Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi has assured potential international investors and entrepreneurs that his government is committed to making the environment for business in Botswana conducive for business and significant investment.
When officially opening the 12th edition of BITC Global Expo Botswana in Gaborone on Tuesday Masisi said the expo which attracted over 220 Exhibitors and Delegates from Europe, Asia and the rest of Africa presented an opportunity for all exhibitors, visitors and delegates to meet and discuss business prospects.
He highlighted that Botswana’s key priority as a nation is to achieve an export-led economy that will create sustainable jobs. “As espoused in our national Vision – Vision 2036 and the eleventh National Development Plan (NDP 11), this can only be achieved through development of sectors and industries that will drive sustainable growth and diversification,” he said.
Masisi observed that the vision calls for coordinated efforts and contributions from sectors of the economy, including agriculture, manufacturing, services, resource beneficiation, energy, tourism and the creative industries. “To this end, continuous review of potential growth sectors and improvement of the investment climate has remained a high priority for Botswana,” he noted.
He further observed that Botswana enjoys a distinct and central geographical positioning within Southern Africa, which placed the country as a gateway to regional and global markets and value chains. “Therefore, Botswana as an investment hub for Southern Africa provides the greatest opportunity for companies that wish to re-establish their presence in Africa.”
The Vice president added that regarding sustainable market opportunities, Botswana had entered into bilateral and multilateral trade agreements aimed at opening markets for Botswana manufactured products regionally and globally. Botswana is a member of the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) which gives access to sixty two (62) million consumers in South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho and Swaziland.
“We continue to enjoy unfettered market access in the fifteen (15) Southern African Development Community (SADC) Member States, who are signatories to the SADC Trade Protocol.” SADC provides access to a market of around two hundred and eighty (280) million people. Additionally, Botswana along with other African countries enjoys access to the US market for over 6500 product lines. Furthermore, Botswana has duty free and quota free access into the EU. “I therefore wish to encourage all of you to invest in Botswana in order to take advantage of this market access,” added Masisi.
Beside the market opportunities that Botswana poses, according to Masisi, the country has positive policy and regulatory environment for doing business in place. The Ease of Doing Business Report of 2017 ranks Botswana at number 71 out of 190 Countries, above countries such as South Africa and China, amongst others.
Doing Business provides quantitative measures of business regulation in eleven (11) regulatory areas that are critical to the functioning of the private sector. Africa Investment Index 2016 ranked Botswana as the most attractive destination for investments flowing into the African continent. The 2017-2018 Global Competitiveness Report ranks Botswana at number 63 out of 137 countries. Botswana’s competitiveness has slightly improved in the last 3 years from 71 in 2015-2016, to 64 in 2016-2017 and further improved to 63 in 2017-2018 as I already indicated.
The VP further added that Botswana found it in her best interest to carry out initiatives that would continuously improve the business environment through implementation of the Doing Business Reforms Roadmap. “In this regard, we are fast-tracking some of the reforms, including, inter alia, to further streamline business laws and regulations, improve service delivery, reduce paper work, as well as leverage on ICT applications. This will lead to reduction in the cost and time of doing business, thereby improving overall competitiveness.”
Some of the completed reforms include the amendment of the Companies Act which allows applicants to register companies without the facilitation of Company Secretaries; electronic filing and payment for taxes; as well as the online customs management system, which has paved way for the development of the single electronic window to facilitate cross border trade.
Government recently established the Botswana One Stop Service Centre (BOSSC) based at the BITC Head Office in Gaborone at the Central Business District. BOSSC serves as an investment facilitation mechanism where relevant Government agencies have been brought to a single cohesive structure that coordinates and streamlines processes to provide prompt, efficient and transparent services to investors.
The One Stop Service Centre will shorten and simplify administrative procedures and guidelines for issuance of business approvals, permits and licenses, thereby removing bottlenecks faced by investors in establishing and running businesses in Botswana. Amongst the services provided through the Centre are company registration, acquisition of work and residence permits, application for land, opening of bank accounts, and connection to utilities
Masisi also brought to light the fact that his Government had confirmed eight (8) Special Economic Zone sites across the country. Government has however, prioritized the mixed use SEZ at Sir Seretse Khama International Airport (SSKIA), Corporate Headquarters and Financial Services in Gaborone. A Master Plan will be completed in December 2017 for the mixed use SEZ at SSKIA which will be followed by the development of detailed designs for the development of SEZ infrastructure. The Gaborone SEZ offers opportunities in diamond beneficiation, logistics, aircraft maintenance, repair and operation, electronics and pharmaceuticals.
