The Government of Botswana will continue to be cautious of who invests in the country, Minister of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services Prince Maele revealed this week.
Speaking at the African Industrialization Day in Phikwe on Tuesday, 22 November, Maele said that the government will not fall prey to pseudo business people and investors that are not legit. “We have for the past years fallen into trap of attracting people who come here to exploit our natives, trick us into being awarded chunk of land and selling it to free holders after ripping us of our hard earned cash as Batswana,’’ he said
Minister Maele noted that thus his government will continue to screen and apply pre cautionary measures and thorough investigation before awarding working permits to foreign investors. “Yes we need investors here in Phikwe and in Botswana as a whole, but we have in the past fallen prey to foreign investors who come here with bad intentions,” Maele noted.
Incidentally, Chief Executive Officer of Botswana Investment Trade Centre, Letsebe Sejoe told Parliamentary Committee on Statutory Bodies and Public Enterprises last week that Botswana is not an attractive country to investors owing to its stiff labour laws and cumbersome immigration procedures. On the other hand, Maele revealed that he and the Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security, Sadique Kebonang have been canvassing European developed economies on a quest to attract genuine investors to Botswana.
“I and Minister Sadique Kebonang just arrived from a very productive trip abroad, we met investors in Spain, Sweden, Vietnam and other European countries and we discussed issues of water, energy and minerals,” he said. Maele further noted that, countless business people are expressing interest in investing in Botswana’s solar energy and from their overseas trip more foreign investors are coming.
Minister Maele also addressed the revitalisation strategy in the area, saying he was optimistic about it and his ministry would do everything to see it through. “My Ministry will do everything possible, from expanding their workforce; making exemption and so forth in order to try and accelerate land allocation for businesses here,” and added that, “for genuine investors, we have a system put in place called ‘land banking,’ in which a chunk of strategic land is allocated to BITC for issuing to investors under less cumbersome processes,” he explained.
According to the minister, BITC has the capacity to determine the need for land allocation to investors and thus his ministry works and will continue to work with them. When addressing the thorny issue about the over 70 commercial plots that were allocated to SPEDU for allotment to business people on bidding, Maele noted that lawful procedures were followed contrary to reports that nepotism and corruption occurred.
“The truth of the matter is that the tender was cancelled and no one was allocated land from that undertaking as far as I know as the minister responsible for land in this country.” He said the plots will still be advertised under a new tender soon and will be allocated by SPEDU to deserving investors.
The Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP)’s decision to reject and appeal the High Court’s verdict on a case involving High Court Judge, Dr Zein Kebonang has frustrated the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and Judge Kebonang’s back to work discussions.
JSC and Kebonang have been in constant discussions over the latter’s return to work following a ruling by a High Court panel of judges clearing him of any wrong doing in the National Petroleum Fund criminal case filed by the DPP. However the finalization of the matter has been hanged on whether the DPP will appeal the matter or not – the prosecution body has since appealed.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) top brass has declined a request by Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) to negotiate the legal fees occasioned by 2019 general elections petition in which the latter disputed in court the outcome of the elections.
This publication is made aware that UDC Vice President Dumelang Saleshando was left with an egg on his face after the BDP big wigs, comprising of party Chairman Slumber Tsogwane and Secretary General Mpho Balopi rejected his plea.
“He was told that this is a legal matter and therefore their (UDC) lawyer should engage ours (BDP) for negotiations because it is way far from our jurisdiction,” BDP Head of Communications, Kagelelo Kentse, told this publication.
This spelt doom for the main opposition party and Saleshando who seems not to have confidence and that the UDC lawyers have the dexterity to negotiate these kind of matters. It is not clear whether Saleshando requested UDC lawyer Boingotlo Toteng to sit at the table with Bogopa Manewe, Tobedza and Co, who are representing the BDP to strike a deal as per the BDP top echelons suggested.
“From my understanding, the matter is dealt with politically as the two parties are negotiating how to resolve it, but by far nothing has come to me on the matter. So I believe they are still substantively engaging each other,” Toteng said briefly in an interview on Thursday.
UDC petitioners saddled with costs after mounting an unprecedented legal suit before the court to try and overturn BDP’s October 2019 victory. The participants in the legal matter involves 15 parliamentary candidates’ and nine councillors. The UDC petitioned the court and contested the outcome of the elections citing “irregularities in some of the constituencies”.
In a brief ruling in January 2020, Judge President Ian Kirby on behalf of a five-member panel said: “We have no jurisdiction to entertain these appeals. These appeals must be struck out each with costs including costs of counsel”. This was a second blow to the UDC in about a month after their 2019 appeals were dismissed by the High Court a day before Christmas Day.
This week BDP attorneys decided to attach UDC petitioners’ property in a bid to settle the debts. UDC President Duma Boko is among those that will see their property being attached with 14 of his party members. “We have attached some and we are on course. So far, Dr. Mpho Pheko (who contested Gaborone Central) and that of Dr, Micus Chimbombi (who contested Kgalagadi South) will have their assets being sold on the 5th of February 2021,” BDP attorney Basimane Bogopa said.
Asked whether they met with UDC lawyers to try solve the matter, Bogopa said no and added. “Remember we are trying to raise the client’s funds, so after these two others will follow. Right now we are just prioritising those from Court of Appeal, as soon as the high court is done with taxation we will attach.”
Saleshando, when contacted about the outcomes of the meeting with the BDP, told WeekendPost that: “It would not be proper and procedural for me to tell you about the meeting outcomes before I share with UDC National Executive Committee (NEC), so I will have to brief them first.”
UDC NEC will meet on the 20th of next month to deal with a number of thorny issues including settling the legal fees. Negotiations with other opposition parties- Alliance for Progressives and Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) are also on the agenda.
Currently, UDC has raised P44 238 of the P565 000 needed to cover bills from the Court of Appeal (CoA). This is the amount in a UDC trust account which is paltry funds equating 7.8 per cent of the overall required money. In the past despite the petitioners maintaining that there was promise to assist them to settle legal fees, UDC Spokesperson, Moeti Mohwasa then said the party has never agreed in no way to help them.
“We have just been put in debt by someone,” one of the petitioners told this publication in the past. “President’s (Duma Boko) message was clear at the beginning that money has been sourced somewhere to help with the whole process but now we are here there is nothing and we are just running around trying to make ends meet and pay,” added the petitioner in an interview UDC NEC has in December last year directed all the 57 constituencies to each raise a minimum of P10, 000. The funds will be used to settle debts that are currently engulfing the petitioners with Sheriffs, who are already hovering around ready to attach their assets.
The petitioners, despite the party intervention, have every right to worry. “This is so because ‘the deadline for this initiative (P10, 000 per constituency) is the end of the first quarter of this year (2021),” a period in which the sheriffs would have long auctioned the properties.
President of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Duma Boko’s alliance with former President Lt Gen Ian Khama continues to unsettle some quarters within the opposition collective, who believe the duo, if not managed, will once again result in an unsuccessful bid for government in 2024.
While Khama has denied that he has undeclared preference to have Boko remaining as leader of UDC, many believe that the two have a common programme, while other opposition leaders remain on the side-lines.