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BOPEU’s Money, Power, and Control gymnastics

Andrew Motsamai, the Executive chairman of the Babereki Investment, the business wing of the Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) is being roasted by a National Executive Committee that he installed to power in Palapye in 2015.

The BOPEU NEC has slapped its former President with a ten days leave of absence albeit he was already on a ten days off period. It has been suggested that the NEC is still investigating the accusations against the Executive chairman. The BOPEU NEC, led by Masego Mogwera, who was handed power by Motsamai in February this year gets legal advice from Advocate Sidney Pilane who is on retainer basis with the union.

Motsamai, who has led BOPEU for ten years as President is now Executive Chairman and has a five year contract that has only run for about six months, and indications are that the termination terms border solely on elapse of the five year contract and BOPEU chooses not to renew; or Motsamai failure, during his contract, to follow company terms and conditions of employment that warrant termination.

The twist in the whole episode is that the Executive Chairman is being accused of some events that took place before he was employed by Babereki Investments. Most the resolutions were signed in 2015 and 2016. A direct accusation to Motsamai is the recommendation he made to the Board where he advised that FutureOne, a company under Babereki Investments, which sells cellphones and other gadgets be liquidated because it was not profitable. The voluntary winding up resolution was taken on June 28 this year, and it could have been earlier and it not been of the absence of Mogwera and other members who were flying to various destinations abroad in May. Dutch Leburu was procedurally instructed to do the voluntary winding up of FutureOne.

The Board which includes Masego Mogwera, Martin Gabobake, and Tlhabologo Galekhutle among others had agreed with the recommendation and ratified it. But the latest developments point to a fed up group that wants to disown the recommendation. Babereki Investment had injected close to P7 million into the company. A more pronounced complaint in the unfolding farce are accusations that Motsamai as Executive Chairman watched as one of the financial officers illegally benefited from a car scheme designed for one of the subsidiaries, Babereki Ka Lorato.

The company Board, which Motsamai is not a member of, had in 2015 made a resolution to procure cars from Avis Botswana. The said officer had procured a personal car through the same scheme. The Babereki Investment CFO has bought, through the Babereki Ka Lorato scheme a Range Rover from Avis, and in one of the company trial balances it appeared that the car was paid for twice in one month, an anomaly that attracted the attention of the BOPEU NEC. However the CFO is said to have made it clear that he has been paying for the car and he has proof of the payments he is making towards the car. Ironically the Babereki Ka Lorato board is chaired by Martin Gabobake and Motsamai is not even a member of the said board. Gabobake signed the resolution that allowed the purchase of Avis cars.  

Babareki Ka Lorato has been facing cashflow problems for a considerable time and Gabobake’s board had to ask Babereki Investment to make payments on its behalf for the financial year 2016/2017 as part of “inter-company” transactions. This was agreed through a board resolution signed on 06-07-2016 by Martin Gabobake, as board chairperson, Lazarus Molefi and Ernest Molome as Directors. Babereki Ka Lorato was to reimburse Babereki Investment as soon as the cashflow situation allows. All payments made on behalf of Babereki Ka Lorato were to attract an interest of 7.5%. It is understood that this is one of the resolutions that has put Motsamai and the BOPEU NEC at odds with the latter indicating that he was never part of the decision or the board that made the resolution. However Gabobake is fighting on Mogwera’s corner in the bid to remove Motsamai from employment.

The BOPEU NEC is also having second thoughts about a resolution they signed in connection with an investment in Flying Mission Services. Babereki Investments was to invest an amount of P1, 176, 000.00 in Flying Mission Services Pty Ltd, an air charter company. The investment was to be split between share capital and medium term debt, in a manner as the shareholders may determine as most optimal for the business once a due diligence and valuation has been completed. Babereki Investment was to pay P436 000 towards license fees; P600 000 as loan payable in P200 000 installments; and a credit card valued at P140 000. Andrew Motsamai was “authorized to execute all necessary documentation and do anything that may be required to give effect to the resolution.”

With tempers flaring at BOPEU, Motsamai’s exit from the organisation he helped build is a glaring reality. He looks set to separate with his now employers and his contract terms could see him make more money in six months than he has made when he worked for government for over two decades. BOPEU may be compelled to pay him the contract remainder, four years and six months. The value is estimated in the region of P6 million. It is not clear of Motsamai’s termination could dissuade him from participating in BOPEU affairs, a qualified scientist, the former BOPEU president could whirl his way back into civil service and launch a political battle.

