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Dikgosi refuse to report directly to Khama

Members of Ntlo ya Dikgosi (House of Chiefs) have this week turned down attempts to surrender more of their powers by placing their house under the auspices of the Office of the President (OP).  


The bid, through a sponsored motion, was to give more powers to OP and for dikgosi to report directly to President Lt. Gen. Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama.  The motion brought to Ntlo ya Dikgosi debate floor, by Kgosi Galeakanye Modise of Tswapong Region, sought to restructure the department of Tribal Administration such that it reports to OP, not the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, as it is the current case. The motion essentially claims that by moving the Tribal Administration to operate under OP, the Ministry and to some an extent, Dikgosi’s voices, will be more effective, as they will be dealing directly with the country’s first citizen.


When presenting the motion before the house, Kgosi Modise explained that after thorough observation and consultation and research, they found out that the Tribal Administration does not perform its duties effectively under the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development.  


“Therefore we will be placing the department at the OP precisely because, as the president is running the country, it means he would connect well to a larger extent with other village leaders across the country and this will make his duty easier, quicker and more flexible,” Kgosi Modise contended.  


“My belief is that,” he continued: “as the head of government, the president, although ministries represent and run his government, if you look at the Tribal Administration which is in every village around the country, it would be more effective if it can report directly to the president.”


In terms of re-structuring, he added that since the department is everywhere, his thinking is that since it is a huge and crucial department, it should be at the most powerful Ministry. “As it stands, the Tribal Admin is to a larger extent deficient of relevant skills and expertise that are needed to allow it to run the department smoothly and efficiently. If under OP like its counterparts in the judiciary, I believe it can match the latter,” he highlighted during his presentation.


On this restructuring exercise, Kgosi Modise further contended that the position of the Tribal Administration Secretary should be elevated in terms of responsibilities and wages while adding that this will attract qualified candidates to those prevailing portfolios.
“Once they have that capacity, which it is clear they currently they lack, they can be allocated a good budget and in turn, the department will be efficient,” Kgosi Modise emphasized.   


The other reason he advanced was that since the department of Tribal Administration also deals with the rule of law, it would be better placed at the OP “like other Justice departments at the Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security.” It is worth noting however that, the Administration of Justice is an independent entity, which does not fall under OP. The Ministry of Defence, justice and Security also does not fall under OP. The Office of the President falls under Ministry of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration.


Nonetheless, the tribal leader’s point was that it is important to harmonize both customary law and common law. “They can look at them while closer to each other and listen to each other and have a common ground,” he debated.  Kgosi Modise further added that, the current status quo, sometimes is a road block against progress as those at the Tribal Administration are seen as not at par in terms of qualifications, skills and expertise with regard to the law as compared to the Administration of Justice.


“We all know that the Administration of Justice is versed with closer assistance of the know-how expertise in terms of the law,” he observed. According to Modise, it will also be easier for OP to align the plans and roles of Ntlo ya Dikgosi with dikgosi whom are not sitting in Ntlo ya Dikgosi, and that in addition the implementation will be easier too.


“They (Tribal Administration) perform a lot of functions which includes judicial tasks, assists in governing the country as well as prioritizing the developments. So it appears that even though it is an ancient department, contemporary Botswana derive pleasure in it because there is a Kgosi and complementing staff,” he highlighted.


Kgosi Modise said when it comes to systems in place and running of the country, it is clear that department of Tribal Administration does not run efficiently as similar departments are placed at different ministries. While they both perform the judicial function, Administration of Justice is well equipped at the Ministry of Justice while Tribal Administration lacks a mere budget as it relies from the always inadequate budget of the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development.


When dismissing the motion, Kgosi Tshipe Tshipe of Mahalapye region said in terms of the roles of a kgosi there is no relevance in them being transferred from the Local Governance ministry to OP. “Ministry of Local Government speaks more to dikgosi, their roles are mostly defined by Ministry of Local Governance and Rural Development,” he said.


Instead, he emphasized that Tribal Administration should be equally capacitated enough to match the standards of today. Specially Elected member, Kgosi Maruje III Thabo Masunga highlighted that bogosi on its own is Local Government. “Local government is the embodiment of the institution of Bogosi,” he stressed and added, “So I am wondering whether if they transfer bogosi to the OP, it is going to work. I also wonder if there is need to establish bogosi as a stand-alone ministry of bogosi and culture, or should we leave it to Local Government?”


Masunga said cabinet does not have a requisite authority and they don’t have the right and understanding of bogosi and “I believe an independent researcher can carry out an audit and this will bring a comprehensible audit that will inform government on what to do.”
His contention is that, since Executive and parliament are political appointees, they cannot perform the function of research. Bogosi and politics, he said, have a conflicting interest as they are competing and continue to have conflicting, different needs at different times.


