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Saturday, 02 December 2023

Norilsk Nickel Group sues Govt for P2.8 billion

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Norilsk Nickel Group is suing Botswana’s government in efforts to recover close to P3 billion after a deal gone sour. The Russian miner, in a loaded statement released on Friday, says the lawsuit is the last resort after it failed to find an amicable solution, laying blame on the lack of commitment from the government of Botswana.


“MMC Norilsk Nickel Group (hereinafter “Norilsk Nickel”) has served notice that it intends to commence legal proceedings in Botswana against the Government of Botswana in respect of its involvement in the reckless trading of BCL Limited and BCL Investments Proprietary Limited (together “BCL”), with a view of recovering the USD 271 million plus damages and other costs that are owed to Norilsk Nickel in relation to the sale of a 50% interest in the Nkomati mine in South Africa (“the Nkomati deal”) and the USD 6.4 million that are owed to Norilsk Nickel in relation to the sale of the Tati mine in Botswana,” the company said in a press release statement.


Norilsk says it is suing the Botswana’s government since it is the ultimate shareholder of BCL through its corporate vehicle MDCB, adding also that the notice to sue was served under section 4 of the State Proceedings (Civil Actions by or against Government or Public Officers) Act and was served on the Attorney General of Botswana, the Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security, and the Minister of Finance.


This is the second attempt by the Russian miner to sue the government for breach of contract. The first law suit was filed last December but later withdrawn after negotiations with the government, with Norilsk agreeing to become the creditor on the ongoing liquidation of BCL group. In the centre of the lawsuit is a deal gone wrong that began when Norilsk agreed in October 2014 to sell their operations in Africa to BCL for a total price of $337 million (P3.5 billion), though that amount was later reduced when Norilsk agreed to price concessions requested by BCL and the Government. The concessions by Norilsk were in light of falling commodity prices.


The Russian miner’s main line of arguments are that the Nkomati deal, which was announced by BCL as a strategic priority as part of its high-profile “Polaris II” diversification and investment strategy, was designed to guarantee the long-term future of BCL’s operations by securing the supply of concentrate to its smelter in Selebi Phikwe, Botswana. This line of argument by Norilsk is intended to highlight the overarching role of the government of Botswana in the deal.


“The Government was involved in or approved all material decisions relating to this transaction. It is well known that BCL had always historically relied on financial support from the Government to survive and, in view of BCL’s financial position, it was clear that most if not all of the funding for the Nkomati deal would have to come from or be guaranteed by the Government,” the company explained in the press statement.


The trouble began to emerge when the government started developing cold feet. According to the press statement, BCL became obliged to buy Nkomati on 13 September 2016. However, BCL and the government have made no attempts to complete the deal, in clear breach of the agreement with Norilsk.


In a shock twist, Norilsk says in October 2016, it learned through the media that BCL had been placed into provisional liquidation by the government in an apparent attempt to avoid its obligations to Norilsk. At that point, the Russian miner says it has tried on numerous occasions, and through numerous channels, to reach a satisfactory and amicable resolution, but none has been forthcoming.


“Norilsk has therefore been left with little option but to pursue a resolution through legal channels.  In its claim against the Government, Norilsk asserts that the business of BCL has been carried on recklessly and that the Government was party to that recklessness through the actions of individual Government Ministers, MDCB and the Government-appointed directors on BCL’s board,” read part of the statement.


The statement goes on to explain how the Botswana government cannot just simply walk away from the deal since it was the government that was instrumental and gave surety that it will come to the BCL rescue should BCL find itself in a financial mess. “In addition to the Government taking and being involved in material decisions in relation to the management of BCL, it was also aware of BCL’s financial situation throughout, and knew or ought to have known that there was no reasonable prospect of it being able to pay the amounts due to Norilsk without support from the Government.

 

Norilsk was also provided with assurances throughout the negotiations for the deal that the Government was fully supportive of the Nkomati transaction, and that BCL would perform its obligations in full.  Yet, when the time for completion of the deal came, it became apparent that the Government had had no intention of supporting BCL and had in fact taken steps which meant that BCL would not be able to perform its obligations.”


In its claim, Norilsk will ask for a court order making the government responsible for paying all of the liabilities due from BCL under its agreement with Norilsk and the costs of the intended court proceedings.  “The Government has displayed a complete disregard for the fair, frank and reasonable dealing with outsiders which BCL’s insolvent circumstances demanded.  It has failed to honour the obligations under the sale agreement concluded with Norilsk in October 2014,” said Michael Marriott, Norilsk Nickel Africa CEO.


