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Maele blames “Powerful People”

The Minister of Land Development, Water and Sanitation, Prince Maele says he is ready to put his head on the bloc to prove that he has not been corrupted or is being corrupt in any format.

This follows a series of media reports that link him to controversial deals and decisions, with some questioning the manner in which he has acquired some of his assets. The Minister has reserved his rights in all the allegations made against him, however he pointed out that “this matter may be more than what meets the eye.”


POWERFUL PEOPLE TARGETING MAELE?


According to Maele, the matter is politically motivated because it stems from a decision that he made to unbundle a water 5 billion pula project into four so that it may be implemented faster in the interest of Batswana, particularly in the southern part of the country.
He says most people were going for months without water hence his decision to unbundle the project.


“Unfortunately, unbundling the project deprived some powerful people a chance to further enrich themselves from the misery of thirsty citizens in the southern part of Botswana. Had the project continued as it were, the project would have been completed in 5-7 years, and cost more than the original price, while the unbundling will see it completed in 2-3 years,” he told Weekend Post in a statement. Maele says the malicious people behind the smear campaign are hell bent on tarnishing anyone who gets in their way. “While I am a firm proponent of freedom of the press, I will not stand idle when this freedom is abused at the instance of nefarious characters. I therefore intend to do everything to restore my integrity and reputation, including taking legal recourse.”


MAELE TAKES AIM AT DCEC


The minister says he also takes note that the conduct of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) leaves much to be desired. If the DCEC progress report was leaked, then it suffices to doubt the integrity and credibility of the whole process of investigations.


“To see snippets of an investigation or investigations purportedly about me appearing in newspapers when I have not been warned of them, nor been told what I am being investigated for or the scope of the probe is troubling in the extreme. I shudder to imagine how the reporter got hold of the progress report when my side of the story is not being put forward. Of course, I am not above the law and so I have no problem with any organ of state investigating me if it believes it has cause to investigate me, in good faith,” said Maele.     

 
Maele said as a Minister, he is aware that he is subject to public scrutiny. “I do not mind much because I have nothing to hide. But I will never confuse pursuit of my personal interests with my duties and responsibilities as a Minister in which my country and fellow citizens come first. I take full responsibility for what happens in my Ministry; its successes and failures together. Above all, I have the Constitution of the Republic of Botswana and an oath of office to uphold.”


BUT WHAT DOES MAELE SAY TO THE ALLEGATIONS   


Maele confirms reports that he went to China with his wife, accompanied by a friend of Chinese origin, on a private trip. However, Maele says the Chinese companion did not and does not have any contract with his Ministry. “The trip was therefore not in exchange of any tender. But most of all, like any other Motswana, I have freedom of movement in the global village that the world has become, and am at liberty to choose where to go and with whom.”


Furthermore, Maele confirms that he has more than 200 cattle at his farm in Kaka. He says the purchasing of the cattle was a matter of straightforward commercial transactions “that entailed no money laundering because no such shady conduct was necessary”. Maele also confirms that he purchased a vehicle worth P100,000.00 in cash, some six years ago. “I was not a Minister, then. The vehicle, is a 2004 model BMW 725. When I purchased it in 2011, it was a 7-year old second-hand that no bank was prepared to finance. A personal loan was therefore raised to pay for the car.”

Furthermore the Minister says he has been in a helicopter to his farm with some friends. He says he sees nothing wrong with his actions. He labels allegations of suspicious transactions in his bank account as “fallacious”.

MAELE’S VERSION OF ‘LIES’ IN THE ALLEGATIONS

The embattled minister says he never had P300, 000.00 cash in my house or anywhere. “More importantly, no such sums were found by the DCEC or any person or organ in my house or any other place I have control over.” He rubbishes reports that he was involved in improper and corrupt dealings that led to the award of tenders such as the Phakalane link road without following due process.

Furthermore, he says, “I was neither involved in the adjudication of the said tender nor am I aware of any investigations that were or are being carried out by the DCEC or any organ of the state with regard to the tendering and/or execution of such a project. Ministers in government do not adjudicate, evaluate nor award tenders.”  Maele says he did not exert pressure for a change of land use in favour of Khato Civils, he calls this a blatant lie. He points out that Kgatleng Landboard took an independent resolution without any coercion from anybody.

“Documentation, as in minutes, is readily available for public scrutiny. That I attended the Bot50 party sponsored by Khato Civils in Sandton, South Africa can best be described as hallucination. I do not know anything about such a party or who may have attended it.”
Maele further denies issuing instructions to the PPADB to cancel a tender for the benefit of Khato Civils.