Meanwhile BONA Life was to borrow BOPEU P300 million at a low interest rate and the deal was quashed by the NEC because they were not happy that the deal was brokered by a middle man. BOPEU has currently put a moratorium of member loans because of cash problems. BOPEU currently operates on funds sourced from Babereki Investments. For his part Motsamai maintains a calm response, “it will be sad for the loyal BOPEU members to hear that I could be fighting an organisation that I have known my entire adult life. I have actually denied my family a father, a husband among other roles just because of the love I have for the organisation. I will not be asked to talk about my contractual matters and of course my Babereki Investment roles with the media, I choose to respect my organisation and to see the way forward in the most appropriate process,” he said.

Motsamai said what is important is to know that Babereki Investments is one of the few indigenous entities that should make BOPEU members and Batswana proud. “We should make sure that it continues to be one of the flagship organisations in this country.” The former BOPEU president refused to talk about money, BOPEU politics and control insinuations. “Everything that Babereki Investments has done is in black and white, we have resolutions to all that is necessary, thank you,” he said.

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Gov’t has no budget for Magosi’s SADC chase

12th April 2021
Elias Magosi

Despite the government of Botswana’s ambition to have one of its own to lead Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) since its establishment in 1980, the Presidency says there is no budget specifically dedicated to the campaign.

The Government has released the name of Permanent Secretary to the President, Elias Mpedi Magosi, as the candidate for the SADC Executive Secretary position. Magosi is expected to face off with Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) candidate, Faustin Mukela. The position will become vacant in August this year.

However, despite the optimism the Botswana Government has not yet set aside a budget to assist Magosi to win against the seemingly DRC giant. “We all know that the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively affected the country’s ability to effectively fund any new project. This campaign is not an exception. As such, we do not have any budget for the campaign. However, we have so far managed to take advantage of His Excellency the President’s working visits to the neighbouring countries to also carry out the campaigns,” Press Secretary to the President, Batlhalefi Leagajang, explained.

Botswana has housed SADC since the establishment of the then SADCC in 1980, but has never occupied top most leadership positions at the SADC Secretariat.  “We therefore, strongly believe that we should also have an opportunity to contribute to the management of our regional body as it continues to drive the important issues of regional integration industrialization and socio-economic development.

This will also profile Botswana as a strong advocate of regional integration,” he responded to this publication’s questionnaire as to why the Government wants to occupy the plum post. SADC is a Member State driven organization. As such, Leagajang said, needs a well-grounded Executive Secretary with a blend of management and leadership acumen; a transformational leader with political awareness and integrity; private and public sector experience; a deep culture of corporate governance; as well as strategic agility and result-oriented consummate diplomat.

“These are the unique attributes of our candidate,” he said. So far President Mokgweetsi Masisi has visited nine out of 16 SADC member states on a working visit and also taking an opportunity to present to them his candidate.

“The countries have appreciated this effort and we remain hopeful. However, it is important to note that this is a democratic and competitive process which must be respected,” he responded when asked about the reception and assurances from various countries to cast a vote for Magosi.

In 2018, when Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi challenged for the Africa Union (AU) Chairperson, the government appointed former President Festus Mogae to be the campaign leader. Does the Government have anyone apart from Masisi to help with the campaign?

“The campaigns for the candidate are strictly led by the Government of Botswana. Since this is a candidate for Botswana, not just the Government, it will be appreciated if all Batswana, including the media, could also shoulder the responsibility to campaign for the candidate in their own spheres of influence,” Leagajang responded.

While there are sceptics on Magosi winning against the DRC man, the Government is confident and believes that with the unique traits that he possess, Magosi stands a chance. He is said to be a strong advocate of justice and fairness as he has played this role in his current role as PSP and in his previous roles as PS and in the private sector. He has helped individuals and companies to find justice and fairness in most of their dealings with Government.

Magosi is also said to be a proponent of corporate governance and which he has relentlessly pursued in most of his career including in Government and other sectors. A strong believer in following laid down procedures and laws. “He carries a variety of skills as an HR expert with experience in different sectors, a strategist and an Organization development specialist.

His experience and exposure spans government, parastatal, private sector and at regional level as well, thus making him a suitable candidate for the regional role. He has worked with governments, businesses, development partners and politicians and is comfortable navigating through all of them,” Leagajang concluded.