“Throughout the process Norilsk has acted in good faith, and given the Government and BCL repeated opportunities and offers of assistance to complete the transaction, including concessions to significantly reduce the sale price,” he added. The lawsuit is expected to bring the spotlight on Botswana’s government which has been for many years known for its respect for the rule of law. Just recently, the country was ranked highly as the most attractive investment destination in Africa in an Africa Investment Index 2016 by Quantum Global’s independent research arm, Quantum Global Research Lab


“Botswana has a reputation as one of the safest and best places to invest in the whole of Africa and it has earned the strongest credit rating on the continent on that basis.  The way that the Government of Botswana has acted over BCL brings the validity of that reputation into question.  The negative ramifications could be felt across the economy of the whole country,” the CEO of Norilsk Africa said in a thinly veiled threat. The press statement concluded with a threat to block any sale of BCL assets to any interested investor if the Botswana government fails to recognise the rights of Norilsk and what is due to them.


“On a related issue, it would appear that the Government of Botswana is in negotiations with potential investors about a possible sale of BCL. Norilsk reiterates its rights in relation to the Nkomati and Tati transactions and will continue to seek the repayment of the outstanding debts by all legal means. In this regard, Norilsk expects its rights to be recognised by the Government in its negotiations and in any agreement ultimately reached in relation to BCL, failing which Norilsk reserves its rights, including to challenge any such agreement.”

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19 Bokamoso Private Hospital nurses graduate at Lenmed Nursing College

28th November 2023

The graduation of 19 nurses from Bokamoso Private Hospital at Lenmed Nursing College marks a significant milestone in their careers. These nurses have successfully completed various short learning programs, including Adult Intensive Care Unit, Emergency Nursing Care, Anaesthetic & Recovery Room Nursing, Anaesthetic Nursing, and Recovery Room Nursing. The ceremony, held in Gaborone, was a testament to their hard work and dedication.

Lenmed Nursing College, a renowned healthcare group with a presence in South Africa, Botswana, Mozambique, and Ghana, has been instrumental in providing quality education and training to healthcare professionals. The Group Head of Operations, Jayesh Parshotam, emphasized the importance of upskilling nurses, who are at the forefront of healthcare systems. He also expressed his appreciation for the partnerships with Bokamoso Private Hospital, the Ministry of Health, and various health training institutes in Botswana.

Dr. Morrison Sinvula, a consultant from the Ministry of Health, commended Lenmed Health and Lenmed Nursing College for their commitment to the education and training of these exceptional nurses. He acknowledged their guidance, mentorship, and support in shaping the nurses’ careers and ensuring their success. Dr. Sinvula also reminded the graduates that education does not end here, as the field of healthcare is constantly evolving. He encouraged them to remain committed to lifelong learning and professional development, embracing new technologies and staying updated with the latest medical advancements.

Dr. Gontle Moleele, the Superintendent of Bokamoso Private Hospital, expressed her excitement and pride in the graduating class of 2023. She acknowledged the sacrifices made by these individuals, who have families and responsibilities, to ensure their graduation. Dr. Moleele also thanked Lenmed Nursing College for providing this opportunity to the hospital’s nurses, as it will contribute to the growth of the hospital.

The certificate recipients from Bokamoso Private Hospital were recognized for their outstanding achievements in their respective programs. Those who received the Cum Laude distinction in the Adult Intensive Care Unit program were Elton Keatlholwetse, Lebogang Kgokgonyane, Galaletsang Melamu, Pinkie Mokgosi, Ofentse Seboletswe, Gorata Basupi, Bareng Mosala, and Justice Senyarelo. In the Emergency Nursing Care program, Atlanang Moilwa, Bakwena Moilwa, Nathan Nhiwathiwa, Mogakolodi Lesarwe, Modisaotsile Thomas, and Lorato Matenje received the Cum Laude distinction. Kelebogile Dubula and Gaolatlhe Sentshwaraganye achieved Cum Laude in the Anaesthetic & Recovery Room Nursing program, while Keletso Basele excelled in the Anaesthetic Nursing program. Mompoloki Mokwaledi received recognition for completing the Recovery Room Nursing program.

In conclusion, the graduation of these 19 nurses from Bokamoso Private Hospital at Lenmed Nursing College is a testament to their dedication and commitment to their profession. They have successfully completed various short learning programs, equipping them with the necessary skills and knowledge to excel in their respective fields. The collaboration between Lenmed Nursing College, Bokamoso Private Hospital, and the Ministry of Health has played a crucial role in their success. As they embark on their careers, these nurses are encouraged to continue their professional development and embrace new advancements in healthcare.

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BNF secures 15 constituencies in UDC coalition, wants more

28th November 2023

The Botswana National Front (BNF) has recently announced that they have already secured 15 constituencies in the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) coalition, despite ongoing negotiations. This revelation comes as the BNF expresses its dissatisfaction with the current government and its leadership.

The UDC, which is comprised of the BNF, Botswana Peoples Party (BPP), Alliance for Progressives (AP), and Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF), is preparing for the upcoming General Elections. However, the negotiations to allocate constituencies among the involved parties are still underway. Despite this, the BNF Chairman, Patrick Molotsi, confidently stated that they have already acquired 15 constituencies and are expecting to add more to their tally.

