The Botswana Stock Exchange’s benchmark index is at its lowest levels last seen two years ago as investors favourites crumble while small cap stocks punch above their weight. The BSE’s domestic company index is down by 11.63%, a stark contrast to 2015 when then stock tracking index appreciated by 11.65%. We take a look at the top gainers and losers.
The DCI which comprises of 21 listed local companies on the main domestic counter and 2 on the venture capital board is a market weighted index. That means it is sensitive to the performance of companies with large market capital value. In 2015, the share prices of 16 companies appreciated compared to 12 companies this year. It has turned out to be the most frustrating year for investors: the local interest rates are at their lowest in over 23 years, inflation rates for most of the year has been bubbling under the central bank’s 3-6% medium term range, while the economy has been sluggish with increasing job losses across the sectors.
When the economy is under duress, analysts say the markets will be the first to reflect those cracks. The decline of the DCI hence comes as little surprise given the prevailing economic circumstances. Listed companies annual reports have been characterised by leading terms such as “tough trading conditions”, “stagnated wages”, “weak economic growth”, and “increasing regulatory controls”.
The DCI’s decline this year serves as an example why investors are taught why it is never a good idea to put your eggs in one basket. Some sectors have been hit the hardest, resulting in negative and low returns for investors. However not all was lost as some sectors proved their resilience in the face of headwinds.
TOP GAINERS Cresta-Up by 19.62% The company has recently been in the news for the wrong reasons as the company found itself in a financial scandal that led to the dismissal of the Chief Financial Officer and the resignation of the Managing Director. Nonetheless the tourism and leisure company has outperformed domestic listed companies. The profits look good and the company is optimistic about future demand as it expands to top tourist destinations like Maun.
The company must be chuffed by the spotlight the country is receiving following the release of the United Kingdom film which depicts an actual love and political story of the founding president. It’s expected that the movie will arouse the curiosity of frequent travellers to come see the country where the film was shot.
Botswana Insurance Holdings Limited- 15.46% Under the leadership of Catherine Lesetedi-Letegele, the financial services behemoth with three subsidiaries that spans the insurance and investment management sector has been a consistent performer throughout the year. The company has held its own in a sector that faces enormous challenges from intense competition, stagnated wages, falling premiums and increased claims from retrenchments. While analysts are closely monitoring the company’s stock, investors are cheering them on, buoyed by the company’s expansion plan.
The group took bold steps in increasing its product mix; from acquisitions to brokering deals with banks, tapping into bancassurance as well as looking at regional expansions. BIHL is a financial services titan originally established in 1975.BIHL has been listed on the Botswana Stock Exchange since 1991 and is the holding company for three subsidiaries (Botswana Insurance Fund Management, Botswana Life Insurance Ltd and Legal Guard) and holds a stake in two associate companies; Letshego Holdings and Funeral Service Group as well as a 21.5% stake in Nico holdings in Malawi.
Engen-Up by 15.15% A surprise performance from the stock with a market valuation of P1.5 billion that really gets mentioned with the BSE’s blue chip stocks. What impresses the most about this stock is that it began the year down at -10%, dragged down by concern over oil prices which were also at their lowest from 2015 to early 2016. However the stock remained solid and pulled spectacular move when its share price started rising in line with improved market sentiments as oil prices begun to rise.
Chobe Holdings- Up by 13.23% This tourism listed outfit is the second best performing stock in the tourism sector. The company ended the year with impressive financials: revenue was up by 33% and profits before tax increased by 45%. With its luxury lodges, the group will benefit from increased tourism activities. Through its wholly owned subsidiaries, Chobe Holdings Limited owns and operates ten eco-tourism lodges and camps on leased land in Northern Botswana and the Caprivi Strip in Namibia with a combined capacity of 290 beds under the brands Desert & Delta Safaris and Ker & Downey Botswana. Safari Air, a wholly owned air charter operator, provides air transport services to the group's camps and lodges.
Desert and Delta Safaris (SA) (Pty) Ltd, another wholly owned subsidiary operating in South Africa, provides reservation services to the group. This year, the group, through its wholly owned subsidiary North West Air (Pty) Ltd, acquired Air Charter Botswana (Pty) Ltd’s aircraft maintenance operation at Maun International Airport.
