Miss Plus Size Universe Botswana organisers, Fab Fast Collections have moved to drop reigning queen, Mmangaka Coreen Tumagole in favour of Natasha Tshephang Olopeng, who is the pageant’s reigning second princess. Tumagole was to represent the country in Trinidad and Tobago on March 4 this year.
Interestingly, Olopeng is said to be the youngest daughter of Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development, Thapelo Olopeng. The same ministry is believed to have sponsored the event that was staged last year October in Gaborone. It is not yet clear whether it would sponsor the contestant’s trip to Trinidad and Tobago.
A statement released by Fab Fast Collections Pty (Ltd) on behalf of the event organiser, Gorata Kekgethile and Miss Plus Size Universe Botswana, the company announced that, “Due to unfortunate circumstances that we have been aware of regarding our client, we would like to apologise to all our sponsors and supports for substituting her. Botswana shall be represented by Natasha Tshepang Olopeng who was the 2nd Princess. This decision was not based on the director but the sponsors.”
When reached for comment, Kekgethegile revealed to this publication that Tumagole was dropped because of her behaviour and failing to meet some of her contractual agreements like attending gym sessions. According to Tumagole, the news came as a surprise to her. In fact, she learnt that she would not be going to Trinidad and Tobago on Monday this week, through a cellphone message from Kekgethegile.
“We were supposed to meet Orange Botswana together, who we were trying to lure as sponsors, but I got a text message from her (Kekgethegile) saying she would not be going with me,” she explained. The text message, seen by WeekendPost reads, “Morning I don’t think going to Orange together is a good idea since I want to give you termination of contract, however I still need to meet you to discuss this.”
However, the duo then met on Wednesday afternoon where Kekgethegile gave Tumagole the official termination letter which states that the reasons for termination include among others, failure to meet the specified weight of 112 kg, social media misrepresentation and communication problems.
The letter also states that she must return the crown and tiara as well as the Queen’s sash. At the same meeting, Kekgethegile, according to Tumagole said that they would still continue working together and that she would represent the country at Miss Plus Size International in Beijing on April 22nd.
Surprisingly, weight was never a problem initially. During auditions, the specifications were that contestants should be size 36 and above. After crowning, Tumagole was to attend gym sessions to ‘tone up.’ But Kekgethegile insisted that “She hasn’t lost weight so she doesn’t qualify in Trinidad and Tobago.”
She however declined to give any further information when pressed further as to when they learnt that the queen would have to lose some weight. In a pageant setup, should the reigning Queen be recalled, or be unable to continue with her duty, the immediate substitute is the 1st Princess not the second Princess. Gabby Mochudi who is 1st Princess should have taken over, however, according to Kekgethegile, Mochudi cannot take up the duty as she has lost weight and does not meet the criteria. She chose to not comment further on the issue.
Shockingly, Mochudi was clueless about the latest developments and said she was never contacted by Kekgethegile with regards to the issue. She denied having lost any weight since the crowning. “As far as I know I have not lost any weight and I still meet the criteria to compete at the international stage,” she said.
According to Tumagole, she and the organisers have always experienced problems, particularly with Kekgethegile. She alleges that all hell broke loose when she demanded to be paid the outstanding balance of her prize money. The Prize money was set at P10 000 for the overall winner but she maintains that she has only been given P7 000 which she received in instalments.
“But I have learnt that Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture who were the main sponsors have released the payout cheque,” she said. “I have done nothing wrong; my problem is my ability to voice out my opinion. This is unfair business and breach of contract that I have penned down with them,” the recalled queen stated.
According to the contract signed by the two parties it was agreed that the contract can be terminated in case “She is wearing curlers, sponge, paper, rods or any other kind of hair- setters, or whatsoever when going out in public or failing to conceal any tattoos or getting new ones.”
She further told this publication that she would not take the issue lying down as she intends to file for an urgent application for breach of contract and defamation of character. She highlighted that, while she was aware she was to attend gym sessions to tone up and keep fit, she did attend some but stopped only after a foot injury and was to commence this month (January), a fact the organisers were aware of.
“What is disheartening is the fact that I worked hard to lure in more sponsors and right now I’m not even sure how much I raised, so Olopeng will be using my monies,” she said. At press time, Natasha was reportedly in South Africa, and a WhatsApp message was sent to her but she ignored it, choosing instead to call Kekgethegile to inform her of the message. Kekgethegile in turn charged at Tumagole accusing her of giving out Natasha’s contacts.
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.”
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.
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.”