BOPEU’s Money, Power, and Control gymnastics
By Aubrey Lute
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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ENVIRONMENT ISSUES: Masisi asks Virginia for help
President Mokgweetsi Masisi says the issue of sustainable natural resources management has always been an important part of Botswanaâ€™s national development agenda.
Masisi was speaking this week on the occasion of a public lecture at Virginia Polytechnic, under theme, â€śMerging Conservation, Democracy and Sustainable Development in Botswana.â€ť
Botswana, according to Masisi, holds the view that the environment is fragile and as such, must be managed and given the utmost protection to enable the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
â€śIt is necessary that we engage one another in the interchange of ideas, perspectives, visualizations of social futures, and considerations of possible strategies and courses of action for sustainable development,â€ť said Masisi.
On the other hand, dialogue, in the form of rigorous democratic discourse among stakeholders presents another basis for reconfiguring how people act on their environments, with a view to conserving its resources that â€śwe require to meet our socio-economic development needs on a sustainable basis,â€ť Masisi told attendees at the public lecture.
He said government has a keen interest in understanding the epidemiology and ecology of diseases of both domestic and wild animals. â€śIt is our national interest to forestall the dire consequences of animal diseases on our communities livelihoods.â€ť
President Masisi hoped that both Botswana and Virginia could help each other in curbing contagious diseases of wildlife.
â€śWe believe that Virginia Tech can reasonably share their experiences, research insights and advances in veterinary sciences and medicines, to help us build capacity for knowledge creation and improve efforts of managing and containing contagious diseases of wildlife. The ground is fertile for entering into such a mutually beneficial partnership.â€ť
When explaining environmental issues further, Masisi said efforts of conservation and sustainable development might at times be hampered by the emergence and recurrence of diseases when pathogens mutate and take host of more than one species.
â€śWater pollution also kills aquatic life, such as fish, which is one of humanityâ€™s much deserved sources of food. In this regard, One Health Approach imposes ecological responsibility upon all of us to care for the environment and the bio-diversity therein.â€ť
He said the production and use of animal vaccines is an important space and tool for conservation, particularly to deal with trans-border animal diseases.
â€śIn Botswana, our 43-year-old national premier pharmaceutical institution called Botswana Vaccine Institute has played its role well. Through its successful production of highly efficacious Foot and Mouth vaccines, the country is able to contain this disease as well as supply vaccines to other countries in the sub-region.:
He has however declared that there is need for more help, saying â€śWe need more capacitation to deal with and contain other types of microbial that affect both animals and human health.â€ť
Masisi saddened by deaths of elephant attacks
President Mokgweetsi Masisi has expressed a strong worry over elephants killing people in Botswana. When speaking in Virginia this week, Masisi said it is unfortunate that Batswana have paid a price with their own blood through being attacked by elephants.
â€śCommunities also suffer unimaginable economic losses yearly when their crops are eaten by the elephants. In spite of such incidents of human-elephant conflict, our people embrace living together with the animals. They fully understand wildlife conservation and its economic benefits in tourism.â€ť
In 2018, Nthobogang Samokwaseâ€™s father was attacked by an elephant when travelling from the fields, where he stayed during the cropping season.
It was reported that the man couldnâ€™t run because of his age. He was found trampled by the elephant and was pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital.
In the same year, in Maun, a 57-year-old British woman was attacked by an elephant at Boro and died upon arrival at the hospital. The woman was with her Motswana partner, and were walking dogs in the evening.
Last month, a Durban woman named Carly Marshall survived an elephant attack while on holiday in the bush in Botswana. She was stabbed by one of the elephantâ€™s tucks through the chest and was left with bruises. Marshall also suffered several fractured ribs from the ordeal.
President Masisi Botswana has the largest population of African elephants in the world, totaling more than 130 000. â€śThis has been possible due to progressive conservation policies, partnerships with the communities, and investment in wildlife management programmes.â€ť
In order to benefit further from wildlife, Masisi indicated that government has re-introduced controlled hunting in 2019 after a four-year pause. â€śThe re-introduction of hunting was done in an open, transparent and democratic way, giving the communities an opportunity to air their views. The funds from the sale of hunting quota goes towards community development and elephant conservation.â€ť
He stressed that for conservation to succeed, the local people must be involved and derive benefits from the natural resources within their localities.
â€śThere must be open and transparent consultations which involve all sectors of the society. It is against this backdrop that as a country, we lead the continent on merging conservation, democracy and sustainable development.â€ť
Masisi stated that Botswana is open to collaborative opportunities, â€śparticularly with identifiable partners such as Virginia Tech, in other essential areas such as conservation, and the study of the interplay among the ecology of diseases of wild animals and plants, and their effects on human health and socio-economic development.â€ť
Govâ€™t commit to injecting more funds in fighting HIV
Minister for State President Kabo Morwaeng says government will continue to make resources available in terms of financial allocations and human capital to ensure that Botswana achieves the ideal of eradicating HIV and AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.
Morwaeng was speaking this morning in Gaborone at the High-Level Advocacy event to accelerate HIV Prevention in Botswana. He said the National AIDS and Health Promotion Agency (NAPHA), in partnership with UNAIDS, UN agencies, the Global Fund and PEPFAR, have started a process of developing transition readiness plan for sustainability of HIV prevention and treatment programmes.
â€śIt is important for us, as a country that has had a fair share of donor support in the response to an epidemic such as HIV and AIDS, to look beyond the period when the level of assistance would have reduced, or ceased, thus calling for domestic financing for all areas which were on donor support.â€ť
Morwaeng said this is important as the such a plan will guarantee that all the gains accrued from the response with donor support will be sustained until the end when â€śwe reach the elimination of HIV and AIDS as a public health threat by 20230,â€ť he said.
â€śI commit to continue support efforts towards strengthened HIV prevention, accentuating HIV primary prevention and treatment as prevention towards Zero New Infections, Zero Stigma, Discrimination and Zero AIDS related death, to end AIDS in Botswana.â€ť
He reiterated that government commits to tackle legislative, policy and programming challenges that act as barriers to the achievement of the goal of ending AIDS as a public health threat.
In the financial year 2022/2023, a total of 119 Civil Society Organizations, including Faith Based Organizations, were contracted with an amount of P100 million to implement HIV and NCDs prevention activities throughout the country, and the money was drawn from the Consolidated Fund.
Through an upcoming HIV Prevention Symposium, technical stakeholders will use outcomes to develop the Botswana HIV Prevention Acceleration Road Map for 2023-2025.
Morwaeng stated that government will support and ensure that Botswana plays its part achieving the road map. He said there is need to put hands on the deck to ensure that Botswana sustains progress made so far in the fight against HIV and AIDS.
â€śThere are tremendous achievements thus far to, reach and surpass the UNAIDS fast track targets of 95%- 95%- 95% by the year 2025. As reflected by the BAIS preliminary results of 2021, we now stand at 95- 98- 98 against the set targets.â€ť
â€śThese achievements challenge us to now shift our gears and strive to know who are the remaining 5% for those aware of their HIV status, 2% of enrolment on treatment by those aware of their status and 2% of viral suppression by those on treatment.â€ť
Explaining this further, Morwaeng said shift in gears should extend to coming up with robust strategies of determining where these remaining people are as well as how they will be reached with the necessary services.
â€śThese are just some of the many variables that are required to ensure that as a country, we are well positioned to reaching the last mile of our countryâ€™s response to the HIV and AIDS pandemic.â€ť