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BOFEPUSU resolves to go for Ďspecial congressí

The Botswana Federation of Public, Private and Parastatal Sectors Union (BOFEPPPUSU) will hold a “special congress” to consult members on the much-talked about 3% that was not awarded to its affiliates.


The union federation, through the High Court, interdicted the awarding of the 3% to “all” government employees but court could only accede to interdict the increment to only its members (BOFEPUSU). The contentious development was reached following government’s resolution to grant the 3% increment to public servants in April last year (2015). The increment was provided by the President Lt. Gen. Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama’s administration – outside the ambit of the Bargaining Council.


It is understood that the move has since created a rift, acrimony and hostility between BOFEPPPUSU members who on one hand are not awarded the increment and non-BOFEPPPUSU members as well as the non-unionised who were provided with the increment. Weekend Post understands that the bone of contention advanced by the union federation is focused on the fight for the independence of the Public Servants Bargaining Council and to ensure that the bargaining power is not eroded. If anything, and to ensure the power remains, BOFEPPPUSU says it remains ready to forfeit the 3% increment.


Last week, the union dealt a heavy blow at the High Court as the presiding Acting Judge Godfrey Radijeng ruled that the matter in which they wanted to instruct government to go back to the salary negotiations is “not urgent.” Although he did not go into the merits of his judgement delivery, it is strongly believed that a similar matter seeking for the “scope of the PSBC” currently before Justice Tshepo Motswagole of the High Court – due for next year February – may have triggered the judgement.


This publication has gathered that the federation leadership met over the weekend following the judgement and arrived at a decision to the effect that: “there is need to thoroughly brief and consult members” on the matter and that “there will be a special congress for the federation on 17th December 2016.”
It is understood that following the Special Congress, there shall be thorough consultation with the structures during the 1st and the 2nd weeks of January 2017.


Speaking to Weekend Post this week Secretary General of BOFEPPPUSU, Tobokani Rari confirmed that indeed the federation is undertaking a special congress this weekend. “Yes, leadership met over the weekend and took a decision to undertake a special congress to brief leaders of structures of various unions affiliated to BOFEPPPUSU to brief them out on the outcome of the court case which sought to instruct government back to the salary talks and the ruling’s implications as well as way forward,” Rari told this publication.


Rari stated that the purpose of the special congress is primarily for the union leadership to report what transpired at the salary negotiations table particularly with regard to the contentious 3% increment and the recent court cases. The unionist emphasized the need and importance of getting a mandate from the members on critical issues that they are facing. “We now need to go back to them to get a fresh mandate,” he said boldly as the union is continuing to face countless battles at court.


According to Rari, initially the members have given them a go-ahead and legitimate mandate to ignore the 3% salary raise and instead ordered them to channel their energies on fighting for the “bargaining power” to avoid future repeating’s of the unilateral increments prone to government. “If the BOFEPPPUSU members also want the 3% provocative salary rise – although awarded outside PSBC – they should say so as well. If they also want to protect and preserve the power and integrity of the Bargaining Council they should point that as well at the special congress and we will implement the mandate as is. We are simply servants of the union members.”


The BOFEPPPUSU SG insisted that the Trade Unions are run by mandates from the people and therefore the members should do the talking and leadership only implements their (members) aspirations. The special congress will be attended by members of the Executive, chairpersons of regions and branches from the affiliate members.


BOFEPPPUSU affiliates include Botswana Teachers Union (BTU), Botswana Sectors of Educators Trade Union (BOSETU), Botswana Landboard and Local Authorities & Health Workers Union (BLLAHWU), National Amalgamated Central, Local & Parastatal Manual Workers Union (NACLPMWU).
Union federation to appeal recent judgement to force gov’t back to the salary talks


Rari said they have resolved to appeal the case in which they sought to instruct government parties to come back at the PSBC to continue negotiating for the public servants salary increase and conditions of service. He also pointed out that the federation, having met its lawyers in which they had lengthy discussions about legal possibilities; consequently the leadership ended up with an informed decision and resolved to appeal the matter. The BOFEPPPUSU SG said the notice of appeal has been registered with the Court of Appeal on Wednesday to start with the process of appealing.


“We have absolutely nothing to lose by appealing the matter. If the Court of Appeal does not uphold the High court ruling we will continue negotiating the salaries. If we lose the appeal we will have to remain with the predicament of waiting for case before Justice Motswagole on scope next year February,” he said.


He also added that if members at the special congress agree that the members be awarded the 3% then it won’t stop the bargaining process for salaries of 2016/17 that are also pending.  
 “The appeal will still remain relevant,” Rari maintained.