G4s- Up by 12.70% Here is another company that began the year on a back foot following a dismal stock performance in 2015. Michael Kampani, G4s Managing Director, is leaving a happy man after he steered the group to profitability since he joined it in 2013. Under his leadership, G4s has focused on its core services as well as expanding its product mix. The stock market has taken note of his stellar performance as evidenced by the company’s share price appreciation.
Barclays Bank Botswana- Up by 12.22% The bank this year was in its element, churning out new products and services and delivering impressive financial results. It is not a surprise that investors have been rallying behind the company which often touts its 5 year transformation strategy as something to reckon with. Indeed, the results show that the strategy is having some positive results.
The bank which seeks to be the leading bank in Botswana and your bank of choice doubled its profit in its interim results for the year. The second largest listed bank becomes the only one in the banking sector that has delivered capital gains to shareholders so far this year. With most financial institutions under pressure from the prevailing tough conditions, Barclays seems to be an exception to the rule as investors rally behind it.
NEW AFRICAN PROPERTIES- Up by 10.94% This property listed stock deserves a special mention that extends beyond its exploits in the property market. Not only did it outperform property listed stocks, it also broke records on the BSE after the single biggest day trade in the history of the BSE after the company traded 26% of its issued capital worth P457.3 million. This year’s performance extends the gains the company enjoyed last year as it delivered 22%.
NAP was listed on the BSE in 2011, with a total of 604 397 124 issued units. The largest unit holder is Cash Bazaar Holdings (Pty) Ltd with 79.3 percent stake. NAP owns properties such as Riverwalk Mall, Riverwalk Plaza and Kagiso Mall in Gaborone, Mafenyatlala Mall in Molepolole, Kasane Mall and Mokoro Centre in Maun. The portfolio comprises primarily of prime retail sites with a strong tenant base, including Pick ‘n Pay, Spar, Choppies, Mr Price, Woolworths, Pep, Cashbuild, Furnmat, CB Stores, Ackermans, Cape Union Mart, Exclusive Books, FNB, Hi-Fi Corporation, Home Corp, Incredible Connection, Jet, KFC, Nando's, New Capitol Cinema, Mugg & Bean, JB Sports, Truworths and many others.
TOP LOSERS Choppies-Down by 49.77% The retail giant’s stock has been pummelled in the stock market, causing the biggest upset of the year as far as stocks are concerned. Choppies is a leading retailer in the fast moving consumable goods industry, targeting low-income to middle class buyers and the company has been doing well for the past 20 years, growing in leaps and bounds. The dual listed company, both in the BSE and Johannesburg Stock Exchange, has been pursuing regional expansions in the last two years. The company’s profit after tax nearly halved due to costs associated with the expansion.
What has been particularly worrying investors is that the expansion plans are yet to bring results. The South African and Zimbabwean Stores are still not making profits profits. Choppies faces other myriad challenges as its core customers’ disposable income diminishes through retrenchments while in Zimbabwe the recently rolled out bond notes will have an impact on the retailers operations.However, Ram Ottapathu led Choppies surprised many when it launched its own clothing line with its hyper stores. This move was seen in a positive light as it added a new revenue stream.
Furnmart- Down by 35.77% This player also belongs to the retail and wholesaling sector that has been dragged down by economic factors. The Group continues to trade steadily in an ever more challenging environment. Drought conditions, currency weakness, high unemployment, an increase in retrenchments and the over-indebtedness of customers, continue to plague the region.
Low commodity prices on world markets and the slowdown in the Chinese economy have hampered growth in the countries in which Furnmart trades. The group says continued trading losses, a weakening economy, US Dollar-based rentals and a volatile currency have culminated in management’s decision to cease trading in Zambia
Furthermore, regulators continue to introduce burdensome restrictions and administrative processes on consumer credit providers, in an attempt to protect consumers from risky or unfair exposure.
Standard Chartered Bank Botswana- Down by 30.80% The bank popularly known as Stanchart has extended its losses to 2016. The bank ended 2015 with a share price depreciation of about 11% and took the biggest fall this year. The financial sector, particularly banking, lists low interest rates, stagnated wages, unemployment and retrenchments as factors that have greatly impacted their operations. The bank’s 2015 end of year profit went down by 87% while the latest interim results reflect a decline in profits.
Stanchart was the first bank to publicly admit to its large exposure to the BCL Group which is under provisional liquidation. While the stock is being battered, the Moatlhodi Lekakau led bank is busy at work trying to turn around its fortunes. It has increased its bancassurance offerings and recently opened a digital bank branch at the country’s biggest airport.
