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UDC, BCP lobby MPs to reject BCL closure

Opposition parties have no intentions to let the BCL mine closure slide through their four presidents and have vowed that they will, in the next parliament sitting put up an urgent motion to revoke and overrule government’s decision to place the BCL under liquidation.  

The opposition parties made the revelation when addressing the media in Selibe Phikwe this past Thursday to give their position on the government’s decision to voluntary liquidate the mine.

Movement for Democratic Change (UDC) Chairman, Motlatsi Molapisi who is also the Botswana People’s Party’s (BPP) President, told members of the press as well as multitudes of workers gathered in front of Selibe Phikwe Post office that the government should have exhausted all alternative options before concluding on the mine closure.

Molapisi further raised concerns over lack of transparency and prior warning to workers and Selibe Phikwe residents pertaining to the company dissolution. According to Molapisi, decisions like shutting down the economic nucleus of over 50 000 inhabitants and thousands more greater Phikwe residents should be communicated well in time prior to implementation.

 “The government should have notified the workers and the general public  well in time that BCL closure exists in their vocabulary, not to wake up and melt down an economic engine  of over 50 000 people,” said the BPP president.

Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leader, Dumelang Saleshando said that they (opposition) believe that government is hiding something from the public. He noted that the task team assigned to investigate and evaluate the stance and future of BCL should have waited until the next parliament sitting to reveal its findings to the highest democratic institution in the country.

“It is only in Botswana where such a huge decision which affects the national economy, people’s lives and government purse is made by cabinet only,’’ said Saleshando.

The former Gaborone Central Legislator added that cabinet should have presented its findings and recommendations before a full parliament sitting and asked for parliament authorization.

“The same way parliament was consulted on BCL loans guarantee, this closure decision should have come to parliament so that others get the chance to reject or accept it, just like the loan guarantee issue,” he quipped.

President of The Botswana National Front (BNF), Duma Boko who also presides as leader of Opposition in Parliament, said government coffers permit for BCL to be bailed out. He revealed that government, within a short period of time purchased complex fighter jets and equipment worth 16 billion pula from Sweden, and just before independence taxpayers popped out 320 million pula for a Presidential chopper which enticed the 1st citizen at an air show in France.

’’Government should have considered ARVs and tertiary education financing which they give as excuse for not saving your jobs, when making these reckless expenditures,” said Boko.

The Leader of Opposition also extended a free lecture on legal provisions and details of voluntary liquidation. According to him, workers stand to lose their exit packages should BCL assets and debtors if any not equate or accommodate company creditors.

“When the liquidator values the company and pays all creditors, there could be nothing left to pay your salaries and exit packages,’’ said the UDC President. He said that, it is this fear for the workers that motivates them to lobby parliament to revoke if not reduce liquidator powers and consider lives of over 4 thousand former copper nickel miners.

For his part, Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) President, Ndaba Gaolathe said BCL’s closure should be entirely blamed on lack of shrewd corporate governance and visionary leadership. Gaolathe indicated that BCL management should have anticipated commodity price fall and put in place measures to absorb the possible shock. The Bonnington South MP noted that for 10 years before 2002 copper nickel commodity prices were lower than now and companies survived.

”BCL needed leaders that have relevant business and economic acumen to foresee this circumstances , but unfortunately people who were running the company are political appointees that do not have necessary skills and intelligence to run such a complex  company operating under this fragile mining industry.’’

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Over 2 000 civil servants interdicted

6th December 2022

Over 2,000 civil servants in the public sector have been interdicted for a variety of reasons, the majority of which are criminal in nature.

According to reports, some officers have been under interdiction for more than two years because such matters are still being investigated. Information reaching WeekendPost shows that local government, particularly councils, has the highest number of suspended officers.

In its annual report, the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) revealed that councils lead in corrupt activities throughout the country, and dozens of council employees are being investigated for alleged corrupt activities. It is also reported that disciplined forces, including the Botswana Defence Force (BDF), police, and prisons, and the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) have suspended a significant number of officers.

The Ministry of Education and Skills Development has also recorded a good number of teachers who have implicated in love relationships with students, while some are accused of impregnating students both in primary and secondary school. Regional education officers have been tasked to investigate such matters and are believed to be far from completion as some students are dragging their feet in assisting the investigations to be completed.