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FaR property assets value clock P1.47 billion

6th December 2023

FaR Property Company (FPC) Limited, a property investment company listed on the Botswana Stock Exchange, has recently announced its exceptional financial results for the year 2023. The company’s property asset value has risen to P1.47 billion, up from P1.42 billion in the previous year.

FPC has a diverse portfolio of properties, including retail, commercial, industrial, and residential properties in Botswana, South Africa, and Zambia. The company owns a total of 186 properties, generating rental revenues from various sectors. In 2023, the company recorded rental revenues of P11 million from residential properties, P62 million from industrial properties, and P89 million from commercial properties. Overall, the company’s total revenues increased by 9% to P153 million, while profit before tax increased by 22% to P136 million, and operating profit increased by 11% to P139 million.

One notable achievement for FPC is the low vacancy rate across its properties, which stands at only 6%. This is particularly impressive considering the challenging trading environment. The company attributes this success to effective lease management and the leasing of previously vacant properties in South Africa. FPC’s management expressed satisfaction with the results, highlighting the resilience of the company in the face of ongoing macroeconomic challenges.

The increase in profit before tax can be attributed to both an increase in income and effective control of operating expenses. FPC managed to achieve these results with fewer employees, demonstrating the company’s efficiency. The headline earnings per linked unit also saw an improvement, reaching 26.92 thebe, higher than the previous year.

Looking ahead, FPC remains confident in its competitiveness and growth prospects. The company possesses a substantial land bank, which it plans to develop strategically as opportunities arise. FPC aims for managed growth, focusing on consumer-driven developments and ensuring the presence of supportive tenants. By maintaining this approach, the company believes it can sustainably grow its property portfolio and remain competitive in the market.

In terms of the macroeconomic environment, FPC noted that inflation rates are decreasing towards the 3% to 6% range approved by the Bank of Botswana. This is positive news for the company, as it hopes for further decreases in interest rates. However, the fluctuating fuel prices, influenced by global events such as the war in Ukraine and oil output reductions by Russia and other Middle Eastern countries, continue to impact businesses, including some of FPC’s tenants.

FPC’s property portfolio includes notable assets such as a shopping mall in Francistown with Choppies Hyper as the anchor tenant, Borogo Mall located on the A33 main road near the Kazungula ferry crossing, and various industrial and commercial properties in Gaborone leased to Choppies, Senn Foods, and Clover Botswana. The company also owns a shopping mall in Mafikeng and Rustenburg in South Africa.

The majority of FPC’s properties, 85%, are located in Botswana, followed by 12% in South Africa and 3% in Zambia. With its strong financial performance, competitive position, and strategic land bank, FPC is well-positioned for continued growth and success in the property market.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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BPC Signs PPA with Sekaname Energy

4th December 2023

The Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) has taken a significant step towards diversifying its energy mix by signing a power purchase agreement with Sekaname Energy for the production of power from coal bed methane in Mmashoro village. This agreement marks a major milestone for the energy sector in Botswana as the country transitions from a coal-fired power generation system to a new energy mix comprising coal, gas, solar, and wind.

The CEO of BPC, David Kgoboko, explained that the Power Purchase Agreement is for a 6MW coal bed methane proof of concept project to be developed around Mmashoro village. This project aligns with BPC’s strategic initiatives to increase the proportion of low-carbon power generation sources and renewable energy in the energy mix. The use of coal bed methane for power generation is an exciting development as it provides a hybrid solution with non-dispatchable sources of generation like solar PV. Without flexible base-load generation, the deployment of non-dispatchable solar PV generation would be limited.

Kgoboko emphasized that BPC is committed to enabling the development of a gas supply industry in Botswana. Sekaname Energy, along with other players in the coal bed methane exploration business, is a key and strategic partner for BPC. The successful development of a gas supply industry will enable the realization of a secure and sustainable energy mix for the country.

The Minister of Minerals & Energy, Lefoko Moagi, expressed his support for the initiative by the private sector to develop a gas industry in Botswana. The country has abundant coal reserves, and the government fully supports the commercial extraction of coal bed methane gas for power generation. The government guarantees that BPC will purchase the generated electricity at reasonable tariffs, providing cash flow to the developers and enabling them to raise equity and debt funding for gas extraction development.

Moagi highlighted the benefits of developing a gas supply industry, including diversified primary energy sources, economic diversification, import substitution, and employment creation. He commended Sekaname Energy for undertaking a pilot project to prove the commercial viability of extracting coal bed methane for power generation. If successful, this initiative would unlock the potential of a gas production industry in Botswana.

