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Wealthy International fugitive suspected to be holed-up in Tuli block

A wealthy British aristocratic alleged nanny-killer is suspected to be holed-up in Botswana in the white Tuli Block enclave after fleeing the UK following the murder of his children’s minder 35 years ago.

According to communication on a UK on-line police platform, John Bingham, the 7th Earl of Lucan otherwise commonly known as Lord Lucan, has been sighted in Gaborone and allegedly stays in Tuli Block, in the North Eastern tip of the country. The disappearance of Lord Lucan, a scion of a wealthy and traditionally privileged caste of the English society has baffled and captivated the English imagination in equal measure for decades.

Lord Lucan allegedly murdered Sandra Rivett on the 7th of November 1974.Rivett was a nanny to his children, hired by his estranged wife. It is alleged that Lord Lucan had mistaken Rivett for his ex-wife, Veronica Duncan with whom they had been engaged in a marathon custody battle for their three children. Lucan disappeared into thin air a few days after the murder of Rivett.

So privileged and blue-blooded was Lord Lucan that he was once turned down an offer to play the role of James Bond. In his heyday he pursued playboy exploits, cruising around the streets of London in a high end Aston Martin automobile and rattling the blues with expensive powerboats. Lucan had also lived for some time in the United States with family friend and multi-millionaire Marcia Brady Tucker. The news of his engagement had allegedly been covered in UK publications, The Times and The Daily Telegraph in 1963 while the actual wedding was attended by among others a royal princess.

Furthermore, he had received his education at Eton College, one of the most exclusive European schools, founded in 1447 by King Henry VI, where the offspring of the European nobility continue to be tutored. An anonymous comment posted to an unofficial UK Police forum called UK Police, on the 4th of February 2016 has alleged that Lord Lucan has been sighted in Botswana and is living out his days in Tuli. The forum identifies the poster as a resident forum member posting from Southern Africa, under the username of OldAfricaHand.

The character behind OldAfricaHand writes that: “The last “sighting” of Lord Lucan was actually in Gaborone, Botswana, in a building called Debswana House-where Barclays Bank head office was located at that time (about 35 years ago).” “The story attached to this sighting was that Lucan was living in the Tuli Block, which is a sparsely populated area in Eastern Botswana, close to the South Africa border and had come to Gaborone to get some funds (possibly from friends in the UK).” he continues, “The suggestion is that he was being supported by friends who lived in one of the very substantial wildlife lodges that are in Tuli Block. If he was/is-he would be difficult to find.”

The writer then philosophises on possible motives for the murder of the child minder, before adding that, Lucan who would be 83 years old in 2017, might already be late and buried somewhere in an unmarked grave. The forum member also offered British adventurers some support if they wished to pursue the story for British tabloids, The Mirror, The Mail and The Daily Sun and earn some money and fame in the process.

“I guess all this is now moot-Lucan may well have passed away, been buried anonymously and forgotten. Mind you, if there are any forum members who fancy making a name for themselves and a few bob from the Sun, Mirror, Daily Mail, by finding him, il be happy to provide logistical support.” the poster added, but not before including a cheeky smiley face. Another newspaper article in The Gurdian of UK titled ‘Anniversary boots Lucan cottage industry” shares the same sentiments as OldAfricaHand.

It lists as one of the theories that he might have lived in Botswana, “He was smuggled out of Britain by wealthy friends and has spent his life moving around southern Africa. Much of the interest has focused on the Tuli Block in Botswana. Over the years Lucan has been "spotted" playing craps in a hotel there and drinking with expats in a bar.” Another source is a book which chronicles the Lucan hunt by Television crews in theTuli, titled, ‘Twenty chickens for a saddle: The story of an African childhood.’ The book was written by Robyn Scot, a New Zealander and a daughter of medical expatriates who grew up in the north and north east of Botswana.

Her book was reviewed in The Telegraph of UK in 2008. Scot came into the country aged 7 in 1987.She chronicles an encounter with an English television crew following the trail of Lucan in Tuli Block. She writes:”…an English TV crew appeared in Tuli Block after another sinister sighting: ‘fugitive lord seen in Botswana’s Tuli Block, gambling with the local residents.’

She continues to write: “for hours the crew drove up and down the Tuli Block road, finding only abandoned old farmsteads and homes of Afrikaans farmers. “Have you seen this man?” they asked again and again, displaying a constructed picture of what an elderly lord would probably look like. “You know the famous English Lord Lucan, who killed his children’s nanny.” Each time shaking heads. No one had heard of him.”Scot wrote. Other separate online accounts also mention the Tuli connection.Another poster to online has also alleges “Lucky” Lucan’s possible presence in the Tuli. Lucan was sometimes called “Lucky” Lucan because of his apparent success in his career as a high stakes gambler.

