Member of Parliament for Tati East, Samson Guma Moyo has revealed during the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) sitting this week that the Botswana Development Corporation (BDC) should not bring back its P1 billion request to parliament because it is a closed matter.
Moyo, who is the Chairman of Parliamentary Committee on Statutory Bodies and Public Enterprises found the opportunity to relay his message to BDC this week when the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry Peggy Serame appeared before the PAC. BDC is one of the eleven public enterprises under the Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry. “Go and tell BDC that they should not come back with that request now. A decision has been taken and it is a closed matter,” said Moyo.
Last year Moyo had to move swiftly to prevent BDC from acquiring the P1 billion request from parliament when he convinced MPs to divert the matter to his committee to examine the request. A decision has since been reached by the committee that the request by BDC was not in line with what the institution was created to do. The “new BDC” under the stewardship of Bashi Gaetsaloe had managed to convince cabinet about its investment plan but Guma succeeded in preventing a guarantee for the P1 billion loan request.
BDC wanted government to guarantee a loan of P1 billion to invest in different projects of which the investment was expected to produce P1300 jobs locally. Gaetsaloe had presented before Guma’s committee that BDC needed P1 billion of which 70% was to be spent on investments and the seven percent be reserved as a buffer when there is need to pump money into a project in need.
Among the proposed projects which were brought before Guma’s committee were; on P45 million Milk Africa, a milk factory; P200 million on Ba Isago University, a private owned tertiary institution; P250 million on Letshego, a budding micro-lending company; P270 million in construction of Private Estate in Francistown; P30 million on paper project and 280 million on Auto Mobile plant.
BDC has been a centre of debate in recent years with former cabinet ministers being among its critics. BDC was established in 1970 as the country’s investment arm and main agency for commercial and industrial development. BDC’s primary mandate is to drive the Industrialisation of the country by providing financial assistance to investors with commercially viable projects. BDC provides both debt and equity financing to commercially viable project.
Former Assistant Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Charles Tibone last year spoke in support of privatising some public enterprises because government was not getting value of money. He said, public enterprises were prone to slow growth and inefficiencies mentioning BDC as one of them. Tibone, who resigned as Assistant Minister of Finance in 2011, and left his law making position in 2014, argued that if compared, growth profiles of the BDC and BIHL, both of which are in property and financial services, among other investments, one will notice that one zigzags up and down while the other has an upward trajectory.
Property magnate and former Cabinet Minister David Magang has not spared it either. Magang has continually expressed dissatisfaction with the output of BDC as government’s investment arm. He previously stated that In the 46 years that it has been in existence, BDC’s impact in relation to helping foster the well-being of the economy has been marginal if not wholly inconsequential. The arrival of Gaetsaloe at the once controversy troubled quasi-government institution saw the approach in investment strategy shifting. BDC’s new corporate strategy envisions a BDC that is more flexible, more innovative and that will invest in commercially viable projects in Botswana and internationally.
This week PAC members grilled the Serame over operations of public enterprises including the BDC. One of the committee members, Ndaba Gaolathe argued that there was no need for BDC which was created to spearhead the industrialisation to invest in ventures which do not speak to that or in ventures which are already having good markets and can access funds elsewhere. BDC is also part of envisaged government plan to merge some of its institutions with similar mandate such as CEDA, SPEDU and LEA.
The outgoing President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ian Kirby, shares his thoughts with us as he leaves the Bench at the end of this year.
WeekendPost: Why did you move between the Attorney General and the Bench?
Ian Kirby: I was a member of the Attorney General’s Chambers three times- first in 1969 as Assistant State Counsel, then in 1990 as Deputy Attorney General (Civil), and finally in 2004 as Attorney General. I was invited in 2000 by the late Chief Justice Julian Nganunu to join the Bench. I was persuaded by former President Festus Mogae to be his Attorney General in 2004 as, he said, it was my duty to do so to serve the nation. I returned to the Judiciary as soon as I could – in May 2006, when there was a vacancy on the High Court Bench.
Botswana’s civil society is one of the non-state actors that could save the country’s democracy from sliding into regression, a Germany based think tank has revealed. This is according to a discussion paper by researchers at the German Development Institute who analysed the effects of e-government usage on political attitudes In Botswana.
In the paper titled “E-government and democracy in Botswana: Observational and experimental evidence on the effects of e-government usage on political attitudes,” the researchers offer a strongly worded commentary on Botswana’s ‘flawed democracy.’ The authors noted that with Botswana’s Parliament structurally – and in practice – feeble, the potential for checks and balances on executive power rests with the judiciary.
Bangwato in Serowe — where Bamagwato Paramount Chief and former President Lt. Gen Ian Khama originates – disagree on whether they must send a delegation to dialogue with President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s family in Moshupa. Just last week, a meeting was called by the Regent of Bamagwato, Kgosi Sediegeng Kgamane, at Serowe Kgotla to, among others, update the tribe on the whereabouts of their Kgosi (Khama).
Further, his state of health was also discussed, with Kgamane telling the attendees that all is well with Khama. The main reason for the meeting was to deliberate on the escalating tension between Khama and Masisi — a three-year bloodletting going unabated.