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Parks Tafa changes the BDP Bulela Ditswe game

The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) chairman of the Electoral Board, Parks Tafa recently landed in the country and he may just change the ball game as far as the party’s primary elections dubbed Bulela Ditswe are concerned.

The BDP legal guru is querying the party’s voters’ roll which is expected to be used at the primary elections. The BDP had scheduled primary elections for opposition held constituencies for 21st October but it is very likely that they could be delayed.
BDP held an emergency central committee meeting on Tuesday to discuss the observations made by Parks Tafa. It was one of the rare central committee meetings that President Lt Gen Ian Khama missed. He was in Malta at the time of this meeting.

This publication learns that among some of the points he is raising is the fact that the Public Education and Elections Committee (PEEC) has no powers or legal authority to produce a voters’ roll. Following numerous complaints emanating from the voters’ rolls in the past elections, the BDP had taken a deliberate step to clean up its Bulela Ditswe. However, it appears a few steps were missed when the new dispensation was put into use. Tafa is of the view that if Bulela Ditswe regulations are to be amended then the BDP will need a Special Congress.

What has been happening as part of a calculated move to curb complaints about voters’ rolls, the PEEC had been assisting in registering party members at cell level. In the past names could just be registered at the party head office in Gaborone especially by those seeking to be voted at the primary elections. Most of those who lost the primaries queried the outcome of the primaries on the grounds that the voters’ rolls were doctored or names of potential voters were omitted.

Parks Tafa was not in the country during the BDP National Council and at the Tonota Congress. He is said to have advised that the regulations should have been ratified by congress. As the legal advisor of the party, many in the party fear that his word could become final because there is fear that after rendering such advice those who eventually lose primary elections could use this argument as grounds for appeal.

The party hierarchy is currently wrapping its mind on what steps to take, currently there are only two options – that of a Special Congress or reverting to the controversial old system of compiling voters’ rolls at the Head Office. While there are some candidates who are interested in the case where civil servants had argued their right to vote at BDP primary elections, insiders point out that it is not the biggest concern at the party, instead the procedural conundrum exposed by Parks Tafa is the real “headache”.


But the news that Parks Tafa is arguing against the current voters’ roll could be music to Fankie Motsaathebe’s ears. Motsaathebe, who is challenging the Minister of Presidential Affairs, Eric Molale in the parliamentary primary elections in the Goodhope/Mabule constituency finds himself in a tight corner as the party alleges that his name does not appear in the current voters’ roll.  

This development could mean that Molale is automatically the BDP parliamentary candidate for the constituency on a technicality because Motsaathebe, a favourite had not registered to vote. But Motsaathebe is disputing the allegation and insists that he is in the voters roll because he had registered to vote in the party primary elections. His supporters were alleging that there is a plot to bar him from contesting so as to give Minister Molale a free ride to the 2019 general election.  

The Goodhope/Mabule constituency was won by the UDC’s James Mathokgwane in 2014 by 6 712 to the BDP Eric Molale’s 6 101 while Lesego Gatogang of Botswana Congress Party (BCP) only managed 717 votes. Mathokgwane was later to leave the MP position for a lucrative job of Selibe Phikwe Economic Diversification Unit (SPEDU) which prompted the bye election and was won by Lotlaamoreng. Lotlaamoreng accumulated 6 152 votes against Molale’s 4 372, while Comfort Maruping of the BCP got a paltry 385.

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Batswana owe banks P79 billion

27th March 2023

The Minister of Finance, Peggy Serame, has disclosed that the total bank credit extended by commercial banks amounted to P79 billion, out of which P53.4 billion was retail loans and advances to households.

Parliament was informed this week in response to a question by the Member of Parliament for Selibe-Phikwe West and Leader of Opposition (LOO), Dithapelo Keorapetse.

“As at 31st December 2022, loans and other advances extended to households by banks constituted the largest share of bank-lending at 67.6 percent, the majority of which was unsecured personal loans at P36.2 billion (67.8%),” said Serame.