FIRST NATIONAL BANK BOTSWANA- Down by 22.51% FNBB is the largest bank in the country both by market value, industry profits and assets. This giant has been weakening since 2015 on the pressure of enhanced competition, the recently lifted moratorium on bank charges, low interest rates and limited spending power in the economy. Steven Bogatsu finds himself in charge of a bank that recently reported its lowest profit in two years, continuing the trend of declining profits in the banking sector. In efforts to lure customers and get them to spend, the bank has introduced a number of initiatives such as smart devices scheme and ebucks rewards program. The bank has also bolstered its newly created insurance division, striking deals with BIHL, the country’s leading insurer.
Letshego- Down by 20% This financial giant has made its fortunes from micro-lending, with its strong customer base made up of government workers and state owned enterprises. In the stock market, the company tops the charts of domestic companies in terms of volume and value of trades. Simply put, Letshego stock is the most liquid, exchanging hands quickly and easily. This could account for the stock’s decline this year.
The company which breached the P1 billion mark in revenue for the year ended 2015, released interim results for 2016 which showed declining profit. However the group says results show satisfactory growth in an environment of depreciating exchange rates, higher inflation and interest rates and lower economic activity in most of the markets in which Letshego operates.
In its 2015 annual report, Letshego says it will continue to drive its inclusive financial services strategy and to strengthen its operations through investment in people, technology and strategic partnerships. Moreover, the group’s Board of Directors is confident that the Pan African financial services titan is well positioned to benefit from the growing markets in which it is active and views inorganic expansion via strategic acquisitions as important to the acceleration of Letshego’s strategy.
Botswana has made improvements on preventing and ending arbitrary deprivation of liberty, but significant challenges remain in further developing and implementing a legal framework, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention said at the end of a visit recently.
Head of the delegation, Elina Steinerte, appreciated the transparency of Botswana for opening her doors to them. Having had full and unimpeded access and visited 19 places of deprivation of liberty and confidentiality interviewing over 100 persons deprived of their liberty.
She mentioned “We commend Botswana for its openness in inviting the Working Group to conduct this visit which is the first visit of the Working Group to the Southern African region in over a decade. This is a further extension of the commitment to uphold international human rights obligations undertaken by Botswana through its ratification of international human rights treaties.”
Another good act Botswana has been praised for is the remission of sentences. Steinerte echoed that the Prisons Act grants remission of one third of the sentence to anyone who has been imprisoned for more than one month unless the person has been sentenced to life imprisonment or detained at the President’s Pleasure or if the remission would result in the discharge of any prisoner before serving a term of imprisonment of one month.
On the other side; The Group received testimonies about the police using excessive force, including beatings, electrocution, and suffocation of suspects to extract confessions. Of which when the suspects raised the matter with the magistrates, medical examinations would be ordered but often not carried out and the consideration of cases would proceed.
“The Group recall that any such treatment may amount to torture and ill-treatment absolutely prohibited in international law and also lead to arbitrary detention. Judicial authorities must ensure that the Government has met its obligation of demonstrating that confessions were given without coercion, including through any direct or indirect physical or undue psychological pressure. Judges should consider inadmissible any statement obtained through torture or ill-treatment and should order prompt and effective investigations into such allegations,” said Steinerte.
One of the group’s main concern was the DIS held suspects for over 48 hours for interviews. Established under the Intelligence and Security Service Act, the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) has powers to arrest with or without a warrant.
The group said the “DIS usually requests individuals to come in for an interview and has no powers to detain anyone beyond 48 hours; any overnight detention would take place in regular police stations.”
The Group was able to visit the DIS facilities in Sebele and received numerous testimonies from persons who have been taken there for interviewing, making it evident that individuals can be detained in the facility even if the detention does not last more than few hours.
Moreover, while arrest without a warrant is permissible only when there is a reasonable suspicion of a crime being committed, the evidence received indicates that arrests without a warrant are a rule rather than an exception, in contravention to article 9 of the Covenant.
Even short periods of detention constitute deprivation of liberty when a person is not free to leave at will and in all those instances when safeguards against arbitrary detention are violated, also such short periods may amount to arbitrary deprivation of liberty.
The group also learned of instances when persons were taken to DIS for interviewing without being given the possibility to notify their next of kin and that while individuals are allowed to consult their lawyers prior to being interviewed, lawyers are not allowed to be present during the interviews.
