The Board chairman of the Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC), Victor Jakopo Senye has announced the end of Chief Executive Officer, Letsebe Sejoe’s contract, further indicating that Chief Operations Officer, Meshack Tshekedi shall act as CEO of the parastatal.
Sejoe’s contract expired at the end of February and the Board decided not to renew it. Indications are that the Board was not happy with Sejoe’s performance hence the decision not to renew his contract. There are already speculations on the corridors of the BITC as to who could be next to head the BITC.
While Tshekedi has been asked to act in the meantime, possibilities are that he may be preffered at his COO position and a new person will be brought in to lead the BITC. Weekend Post learns that former CEDA boss, Thapelo Matsheka and former Bank of Botswana Governor Linah Mohohlo’s names are already being touted as potential replacement to Sejoe.
In his last statement in the BITC 2016 Annual report, Sejoe pointed out that the “BITC’s fourth year of operation was driven by focus on increasing Botswana’s share of Africa’s foreign direct investment by attracting more investment into the country and equally increasing citizen participation through domestic investment promotion.
The organisation during the period under review developed and packaged value propositions for various prioritised sectors of the economy, largely driven by the desire to adopt a sector specific approach when attracting investment into Botswana that will require building inhouse skills and domain expertise in the respective sectors.”
He further said the value propositions were developed in sectors such as automotive components manufacturing, leather, cargo and logistics, Soda Ash, Beef and ICT. “The value propositions are equally important to the local business community, as they highlight existing investment opportunities that Batswana may not have previously been aware of. In addition to articulating why Botswana is an attractive investment destination, the value propositions provide detailed information on Botswana’s global positioning within the respective sector; global and regional market dynamics; Botswana’s competitive advantage including available sector specific incentives; as well as the legal and regulatory framework that is to be complied with.”
Sejoe wrote that: According to the World Investment Report 2016, FDI flows into Africa fell to $54 billion in 2015, a decrease of 7% from the previous year. The top five FDI recipient economies were Angola, Egypt, Mozambique, Morocco and Ghana. An upturn in investment into North African economies such as Egypt was offset by decreasing flows into SubSaharan Africa, especially in the resource-based economies in West and Central Africa.
Further, Sejoe stated that “In Southern Africa, FDI flows increased marginally by 2% to US$17.9 billion, mainly driven by large inflows in Angola. After several years of negative flows, Angola attracted a record US$8.7 billion of FDI in 2015, becoming the largest recipient in Africa, largely driven by loans provided to Angolan affiliates by their foreign parent companies. Major projects were in the oil and gas industry mainly dominated by global oil majors from Britain, Italy, France and the United States. Prospects reveal that FDI into Africa could return to a growth path in 2016, increasing by an average of 6%.”
PERFORMANCE REVIEW: SEJOE RATES HIMSELF Although there is an opinion that he had not delivered to the expected level, Sejoe has a different, at least according to what he wrote in the BITC 2016 annual report:
“Despite intensified international competition for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and export markets, BITC achieved an overall annual organisational performance of 90% on the corporate scorecard during the period under review. Our targeted investment promotion efforts resulted in a total capital investment amounting to P3.12bn exceeding our annual target of P1.6bn.
From the total capital investment achieved, FDI companies contributed P1.49bn, while business expansions and domestic investments contributed P377.05m and P1.25bn respectively. The financial services sector represented the largest contribution to this performance at 58.7%.
Other sectors that contributed to investment realised include Mining, Manufacturing, Agriculture, Property, Tourism and Transport and Logistics. The companies that invested were from countries such as South Africa, India, Canada, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe and China. Total employment of 1,703 jobs resulted from these investments falling short of desired outcomes due to the capital intensive nature of the financial services sector, which was the largest contributor to the investment realised.
The mining and manufacturing sectors contributed more significantly toward jobs created during the period under review. BITC’s export portfolio exceeded its target of P2bn reaching a total generated export value of P2.1bn contributed by forty four (44) BITC client companies exporting thirty six (36) product lines. A notable development in this regard was the diversification of export products resulting in an increase of nine (9) new products being introduced to the export market.
Markets penetrated by the local products during the period include Zambia, Zimbabwe, Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Namibia, Hong Kong and the European Union. In an effort to grow BITC’s product portfolio, the organisation diagnosed several companies for export readiness.
The companies are to be supported with capacity building interventions through BITC’s partnership with Senior Experten Services (from Germany) such that they are capacitated to provide goods and services of a standard quality that can compete effectively in the international market place.
Our investor value added services delivered through the Business Facilitation Services Centre (BFSC) continued to facilitate for investors to access Government authorisations. BITC continues to realise an increase in the demand for facilitation services compared to authorisations processed in the previous year. The increase in the demand for BITC services signifies the difficult business environment that companies experience when they proceed on their own.
Our efforts to improve and advocate for a conducive business environment continue through increased strategic stakeholder engagement including the signing of Service Level Agreements (SLA’s) with five (5) Government Departments to streamline various Government authorisations including the acquisition of manufacturing and industrial licenses for BITC assisted investors. BITC continues to impress upon key role players within Government to enhance the certainty and predictability of outcomes for various Government authorisations.”
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.