Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote has not applied for a VISA to visit Botswana; this is according to documents belonging to the Directorate of Intelligence Security Services (DISS) which were seen by this publication this week.
The documents, which this publication could not establish whom they were intend for, state that the security services has never at any point received nor rejected the application of Africa’s richest man. Instead, the documents state that the only Dangote who applied for VISA is Ado Dangote, the former’s brother who is a businessman based in Kenya. “The only Dangote that applied for VISA is Ado Dangote and on all three occasions he was granted the VISA to visit the country,” said the document.
The document, which is believed to be a classified intelligence brief indicate that Ado Dangote had visited the country first in 2013 at the invitation Botswana Investment Trade Centre (BITC) to participate in the Global Expo Botswana. He later visited Botswana on two more occasions the following year thus in January and May 2014.It is indicated in the document that Ado Dangote, on all three occasions applied for VISA from Botswana Embassy in Kenya.
In the document, the intelligence unit is responding to allegations levelled against the institution for being infamous for making it difficult for investors to visit the country for the purpose of setting up enterprises. This document comes on the back of reports which were rife that the spy agency was rejecting VISA of foreign nationals who had wanted to invest in the country’s economy therefore defeating the BITC’s mandate of luring investors to the country.
There have been reports that Isaac Kgosi’s men have rejected Aliko Dangote’s VISA application when he wanted to visit Botswana on investment missions. This also surfaced last year when it was reported that he was scheduled to participate in the InBusiness Breakfast Seminar organised by law maker Samson Guma Moyo’s company.
News that DIS is involved in the the approval of VISA and permits first surfaced in 2015 when Tati East legislator Guma during a Public Accounts Committee (PAC) blamed then Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs for the unprecedented number of foreign nationals who are denied opportunity to set up businesses in Botswana without clear reasons. Moyo then told the accounting officer, Pearl Matome that the ministry is failing the nation due to misguided immigration practices such as rejection of working permits under the guise of security threats.
Previously, Letsebe Sejoe Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of BITC a state-owned institution mandated with promoting foreign direct investments and export promotion of locally manufactured goods listed Permits and VISAs as the biggest challenge facing investors as he noted that delays in issuing the two frustrates inventors who end up going to other countries such as Rwanda, which has built a more conducive environment for investors.
Sejoe has said this when briefing the Parliamentary Committee on Statutory Bodies and Enterprises at its last sitting in 2016. He had also revealed that Sejoe said not only are new investors facing problems of permits, but that foreign owned companies, some which have employed hundreds of citizens are facing the same problem when they want to renew their permits.
“Botswana is not an open economy like we say we are to the world. There are people who have been doing business in Botswana for over 30 years and government rejected their application for citizenship over the period and all of a sudden they were told to go,” he said. â€¨“Investors are cagey on this. Some who are already doing business in Botswana are sceptical about expanding their business because their future in Botswana is uncertain. Investors need certainty and some level of predictability,” he further advised.
Sejoe narrated that some companies with operational businesses in Botswana but with their directors residing outside Botswana have had their directors’ VISAs rejected when they wanted to attend a business meeting in Botswana; he said this recount proved that Botswana is a difficult environment to do business in.
Hospitality and Tourism Association of Botswana (HAATAB) has also accused the intelligence for rejecting VISA for tourist who had wanted to visit Botswana. Interestingly in the document, the DISS admits to rejecting VISAs for some foreign nationals who had wanted to visit Botswana “under the disguise of being tourists” while they could be having other ulterior motives. The document further gives an example of people “stating silly locations such as Gaborone Dam as places they want to visit as tourists.” When contacted for comment, DISS boss Kgosi declined to comment on the matter saying “he is not allowed to speak to the media on the operations of the DISS.”
Government is currently sitting on 4 400 vacant posts that remain unfilled in the civil service. This is notwithstanding the high unemployment rate in Botswana which has been exacerbated by the recent outbreak of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.
Just before the burst of COVID-19, official data released by Statistics Botswana in January 2020, indicate that unemployment in Botswana has increased from 17.6 percent three years ago to 20.7 percent. “Unemployment rate went up by 3.1 percentage between the two periods, from 17.6 to 20.7 percent,” statistics point out.
Leading commercial bank, First National Bank Botswana (FNBB), expects the central bank to sharpen its monetary policy knife and cut the Bank Rate twice in the last quarter of 2020.