Sekaname Energy CEO, Peter Mmusi, emphasized the multiple uses of natural gas and its potential to uplift Botswana’s economy. In addition to power generation, natural gas can be used for gas-to-liquids, compressed natural gas, and fertilizer production. Mmusi revealed that Sekaname has already invested $57 million in exploration and infrastructure throughout its resource area. The company plans to spend another $10-15 million for the initial 6MW project and aims to invest over $500 million in the future for a 90MW power plant. Sekaname’s goal is to assist BPC in becoming a net exporter of power within the region and to contribute to Botswana’s transition to cleaner energy production.

In conclusion, the power purchase agreement between BPC and Sekaname Energy for the production of power from coal bed methane in Mmashoro village is a significant step towards diversifying Botswana’s energy mix. This project aligns with BPC’s strategic initiatives to increase the proportion of low-carbon power generation sources and renewable energy. The government’s support for the development of a gas supply industry and the commercial extraction of coal bed methane will bring numerous benefits to the country, including economic diversification, import substitution, and employment creation. With the potential to become a net exporter of power and a cleaner energy producer, Botswana is poised to make significant strides in its energy sector.

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UDC deadlock: Boko, Ndaba, Reatile meet  

4th December 2023

It is not clear as to when, but before taking a festive break in few weeks’ time UDC leaders would have convened to address the ongoing deadlock surrounding constituency allocation in the negotiations for the 2024 elections. The leaders, Duma Boko of the UDC, Mephato Reggie Reatile of the BPF, and Ndaba Gaolathe of the AP, are expected to meet and discuss critical matters and engage in dialogue regarding the contested constituencies.

The negotiations hit a stalemate when it came to allocating constituencies, prompting the need for the leaders to intervene. Representatives from the UDC, AP, and BPF were tasked with negotiating the allocation, with Dr. Patrick Molotsi and Dr. Philip Bulawa representing the UDC, and Dr. Phenyo Butale and Wynter Mmolotsi representing the AP.

The leaders’ meeting is crucial in resolving the contentious issue of constituency allocation, which has caused tension among UDC members and potential candidates for the 2024 elections. After reaching an agreement, the leaders will engage with the members of each constituency to gauge their opinions and ensure that the decisions made are favored by the rank and file. This approach aims to avoid unnecessary costs and conflicts during the general elections.

One of the main points of contention is the allocation of Molepolole South, which the BNF is adamant about obtaining. In the 2019 elections, the UDC was the runner-up in Molepolole South, securing the second position in seven out of eight wards. Other contested constituencies include Metsimotlhabe, Kgatleng East and West, Mmadinare, Francistown East, Shashe West, Boteti East, and Lerala Maunatlala.

The criteria used for constituency allocation have also become a point of dispute among the UDC member parties. The issue of incumbency is particularly contentious, as the criterion for constituency allocation suggests that current holders of UDC’s council and parliamentary seats should be given priority for re-election without undergoing primary elections. Disadvantaged parties argue that this approach limits democratic competition and hinders the emergence of potentially more capable candidates.

Another disputed criterion is the allocation based on the strength and popularity of a party in specific areas. Parties argue that this is a subjective criterion that leads to disputes and favoritism, as clear metrics for strength and visibility cannot be defined. The BNF, in particular, questions the demands of the new entrants, the BPF and AP, as they lack a traceable track record to support their high expectations.

The unity and cohesion of the UDC are at stake, with the BPF and AP expressing dissatisfaction and considering withdrawing from the negotiations. Therefore, it is crucial for the leaders to expedite their meeting and find a resolution to these disputes.

In the midst of these negotiations, the BNF has already secured 15 constituencies within the UDC coalition. While the negotiations are still ongoing, BNF Chairman Dr. Molotsi revealed that they have traditionally held these constituencies and are expecting to add more to their tally. The constituencies include Gantsi North, Gantsi South, Kgalagadi North, Kgalagadi South, Good Hope ‚Äď Mmathethe, Kanye North, Kanye South, Lobatse, Molepolole North, Gaborone South, Gaborone North, Gaborone Bonnignton North, Takatokwane, Letlhakeng, and Tlokweng.

The resolution of the contested constituencies will test the ability of the UDC to present a united front in the 2024 National Elections will depend on the decisions made by the three leaders. It is essential for them to demonstrate maturity and astuteness in resolving the constituency allocation deadlock and ensuring the cohesion of the UDC.

 

 

 

 

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