The anonymous online poster said that they had lived in Cape Town over 20 years ago and that there had been an aristocratic mutual friend who had also been a personal friend of Lucan’s in the 1970’s. However, they stated that with renewed press interest on the case, they mentioned to their friend about the presence of Lucan in the sub region and particularly in the Tuli Block,only to be angrily told off. The online persona,who posted to Quora on the 3rd of  March last year wrote:”…My friend who was normally a passive person was very agitated at this when i told him and he said, “they must stop looking for him.He is certainly dead.He drowned in the (English) Channel and people must stop looking for him.They should leave the poor man alone.”

The writer continues:”i was surprised by the vehemence with which he insisted that Lucan was dead and not to be looked for anymore,but got the feeling that my friend might have known more about it.What he said sounded more like a ‘party line’ for his social group when anyone mentioned Lucan.I had a distinct impression of ranks closing.”

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Mowana Mine to open, pay employees millions

18th January 2022
Mowana Mine

Mowana Copper Mine in Dukwi will finally pay its former employees a total amount of P23, 789, 984.00 end of this month. For over three years Mowana Copper Mine has been under judicial management. Updating members, Botswana Mine Workers Union (BMWU) Executive Secretary Kitso Phiri this week said the High Court issued an order for the implementation of the compromise scheme of December 9, 2021 and this was to be done within 30 days after court order.

“Therefore payment of benefits under the scheme including those owed to Messina Copper Botswana employees should be effected sometime in January latest end of January 2022,” Kitso said. Kitso also explained that cash settlement will be 30 percent of the total Messina Copper Botswana estate and negotiated estate is $3,233,000 (about P35, 563,000).

Messina Copper was placed under liquidation and was thereafter acquired by Leboam Holdings to operate Mowana Mine. Leboam Holdings struck a deal with the Messina Copper’s liquidator who became a shareholder of Leboam Holdings. Leboam Holdings could not service its debts and its creditors placed it under provisional judicial management on December 18, 2018 and in judicial management on February 28, 2019.

A new company Max Power expressed interest to acquire the mining operations. It offered to take over the Mowana Mine from Leboam Holdings, however, the company had to pay the debts of Leboam including monies owed to Messina Copper, being employees benefits and other debts owed to other creditors.

The monies, were agreed to be paid through a scheme of compromise proposed by Max Power, being a negotiated payment schedule, which was subject to the financial ability of the new owners. “On December 9, 2021, Messina Copper liquidator, called a meeting of creditors, which the BMWU on behalf of its members (former Messina Copper employees) attended, to seek mandate from creditors to proceed with a proposed settlement for Messina Copper on the scheme of compromise. It is important to note that employee benefits are regarded as preferential credit, meaning once a scheme is approved they are paid first.”

Negotiated estate is P35, 563,000

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Councilors’ benefits debacle-savingram reveals detail

18th January 2022

A savingram the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development sent to Town Clerks and Council Secretaries explaining why councilors across the country should not have access to their terminal benefits before end of their term has been revealed.

The contents of the savingram came out in the wake of a war of words between counselors and the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development. The councilors through the Botswana Association of Local Authorities (BALA) accuse the Ministry of refusing to allow them to have access to their terminal benefits before end of their term.

This has since been denied by the Ministry.  In the savingram to town councils and council secretaries across the country, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development Molefi Keaja states that, “Kindly be advised that the terminal benefits budget is made during the final year of term of office for Honorable Councilors.”  Keaja reminded town clerks and council secretaries that, “The nominal budget Councils make each and every financial year is to cater for events where a Councilor’s term of office ends before the statutory time due to death, resignation or any other reason.”

The savingram also goes into detail about why the government had in the past allowed councilors to have access to their terminal benefits before the end of their term.  “Regarding the special dispensation made in the 2014-2019, it should be noted that the advance was granted because at that time there was an approved budget for terminal benefits during the financial year,” explained Keaja.  He added that, “Town Clerks/Council Secretaries made discretions depending on the liquidity position of Councils which attracted a lot of audit queries.”

Keaja also revealed that councils across the country were struggling financially and therefore if they were to grant councilors access to their terminal benefits, this could leave their in a dire financial situation.  Given the fact that Local Authorities currently have cash flow problems and budgetary constraints, it is not advisable to grant terminal benefits advance as it would only serve to compound the liquidity problems of councils.

It is understood that the Ministry was inundated with calls from some Councils as they sought clarification regarding access to their terminal benefits. The Ministry fears that should councils pay out the terminal benefits this would affect their coffers as the government spends a lot on councilors salaries.

Reports show that apart from elected councilors, the government spends at least P6, 577, 746, 00 on nominated councilors across the country as their monthly salaries. Former Assistant Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Botlogile Tshireletso once told Parliament that in total there are 113 nominated councilors and their salaries per a year add up to P78, 933,16.00. She added that their projected gratuity is P9, 866,646.00.