The bank expects a 25 basis point (bps) in the beginning of the last quarter, which is next month, and another shed by the same bps in December, making a total of 50 bps cut in the last quarter. According to the bank’s researchers, the central bank is now holding on to 4.25 percent for the time being pending for more informed data on the economic climate.
An audit of the accounts and records for the supply of food rations to the institutions in the Northern Region for the financial year-ended 31 March 2019 was carried out. According to Auditor General’s report and observations, there are weaknesses and shortcomings that were somehow addressed to the Accounting Officer for comments.
Auditor General, Pulane Letebele indicated on the report that, across all depots in the region that there had been instances where food items were short for periods ranging from 1 to 7 months in the institutions for a variety of reasons, including absence of regular contracts and supplier failures. The success of this programme is dependent on regular and reliable availability of the supplies to achieve its objective, the report said.
There would be instances where food items were returned from the feeding centers to the depots for reasons of spoilage or any other cause. In these cases, instances had been noted where these returns were not supported by any documentation, which could lead to these items being lost without trace.
The report further stressed that large quantities of various food items valued at over P772 thousand from different depots were damaged by rodents, and written off.Included in the write off were 13 538 (340ml) cartons of milk valued at P75 745. In this connection, the Auditor General says it is important that the warehouses be maintained to a standard where they would not be infested by rodents and other pests.
Still in the Northern region, the report noted that there is an outstanding matter relating to the supply of stewed steak (283×3.1kg cans) to the Maun depot which was allegedly defective. The steak had been supplied by Botswana Meat Commission to the depot in November 2016.
In March 2017 part of the consignment was reported to the supplier as defective, and was to be replaced. Even as there was no agreement reached between the parties regarding replacement, in 51 October 2018 the items in question were disposed of by destruction. This disposal represented a loss as the whole consignment had been paid for, according to the report.
“In my view, the loss resulted directly from failure by the depot managers to deal with the matter immediately upon receipt of the consignment and detection of the defects. Audit inspections during visits to Selibe Phikwe, Maun, Shakawe, Ghanzi and Francistown depots had raised a number of observations on points of detail related to the maintenance of records, reconciliations of stocks and related matters, which I drew to the attention of the Accounting Officer for comments,” Letebele said in her report.
In the Southern region, a scrutiny of the records for the control of stocks of food items in the Southern Region had indicated intermittent shortages of the various items, principally Tsabana, Malutu, Sunflower Oil and Milk which was mainly due to absence of subsisting contracts for the supply of these items.
“The contract for the supply of Tsabana to all depots expired in September 2018 and was not replaced by a substantive contract. The supplier contracts for these stocks should be so managed that the expiry of one contract is immediately followed by the commencement of the next.”
Suppliers who had been contracted to supply foodstuffs had failed to do so and no timely action had been taken to redress the situation to ensure continuity of supply of the food items, the report noted.
In one case, the report highlighted that the supplier was to manufacture and supply 1 136 metric tonnes of Malutu for a 4-months period from March 2019 to June 2019, but had been unable to honour the obligation. The situation was relieved by inter-depot transfers, at additional cost in transportation and subsistence expenses.
In another case, the contract was for the supply of Sunflower Oil to Mabutsane, where the supplier had also failed to deliver. Examination of the Molepolole depot Food Issues Register had indicated a number of instances where food items consigned to the various feeding centres had been returned for a variety of reasons, including food item available; no storage space; and in other cases the whole consignments were returned, and reasons not stated.
This is an indication of lack of proper management and monitoring of the affairs of the depot, which could result in losses from frequent movements of the food items concerned.The maintenance of accounting records in the region, typically in Letlhakeng, Tsabong, and Mabutsane was less than satisfactory, according to Auditor General’s report.
In these depots a number of instances had been noted where receipts and issues had not been recorded over long periods, resulting in incorrect balances reflected in the accounting records. This is a serious weakness which could lead to or result in losses without trace or detection, and is a contravention of Supplies Regulations and Procedures, Letebele said.
Similarly, consignments of a total of 892 bags of Malutu and 3 bags of beans from Tsabong depot to different feeding centres had not been received in those centres, and are considered lost. These are also not reflected in the Statement of Losses in the Annual Statements of Accounts for the same periods.