Following his appointment to chair the Special Economic Zones Authority in July this year, taking over from Nico Cypionka, the Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) Chief Executive Officer, Thapelo Tsheole may be appointed to the Botswana Economic Advisory Council (BEAC) as its chairman, this publication is informed.
BEAC was chaired by Nico Cypionka. Tsheole has proved his worth as CEO of the Stock Exchange, successfully listing the Botswana Telecommunications Corporation Limited (BTCL) amidst doubting thomases, BTCL now forms part of the broader Wholesaling and Retail sector on the BSE. He is currently advocating for the BSE to be one of the key drivers of economic diversification through his outreach initiatives aimed at encouraging companies to list with the BSE and further urging Batswana to understand the stock market and participating in it.
If Tsheole is given the nod at BEAC, he will be expected to roll out the Botswana Excellence-The Strategy for Economic Diversification and Sustainable Growth which is aimed at addressing the primary challenge of Botswana, which is to diversify the economy to ensure that Batswana continue to enjoy the fruits of sustained economic growth post depletion of minerals, especially diamonds. Former President Festus Gontebanye Mogae established a Business and Economic Advisory Council (BEAC) in August 2005 to address this challenge. The Council, comprised members of high repute from both Government, parastatal and the private sectors.
BEAC was mandated to, among others: to identify constraints hindering economic diversification; formulate a Strategy and an Action Plan; and Identify key projects required for taking Botswana forward. The work of the Council culminated in two documents: “Botswana Excellence — A Strategy for Economic Diversification and Sustainable Growth” and the “Action Plan”. The Action Plan details projects aimed at driving implementation of the Economic Diversification and Sustainable Growth Strategy. The Action Plan and the Strategy were approved by Cabinet in December 2006 and November 2008 respectively.
Amongst the Action Items contained in the Action Plan was establishment of Government Implementation Coordination Office (GICO), which was set up by Government in May 2007. The primary mandate of GICO is to monitor and evaluate implementation of actions and projects flowing from the Strategy, as well as other policies, programmes and projects. Amongst action items contained in the Strategy are implementation of specific projects aimed at promoting diversification and growth. Some of these projects are Diamond, Health, Education, Agriculture, Innovation, and Transport hubs.
At a higher level, the Strategy is monitored by the President through bi-annual reviews. In addition to bi-annual reviews, the hubs are monitored through the Cabinet Committee on Economy and Employment chaired by the Vice President which in turn reports to the Economic Committee of Cabinet chaired by the President. Contacted for comment Tsheole only confirmed that he is the chairman of the Special Economic Zones Authority.
The Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP)’s decision to reject and appeal the High Court’s verdict on a case involving High Court Judge, Dr Zein Kebonang has frustrated the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and Judge Kebonang’s back to work discussions.
JSC and Kebonang have been in constant discussions over the latter’s return to work following a ruling by a High Court panel of judges clearing him of any wrong doing in the National Petroleum Fund criminal case filed by the DPP. However the finalization of the matter has been hanged on whether the DPP will appeal the matter or not – the prosecution body has since appealed.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) top brass has declined a request by Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) to negotiate the legal fees occasioned by 2019 general elections petition in which the latter disputed in court the outcome of the elections.
This publication is made aware that UDC Vice President Dumelang Saleshando was left with an egg on his face after the BDP big wigs, comprising of party Chairman Slumber Tsogwane and Secretary General Mpho Balopi rejected his plea.
“He was told that this is a legal matter and therefore their (UDC) lawyer should engage ours (BDP) for negotiations because it is way far from our jurisdiction,” BDP Head of Communications, Kagelelo Kentse, told this publication.
This spelt doom for the main opposition party and Saleshando who seems not to have confidence and that the UDC lawyers have the dexterity to negotiate these kind of matters. It is not clear whether Saleshando requested UDC lawyer Boingotlo Toteng to sit at the table with Bogopa Manewe, Tobedza and Co, who are representing the BDP to strike a deal as per the BDP top echelons suggested.
“From my understanding, the matter is dealt with politically as the two parties are negotiating how to resolve it, but by far nothing has come to me on the matter. So I believe they are still substantively engaging each other,” Toteng said briefly in an interview on Thursday.
UDC petitioners saddled with costs after mounting an unprecedented legal suit before the court to try and overturn BDP’s October 2019 victory. The participants in the legal matter involves 15 parliamentary candidates’ and nine councillors. The UDC petitioned the court and contested the outcome of the elections citing “irregularities in some of the constituencies”.
In a brief ruling in January 2020, Judge President Ian Kirby on behalf of a five-member panel said: “We have no jurisdiction to entertain these appeals. These appeals must be struck out each with costs including costs of counsel”. This was a second blow to the UDC in about a month after their 2019 appeals were dismissed by the High Court a day before Christmas Day.
This week BDP attorneys decided to attach UDC petitioners’ property in a bid to settle the debts. UDC President Duma Boko is among those that will see their property being attached with 14 of his party members. “We have attached some and we are on course. So far, Dr. Mpho Pheko (who contested Gaborone Central) and that of Dr, Micus Chimbombi (who contested Kgalagadi South) will have their assets being sold on the 5th of February 2021,” BDP attorney Basimane Bogopa said.
Asked whether they met with UDC lawyers to try solve the matter, Bogopa said no and added. “Remember we are trying to raise the client’s funds, so after these two others will follow. Right now we are just prioritising those from Court of Appeal, as soon as the high court is done with taxation we will attach.”
Saleshando, when contacted about the outcomes of the meeting with the BDP, told WeekendPost that: “It would not be proper and procedural for me to tell you about the meeting outcomes before I share with UDC National Executive Committee (NEC), so I will have to brief them first.”
UDC NEC will meet on the 20th of next month to deal with a number of thorny issues including settling the legal fees. Negotiations with other opposition parties- Alliance for Progressives and Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) are also on the agenda.
Currently, UDC has raised P44 238 of the P565 000 needed to cover bills from the Court of Appeal (CoA). This is the amount in a UDC trust account which is paltry funds equating 7.8 per cent of the overall required money. In the past despite the petitioners maintaining that there was promise to assist them to settle legal fees, UDC Spokesperson, Moeti Mohwasa then said the party has never agreed in no way to help them.
“We have just been put in debt by someone,” one of the petitioners told this publication in the past. “President’s (Duma Boko) message was clear at the beginning that money has been sourced somewhere to help with the whole process but now we are here there is nothing and we are just running around trying to make ends meet and pay,” added the petitioner in an interview UDC NEC has in December last year directed all the 57 constituencies to each raise a minimum of P10, 000. The funds will be used to settle debts that are currently engulfing the petitioners with Sheriffs, who are already hovering around ready to attach their assets.
The petitioners, despite the party intervention, have every right to worry. “This is so because ‘the deadline for this initiative (P10, 000 per constituency) is the end of the first quarter of this year (2021),” a period in which the sheriffs would have long auctioned the properties.
President of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Duma Boko’s alliance with former President Lt Gen Ian Khama continues to unsettle some quarters within the opposition collective, who believe the duo, if not managed, will once again result in an unsuccessful bid for government in 2024.
While Khama has denied that he has undeclared preference to have Boko remaining as leader of UDC, many believe that the two have a common programme, while other opposition leaders remain on the side-lines.