She added that the total household Debt to GDP ratio was 21.9%, while the total private business credit to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio was 10.8%.

On the other hand, it was noted that outstanding mortgage loans extended to households were P14.2 billion (26.6% of household debt) or 5.9% of GDP. Overall, total bank credit as a ratio of GDP stood at 32.7 percent.

It was acknowledged that there are 10 deposit-taking banks in the country, that is, nine commercial banks and one statutory bank (Botswana Savings Bank). This statistics excludes the National Development Bank (NDB), which is a development finance institution. The nine commercial banks include an indigenous bank, Botswana Building Society Bank Limited (BBSBL), which was issued with a commercial banking license by the Bank of Botswana in October 2022.

Still in December 2022, it was recorded that there were 376 non-bank lenders in Botswana consisting of 246 micro lenders, 66 finance companies, three leasing companies and 61 registered pawnshops.

According to Minister Serame, the loan book value representing the principal amount lent by these entities to individuals and to small, medium and micro Enterprises (SMMEs) is collated by the Non-Bank Financial Institutions Regulatory Authority (NBFIRA), which at 31st of December 2021, the loan book values were P5.6 billion for micro lenders, P1.6 billion for finance companies, P225 million for leasing companies and P14 million for pawnshops.

Government policy is that price control is not effective or desirable, and, as such, interest rates are not regulated. Non-regulation may, among other things, result in an increase in non-interest rate fees and commissions, reduced price transparency, lower credit supply and loan approval rates.

“It is important to note that, from a macroeconomic perspective, household debt in Botswana is neither a pandemic nor considered to be excessive. Indeed, the Bank of Botswana’s periodic and continuous assessments of household debt, including through the annual Household Indebtedness Surveys, suggest moderate household indebtedness and therefore, is of no apparent risk to the safety and soundness of the domestic financial system,” said Serame.

She also alluded this assessment is validated by the recently concluded Financial Sector Assessment Programme (FSAP) on Botswana undertaken by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank Group.

Keorapetse however rebuked the issue of debt not being excessive and noted the Minister thinks it’s fine for Batswana to be debt burdened in a way that their debts diminishes their quality of life.

“A significant portion of Batswana’s salaries go to servicing debts and because she doesn’t see this as a challenge, there can never be any intervention from her side. There is no price regulation on interest, which can go up to 30%+ a month.  Since President Masisi ascended to the high office in 2018, 2 384 Batswana were put in prison for failure to pay debts, that is 467 Batswana every year. So, for us, debt problems are big and concerning,” said Keorapetse.

He said they are worried because Batswana are drowning in debts because of relative poverty, slave wages and unemployment/underemployment, they buy basic needs and services with borrowed money and noted predatory and unethical lending has become a major problem in Botswana’s financial sector.

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How to fleece P14 million from Chinese investor

27th March 2023

The modus operandi of how five men allegedly swindled a Chinese national P14 million last week continue to unravel. Highly placed sources from the intelligence, the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) and Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) revealed to this publication how the whole scam was concocted.

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ENVIRONMENT ISSUES: Masisi asks Virginia for help

24th March 2023

President Mokgweetsi Masisi says the issue of sustainable natural resources management has always been an important part of Botswana’s national development agenda.

Masisi was speaking this week on the occasion of a public lecture at Virginia Polytechnic, under theme, “Merging Conservation, Democracy and Sustainable Development in Botswana.”

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).

“It 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,” 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 “we require to meet our socio-economic development needs on a sustainable basis,” 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. “It is our national interest to forestall the dire consequences of animal diseases on our communities livelihoods.”

President Masisi hoped that both Botswana and Virginia could help each other in curbing contagious diseases of wildlife.

“We 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.”

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.

“Water pollution also kills aquatic life, such as fish, which is one of humanity’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.”

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.

“In 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 “We need more capacitation to deal with and contain other types of microbial that affect both animals and human health.”

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