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BCP kicked out of Gaborone

The ongoing opposition talks are far from over, but there are certain elements of the discussion that are not contestable or have been agreed upon at the moment.

 

With an all inclusive name of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC+) having been adopted, the criteria for constituency allocation has made it easy for partners to spread constituencies evenly safe for two being Lentsweletau-Mmopane and Lerala-Maunatlala.
However, the adopted criterion presents a dilemma for one of the negotiating partners, the Botswana Congress Party (BCP).

 

Before his shock loss to the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD)’s Dr Phenyo Butale in the 2014 general election, BCP president, Dumelang Saleshando had represented Gaborone Central as Member of Parliament for two terms – 2004-2009 and 2009 – 2014. Now he finds himself without a constituency.  


The BCP is said to have decided to demonstrate commitment to the talks by not contesting or putting pressure on other partners to secure at least one constituency in Gaborone for its president – something that they had wanted. Insiders point out that the BCP knew from the onset that the criteria will not favour them in Gaborone constituencies where they were convincingly vanquished in the 2014 general election. “But we had assumed that Dumelang Saleshando as President of the negotiating partner could be given a special treatment and negotiate a package for him in Gaborone, but it was never to be,” said an insider.


Indications are that the BCP had also tried to lobby for Gaborone South which is currently under the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), but they lost out because the Botswana National Front (BNF) had come out second best in that constituency in the 2014 general election. The criteria is very clear, negotiating teams consider incumbency – which favours the BMD of the UDC+ in Gaborone Central; and second best performing party – which favours the BNF of the UDC+ in Gaborone South.


“As the BCP, we are not going to allow this to distract us from the main goal, that is opposition unity because that is the only way we can wrestle power from the ruling BDP,” said a BCP insider. The BCP is currently searching for a constituency for Dumelang Saleshando. This publication gathers that it is going to be a long process because it will involve reaching a compromise with party members who have been contesting in the constituency to be identified. “We are determined to make sure that our President goes to Parliament,” the BCP elder said.


Weekend Post has been informed that the BCP fears are also grounded on the fact that a Vice President of the country must have a constituency according to the constitution. Although the BMD is opposed to the BCP being given the Vice Presidency, the BCP is said to be fighting tooth and nail to ensure that Saleshando gets a constituency and wins it in 2019.

 

It is understood that Selibe Phikwe East, which is currently held by Nonofo Molefhi of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) appears to be the most likely constituency that will welcome Saleshando. BCP came second in the 2014 general election through Kgoberego Nkawana who polled 3134 votes to BDP’s 3376. The UDC attracted 979 votes through Dimpho Mashaba while an Independent candidate, Oarabile Tshenyego was voted by 818 people.  Selibe Phikwe East is one of the 17 constituencies that the BCP hopes to clinch based on the agreed criteria of the ongoing negotiating teams.


Saleshando is not a stranger to Selibe Phikwe because his family is domiciled in the mining town and he grew up there. The ongoing challenges facing Seilbe Phikwe also present a fertile campaign platform for the opposition to denounce the ruling party and its representatives.
This week at a Panel Discussion organized by the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) at Masa Centre, BCP deputy leader responsible for policy, Dr Kesitegile Gobotswang told the audience that “we are in a situation of urgency, something must be done to wrestle the BDP out of power, the urgency we are talking about supersedes any other factors.

 

We made a mistake by not being part of the Umbrella in the 2014 general election,” he said. While he pointed out directly that his party had more solid policy positions and a well structured manifesto, the UDC appealed more to the emotions of the voters. “It was not much about the mind in 2014, it was about the heart. In 2019, it should be about the mind and the heart,” he said.


The only two constituencies that are currently on the table for further negotiations is Lentsweletau-Mmopane and Lerala-Maunatlala. The BCP wants Lentsweletau-Mmopane because they came out second best to the BDP. Phagenyana Phage was voted by 3150 people against Vincent Seretse’s 7170 votes. Moeng Pheto, an independent candidate than attracted 3120 votes while the UDC got 2999 voters.

 

The BMD also wants a cut because their recruit who came after contesting the general election as an independent, Moeng Pheto got good numbers. Another independent candidate from the 2014 general election in the Lerala-Maunatlala constituency, Setlhabelo Modukanele, has since joined the BMD and he had 4115 votes against Prince Maele’s 6356 votes. The BMD’s argument of second best performing is being questioned by other partners. The BCP represented by Montwedi Mokhurutshe was voted by 1147.


Weekend Post is informed that the BCP is concerned that factors are conspiring against their president – first the Vice Presidency is hotly contested; and then he has no chance to stand for elections in the capital city.

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Mowana Mine to open, pay employees millions

18th January 2022
Mowana Mine

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.”

Negotiated estate is P35, 563,000

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Councilors’ benefits debacle-savingram reveals detail

18th January 2022

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.

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Households spending to drive economic recovery

17th January 2022

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.”

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