Molotsi’s statement reflects the BNF’s long-standing presence in many constituencies across Botswana. With a strong foothold in these areas, it is only natural for the BNF to seek an increase in the number of constituencies they represent. This move not only strengthens their position within the UDC coalition but also demonstrates their commitment to serving the interests of the people.

In a press conference, BNF Secretary General, Ketlhafile Motshegwa, expressed his discontent with the current government leadership. He criticized the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) for what he perceives as a disregard for the well-being of the Batswana people. Motshegwa highlighted issues such as high unemployment rates and shortages of essential medicines as evidence of the government’s failure to address the needs of its citizens.

The BNF’s dissatisfaction with the current government is a reflection of the growing discontent among the population. The Batswana people are increasingly frustrated with the lack of progress and the failure to address pressing issues. The BNF’s assertion that the government is playing with the lives of its citizens resonates with many who feel neglected and unheard.

The BNF’s acquisition of 15 constituencies, even before the negotiations have concluded, is a testament to their popularity and support among the people. It is a clear indication that the Batswana people are ready for change and are looking to the BNF to provide the leadership they desire.

As the negotiations continue, it is crucial for all parties involved to prioritize the interests of the people. The allocation of constituencies should be done in a fair and transparent manner, ensuring that the voices of all citizens are represented. The BNF’s success in securing constituencies should serve as a reminder to the other parties of the need to listen to the concerns and aspirations of the people they aim to represent.

In conclusion, the BNF’s acquisition of 15 constituencies, despite ongoing negotiations, highlights their strong presence and support among the Batswana people. Their dissatisfaction with the current government leadership reflects the growing discontent in the country. As the UDC coalition prepares for the upcoming General Elections, it is crucial for all parties to prioritize the needs and aspirations of the people. The BNF’s success should serve as a reminder of the importance of listening to the voices of the citizens and working towards a better future for Botswana.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Children’s summit to discuss funding of NGOS

21st November 2023

One of the key issues that will be discussed by the Childrens’ Summit, which will be hosted by Childline Botswana Trust on 28th – 30th November in Gaborone, will be the topical issue of financing and strengthening of civil society organizations.

A statement from Childline Botswana indicates that the summit will adopt a road map for resourcing the children’s agenda by funding organizations. It will also cover issues relating to child welfare and protection; aimed at mobilizing governments to further strengthen Child Helplines; as well as sharing of emerging technologies to enhance the protection of Children and promotion of their rights.

According to Gaone Chepete, Communications Officer at Childline Botswana, the overall objective of the summit is to provide a platform for dialogue and engagement towards promoting practices and policies that fulfil children’s rights and welfare.

“Child Helplines in the region meet on a bi-annual basis to reflect on the state of children; evaluate their contribution and share experiences and best practice in the provision of services for children,” said Chepete.

The financing of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) by the state or its functionaries has generated mixed reactions from within the civil society space, with many arguing that it threatened NGOs activism and operational independence.

In February 2019, University of Botswana academic Kenneth Dipholo released a paper titled “State philanthropy: The demise of charitable organizations in Botswana,” in which he faulted then President Lieutenant General Seretse Khama Ian Khama for using charity for political convenience and annexing the operational space of NGOs.

“Civil society is the domain in which individuals can exercise their rights as citizens and set limits to the power of the state. The state should be developing capable voluntary organizations rather than emaciating or colonizing them by usurping their space,” argued Dipholo.

He further argued that direct involvement of the state or state president in charity breeds unhealthy competition between the state itself and other organizations involved in charity. Under these circumstances, he added, the state will use charity work to remain relevant to the ordinary people and enhance its visibility at the expense of NGOs.

“A consequence of this arrangement is that charitable organizations will become affiliates of the state. This stifles innovation in the sense that it narrows the ability of charitable organizations to think outside the box. It also promotes mono-culturalism, as the state could support only charitable organizations that abide by its wishes,” said Dipholo.

In conclusion, Dipholo urged the state to focus on supporting NGOs so that they operate in a system that combines philanthropic work and state welfare programs.

He added that state philanthropy threatens to relegate and render charitable organizations virtually irrelevant and redundant unless they re-engineer themselves.

Another University of Botswana (UB) academic, Professor Zibani Maundeni, opined that politics vitally shape civil society interaction; as seen in the interactions between the two, where there is mutual criticism in each other’s presence.

Over the years, NGOs have found themselves grappling with dwindling financial resources as donors ran out of money in the face of increased competition for financing. Many NGOs have also been faulted for poorly managing their finances because of limited strategic planning and financial management expertise. This drove NGOs to look to government for funding; which fundamentally altered the relationships between the two. The end result was a complete change in the operational culture of NGOs, which diminished their social impact and made them even more fragile. Increased government control through contract clauses also reduced NGOs activism and autonomy.

However, others believe that NGOs and government need each other, especially in the provision of essential services like child welfare and protection. Speaking at the Civil Society Child Rights Convention in 2020, Assistant Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Setlhabelo Modukanele said government considers NGOs as critical partners in development.

“We recognize the role that NGOs play a critical role in the country’s development agenda,” said Modukanele.

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