This year, Mmadinare Senior Secondary reportedly had the highest number of pregnancies, especially among form five students who were later forcibly expelled from school. Responding to this publication’s queries, Permanent Secretary to the Office of the President Emma Peloetletse said, “as you might be aware, I am currently addressing public servants across the length and breadth of our beautiful republic. Due to your detailed enquiry, I am not able to respond within your schedule,” she said.

She said some of the issues raised need verification of facts, some are still under investigation while some are still before the courts of law.

Meanwhile, it is close to six months since the Police Commissioner Keabetwe Makgophe, Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) Tymon Katlholo and the Deputy Director of the DIS Tefo Kgothane were suspended from their official duties on various charges.

Efforts to solicit comment from trade unions were futile at the time of going to press.

Some suspended officers who opted for anonymity claimed that they have close to two years while on suspension. One stated that the investigations that led him to be suspended have not been completed.

“It is heartbreaking that at this time the investigations have not been completed,” he told WeekendPost, adding that “when a person is suspended, they get their salary fully without fail until the matter is resolved”.

Makgophe, Katlholo and Kgothane are the three most high-ranking government officials that are under interdiction.

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Masisi to dump Tsogwane?

28th November 2022

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and some senior government officials are abuzz with reports that President Mokgweetsi Masisi has requested his Vice President, Slumber Tsogwane not to contest the next general elections in 2024.

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African DFIs gear to combat climate change

25th November 2022

The impacts of climate change are increasing in frequency and intensity every year and this is forecast to continue for the foreseeable future. African CEOs in the Global South are finally coming to the party on how to tackle the crisis.

Following the completion of COP27 in Egypt recently, CEOs of Africa DFIs converged in Botswana for the CEO Forum of the Association of African Development Finance Institutions. One of the key themes was on green financing and building partnerships for resource mobilization in financing SDGs in Africa

A report; “Weathering the storm; African Development Banks response to Covid-19” presented shocking findings during the seminar. Among them; African DFI’s have proven to be financially resilient, and they are fast shifting to a green transition and it’s financing.

COO, CEDA, James Moribame highlighted that; “Everyone needs food, shelter and all basic needs in general, but climate change is putting the achievement of this at bay. “It is expensive for businesses to do business, for instance; it is much challenging for the agricultural sector due to climate change, and the risks have gone up. If a famer plants crops, they should be ready for any potential natural disaster which will cost them their hard work.”

According to Moribame, Start-up businesses will forever require help if there is no change.

“There is no doubt that the Russia- Ukraine war disrupted supply chains. SMMEs have felt the most impact as some start-up businesses acquire their materials internationally, therefore as inflation peaks, this means the exchange rate rises which makes commodities expensive and challenging for SMMEs to progress. Basically, the cost of doing business has gone up. Governments are no longer able to support DFI’s.”

Moribame shared remedies to the situation, noting that; “What we need is leadership that will be able to address this. CEOs should ensure companies operate within a framework of responsible lending. They also ought to scout for opportunities that would be attractive to investors, this include investors who are willing to put money into green financing. Botswana is a prime spot for green financing due to the great opportunity that lies in solar projects. ”

Technology has been hailed as the economy of the future and thus needs to be embraced to drive operational efficiency both internally and externally.

Executive Director, bank of Industry Nigeria, Simon Aranou mentioned that for investors to pump money to climate financing in Africa, African states need to be in alignment with global standards.

“Do what meets world standards if you want money from international investors. Have a strong risk management system. Also be a good borrower, if you have a loan, honour the obligation of paying it back because this will ensure countries have a clean financial record which will then pave way for easier lending of money in the future. African states cannot just be demanding for mitigation from rich countries. Financing needs infrastructure to complement it, you cannot be seating on billions of dollars without the necessary support systems to make it work for you. Domestic resource mobilisation is key. Use public money to mobilise private money.” He said.

For his part, the Minster of Minister of Entrepreneurship, Karabo Gare enunciated that, over the past three years, governments across the world have had to readjust their priorities as the world dealt with the effects and impact of the COVID 19 pandemic both to human life and economic prosperity.

“The role of DFIs, during this tough period, which is to support governments through countercyclical measures, including funding of COVID-19 related development projects, has become more important than ever before. However, with the increasingly limited resources from governments, DFIs are now expected to mobilise resources to meet the fiscal gaps and continue to meet their developmental mandates across the various affected sectors of their economies.” Said Gare.

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