On his part Assistant Minister in the Office of the President Thato Kwerepe told the house that they too found that the department of Tribal Administration is properly placed in the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development. He said the government has over the years carried Organization and Methods (O&M) Studies in Ministries and Departments to determine the relevance of their mandates and grouping of their related functions.


“These exercises do sometimes result in re-location of such functions to ministries or departments where they can be performed efficiently and effectively.” The Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) has carried out such exercises in Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, the most recent being in 2010 which was approved by Upper panel in 2010.


According to the findings and analysis of the mandate and functions of the department of Tribal Administration, it was found to be facilitating the offices of dikgosi to promote development and security through direct engagement of their tribesman and to prosecute any matters in relation to customary laws in order to maintain law and order in their communities.


In addition to this, Tribal Administration was found to be responsible for community development and local governance through citizen engagement at the lowest level of decentralized governance structures and as such is appropriately linked with local authorities.
The mandate of the Department of Tribal Administration is to ensure that all Tribal Administrative institutions across Botswana are made more effective and efficient.

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Mowana Mine to open, pay employees millions

18th January 2022
Mowana Mine

Mowana Copper Mine in Dukwi will finally pay its former employees a total amount of P23, 789, 984.00 end of this month. For over three years Mowana Copper Mine has been under judicial management. Updating members, Botswana Mine Workers Union (BMWU) Executive Secretary Kitso Phiri this week said the High Court issued an order for the implementation of the compromise scheme of December 9, 2021 and this was to be done within 30 days after court order.

“Therefore payment of benefits under the scheme including those owed to Messina Copper Botswana employees should be effected sometime in January latest end of January 2022,” Kitso said. Kitso also explained that cash settlement will be 30 percent of the total Messina Copper Botswana estate and negotiated estate is $3,233,000 (about P35, 563,000).

Messina Copper was placed under liquidation and was thereafter acquired by Leboam Holdings to operate Mowana Mine. Leboam Holdings struck a deal with the Messina Copper’s liquidator who became a shareholder of Leboam Holdings. Leboam Holdings could not service its debts and its creditors placed it under provisional judicial management on December 18, 2018 and in judicial management on February 28, 2019.

A new company Max Power expressed interest to acquire the mining operations. It offered to take over the Mowana Mine from Leboam Holdings, however, the company had to pay the debts of Leboam including monies owed to Messina Copper, being employees benefits and other debts owed to other creditors.

The monies, were agreed to be paid through a scheme of compromise proposed by Max Power, being a negotiated payment schedule, which was subject to the financial ability of the new owners. “On December 9, 2021, Messina Copper liquidator, called a meeting of creditors, which the BMWU on behalf of its members (former Messina Copper employees) attended, to seek mandate from creditors to proceed with a proposed settlement for Messina Copper on the scheme of compromise. It is important to note that employee benefits are regarded as preferential credit, meaning once a scheme is approved they are paid first.”

Negotiated estate is P35, 563,000

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Councilors’ benefits debacle-savingram reveals detail

18th January 2022

A savingram the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development sent to Town Clerks and Council Secretaries explaining why councilors across the country should not have access to their terminal benefits before end of their term has been revealed.

The contents of the savingram came out in the wake of a war of words between counselors and the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development. The councilors through the Botswana Association of Local Authorities (BALA) accuse the Ministry of refusing to allow them to have access to their terminal benefits before end of their term.

This has since been denied by the Ministry.  In the savingram to town councils and council secretaries across the country, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development Molefi Keaja states that, “Kindly be advised that the terminal benefits budget is made during the final year of term of office for Honorable Councilors.”  Keaja reminded town clerks and council secretaries that, “The nominal budget Councils make each and every financial year is to cater for events where a Councilor’s term of office ends before the statutory time due to death, resignation or any other reason.”

The savingram also goes into detail about why the government had in the past allowed councilors to have access to their terminal benefits before the end of their term.  “Regarding the special dispensation made in the 2014-2019, it should be noted that the advance was granted because at that time there was an approved budget for terminal benefits during the financial year,” explained Keaja.  He added that, “Town Clerks/Council Secretaries made discretions depending on the liquidity position of Councils which attracted a lot of audit queries.”

Keaja also revealed that councils across the country were struggling financially and therefore if they were to grant councilors access to their terminal benefits, this could leave their in a dire financial situation.  Given the fact that Local Authorities currently have cash flow problems and budgetary constraints, it is not advisable to grant terminal benefits advance as it would only serve to compound the liquidity problems of councils.

It is understood that the Ministry was inundated with calls from some Councils as they sought clarification regarding access to their terminal benefits. The Ministry fears that should councils pay out the terminal benefits this would affect their coffers as the government spends a lot on councilors salaries.

Reports show that apart from elected councilors, the government spends at least P6, 577, 746, 00 on nominated councilors across the country as their monthly salaries. Former Assistant Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Botlogile Tshireletso once told Parliament that in total there are 113 nominated councilors and their salaries per a year add up to P78, 933,16.00. She added that their projected gratuity is P9, 866,646.00.