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Vendors ready for the Tobacco Control Bill

21st September 2021
Vendors

Some vendors have been misled
Vendors thrive on households goods and fresh produce

Despite the previous false allegations that the Tobacco Control Bill will lead to several 20 000 vendors across the country losing their jobs, several local vendors have expressed that they are ready for the bill and because vendors sell mostly household goods

“This is something that we openly accept and receive as street vendors, the problem is some of our counterparts were misled and made to believe that we will not be allowed to sell cigarettes on our stalls.

Some of us got to understand that the bill states that we have to be licensed to sell cigarettes, we are not supposed to sell them to children under the age of 18 years of age and eliminating the selling of single sticks. We understand that this agenda is meant to develop a healthy nation but not take us down,” said Mbimbi Tau a vendor who operates from Mogoditshane.

The Tobacco Control Bill has been passed in several countries and street vendors are operating properly without any challenges faced. Tau further mentioned that there is no way that the Tobacco Control Bill will affect their business operations, all they have to do as vendors are to get the required documentation and do what the bill requires.

Another vendor Busani Selalame who operates from Gaborone Bonnington North was not shy to express his support towards the Tobacco Control Bill, “the problem is that some people within our sector have been misled and now they think that the bill is meant to take our operations down and completely stop selling cigarettes.

I support the fact that we are not supposed to sell cigarettes to children who are under the age of 18 years of age this has always been wrong, as parents we should be cautious of such and ensure that our children are disassociated with cigarettes,” said Selalame.

The Tobacco Control Bill prohibits advertising, promotion and sponsorship by the tobacco industry to prevent messages, cues, and other inducements to begin using tobacco, especially among the youth, to reassure users to continue their use, or that otherwise undermine quitting.

Renowned economist Bakang Ntshingane is of the view that since vendors sell household goods and fresh produce they are likely to keep on making profits despite what the Tobacco Control Bill comes with. He further stated that the Tobacco Control Bill will not be of harm on the local economy since the country does not manufacture or produce any tobacco related products.

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BANCABC Botswana poised for growth amid tough operating environment

21st September 2021
BANCABC

BancABC Botswana, the BSE-listed bank today announced its half year results for the six months ended 30 June 2021, against a subdued economic backdrop, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and related lockdowns.

BancABC has remained resilient in the current operating environment as business activity increased in the first half of 2021, with Real GDP up by 0.7% in the first quarter compared to a contraction of 4.6% in the previous quarter. Commenting on the results, Managing Director Kgotso Bannalotlhe said, “Currently, economic activity is relatively stable.

While COVID-19 placed significant pressure on the economy and our overall business, BancABC Botswana has shown remarkable resilience amid a tough operating environment.  While the bank operates in an environment that is seeing a rise in COVID-19 infections, it is encouraging that the business has maintained a healthy capital adequacy ratio as well as being successful in improving total expenses with focus on cost containment across the board.”

The retail segment saw an increase in customer deposits this year, signalling an improvement from the previous period and strengthening the current funding mix. This segment has built great momentum and continues to advance its digital strategy, through various products such as the mobile banking app, SARUMoney, as well as enhanced product offerings such as the introduction of fash cash. The Bank has invested in its digital capabilities to ensure a seamless and hassle-free banking experience for all its customers.

The commercial segment was successful in reducing the cost of funding. In addition, Treasury and Global Markets performed well, doubling from the previous comparative period. The current year performance across the bank’s different segments is testament to the bank’s strong income lines, aiding the Bank’s resilience during this time.

“The Bank experienced slow loan book growth due to a constrained economic environment, however, we remain optimistic that as the economy recovers, credit appetite amongst the Bank’s customer-base will increase. In addition, we reported good non-interest revenue, driven by increased trading income on the back of improved margins and volumes. Our outlook remains positive as we expect momentum across the different segments to improve over time,” said Ratang Icho-Molebatsi, BancABC Botswana Finance Director.

In April 2021, BancABC Botswana’s ultimate holding company, Atlas Mara Limited, as well as ABC Holdings Limited and Access Bank Plc announced an agreement to a proposed acquisition of 78.15% of BancABC Botswana. The transaction presented an opportunity for BancABC Botswana’s strong retail banking operation to merge with Access Bank’s wholesale banking capabilities, augmenting itself as one of Africa’s leading banks.

“The transaction provides significant scope for revenue diversification and growth in the corporate and SME banking segment. Increased access to trade finance, treasury, international payments and loans through the wider distribution network offered by Access Bank’s presence in the key trade corridors that connect Africa to the rest of the world, presents solid opportunities for BancABC Botswana”, commented Icho-Molebatsi “With the transaction, BancABC Botswana’s customers stand to benefit from best-in-class digital platforms and product suites, leveraging Access Bank’s group IT infrastructure as well as other fintech solutions”, said Bannalotlhe.