He said the Botswana International Financial Services Centre provides another avenue for investment into Botswana. “We are at the end of the process to refine and revitalize the IFSC framework. This will reposition Botswana as a reputable, regional gateway for financial and capital flows into SADC and the rest of sub-Saharan African. The reforms include streamlining, shortening and simplifying the IFSC certification process by infusing it into regular licensing processing; developing a framework for utilization of Professional Advisory Firms; recognition of Fund structures such as Limited Liability Partnerships and Trusts; as well as amendment of the Income Tax Act to eliminate Framework Ring Fencing Provisions.”
Masisi also encouraged investors to look with keen interest in the Selebi – Phikwe region in North Eastern Botswana, where he said there were tangible opportunities in information technology, agro-processing and horticulture. “Government has put in place a framework of incentives including fiscal and direct Government off take on procurement. I therefore wish to implore you to explore and take advantage of these investment opportunities,” he said.
In a classic and shocking case of disgrace and dishonour to this country, the law enforcement agencies are currently struggling to cover up a damaging and humiliating scandal of having conspired to forge the signature of a Palapye Chief Magistrate, Rebecca Motsamai in an unlawful acquisition of the much-publicised 2019 warrant of arrest against Isaac Kgosi, the former director of the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS).
The cloak-and-dagger arrest was led by the DIS director, Brigadier Peter Magosi supported by the Botswana Police, Botswana Defence Force (BDF), with the Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) which accused Kgosi of tax evasion, in the backseat.
Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) constituent members are struggling to reach an agreement over the allocation of wards for the imminent ward by-elections across the country.
Despite a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) and Alliance for Progressives (AP) are said to be active, but the nitty-gritties are far from being settled.
The eight bye-elections will be a precursor of a somewhat delayed finalisation of the brittle MoU. The three parties want to draw a plan on how and who will contest in each of the available wards.
This publication has gathered that the negotiations will not be a run off the mill because there is already an impasse between the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) which is a UDC constituent and AP (currently negotiating to join umbrella).
The by-elections joint committee met last week at Cresta President Hotel in a bid to finalise allocation but nothing tangible came out of the gathering, sources say.
The cause of the stalemate according to those close to events, is the Metsimotlhabe Ward which the two parties have set their eyes on.
In 2019, he ward was won by Botswana Democratic Party’s (BDP) Andrew Sebobi who unfortunately died in a tragic accident in February last year.
Sebobi had convincingly won by 1 109 votes in the last elections; and was trailed by Sephuthi Thelo of the UDC trailed him with 631 votes; while Alliance for Progressives’ Innocent Moamogwe got 371 votes.
Thelo is a BCP candidate and as per UDC norm, incumbency prevails meaning that the BCP will contest since they were runners up. On the other hand, AP has also raised its hand for the same.
“AP asked for it on the basis that they have a good candidate but BCP did not agree to that request also arguing they have a better contestant,” one UDC member confided to this publication.
Notwithstanding Metsimotlhabe Ward squabble, it is said the by-election talks are almost a done deal, with Botswana National Front (BNF) tipped to take Boseja South ward in Mochudi East constituency. Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) will be awarded Tamasane Ward in Lerala/Maunatlala constituency, sources say.
“But the agreement has to be closed by National Executive Committee (NEC),” emphasized the informant.
The NEC is said to have been cautioned not to back the wrong horse but rather rate with reason and facts.
UDC President, Duma Boko has told this publication that, “allocation is complete with two wards already awarded but with only one yet to be finalized,” he could not dwell into much details as to which party got what and the reasons for the delay in finalisation.
Chairperson of the by-elections committee, Dr. Phenyo Butale responded to this publication regarding the matter: “As AP we contested and as you may be aware we signed the MoU with UDC and BPF to collaborate on bye-elections. The opposition candidate for all bye-elections will be agreed by these parties and that process is still ongoing,” he said when asked if AP is interested on the ward and how far with the talks on bye-elections.
Butale, a former Gaborone Central Member of Parliament, who is also AP Secretary General continued to say, “As the chairperson of the bye-elections committee we are still seized with that matter. We should also do some consultations with the local structures. Once the process is complete we will issue a notice for now we cannot talk about the other two while the other is still pending the other one”.
Butale further clarified: “There is no such thing as AP and BCP not in agreement. It is an issue of signatories discussing and determining the opposition candidates across the three wards.”