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Households spending to drive economic recovery

17th January 2022

A surge in consumer spending is expected to be a key driver of Botswana’s economic recovery, according to recent projections by Fitch Solutions. Fitch Solutions said it forecasts household spending in Botswana to grow by a real rate of 5.9% in 2022.

The bullish Fitch Solutions noted that “This is a considerable deceleration from 9.4% growth estimated in 2021, it comes mainly from the base effects of the contraction of 2.5% recorded in 2020,” adding that, “We project total household spending (in real terms) to reach BWP59.9bn (USD8.8bn) in 2022, increasing from BWP56.5bn (USD8.3bn) in 2021.”  According to Fitch Solutions, this is higher than the pre-Covid-19 total household spending (in real terms) of P53.0 billion (USD7.8bn) in 2019 and it indicates a full recovery in consumer spending.

“We forecast real household spending to grow by 5.9% in 2022, decelerating from the estimated growth of 9.4% in 2021. We note that the Covid-19 pandemic and the related restrictions on economic activity resulted in real household spending contracting by 2.5% in 2020, creating a lower base for spending to grow from in 2021 and 2022,” Fitch Solutions says.

Total household spending (in real terms), the agency says, will increase in 2022 when compared to 2021. In 2021 and 2022, total household spending (in real terms) will be above the pre-Covid-19 levels in 2019, indicating a full recovery in consumer spending, says Fitch Solutions.  It says as of December 6 2021 (latest data available), 38.4% of people in Botswana have received at least one vaccine dose, while this is relatively low it is higher than Africa average of 11.3%.

“The emergence of new Covid-19 variants such as Omicron, which was first detected in the country in November 2021, poses a downside risk to our outlook for consumer spending, particularly as a large proportion of the country’s population is unvaccinated and this could result in stricter measures being implemented once again,” says Fitch Solutions.

Growth will ease in 2022, Fitch Solution says. “Our forecast for an improvement in consumer spending in Botswana in 2022 is in line with our Country Risk team’s forecast that the economy will grow by a real rate of 5.3% over 2022, from an estimated 12.5% growth in 2021 as the low base effects from 2020 dissipate,” it says.

Fitch Solutions notes that “Our Country Risk team expects private consumption to be the main driver of Botswana’s economic growth in 2022, as disposable incomes and the labour market continue to recover from the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.”
It says Botswana’s tourism sector has been negatively impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic and the related travel restrictions.

According to Fitch Solutions, “The emergence of the Omicron variant, which was first detected in November 2021, has resulted in travel bans being implemented on Southern African countries such as South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Eswatini. This will further delay the recovery of Botswana’s tourism sector in 2021 and early 2022.”  Fitch Solutions, therefore, forecasts Botswana’s tourist arrivals to grow by 81.2% in 2022, from an estimated contraction of 40.3% in 2021.

It notes that the 72.4% contraction in 2020 has created a low base for tourist arrivals to grow from.  “The rollout of vaccines in South Africa and its key source markets will aid the recovery of the tourism sector over the coming months and this bodes well for the employment and incomes of people employed in the hospitality industry, particularly restaurants and hotels as well as recreation and culture businesses,” the report says.

Fitch Solutions further notes that with economies reopening, consumers are demanding products that they had little access to over the previous year. However, manufacturers are facing several problems.  It says supply chain issues and bottlenecks are resulting in consumer goods shortages, feeding through into supply-side inflation.  Fitch Solutions believes the global semiconductor shortage will continue into 2022, putting the pressure on the supply of several consumer goods.

It says the spread of the Delta variant is upending factory production in Asia, disrupting shipping and posing more shocks to the world economy. Similarly, manufacturers are facing shortages of key components and higher raw materials costs, the report says adding that while this is somewhat restricted to consumer goods, there is a high risk that this feeds through into more consumer services over the 2022 year.

“Our global view for a notable recovery in consumer spending relies on the ability of authorities to vaccinate a large enough proportion of their populations and thereby experience a notable drop in Covid-19 infections and a decline in hospitalisation rates,” says Fitch Solutions.
Both these factors, it says, will lead to governments gradually lifting restrictions, which will boost consumer confidence and retail sales.

“As of December 6 2021, 38.4% of people in Botswana have received at least one vaccine dose. While this is low, it is higher than the Africa average of 11.3%. The vaccines being administered in Botswana include Pfizer-BioNTech, Sinovac and Johnson & Johnson. We believe that a successful vaccine rollout will aid the country’s consumer spending recovery,” says Fitch Solutions.  Therefore, the agency says, “Our forecasts account for risks that are highly likely to play out in 2022, including the easing of government support. However, if other risks start to play out, this may lead to forecast revisions.”

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