The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention mentioned they will continue engaging in the constructive dialogue with the Government of Botswana over the following months while they determine their final conclusions in relation to the country visit.
Standard Chartered Bank Botswana (SCBB) has informed the government that it will not be accepting new loan applications for the Government Employees Motor Vehicle and Residential Property Advance Scheme (GEMVAS and LAMVAS) facility.
This emerges in a correspondence between Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance Boniface Mphetlhe and some government departments. In a letter he wrote recently to government departments informing them of the decision, Mphetlhe indicated that the Ministry received a request from the Bank to consider reviewing GEMVAS and LAMVAS agreement.
He said: “In summary SCBB requested the following; Government should consider reviewing GEMVAS and LAMVAS interest rate from prime plus 0.5% to prime plus 2%.” The Bank indicated that the review should be both for existing GEMVAS and LAMVAS clients and potential customers going forward.
Mphetlhe said the Bank informed the Ministry that the current GEMVAS and LAMVAS interest rate structure results into them making losses, “as the cost of loa disbursements is higher that their end collections.”
He said it also requested that the loan tenure for the residential property loans to be increased from 20 to 25 years and the loan tenure for new motor vehicles loans to be increased from 60 months to 72 months.
Mphetlhe indicated that the Bank’s request has been duly forwarded to the Directorate of Public Service Management for consideration, since GEMVAS and LAMVAS is a Condition of Service Scheme. He saidthe Bank did also inform the Ministry that if the matter is not resolved by the 6th June, 2022, they would cease receipt of new GEMVAS and LAMVAS loan applications.
“A follow up virtual meeting was held to discuss their resolution and SCB did confirm that they will not be accepting any new loans from GEMVAS and LAMVAS. The decision includes top-up advances,” said Mphetlhe. He advised civil servants to consider applying for loans from other banks.
In a letter addressed to the Ministry, SCBB Chief Executive Officer Mpho Masupe informed theministry that, “Reference is made to your letter dated 18th March 2022 wherein the Ministry had indicated that feedback to our proposal on the above subject is being sought.”
In thesame letter dated 10 May 2022, Masupe stated that the Bank was requesting for an update on the Ministry’s engagements with the relevant stakeholder (Directorate of Public Service Management) and provide an indicative timeline for conclusion.
He said the “SCBB informs the Ministry of its intention to cease issuance of new loans to applicants from 6th June 2022 in absence of any feedback on the matter and closure of the discussions between the two parties.” Previously, Masupe had also had requested the Ministry to consider a review of clause 3 of the agreement which speaks to the interest rate charged on the facilities.
Masupe indicated in the letter dated 21 December 2021 that although all the Banks in the market had signed a similar agreement, subject to amendments that each may have requested. “We would like to suggest that our review be considered individually as opposed to being an industry position as we are cognisant of the requirements of section 25 of the Competition Act of 2018 which discourages fixing of pricing set for consumers,” he said.
He added that,“In this way,clients would still have the opportunity to shop around for more favourable pricing and the other Banks, may if they wish to, similarly, individually approach your office for a review of their pricing to the extent that they deem suitable for their respective organisations.”
Masupe also stated that: “On the issue of our request for the revision of the Interest Rate, we kindly request for an increase from the current rate of prime plus 0.5% to prime plus 2%, with no other increases during the loan period.” The Bank CEO said the rationale for the request to review pricing is due to the current construct of the GEMVAS scheme which is currently structured in a way that is resulting in the Bank making a loss.
“The greater part of the GEMVAS portfolio is the mortgage boo which constitutes 40% of the Bank’s total mortgage portfolio,” said Masupe. He saidthe losses that the Bank is incurring are as a result of the legacy pricing of prime plus 0% as the 1995 agreement which a slight increase in the August 2018 agreement to prime plus 0.5%.
“With this pricing, the GEMVAS portfolio has not been profitable to the Bank, causing distress and impeding its ability to continue to support government employees to buy houses and cars. The portfolio is currently priced at 5.25%,” he said. Masupe said the performance of both the GEMVAS home loan and auto loan portfolios in terms of profitability have become unsustainable for the Bank.
Healso said, when the agreement was signed in August 2018, the prime lending rate was 6.75% which made the pricing in effect at the time sufficient from a profitable perspective. “It has since dropped by a total 1.5%. The funds that are loaned to customers are sourced at a high rate, which now leaves the Bank with marginal profits on the portfolio before factoring in other operational expenses associated with administration of the scheme and after sales care of the portfolio,” said the CEO.
