BCP President, Demelang Saleshando and BDP Secretary General, Botsalo Ntuane
The ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP)’s activists are using some government funded agencies’ services to lure opposition cadres into their fold, WeekendPost can reveal.
While these agencies were established to address the need for logical and all-inclusive support for the development of citizens’ small, medium and large scale enterprises through loans it seems they are being manipulated by some sections of the ruling party.
Agencies like CEDA, which are known to be autonomous offer loan funding for capital expenditure, stock or working capital in new and existing business ventures, and most revealing is that it is controlled by a Board of Directors appointed by the Botswana Government.
WeekendPost has in its possession an audio clip illustrating the ruling party’s recruitment drive. In the recorded clip, BDP activists insist to an unsuspecting opposition member to come up with a business idea so that they will be “easily” funded by organisations in the clutches of government.
“Comrade, what I emphasise to you is that; you come up with any business proposal, and you present it as an application. You will see.”
In the clandestine clip, the BDP activists, former Councillor for Monarch East Raoboy Mpuang and newly recruited BDP activist who was also a Botswana Congress Party (BCP) parliamentary candidate for Nata/Gweta Ditiro Majadibodu wanted to recruit Vaka Mooketsi an ex-contender of Botsalano ward under Botswana Congress Party (BCP) – where he narrowly lost – which also falls under the clutches of Francistown West.
“Listen to me, I will never forsake you comrade, if you have a business idea and in your defection (to join us), and say you are publicly and officially received by the Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi here at your home ground- who in their right mind can reject or turn down your applications anywhere?” one of the two BDP cadres pointed out to Mooketsi.
“We have a good government that wants to take care of its citizens as long as you are willing to stand up for yourselves. Try exiting a non-supportive environment, go to a supportive environment,” the recording captured.
These guys are willing to assist anyhow possible, am telling the truth, they stated to the probable recruit. “Politics must work for us. So what you should think is what you can do. Even if it’s not coming from you. Just bring something. They say today’s politics is mostly focused on what you benefit out of it. You should reap something out of it.”
They said sometimes we don’t benefit from the system not as we are opposition activists but because the opposition leaders kill our thinking capabilities.
According to the duo, they convinced the BCP activist that one thing they should understand is that the deal is not all about starting a shop/business but also about the “contacts” or “network” that you should have in life. “It’s all about establishing contacts,” they emphasised while pointing out that it is only that this government do it carefully.
As per dictates of automatic succession Masisi will be the president in 2018, they asserted while highlighting that everyone now wants to be close to him because of that. He knows your ward (Botsalano) and as you know it was under the watchful of his late brother Tshelang Masisi(ex-MP for Francistown West) and therefore he can easily identify with it, they stressed in the shady recruitment initiative.
The potential recruit was also told that BDP has one of the best programmes and policies in the world while they added that; “that’s why you see a youth with no political alignment applying for a programme likeLivestock Management and Infrastructure Development (LIMID) and then he is approved right away.”
An example of a success story they said in the initiative that was about people like BDP Secretary General Botsalo Ntuane who it was said are not superior per se to anyone but that they work hard.
“They don’t sit with their brains. They initiate.”
Ntuane who formed BDP splinter party, Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) although later re-traced his steps to the BDP has also benefitted from loan through his lucrative Prime Time media company.
The BDP SG confirmed to this publication that indeed “on yes I was once granted half a million loan back in 2009 which was long paid off.”
According to Ntuane, his position is that BDP government empowerment policies never discriminate on the basis of partisanship affiliation.
“In order for these false and mischievous accusations against BDP to end I think the time has come to publish the names of all past and active politicians from all parties who benefitted from government policies.” He said the time has come so that once and for all this matter is put to rest.
He maintained that in any case because these programmes and policies are funded by tax payers’ money why should the names of beneficiaries, especially politicians be kept a secret. “That only leads to suspicions, slander and falsehoods.”
The former BMD Vice president said then that re-joining BDP was the most difficult decision in his life.
Meanwhile, in the recruitment clip Majadibodu also said he recalls that while at BCP he thought he will never join BDP unless he was “bewitched”. “I know it’s a difficult decision for you to take but believe me even with myself it was also arduous to come up to a conclusion to join BDP. But was worth it.”
The former BCP Nata/Gweta parliamentary hopeful said to the BCP member that their leader is the only one making thrives at their (members) expense and courtesy of BDP. “Look at BCP President Dumelang (Saleshado), he is multi-millionaire owing to the ruling BDP government programmes. On annual basis he gets government tenders worth more than 5 million. That is why he can afford to buy himself a BMW worth 1.3 million which is similar to the one chauffeuring ministers.”
He continued: that is why he lives in a 3 storey building of the standard of 5 star hotel in Phakalane. That is why Dumelang can trade with other countries. It’s because of supportive BDP policies.
But the very same guy why can’t he raise some entrepreneurs’ within his party (BCP) and empower them?
“Instead of Dumelang hiring a bus at 1.2 million touring the country alone in it, why not utilise that 1.2 million pula in up skilling say around 10 youths and show Batswana that he can take them out of poverty and that he really means business. So that we can have model young people that symbolises that it’s not all about ourselves.”
According to the recruiters, “so it’s all about Dumelang and him alone. These guys it’s all about themselves. Have you ever see Dumelang donate P 1000 to anyone to campaign? Or to donate to a certain ward to go to BCP congress?”
However Saleshando quashed the allegations in an interview with this publication stating that “I don’t have a BMW and don’t stay in a triple storey house” and “have never tendered for a single government tender.”
But in BDP, they highlighted that certain individuals can be given financial support to go on BDP activities but they have never been part of that as they feel just satisfied. “What I want is to think and have an idea.”
But note that, they told the prospective BDP member that its’ not an issue of you been given hard cash or anything but what you should do is you come up with any proposal and you present it.“BDP can’t give you money but at least can allocate you a tender somewhere in the country as an award for joining the party so that you can sustain yourself.”
You see it’s about your life, in the party you are affiliated to; do you have a better life? They asked rhetorically.
“To be honest as one of the people who have been recruited by the BDP, I have never received not even a single cent, but BDP like any organisation, when there is nothing you don’t want to do for yourself people will end up likening you to the likes of Molefabangwe.”
But if you are a go-getter and proactive and come with initiatives to CEDA you will be most entitled as compared to other citizens, they explained.“Its two-ways you can either join BDP or opposition which will spell the end of your political career. So you have to be careful. It will depend.”
In terms of political interference, he said no politicians can influence them to tilt the scales in favour of anyone to approve their loans – particularly for political interest. “Just for starters we do not ask applicants their political membership, religious or anything like. We just want their omang that’s it. Then we assess the project based on its merit.”
Meanwhile BDP recently recruited BCP affiliates Lotty Manyapedza, Virginia Masole, Thato Osupile, and himself Ditiro Majadibodu in the same style and manner, and lately law maker for Okavango constituency Bagalatia Aarone who was said to have also benefitted from CEDA in his “defection deal.”
Aarone has however said he was entitled to the loan like any other Motswana and it was accepted based on merit.
When reached for comment Mpuang said he was in a meeting while Majadibodu confirmed that BCP’s Vaka Mooketsi is indeed one of the people he has met this year in their recruitment drive.
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.”