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Molefhi will back me – Masisi

The Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi has said that there is no love lost between him and his alleged political rival, Minister for Infrastructure and Housing Development, Nonofo Molefhi.

Masisi has instead shifted the blame to the media saying that it is trying to create a rift between him and the Selibe Phikwe East legislator.

Molefhi is rumoured to be harbouring intentions to challenge Masisi for the chairmanship of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), but Masisi is adamant that just like buddies do, Molefhi will vote for him when he contests to retain his position in the party and he will also return the favour and vote for him on whatever position he wants.

The BDP does not have position of Vice President in its party hierarchy and therefore the chairman is second in command after the President.

Nonetheless, Masisi maintains that he welcomes the challenge for this influential position from anyone in the BDP, including President Khama’s younger brother and minister for Environment and Natural Resources, Conservation and Tourism, Tshekedi Khama who recently declared his interest during a local radio station interview.

However, he denied that he is trying to supplant Molefhi from his parliamentarian position, which naturally will function as a spring board to launch his candidacy for the ruling party’s chairmanship.

He further told this publication Tuesday that he is not jostling with Molefhi or anyone and that “such allegations are a total lie.” he added, “There is absolutely no issue…I am not trying to topple anyone; in fact I am trying to topple the opposition,” Masisi told WeekendPost.

He had earlier described Molefhi in glowing terms as a “Member of Parliament in good standing”.

“Honourable Molefhi is a Member of Parliament (MP) of good standing in Selebi Phikwe East, he won and is very serious unlike the solution-less one” (Dithapelo Keorapetse- Selebi-Phikwe West MP).

He further stated that there is a clear disconnect between BDP power politics and the BCL mine closure.

“We were with him in this sub-committee (cabinet sub-committee on BCL); we were with him in Selebi-Phikwe. This has never been an issue of BDP power dynamics. It has never become an issue and for all I care, I have never had a position that I am contesting for with Molefhi. In any event whatever position might become available in BDP has nothing to do with BCL; you don’t get votes in BCL if a position becomes available.”

Masisi further stated that Molefhi voted for him in the 2015 Mmadinare congress where he cemented his credentials in BDP and that when he contests for the chairmanship of his party again in 2017 he will duly ask Molefhi for his support just as he did at the Mmadinare congress.

“We are in the same party; we love this party and want it to succeed. It’s not in the interest of anybody in the BDP to eliminate any Member of Parliament. Nna all I know is that when the time comes I will ask Molefhi for his vote for the BDP chairmanship, and like he voted for me in Mmadinare, he will vote for me again.”

“That will be our conversation and if he asks me to vote for him on whatever he wants I will vote for him, in elections.”

He further said that the closure of BCL and Tati Nickel mines has no bearing on what will happen in the succession contest of BDP.

“It would seem this mischievousness is devoid of an understanding of our processes either of succession or processes of somebody emerging as a president of the party, which is president of the country. There is nothing in the narrative of BCL and its troubles that are going to change what is going to happen. And there is nothing therefore that could be done that with respect to challenges of BCL that could change any of that.”

He stated, before urging the media to come to terms with the inevitability of his presidency: “We are now in automation and you should get real and deal with it. You can speculate but speculate in an intelligent way.”

Masisi is expected to automatically become the country’s fifth president when Khama’s 10 year term ends in April 2018. To prove his strength in the party, he has to successfully defend his current position in the party.

Thus far 4 BDP heavies have already made known their intentions to challenge him known. Former Bonnington North MP Robert Masitara, diamond executive and former Palapye MP Boyce Sebetlela, Tshekedi Khama as well as former cabinet minister and diplomat, Tebelelo Seretse all want to be BDP chairpersons.

Those said to be sitting on the fence include Molefhi himself as well as Botswana’s ambassador to Japan, Jacob Nkate.

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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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