Apart from the three wards, there are five more council wards that UDC is yet to allocate to cooperating partners.
FROM PALAPYE MEET: BPP CAUTION NEC MEMBERS
With the UDC cheerful from last weekend’s meeting in Palapye, the meeting however was very tense on the side of both BCP and BNF, with only BPP flexing its muscle and even lashing out.
BCP going into the meeting, had promised to ask difficult questions to the UDC NEC.
BCP VP and also acting Secretary General, Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang, presented their qualms which were addressed by UDC Chairperson Motlatsi Molapisi, informants say.
It is said Molapisi is fed up and concerned by some UDC members especially those in the NEC who ‘wash party’s dirty linen in public’.
Insiders say the veteran politician cautioned the NEC members that they “will not expel any party but individuals who tarnish the image of the UDC.”
It is not the first time BPP play a paternalistic role as it once expressed its discontent with BCP in 2020, saying it should never wash UDC linen in public.
At first it is said, BPP, the oldest political formation in Botswana, claims disappointment on BCP stance that UDC should be democratised especially by sharing their stand with the media. Again, BPP was not happy with BCP leader Dumelang Saleshando’s decision to air his personal views on social media regarding the merger of UDC party.
Botswana Police Service (BPS) Commissioner, Keabetswe Makgophe, has of late been dousing raging fires from various quarters of society following the infiltration of the police fingerprint system by the Directorate on Intelligence and Security (DIS), WeekendPost has learnt.
Fresh information gleaned from a number of impeccable sources, points to a pitiable working relationship between the two state organs. Cause of concern is the DIS continuous big brother role to an extent that it is now interfering with other institutions’ established mandates.
BPS which works closely with the DIS has been left exasperated by the works of the institution formed in 2008. It is said, the DIS through its Information Technology (IT) experts in collusion with some at BPS forensics department managed to infiltrate the Fingerprint system.
The infiltration, according to those in the know, was for the DIS to “teach a lesson” to some who are on their radar. It is said the DIS is playing and fighting dirty to win the fights they have lost before.
By managing to hack the police finger print system, a number of renowned businessmen and other politically exposed persons found their fingers in the system. What surprised the victims is the fact that they have never been charged of any wrongdoing by the police and they were left reeling in shock to learn that their fingers are on the data-base of criminals.
In fact, some of those who their fingerprints were falsely included in the records of those on the wrong side of law learnt later when other errands demanded their fingerprints.
“We learnt later when we had to submit and buy some documents and we were very shocked,” one politician who is also a businessman confided to this publication this week.
“We then learn that there are some fabricated criminality recorded for us, as to when did we commit those remained secret to the police, but then we had to engage our lawyers on the matter and that is when we were cleared,” said the politician-cum- tenderpreneur.
The lawyers have confirmed engaging the police and that the matters were settled in a gentlemen’s agreement and concluded.
All these happened behind the scenes with the police top brass oblivious only to be confronted by the irked lot, police sources also add. The victimized group who most of them have been fighting lengthy battles with the DIS read malice and did not blink when it was revealed that these were done by the DIS.
“And it was clear that they (DIS) are the ones in this dirty war which we don’t understand. Remember when we sue, it will be the Police at the courts not the DIS and that is why we agreed to a ceasefire more so they also requested that be kept under carpet,” said the victim.
Nonetheless, the Police through its spokesperson Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, briefly said: “we do not have any system that has been hacked.” On the other hand DIS mouthpiece Edward Robert was not in office this week to comment on the matter.
Reports however say DIS boss, Peter Magosi, who most of the victims accuse of the job, is said to have met his police counterpart Makgophe to put the matter to bed.
COVID-19 RAVAGES POLICE
As frontline workers, Police have not escaped the wrath of Covid-19. Already the numbers of those infected has reached the highest of high and they suggest that they be priorities on vaccine rollout.
“Our job is complicated, firstly we arrest including those who are non-compliant to Covid protocols and we go to accidents and many more. These put us at risk and it seems our superiors are not bothered,” said one police officer this week.
The cops further complain about that working spaces are small, as such expose them to contact the virus.
“Some tests positive and go for quarantine while the rest of the unit will be left without even test carried out. If at all the bosses are serious all the police officers should every now and then be subjected to testing or else we will be no more because of the virus,” added another officer based in Gaborone.
The government has since placed teachers on the priority list for the vaccines, it remains to be seen whether the police, who also man road blocks, will be considered.
“But our bosses should convince the country leadership about this, if not then we are doomed,” concluded a more senior officer.