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Mzwinila’s P4.3 Billion gamble to keep water flowing

12th April 2021

The Minister of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services, Kefentse Mzwinila looked a politician set to shoot the moon as he laid bare his billions of pula development agenda recently in Parliament.

His Ministry’s combined Recurrent and Development Budget Proposals for the 2021/ 2022 Financial Year is pegged at Four Billion, Three Hundred and Sixty – Five Million, two Hundred and Nineteen Thousand, Five Hundred and Sixty Pula (P4, 365, 219, 560). This is a budget 38.3% more than the allocation for the 2020/2021 Financial Year.

Mzwinila preluded his request to parliament with a demonstration that his Ministry has no champagne taste on a beer budget – indicating that his ministry’s expenditure at the end of February 2021P2.111 Billion or 96% of development budget; and P910 million or 90% of the recurrent budget.

Notwithstanding the budget dust, the Minister justified this year’s increase in the Ministry’s total budget. He attributed the escalation to the commencement of major projects under the water sector. These include the implementation of the North South Carrier (NSC) 22.2 covering various sub projects. Mzwinila noted that these are all public value projects which are aimed at improving the lives of Batswana.

Mzwinila’s Ministry has projected that the sum of Nine Hundred and Sixty –Three Million, Nine Hundred and Forty – Seven Thousand, Five Hundred and Sixty Pula (P963, 947, 560) be permitted for the Recurrent Budget and stand part of the 2021 / 2022 Appropriation Bill ( No. 1 of 2021).

“55% of the Recurrent Budget is geared towards the Revenue Support Grant for 12 Land Boards and their subordinate authorities while the sum of P5 Million is allocated to the Real Estate Advisory Council (REAC). The remaining 44% is proposed for the Ministry Departments.”

The sum of Three Billion, Four Hundred and One Million, Two hundred and Seventy –Two Thousand Pula (P3, 401, 272, 000), for the Development Budget was approved and stand part of the same schedule of the appropriation (2021/2022).

When breaking down the Development Budget, Minister Mzwinila noted that Water Supply and Sanitation projects will account for P1.098 Billion to finance the Maun Water and Sanitation project, Molepolole Sanitation projects and the Shakawe Water Treatment Plant Rehabilitation.

With all the implementation bottlenecks troubling several projects in the country, Mzwinila had to satisfy the question of whether his Ministry demonstrated a dire need for the budget with reference to its execution of the budget for the financial year 2020/2021 and its delivery of strategic initiatives and projects?

Mzwinila’s pitch found favour with parliament and his ministry will get an aggregate budget of P3.198 Billion for the 2020/ 2021 Financial Year. Within this allocation, P2.188 Billion is for the Development Budget and P1.010 Billion will cover the Recurrent Budget.

The Minister revealed his strategic interventions for land management, water and sanitation services. Highlighting that efforts by Government to provide serviced residential land to citizens on the waiting list are being hampered by limited resources. He shared that his ministry needs P94 Billion to cover such costs which will directly link to water, sewage, roads, electricity, telecommunications and storm water drainage leading to the allocation of 4 587 plots on un-serviced land.

The minister projected that 22 952 un-serviced residential plots are planned to be allocated in the next financial year. However, there is a trend where allocated land remains fallow and undeveloped which raises misgivings that the requests could have been made on speculative plans.

Mzwinila noted that in the spirit of forging stronger International connections, the Ministry will in June 2021 sign a Memorandum of Understanding on Land matters between Namibia and Botswana with the aim of opening doors to the creation of Dry Ports in the country, facilitate international trade through Walvis Bay Sea Port.

Botswana is already challenged by scarcity of naturally occurring water resources due to the aridity of the country creating persistent water shortages. The type of infrastructure required to improve national water security is a true reflection of intensive investment needed in the water sector The Minister stressed.

“An emerging issue such as the COVID -19 pandemic poses serious challenges as the control of the virus requires reliable water supply. In an effort to mitigate the challenge, the Ministry has undertaken extensive bowsing throughout the country which included the provision of additional capacity for supplementary bowsing to areas with pervasive water shortages, plus an additional forty one (41) un-gazetted settlements.

Operational costs due to bowsing were at an average of P6 Million per month before the COVID-19 pandemic and increased to an unsustainable amount of the order of P13 Million per month, since the beginning of the State of Emergency in April 2020,” the minister shared.

Through the support of a World Bank Loan, the Ministry is implementing several initiatives under the Botswana Emergency Water Security and Efficiency (BEWSE) project. Through BEWSE the Raw Water Pricing and Abstraction Strategy will assess the pricing of water in a manner that enables the provision of water to support new economic development, the strategy is planned to be completed in June 2021.

