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BCL: How the Arabs came, saw, and left

This week the Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security, Advocate Sadique Kebonang briefed Members of Parliament on the latest regarding the status of the Liquidation of BCL Limited and its subsidiaries (the BCL Group).

From his statement the Minister shared the steps that led to the liquidation of BCL as well as the failed attempt to entice Emirates Investment House (EIH) to acquire BCL. Kebonang indicated that Emirates Investment House (EIH) had shown interest in acquiring the BCL Group. “I met with representatives of EIH both in Botswana and also Dubai where they are based. My visit to Dubai was in my capacity as the Political Head of my Ministry and a Minister in Government, to assure this entity that should their interest eventually result in investment, there is security of tenure in terms of Botswana laws. I was accompanied on the visit by the Director of Mines in my Ministry,” he said.

The minister said the timing of the visit to Dubai was critical as he believed he had to do so before the return date to the High Court, on the 7th February 2017. He said the outcome of the visit informed the application for the extension of the provisional liquidation period the first time.  According to Kebonang, after further engagements with EIH, the Government, through the Ministry, entered into a Heads of Agreement which broadly defined Government’s undertaking on the terms under which the BCL Group could be sold to EIH.

“Any subsequent agreement on selling and purchasing was to be subject to a positive due diligence, an agreement with the Shareholder, Minerals Development Company Botswana, and on the settlements of debts to the BCL Group creditors,” the Minister shared.
Kebonang further indicated that the Provisional Liquidator facilitated access to site and to information in order to allow EIH to conduct the due diligence. However, EIH made no offer after the extension of the provisional order on the 15th May 2017 and resulting in lapse of exclusivity granted to EIH by GRB to conduct due diligence.

Furthermore there was no offer at the return date of the 15th June 2017 to purchase the BCL Group, thus a decision was taken to place BCL under final liquidation. Kebonang said the return date of Tati and the BCLI, as already indicated, was extended to the 14th December, 2017 pending discussions with interested buyers. “I am aware of the interest of EIH in making investments in other sectors of the economy of Botswana such as agriculture and transport; on these they are in direct contact with the relevant entities.

The Provisional Liquidator has also undertaken efforts to identify potential interested parties, a number of which have expressed interest primarily in Tati Nickel Mining Company. The Provisional Liquidator is pursuing these expressions of interest. The Provisional Liquidator received some expressions of interest from potential buyers of the BCL and Tati Nickel Mining Company assets prior to the return date of the 15th June 2017,” Minister Kebonang pointed out.

Gov’t still wants to sell BCL

Nevertheless, Government still wants to sell BCL, the minister said after the return date of 15th June 2017, the Provisional Liquidator placed advertisements in local and international media inviting all potential buyers of BCL and Tati assets to submit their expressions of interest. “The Provisional Liquidator has set up a data room accessible to all interested parties to assist them in the preparation of their indicative offers. The closing date for these adverts is 01st September 2017. After this, the Provisional Liquidator will collate all expressions of interest received and short list the most suitable submissions. These will then be invited to present final proposals for the purchase of BCL and Tati assets. The potential buyers will have to conduct their own due diligence activities prior to presenting their final proposals,” he said.

In addition, Kebonang shared that Government has also received a proposal from a Dubai based company seeking to re-process the BCL slag dump to recover metal values and to manufacture steel and cement products from these. He stated that the MDCB has been tasked to evaluate this proposal and advise government on the proposal and further advise government on the viability of the proposal. “A viable proposal will then be referred to the Provisional Liquidator for his decision.”

Dispute with Norilski Nickel

Meanwhile the Minister also updated Members of Parliament on the dispute between the BCL Investments and Norilski Nickel on the Nkomati share purchase agreement (SPA). He observed that the dispute has been a source of negative publicity on Botswana and has led to litigation against government. He indicated that Government has initiated action through MDCB to resolve the Nkomati SPA issue amicably. He observed that due diligence and valuation exercises are being carried out to establish the value of the Nkomati assets as a basis for negotiating a commercially acceptable solution to the parties involved. The minister said the due diligence and valuation exercise are expected to conclude by 15th August 2017 and negotiations with Norilski will follow thereafter.

Life after BCL

Minister Kebonang shared that the Government of Botswana is actively pursuing options of life beyond BCL mining operations for the SPEDU Region. He said as part of the Government effort to ensure the sustainability of the SPEDU Region beyond the life of BCL Mines, the Selebi Phikwe Economic Revitalisation Program has been formulated. He said the Programme is driven by the Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry (MITI) and has a dedicated Coordinator. According to Kebonang MITI has formulated the SPEDU Revitalisation Strategy with a package of fiscal and non-fiscal incentives, launched on the 6th March 2017 in Selebi Phikwe.

BCL Ltd was eventually put under final liquidation on the 15th June 2017. Tati Nickel Mining Company and BCL Investments continued to be under provisional liquidation with the return date having been extended to the 14th December 2017. As a consequence of the provisional liquidation, the assets of the BCL Group are under the control of the Provisional Liquidator, who is accountable to the creditors and the High Court. Minister Kebonang indicated that the costs of the Provisional Liquidation have been met from funding provided by the Government of Botswana. The amount already disbursed by the Provisional Liquidator amounts to P832 Million, out of a total budget provision of P844 million, up to April 2017. The major costs to be met from the funding are the Care and Maintenance Costs and terminal benefits payments for the former employees.

“ The terminal benefits paid to the former employees are as defined under our employment laws for an entity under a liquidation process. These terminal benefits would normally only be paid at the end of the liquidation process when the claims of the creditors are settled. It was decided however that employees should not wait indefinately, and arrangements were made for the payments to be made and the terminal benefits amount to be ceded to Government.” On the 9th October 2016, BCL Limited and two of its subsidiaries, BCL Investments and Tati Nickel Mining Company, (the BCL Group), were placed under provisional liquidation. The application for provisional liquidation was prompted by continued loss making of the BCL Group, on account of the depressed metal prices and operational challenges.

The financial situation of the BCL Group had not improved in spite of an injection of cash amounting to USD100 million from a facility provided by Barclays Bank of Botswana, guaranteed by the Government of Botswana, which was disbursed to BCL in April 2016. At the time of provisional liquidation, projections by Management were that by March 2017, a further P2 billion cash injection would become necessary in order to continue the operations. Due to budgetary constraints and competing national needs, Government did not have the financial resources to make further cash injections into the BCL Group to sustain the mining and related operations.

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Khan: Boko, Masisi are fake politicians

18th January 2021
Masisi & Boko

While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.

Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.

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Ookeditse rejects lobby for BPF top post

18th January 2021
LAWRENCE-OOKEDITSE

Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.

Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.

Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”

“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.

He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.

He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.

According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.

There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.

Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.

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BDP cancels MPs retreat

18th January 2021
President Masisi

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.

“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication.
The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.

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