar projects. ”

Technology has been hailed as the economy of the future and thus needs to be embraced to drive operational efficiency both internally and externally.

Executive Director, bank of Industry Nigeria, Simon Aranou mentioned that for investors to pump money to climate financing in Africa, African states need to be in alignment with global standards.

“Do what meets world standards if you want money from international investors. Have a strong risk management system. Also be a good borrower, if you have a loan, honour the obligation of paying it back because this will ensure countries have a clean financial record which will then pave way for easier lending of money in the future. African states cannot just be demanding for mitigation from rich countries. Financing needs infrastructure to complement it, you cannot be seating on billions of dollars without the necessary support systems to make it work for you. Domestic resource mobilisation is key. Use public money to mobilise private money.” He said.

For his part, the Minster of Minister of Entrepreneurship, Karabo Gare enunciated that, over the past three years, governments across the world have had to readjust their priorities as the world dealt with the effects and impact of the COVID 19 pandemic both to human life and economic prosperity.

“The role of DFIs, during this tough period, which is to support governments through countercyclical measures, including funding of COVID-19 related development projects, has become more important than ever before. However, with the increasingly limited resources from governments, DFIs are now expected to mobilise resources to meet the fiscal gaps and continue to meet their developmental mandates across the various affected sectors of their economies.” Said Gare.

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TotalEnergies Botswana launches Road safety campaign in Letlhakeng

22nd November 2022

Letlhakeng:TotalEnergies Botswana today launched a Road Safety Campaign as part of their annual Stakeholder Relationship Management (SRM), in partnership with Unitrans, MVA Fund, TotalEnergies Letlhakeng Filling Station and the Letlhakeng Sub District Road Safety Committee during an event held in Letlhakeng under the theme, #IamTrafficToo.

The Supplier Relationship Management initiative is an undertaking by TotalEnergies through which TotalEnergie annually explores and implements social responsibility activities in communities within which we operate, by engaging key stakeholders who are aligned with the organization’s objectives. Speaking during the launch event, TotalEnergies’ Operations and HSSEQ,   Patrick Thedi said,  “We at TotalEnergies pride ourselves in being an industrial operator with a strategy centered on respect, listening, dialogue and stakeholder involvement, and a partner in the sustainable social and economic development of its host communities and countries. We are also very fortunate to have stakeholders who are in alignment with our organizational objectives. We assess relationships with our key stakeholders to understand their concerns and expectations as well as identify priority areas for improvement to strengthen the integration of Total Energies in the community. As our organization transitions from Total to Total Energies, we are committed to exploring sustainable initiatives that will be equally indicative of our growth and this Campaign is a step in the right direction. ”

As part of this campaign roll out, stakeholders  will be refurbishing and upgrading and installing road signs around schools in the area, and generally where required. One of the objectives of the Campaign is to bring awareness and training on how to manage and share the road/parking with bulk vehicles, as the number of bulk vehicles using the Letlhakeng road to bypass Trans Kalahari increases. When welcoming guests to Letlhakeng, Kgosi Balepi said he welcomed the initiative as it will reduce the number of road incidents in the area.

Also present was District Traffic Officer ASP, Reuben Moleele,  who gave a statistical overview of accidents in the region, as well as the rest of the country. Moleele applauded TotalEnergies and partners on the Campaign, especially ahead of the festive season, a time he pointed out is always one with high road statistics. The campaign name #IamTrafficToo, is a reminder to all road users, including pedestrians that they too need to be vigilant and play their part in ensuring a reduction in road incidents.

The official proceedings of the day included a handover of reflectors and stop/Go signs to the Letlhakeng Cluster from TotalEnerigies, injury prevention from tips from MVA’s Onkabetse Petlwana, as  well as  bulk vehicle safety tips delivered from Adolf Namate of Unitrans.

TotalEnergies, which is committed to having zero carbon emissions by 2050,  has committed to rolling out the Road safety Campaign to the rest of the country in the future.

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