The Ministry has commenced the development of a long term National Water Security Strategy to improve resilience to climate change impacts. The strategy development entails prioritization of the proposed future mega water transfers such as the Chobe – Zambezi water transfer, the Atlantic Ocean water transfer to Botswana through Namibia and Lesotho – Botswana water transfer.

Following the signing of the tripartite Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) between Botswana, Lesotho and South Africa in November 2017 for the Lesotho –Botswana Water Transfer project, a 24 months contract for a combined prefeasibility and feasibility study for the development of a bankable Lesotho – Botswana Water Transfer project feasibility study was signed and is to be completed in 2022.

One of the Ministry’s famous major water supply projects such as the North South Carrier (NSC) 2.2 has experienced hiccups; having tenders for contract 1 (Masama to Mmamashia Pipeline) and Contract 2 (Mahalapye to Masama Pipeline) cancelled due to budgetary constraints.

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Will Botswana’s Climate Change policy climax?

12th April 2021
Botswana Climate

The Botswana Climate Change policy draft of 2021 was tabled in Parliament by the Minister of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism, Philda Kereng for consideration and adoption.

The policy attempts to indicate the country’s environmentally conscious development agenda as Substantial resources are being dedicated to research and policy efforts to mitigate climate change and support adaptation to the current and future impacts of greenhouse gas emissions.

Kereng indicated that Botswana is not immune to the impacts of climate change and it continues to delay the country’s national development efforts and that the key economic development sectors dependent on the climate system have recorded declines over the years due to the variability of the rainfall and other climatic conditions. Experts elsewhere have pointed out that lack of consideration of population dynamics hampers the development of stronger, more effective solutions to the challenges climate change poses – hopefully this policy if effectively implemented could partly answer this question.

Kereng underscored that sectors such as agriculture, water, bio diversity, health and tourism have suffered the most and the consequences of these have contributed significantly to the decline of livelihoods in Botswana especially in rural areas.

To respond to the changing climate, Botswana has embarked on sectoral reform such as climate smart agriculture, poverty alleviation initiatives, building resilience on the economic productive sectors, diversification of tourism for the improvement of livelihoods and income generation, local economic development and sustainable environment.

The efforts require a coordinated mechanism that will provide an enabling environment for an integrated approach to the formulation and implantation of development plans and socio economic related policies in Botswana that are responsive to the changing climatic conditions.

Minister Kereng explained the draft policy is characterized by an inclusive and integrated approach to social, economic development and governance modalities that would enable the country to achieve a sustainable development pathway. It provides opportunities for improved livelihoods through creation of green jobs, development and transfer of relevant technologies as well as creation and ease of access to both local and international markets. It also commits the government, private sector and non-state actors to adopt adaptation and mitigation measures that would facilitate sustainability and building of resilience of all sectors.

While Members of Parliament were trying to comprehend the policy, this publication got in touch with Green Botswana to solicit their views on the policy draft. Ms. Sela Motshwane, the Founder of the Trust highlighted that “the Climate Change policy was meant to be read in August 2019. It is long overdue, and we all need to see it and understand it in full.

I understand the current budget does not allow for a full implementation- but I could be wrong. More funds could have been allocated since. I think generally, Batswana need to understand fully what this means to our daily lives. I believe the true understanding is by policy drafters and the Ministry of Environment only.”

In the same vein, Green Botswana Trust took to the streets to provide a community solution to climate change on World Health Day (Wednesday). Green Botswana held a “Free Trees for Babies” at Extension 2 Clinic where fruit trees were gifted to parents, expectant mothers, 25 health workers, police officers and the prison officers who had accompanied prisoners to the clinic.

Motshwane said: “The decision to do the “Free Trees for Babies” by gifting fruit trees was to raise awareness to our imminent food security issue as stated by the Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agricultural Development and Food Security, Mr. Thabang Botshoma and encourage the general public to plant a tree so that we can reach our SGD Goal 13 : Climate Action. The trees gifted are to be named after the baby recipient”.

Green Botswana is calling for the urgent action from government and members of the public to create a culture of community accountability and collegiality in moving Botswana towards climate action and sustainability. To achieve the 2030 Paris Agreement Pledge, it will take all citizens and not just the government to reach goals.

Parliament resolved to adopt the Botswana Climate Change Policy, 2021.

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