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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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Botswana approves extradition of British fugitive

20th March 2023

Raiz Ahmed Tayub, a British fugitive sought by Interpol for his involvement in human trafficking and slave trade crimes, was captured by the Botswana Police Service (BPS) earlier this year.

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BOCRA detects new cyber attacks targeted at Botswana

20th March 2023

Government owned communications regulator, Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority (BOCRA) recently detected several cyber-attacks targeted at national information and communications infrastructure, companies and home routers in this country.

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Malawi appeals for help over Cyclone Freddy at PAP

17th March 2023

As of yesterday evening, the death toll from the Cyclone in Malawi had risen from the initially reported 190 to 225 in a short period of time, over 20 000 people have been displaced, and the worst of fears are yet to come as the fatalities continue to mount. This was reported by a Malawi Member of Parliament attending the Pan African Parliament session in Midrand, South Africa, Hon Steven Mikiya.

Mikiya was giving a statement on behalf of Malawi as the ongoing Pan African Parliament in South Africa.

Mikiya said the Cyclone has wreaked the most havoc in our country’s Southern Region. “The Southern Region, has been hardest hit with widespread heavy rains and strong winds. This caused a rapid rise in water levels and subsequent flooding. Meanwhile, power supply has been disrupted, roads blocked off and rendered impassable and mudslides have also been widely reported,” he said.

He made a special appeal to the PAP:  “Where I come from, there is a parable which I would like to share with you which says, “mzako weniweni umamudziwa panthawi ya mavuto.” Simply put, a friend in need is a friend indeed or put loosely, a person who helps at a difficult time is a friend you can rely on.”

Mikiya continued: “Yes! Misfortune has knocked on our door and left in its wake a trail of death and destruction that may take years to fully recover from. However, amidst these difficulties, I have every reason to believe that sometimes when you are in a dark place and think you have been buried, you have actually been planted. My belief, Mr. President, arises out of my faith in this gathering and out of the conviction that it is not coincidental that Cyclone Freddy hit Malawi and Mozambique while the delegations of both countries are here.”

According to Mikiya, the level of destruction, the loss of life, property and the decimation of the entire fabric of established communities has been unprecedented. He noted that all this, is coming at a time when Malawi was starting to show signs of recovery from the deadly COVID-19 pandemic that also came hard on the heels of Cyclone Ana and Cyclone Gombe that left a similar trail of devastation and destruction in Malawi and neighbouring countries.

As of Sunday, this week, from the 12th of March, Malawi and Mozambique have been facing the devastating effects of Cyclone Freddy that made a landfall over Mozambique on Saturday the 11th and reached Malawi by Sunday the 12th of March.

The Malawi legislator said he has absolute faith in the Pan African Parliament, which he described as “a league of nations brought together by a shared ancestry, history, identity as well as our beloved continent which we inhabit”.

Meanwhile, Malawi President, Lazarus Chakwera, has declared a State of Disaster in the affected areas effectively appealing for local and international support for the affected families.

Mikiya appealed to the Pan African Parliament drawing “positive” inspiration from Europe which rallied around Turkey after the destructive earthquakes to bring the much-needed relief and humanitarian aid to the people of Turkey.

He said Africa should demonstrate to the world that the African Union and its Organs are not mere talk shows, but effective institutions which stand up when it matters most.

“Alone, it may take us a lifetime to fully recover, but together, in the Pan-Africanist spirit of Ubuntu, our lives and livelihoods will return to a semblance of normality in record time. This is the time to live by our operative mantra, “One Africa, One Voice.” Mikiya concluded.

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