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Dada retains his millions

Politically connected businessman, Satar Dada’s fighting mettle has rewarded him with a win at the Court of Appeal in a case where he was challenging a tax assessment by Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS). The Court of Appeal order set aside a previous ruling of the Lobatse High Court which dismissed Dada’s prime business, Motor Centre Botswana’s claim that the amount it had been taxed had been sustained in the ordinary course of business and in the production of income.


Motor Centre had sought to deduct the amount of around P12 million from the loss of P53 million.The new ruling means however that, Motor Centre will now get a new assessment for the 2009 tax year. Before taking its matter to the High Court in Lobatse, Motor Centre had approached BURS’s board of Arbitration for recourse where it emerged unsuccessful.


Appeal judge C Howie stated that the board’s approach was in conflict with what the rules of such cases lay down. He further continued that it resolved to adhere to the agreement rather than to have regard to what was unsatisfactorily proved to have been happening on the ground and accordingly misdirected itself fundamentally.


According to Justice Howie, Justice Radijeng of the High Court also fell into the same trap, when he presided over the matter. “The High Court succumbed to the same error, holding that the facts were set out in the agreement and not as presented by Motor Centre.” He further continued that the court went further to hold that Motor Centre could not introduce evidence to contradict the terms of the agreement noting that, such an action constitutes an evidential principle applicable to construction of contracts which normally applies between the contracting parties.


Howie further buttressed his point by stating that the evidence to contradict a written contract is indeed receivable if the purpose is to show that the agreement does not accord with true facts.He further stated that while it is not in dispute that if the loss was sustained in the course or arising out of foreign exchange transactions as alleged then it was deductible from assessable income and that conversely, if it was sustained as a result of non-payment of a loan then it was of a capital nature and not deductible.


In an initial assessment BURS was of the view that the loss was sustained when a loan to an unrelated company, Lobtrans Pty Ltd became irrecoverable and that the loss was accordingly of capital nature and not deductible. The case dates back as far as 2008 when Motor Centre had written to BURS seeking clarity on how it was to treat the tax consequences of losses it had incurred in its dealings with Lobatse Cash stores and Lobtrans which are owned by a certain Mr Abdul Samad Asmal. Asmal is described as a member of the local Muslim community and was known to the Dadas.


Motor Centre fell into its conundrum after it borrowed Lobtrans a sum of R50 million which it needed for expansion and working capital.Motor Centre also argued in its heads of argument that the Board of Arbitrators misdirected itself in its judgment and stated that it was the duty of the board to ascertain the legal nature of the transaction that occurred to which the taxation laws are to be applied. “By defining the issue the way they did, the board ignored entirely the doctrine of substance over form,” the judge stated.


However, the Commissioner General of BURS stated in the responding affidavit that Motor Centre was let down by Yusuf Dada who signed an agreement without paying necessary attention to the content. “It is a matter of common knowledge that a person who signs a contractual document thereby signifies his assent to the contents of the documents, and if these subsequently turn out not to be to his liking he has no one to blame but himself,” BURS contended. “This is even more so if one decides not to read the document prior to signature. Mr Yusuf Dada exhibited his assent to the contents of the written agreement by way of signature,” BURS explained.

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Hunt for new Ombudsman ongoing

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The Minister of Justice, Machana Shamukuni says the search to appoint the Ombudsman and other critical heads of department is currently ongoing and the process is expected to be completed before end of the year.

The Ombudsman position fell vacant almost five months ago after Augustine Makgonatsotlhe was removed from the office and appointed as Ambassador to Kuwait.

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Two Batswana detained in Zim for illegal trade in mercury

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This publication understands that the suspects who are aged between 39 and 56 years hail from Tutume and Selebi-Phikwe. At the time of the arrest, they were found in possession of a pistol, bomb motor and four live rounds. It is understood that the suspects told investigators during interrogation that the deadly substance has a lucrative market in Far East countries, where the demand is high. It is further reported that the suspects claimed that the mercury can be easily accessed in mines through middleman.

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No end in sight for Botswana/ Namibia looming border row

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The Namibian Lives Matter Movement has weighed in on the looming border dispute between their country and Botswana.

Commenting on reports that the Namibian Parliament has dispatched a committee along the border between the two countries on fact finding mission, the group commended“the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, De-fence and Security that will engage community members living along the Namibia Botswana Border in conducting public hearings into acts of aggression and brutality by Botswana Defence (BDF) Force against innocent and unarmed Namibians.” 

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