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Citizens allowed to set-up own banks – Matambo

Botswana citizens can set up their own commercial banks, provided they satisfy requirements stipulated by regulator, Bank of Botswana (BoB); Minister of Finance and Economic Development Kenneth Matambo said this week.

Responding to the debate on his ministry’s proposed budget, Matambo reiterated that requirements set-up by Bank of Botswana (BoB) are reasonable given the delicate job of handing people’s money. “I do not think it is unreasonable; it is a small amount, actually. With regard to experience, I think it is important that if you say you are going to establish a bank and start handling other people’s money, those people better be confident that you are the type of person or institution that will handle their money safely, and if you do not have experience, then there could be a problem,” he contended.

Earlier in the debate, Gaborone Bonnington South and Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) deputy leader, Ndaba Gaolathe had argued that the requirements put forward by the regulator are prohibitive as they require a bank to have operated elsewhere before setting-up in Botswana.

Gaolathe had argued that Batswana who are experienced and have worked in banks around the world could come together to form a consortium should be allowed to set-up a bank because they have the experience and the collective ability. However, Matambo said it is a necessary requirement to have operated elsewhere, indicating that citizens have the option of forging partnership with other foreign banks if they propose to set-up.

“You are a step ahead when you apply and you are a consortium of people who once worked in a bank, you have got something to show to Bank of Botswana, but you do not have anything to show that you have ran a bank,” said Matambo.  “I think that is the experience that the Bank of Botswana [requires] in the light of as I have said, the fact that you are going to be looking after huge sums of money belonging to others, I think that is why they emphasise that.”

The finance minister said according to his experience, people who have applied to BoB before did not have a problem with the ‘experience’ aspect because there are banks all over the world that are always willing to become partners to local consortiums. “I think we now have about 12 or so banks in Botswana and they are all established through that modicum,” he remarked.

While Matambo maintained his position on the BoB requirement, Gaolathe on the other hand believes that the banking sector is still dominated by foreign banks; therefore there is a need to start a process of grooming home grown banks and financial institutions through a variety of policy instruments.

“First, we must lessen the barriers to entry and allow for a second tier banking system to subsist with a first tier system. This should overtime give indigenous banks the history, and credibility to elevate to the first tier,” he argued. Matambo noted that the privatisation of National Development Bank (NDB) will create a first indigenous Bank in Botswana which would be citizen and government controlled. NDB will use the mondi operandi adopted by the Botswana Telecommunication Corporation Limited (BTCL) in which government retained a 51 percent stake, while the other 49 percent was offered to the public of which 5 percent went to employees.

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DPP halts JSC, Judge’s back to work plan

25th January 2021

The Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP)’s decision to reject and appeal the High Court’s verdict on a case involving High Court Judge, Dr Zein Kebonang has frustrated the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and Judge Kebonang’s back to work discussions.

JSC and Kebonang have been in constant discussions over the latter’s return to work following a ruling by a High Court panel of judges clearing him of any wrong doing in the National Petroleum Fund criminal case filed by the DPP. However the finalization of the matter has been hanged on whether the DPP will appeal the matter or not – the prosecution body has since appealed.

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BDP rejects Saleshando payment proposal

25th January 2021
MP saleshando

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) top brass has declined a request by Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) to negotiate the legal fees occasioned by 2019 general elections petition in which the latter disputed in court the outcome of the elections.

This publication is made aware that UDC Vice President Dumelang Saleshando was left with an egg on his face after the BDP big wigs, comprising of party Chairman Slumber Tsogwane and Secretary General Mpho Balopi rejected his plea.

“He was told that this is a legal matter and therefore their (UDC) lawyer should engage ours (BDP) for negotiations because it is way far from our jurisdiction,” BDP Head of Communications, Kagelelo Kentse, told this publication.

This spelt doom for the main opposition party and Saleshando who seems not to have confidence and that the UDC lawyers have the dexterity to negotiate these kind of matters. It is not clear whether Saleshando requested UDC lawyer Boingotlo Toteng to sit at the table with Bogopa Manewe, Tobedza and Co, who are representing the BDP to strike a deal as per the BDP top echelons suggested.

“From my understanding, the matter is dealt with politically as the two parties are negotiating how to resolve it, but by far nothing has come to me on the matter. So I believe they are still substantively engaging each other,” Toteng said briefly in an interview on Thursday.

UDC petitioners saddled with costs after mounting an unprecedented legal suit before the court to try and overturn BDP’s October 2019 victory. The participants in the legal matter involves 15 parliamentary candidates’ and nine councillors. The UDC petitioned the court and contested the outcome of the elections citing “irregularities in some of the constituencies”.

In a brief ruling in January 2020, Judge President Ian Kirby on behalf of a five-member panel said: “We have no jurisdiction to entertain these appeals. These appeals must be struck out each with costs including costs of counsel”. This was a second blow to the UDC in about a month after their 2019 appeals were dismissed by the High Court a day before Christmas Day.

This week BDP attorneys decided to attach UDC petitioners’ property in a bid to settle the debts. UDC President Duma Boko is among those that will see their property being attached with 14 of his party members. “We have attached some and we are on course. So far, Dr. Mpho Pheko (who contested Gaborone Central) and that of Dr, Micus Chimbombi (who contested Kgalagadi South) will have their assets being sold on the 5th of February 2021,” BDP attorney Basimane Bogopa said.

Asked whether they met with UDC lawyers to try solve the matter, Bogopa said no and added. “Remember we are trying to raise the client’s funds, so after these two others will follow. Right now we are just prioritising those from Court of Appeal, as soon as the high court is done with taxation we will attach.”

Saleshando, when contacted about the outcomes of the meeting with the BDP, told WeekendPost that: “It would not be proper and procedural for me to tell you about the meeting outcomes before I share with UDC National Executive Committee (NEC), so I will have to brief them first.”

UDC NEC will meet on the 20th of next month to deal with a number of thorny issues including settling the legal fees. Negotiations with other opposition parties- Alliance for Progressives and Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) are also on the agenda.

Currently, UDC has raised P44 238 of the P565 000 needed to cover bills from the Court of Appeal (CoA). This is the amount in a UDC trust account which is paltry funds equating 7.8 per cent of the overall required money. In the past despite the petitioners maintaining that there was promise to assist them to settle legal fees, UDC Spokesperson, Moeti Mohwasa then said the party has never agreed in no way to help them.

“We have just been put in debt by someone,” one of the petitioners told this publication in the past. “President’s (Duma Boko) message was clear at the beginning that money has been sourced somewhere to help with the whole process but now we are here there is nothing and we are just running around trying to make ends meet and pay,” added the petitioner in an interview
UDC NEC has in December last year directed all the 57 constituencies to each raise a minimum of P10, 000. The funds will be used to settle debts that are currently engulfing the petitioners with Sheriffs, who are already hovering around ready to attach their assets.

The petitioners, despite the party intervention, have every right to worry. “This is so because ‘the deadline for this initiative (P10, 000 per constituency) is the end of the first quarter of this year (2021),” a period in which the sheriffs would have long auctioned the properties.

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Boko-Khama axis viewed with suspicion

25th January 2021

President of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Duma Boko’s alliance with former President Lt Gen Ian Khama continues to unsettle some quarters within the opposition collective, who believe the duo, if not managed, will once again result in an unsuccessful bid for government in 2024.

While Khama has denied that he has undeclared preference to have Boko remaining as leader of UDC, many believe that the two have a common programme, while other opposition leaders remain on the side-lines.

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