Further, with Access Bank expanding its footprint into Botswana, it will position the Bank to deliver a more complete set of banking solutions to Batswana across the country”, concluded Bannalothle.

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Botswana secures P1.5 billion from African Development Bank 

21st September 2021
Peggy Serame

 Last Friday, the board of Directors of the African Development Bank Group authorised a $137 million (P1.5 billion) loan to support Botswana’s Post COVID-19 pandemic economic recovery.

The funds, extended under the Bank Group’s Botswana Economic Recovery Support Program, will be used to enact multi-sector reforms that will increase spending efficiency, create jobs and drive inclusive growth.

The project has three components: enhancing domestic resource mobilisation and mitigating fiscal risks to enhance macroeconomic performance and create fiscal space for spending on social safety nets; supporting private sector-led agriculture and industry to bolster productivity and value addition and increase job opportunities, and offering business development services to micro and small enterprises to advance social protection and gender equity. The three components are expected to reinforce one another.

“The African Development Bank is providing support for reforms to enhance private sector-led agriculture and transformation of the industrial sector,” said Leila Mokadem, Director General of the Southern Africa Regional Development and Business Delivery Office. “Agriculture value addition can serve as a springboard for industrialisation and job creation,” she added.

The project aligns with the Bank Group’s Ten-Year Strategy (2013-2022) and its High Five strategic priorities, particularly Industrialise Africa and Improve the quality of life of the people of Africa. The African Development Bank observed that Botswana has a very low risk of debt distress and a positive medium-term growth outlook. However, a lack of economic diversification exposes the country to significant vulnerabilities.

The Bank Group’s active portfolio in Botswana amounts to UA 57.7 million ($81.9 million) and comprises four projects. The financial sector accounts for the largest share of the portfolio by industry (97.1%), followed by agriculture (1.7%) and industry (1.2%). In the past, the African Development Bank partnered with various Botswana government agencies to accelerate economic growth.

On the 21st of February 2020, the bank signed a thematic Line of Credit (LoC) of P900 Million for a 10-year tenor with Botswana Development Corporation (BDC), a wholly state-owned investment agency. This was during that time, the single largest transaction of its nature to ever take place in Botswana.

The LoC was penned to support the BDC’s long-term strategy to scale up its investments in critical sectors, including manufacturing, transport and service sectors, with the overall objective of supporting the transformation and industrialisation of the Botswana economy. BDC eyed a more comprehensive socio-economic benefit with this partnership, including attracting investments into the economy and employment creation.

The African Development Bank is a multilateral development finance institution. It has an overarching objective to spur sustainable economic development and social progress in its regional member countries (RMCs) through mobilising and allocating resources for investment and providing policy advice and technical assistance to support development efforts.

This transaction was poised to support further BDC’s focus on safeguarding its balance sheet to ensure financial sustainability whilst fulfilling its mandate as the Botswana Government’s principal investment arm.

The COVID-19 pandemic has landed massive blows on Botswana; apart from claiming more than 2300 lives thus far, the contagious plague has exacerbated existing growth challenges. The effects of the pandemic have led to an estimated real gross domestic product (GDP) contraction of 7.9% in 2020, according to the World Bank, worse than that of the 2009 global financial crisis.

The contraction reflects the impact that reduced global demand, travel restrictions and social distancing measures have had on output in crucial production and export sectors, including the diamond industry and tourism.

Botswana’s fiscal deficit is set to widen to 11.3% of GDP in FY2020/21, from 5.6% in FY2019/20, reflecting a sharp decline in mineral revenues, a sticky public sector wage bill, and the impact of the COVID-19 spending. Similarly, the current account deficit is estimated to have widened to 8 percent of GDP in 2020 following the sharp decline in diamond exports.

Developments in the global diamond industry will significantly impact the short-term recovery, given Botswana’s dependence on the commodity. While recovery is expected in 2021 due to a favourable outlook for the diamond industry, the economic impact of COVID-19 is likely to be deep and long-lasting. The P1.5 billion African Development Bank loan comes after the World Bank approved a P2.5 billion boost for Botswana early this year.

The Programmatic Economic Resilience and Green Recovery Development Policy Loan (DPL) will support the implementation of Botswana’s Economic Recovery and Transformation Plan and is designed to strengthen COVID-19 pandemic relief while bolstering resilience to future shocks.

In August, Botswana received the International Monetary Fund (IMF) 189 Special Drawing Rights allocation worth P3 billion. The IMF SDR is a non-currency asset that Botswana can convert into hard currency by trading it with other IMF member countries.

 

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