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BOCONGO members furious over lack of AGM

The umbrella for local Non-Governmental Organisations, Botswana Council of Non-Governmental Organisations (BOCONGO) has contravened its own constitution by not holding an Annual General Meeting (AGM).


Weekend Post has established that instead of holding the AGM as per the constitutional obligation, the organisation has moved swiftly to conduct a Special or Extraordinary General Meeting that includes AGM agenda in it. As the highest decision making body of the organisation it is provided that the AGM shall be held every year before October.


Article 7.1.2 of the organisation constitution states that “The AGM shall be held between the 1st of May and October 31st of every year at such a place and time as may be determined by the Executive Committee.” In a letter to BOCONGO members dated 1 November 2016, BOCONGO Chairman Oscar Motsumi also concedes that constitutionally the BOCONGO AGM cut-off time is the 31st October 2016.


The Chairman points out in the letter that, since they have missed the deadline for an AGM there will instead be a Special/Extraordinary General Meeting. This is despite the agenda for AGM and that of a Special meeting being dissimilar. According to a BOCONGO member in good standing, Kingston Mmolawa who is the Founder & Executive Director of Food Bank Botswana, item 1, 2, and 3 of the agenda as indicated are AGM business therefore they are “misplaced” and can never be part of the Special Extraordinary General Meeting agenda.


He stated that “should it be left unchanged it will constitute an insult to our collective intelligence as members”. The first three items in the agenda for proposed Special Meeting are; to discuss minutes of the BOCONGO 20th AGM, present audited financial report, as well as present the chairperson and secretariat reports to members – which are normally presented at the normal AGM as the constitution dictates.


The last item on the agenda is presentation and adoption of the final BOCONGO strategic plan and operational plan – which some members feel it is not misplaced. They say the special/extraordinary meetings should discuss such, but insist that it cannot match with AGM agenda.


“I wish to remind you and state that as per the constitution an AGM can never be held outside the stipulated dates as directed by it and its business cannot be discussed in any other meeting besides the AGM. Special /Extra General Meeting deals with urgent matters only and item 1, 2 and 3 as indicated above does not qualify in that category therefore they fall aside,” Mmolawa wrote on behalf of the disgruntled members to the board.


The BOCONGO members further threatened that if their interpretation of the constitution differs then they shall seek the intervention of the courts of law for interpretation. “May I indicate to you that constitutionally the AGM and Special/Extraordinary General Meeting are distinguishable and their mandates are different and clearly explained in the constitution,” the member stressed out to the current board.


In the letter, attention of the board is drawn to Article 7, 7.1.1 and 7.1.2 and Article 7.3 through to 7.3.8 which deals with the business of the AGM. They say the meeting scheduled for 24th of November is a Special Extra General Meeting and has to comply with Article 7.5 read with 7.5.1 through to 7.5.1.4.


Article 7.5.3 states that: “An ordinary or Special General Meeting shall be competent only with particular business of which due notice has been given.” In the letter, Mmolawa says the values of the constitution should be respected by all, even by the Board. “The constitution forms and is fundamentally the Councils chief governs manual. There is disconnection from the constitution because the Councils Leadership do not value the morals of the constitution,” he stated.


However when asked whether it is true BOCONGO is not or has not undertaken the normal Annual General Meeting (AGM), that’s constitutionally held between May and October every year, and reasons thereof, BOCONGO Chairman Oscar Motsumi said it is news to him.
“As far as I am concerned, BOCONGO is hosting an Extraordinary Meeting scheduled for November 24th as per Article 7.5 of the BOCONGO Constitution. Please make follow up to the same as I believe you have access to the same. Further, the reasons were communicated to our members and that is what we are working with,” he told Weekend Post on Thursday in a brief response.


Motion of no confidence on BOCONGO board


Some members of BOCONGO are mobilising each other to conduct a separate Special or extraordinary AGM to pass a motion of no confidence on the current board.


In a letter seen by Weekend Post, they state that in light of the one-fifth of the membership of BOCONGO they want the Special AGM to“declare the current board in conflict of its mandate from membership, preceded by motion of no confidence”.
They will also discuss and adopt the minutes of the 26th November 2015; resolve on way forward with regards to Sector Terms of reference and sector coordinators functions as well as resolve on the way forward with regards to the Newly Proposed Strategic Plan 2016 to 2019.


The BOCONGO members indicated that information shared with members through the former Executive Director Bagaisi Mabilo has shown gaps in the governing of the organization that members need to urgently address, “lest we have our organization’s reputation publicly smeared”.


They maintain that the information highlights an un-addressed grievance by the former Executive Director dating back to July 2015 detailing a serious governance breach; and the conflict of interest in the awarding of a tender to effect an unauthorized change process as detailed in the minutes of the tender committee shared with members on the 19th August 2016.


“As an institution that coordinated NGOs in Botswana and formed to be a mouth piece of NGOs on various areas including governance of this country, the membership of BOCONGO cannot afford to have a poorly governed or managed organization where the board is not adhering to implementing its mandate as per the direction of the AGM,” they stressed.


They continued to state that members of BOCONGO have not yet sanctioned or approved the new controversial Strategic Plan 2016-2019, while adding that “therefore as members we do not expect any implementation or change management exercise to be taking place through the Secretariat.”


The new Strategic Plan seeks to change the organisation constitution, name, vision and mission, as well as objectives of the umbrella organisation. It has been embraced by some and met with resistance from certain quarters of BOCONGO members, partners and stakeholders.


On their part, BOCONGO board conceded that they are aware of ongoing attempts to get a petition signed that calls on the board to reverse certain decisions. “Indeed, the petition comes short of calling for the entire board to step down,” they confirmed in writing. The board said this call while within the rights of the interests of those working on it, is ill advised and ill-timed especially coming this close to the Special Annual General Meeting (AGM) scheduled for November 24th 2016 where outstanding issues (Relating to the New Strategic Direction) will be thrashed out.


They justified that “it costs close to P100, 000 to host one AGM session and BOCONGO does not have this money.”  “Given the cost consciousness and cost containment mind-set of the current Board, during the last AGM we received a clean audit and it is our desire to improve our financial status by exploring other income generating opportunities to ensure organisational sustainability and therefore it makes economic sense to collapse the two Special AGM’s into one to achieve the same results.”


However according to the BOCONGO members the petition was warranted by what they say is visibly an attempt by the Board to shutdown BOCONGO. “If it is not shutting down BOCONGO then who in their right minds will fund an organization that has no regards for laid down processes and procedures. The current state of affairs obtaining at BOCONGO warrants a Special General Meeting,” they stated in the petition.


Amongst other things, the BOCONGO members explained that what was suggested in the meeting was that a neutral person be appointed to investigate what is going on between the board and the Secretariat and that the board makes further consultations with members on the proposed strategic plan.


Further to this, the BOCONGO members highlight that the board has been taking decisions without forming a quorum as it is required by the Constitution. “Therefore, it makes one wonder if resolutions emanating from such an arrangement could be considered legitimate.”

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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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