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Khama dragged into Bamangwato chieftainship feud

President Lt Gen Ian Khama, who is also paramount chief of Bangwato has been dragged into the chieftainship feuds in the Bamangwato territory after various sections expressed displeasure with Regent Sediegeng Kgamane’s decisions.

There is an ongoing impasse surrounding the chieftainship in two villages of Mmadinare and Nata, which are within the jurisdiction of Bamangwato. Bangwato regent, Kgamane, who is the appointing authority for chiefs designated to these villages, is accused of pushing his own agendas by the sections of the villages. This has forced them to seek redress from President Khama to douse the fires. In Nata the villagers want the appointing authority to give Kgosi Rebagamang Rancholo the throne.

Last week Kgamane and his lieutenants cancelled a meeting on the eleventh hour despite residents of Nata having already convened at the kgotla. No reason, according to sources, was put forth. The residents want the appointment of the Kgosi to be done through elections in which Rancholo appears the most likely to win as he originates from the village. On the other hand highly placed sources say the Bangwato regent is considering a certain Letsogo Kgaswa. This would have irked the residents hence the meeting was called off.

The dispute according to village leadership will be addressed by President Khama on Thursday during his visit to the Nata-Gweta constituency. “It is on the agenda, the President will be briefed about the marathon dispute and we are hopeful that from there the decision will be taken. Besides we are optimistic the royals from Serowe will also be here to hear our cry and listen to our recommendations,” a source said. Nata is dominated by the Basarwa community and they are somehow clear that only Mosarwa should lead them.

There are reports doing rounds in the village that Kgamane would want to impose a different person and the villagers are resolute that they will block any move to appoint an ‘illegitimate’ person to the throne.  The vacancy of a senior tribal authority was created following the retirement of Mokgwathi Makgesi from public service in September 2015 and a delegation sent by Kgamane then addressed the villagers and announced that they should choose a person of their choice. Villagers had wanted the position to be filled by Makgesi’s immediate junior, Rebagamang Rancholo only for the delegation to state that the two junior chiefs, Rancholo and Kgaswa were not eligible for the position since they were already employed.

When villagers were busy searching for a suitable name to send for consideration, Kgamane handpicked Kgaswa for the position but the nomination angered villagers. In response Kgamane leaned on section 18 of Bogosi Act. “A Kgosi shall have power, after consultation with the tribe or any section thereof in accordance with customary law, to facilitate the integration of persons wishing to settle within the tribe,” but he failed to make it known to residents.

And the Mmadinare Chieftainship crisis deepens

Efforts by Kgamane and his lieutenants to mediate in the persisting Mmadinare chieftainship feud hit buffers as members of morafe insist they will deploy any tactic at their disposal to block the coronation of any kgosi they deem illegitimate. The residents are contemplating to report Kgamane who is overseeing Mmadinare Chieftainship to President Khama for maintaining his stance of bringing back Seeletso to lead them. It was almost a consensus from Morafe within the village that Kgosi Phokontsi Seeletso should not be reinstated. They believe that with heir to the throne still pursuing his studies there are other legitimate people who can hold the fort for him than Phokontsi, to be specific Maureen Mphoeng.

Contention from Morafe is simple- they want a Mmadinare native to lead them. Further they believe Seeletso has not been working well with them hence the need to be led by someone who well understands the village and its dwellers. The Bogosi conflict in the village exacerbated subsequent to the death of the father of Mphoeng Mphoeng. Mphoeng has now been considered succeeding his father but he is still pushing his academics until next year. Kgosi Mokhutshwane Sekgoma who was standing in for Kgamane however highlighted that consultation was done by the royal family in Serowe and they decided Seeletso is the perfect shepherd to lead Mmadinare.

On the other hand livid residents quote Bogosi act that they should be consulted. “A Kgosi may, after consultation with the people of the area at a kgotla in the customary manner and with the approval of the Minister, recognize any person designated by his or her tribe as Kgosana in respect of the area of his or her tribal territory or tribal area and may in like manner withdraw the recognition,” article 22 (a) read Bogosi act in which Bangwato principals are leaning on. the appointment of the person proposed by the Kgosi as his or her Moemela Kgosi would not be in the interests of the people of the area, make such appointment as he or she considers appropriate after consultation with the tribe; or

However the residents believe the recognition of a Kgosana has been made without due consideration of the wishes and interests of the people of the tribal territory or tribal area hence the need to cancel the recognition of such Kgosi Seeletso. “I was among the delegation that went to Serowe. We were not allowed to say even a word and we were not happy that we left without any of our voices heard. We made it clear that we are against the decision because it was not consultation, but a decision imposed on us. We strongly object to the decision on Seeletso and I am wondering how he will work with such an angry community,” Kgosi Thatayaone Marumo lamented about consultation.

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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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