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Households spending to drive economic recovery

17th January 2022

A surge in consumer spending is expected to be a key driver of Botswana’s economic recovery, according to recent projections by Fitch Solutions. Fitch Solutions said it forecasts household spending in Botswana to grow by a real rate of 5.9% in 2022.

The bullish Fitch Solutions noted that “This is a considerable deceleration from 9.4% growth estimated in 2021, it comes mainly from the base effects of the contraction of 2.5% recorded in 2020,” adding that, “We project total household spending (in real terms) to reach BWP59.9bn (USD8.8bn) in 2022, increasing from BWP56.5bn (USD8.3bn) in 2021.”  According to Fitch Solutions, this is higher than the pre-Covid-19 total household spending (in real terms) of P53.0 billion (USD7.8bn) in 2019 and it indicates a full recovery in consumer spending.

“We forecast real household spending to grow by 5.9% in 2022, decelerating from the estimated growth of 9.4% in 2021. We note that the Covid-19 pandemic and the related restrictions on economic activity resulted in real household spending contracting by 2.5% in 2020, creating a lower base for spending to grow from in 2021 and 2022,” Fitch Solutions says.

Total household spending (in real terms), the agency says, will increase in 2022 when compared to 2021. In 2021 and 2022, total household spending (in real terms) will be above the pre-Covid-19 levels in 2019, indicating a full recovery in consumer spending, says Fitch Solutions.  It says as of December 6 2021 (latest data available), 38.4% of people in Botswana have received at least one vaccine dose, while this is relatively low it is higher than Africa average of 11.3%.

“The emergence of new Covid-19 variants such as Omicron, which was first detected in the country in November 2021, poses a downside risk to our outlook for consumer spending, particularly as a large proportion of the country’s population is unvaccinated and this could result in stricter measures being implemented once again,” says Fitch Solutions.

Growth will ease in 2022, Fitch Solution says. “Our forecast for an improvement in consumer spending in Botswana in 2022 is in line with our Country Risk team’s forecast that the economy will grow by a real rate of 5.3% over 2022, from an estimated 12.5% growth in 2021 as the low base effects from 2020 dissipate,” it says.

Fitch Solutions notes that “Our Country Risk team expects private consumption to be the main driver of Botswana’s economic growth in 2022, as disposable incomes and the labour market continue to recover from the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.”
It says Botswana’s tourism sector has been negatively impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic and the related travel restrictions.

According to Fitch Solutions, “The emergence of the Omicron variant, which was first detected in November 2021, has resulted in travel bans being implemented on Southern African countries such as South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Eswatini. This will further delay the recovery of Botswana’s tourism sector in 2021 and early 2022.”  Fitch Solutions, therefore, forecasts Botswana’s tourist arrivals to grow by 81.2% in 2022, from an estimated contraction of 40.3% in 2021.

It notes that the 72.4% contraction in 2020 has created a low base for tourist arrivals to grow from.  “The rollout of vaccines in South Africa and its key source markets will aid the recovery of the tourism sector over the coming months and this bodes well for the employment and incomes of people employed in the hospitality industry, particularly restaurants and hotels as well as recreation and culture businesses,” the report says.

Fitch Solutions further notes that with economies reopening, consumers are demanding products that they had little access to over the previous year. However, manufacturers are facing several problems.  It says supply chain issues and bottlenecks are resulting in consumer goods shortages, feeding through into supply-side inflation.  Fitch Solutions believes the global semiconductor shortage will continue into 2022, putting the pressure on the supply of several consumer goods.

It says the spread of the Delta variant is upending factory production in Asia, disrupting shipping and posing more shocks to the world economy. Similarly, manufacturers are facing shortages of key components and higher raw materials costs, the report says adding that while this is somewhat restricted to consumer goods, there is a high risk that this feeds through into more consumer services over the 2022 year.

“Our global view for a notable recovery in consumer spending relies on the ability of authorities to vaccinate a large enough proportion of their populations and thereby experience a notable drop in Covid-19 infections and a decline in hospitalisation rates,” says Fitch Solutions.
Both these factors, it says, will lead to governments gradually lifting restrictions, which will boost consumer confidence and retail sales.

“As of December 6 2021, 38.4% of people in Botswana have received at least one vaccine dose. While this is low, it is higher than the Africa average of 11.3%. The vaccines being administered in Botswana include Pfizer-BioNTech, Sinovac and Johnson & Johnson. We believe that a successful vaccine rollout will aid the country’s consumer spending recovery,” says Fitch Solutions.  Therefore, the agency says, “Our forecasts account for risks that are highly likely to play out in 2022, including the easing of government support. However, if other risks start to play out, this may lead to forecast revisions.”

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