The Global Gender Gap Index, a report published by the World Economic Forum annually, has indicated that Botswana is among countries that fare badly when it comes to representation of women in legislative bodies.
The latest Global Gender Gap Index, published last week, benchmarks the current state and evolution of gender parity across four key dimensions (Economic Participation and Opportunity, Educational Attainment, Health and Survival, and Political Empowerment). It is the longest-standing index which tracks progress towards closing these gaps over time since its inception in 2006.
This year, the Global Gender Gap Index benchmarked 146 countries. Of these, a subset of 102 countries have been represented in every edition of the index since 2006, further providing a large constant sample for time series analysis.
Botswana ranks number 66 overall (out of 146 countries), with good rankings in most of the pillars. Botswana ranks 1st in Health and Survival, 7th in the Economic Participation and Opportunity, 22nd in Educational Attainment, and 129th in Political Empowerment.
The Global Gender Gap Index measures scores on a 0 to 100 scale and scores can be interpreted as the distance covered towards parity (i.e. the percentage of the gender gap that has been closed). The cross-country comparisons aim to support the identification of the most effective policies to close gender gaps.
The Economic Participation and Opportunity sub-index contains three concepts: the participation gap, the remuneration gap and the advancement gap. The participation gap is captured using the difference between women and men in labour-force participation rates. The remuneration gap is captured through a hard data indicator (ratio of estimated female-to-male earned income) and a qualitative indicator gathered through the World Economic Forum’s annual Executive Opinion Survey (wage equality for similar work).
Finally, the gap between the advancement of women and men is captured through two hard data statistics (the ratio of women to men among legislators, senior officials and managers, and the ratio of women to men among technical and professional workers).
The Educational Attainment sub-index captures the gap between women’s and men’s current access to education through the enrolment ratios of women to men in primary-, secondary- and tertiary-level education. A longer-term view of the country’s ability to educate women and men in equal numbers is captured through the ratio of women’s literacy rate to men’s literacy rate.
Health and Survival sub-index provides an overview of the differences between women’s and men’s health using two indicators. The first is the sex ratio at birth, which aims specifically to capture the phenomenon of “missing women”, prevalent in countries with a strong son preference. Second, the index uses the gap between women’s and men’s healthy life expectancy.
This measure provides an estimate of the number of years that women and men can expect to live in good health by accounting for the years lost to violence, disease, malnutrition and other factors. Political Empowerment sub-index measures the gap between men and women at the highest level of political decision-making through the ratio of women to men in ministerial positions and the ratio of women to men in parliamentary positions. In addition, the reported included the ratio of women to men in terms of years in executive office (prime minister or president) for the last 50 years.
In the last general elections, only three women won elections, compared to 54 males. The three women are; Nnaniki Makwinja (Lentsweletau-Mmopane), Talita Monnakgotla (Kgalagadi North), and Anna Mokgethi (Gaborone Bonnington North). Four women were elected through Specially Elected dispensation; Peggy Serame, Dr Unity Dow, Phildah Kereng and Beauty Manake. All female MPs — save Dow, who resigned — are members of the executive.
Overall, Botswana has 63 seats, all 57 elected by the electorates, and six elected by parliament. Early this year, Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) secretary general and Gaborone North MP, Mpho Balopi, successfully moved a motion in parliament calling for increment of elective seats from 57 to 61. Balopi contented that population growth demands the country respond by increasing the number of MPs.
In Africa, Botswana play second fiddle to countries like Rwanda, Namibia, South Africa, Burundi, and Zimbabwe who have better representation of women, with Rwanda being the only country with more than 50 percent of women in parliament.
The low number of women in parliament is attributed to Botswana’s current, electoral system, First-Past-the-Post. During the 9th parliament, then MP for Mahalapye East tabled a motion in parliament in which she sort to increase the number of Specially Elected MPs in parliament to augment female representation in the National Assembly.
The motion was opposed famously, by then Specially Elected MP, Botsalo Ntuane, who said the citizens were not in favour of such a move since it dilute democracy, instead suggesting the Botswana should switch to Proportional-Representation-System. Botswana is currently undergoing Constitutional Review process, with the commission, appointed in December, expected to deliver the report to President Mokgweetsi Masisi by September this year.