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Khama snubs DK, Koma

President Lt Gen Ian Khama has overlooked two of Botswana’s most recognisable politicians since independence; Daniel Kwelagobe and Dr Kenneth Koma in the Presidential Honours held on the eve of the country‘s 5o the independence anniversary.

Khama conferred presidential honours upon 76 living and dead individuals who have contributed immensely in the formative years of Botswana. Khama honoured former presidents and their First Ladies, former Vice Presidents, First Cabinet, and First Members of Parliament (1965-1969).

Khama also honoured; first members of Ntlo Ya Dikgosi, members of Legislative Council, which drafted the country’ constitution. Among those who were in the Legislative Council include Leetile Raditladi, Motsamai Mpho, Kgalemang Motsete and other chiefs were part of the council.

Other pioneers, who did not fall within the above categories, were also honoured. Dr Gaositwe Chiepe, the country first female MP and first female cabinet minister was honoured.  Archibald Mogwe, a long time Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) veteran who was in the civil service at the time of independence, and became MP in 1974 was also honoured. The same token was extended to Kebatlamang Morake, BDP’s founding Executive Secretary.

Moleleki Mokama, the first Motswana to qualify as a lawyer, and the first citizen to become the Attorney General was also honoured. Simon Hirschfeld, the longest serving Police Commissioner in the world was honoured as well. Hirschfeld was the first citizen to Botswana Police commissioner, a post which he for 24 uninterrupted years from 1971.

Professor Thoma Tlou, a historian, and first Motswana to be Vice Chancellor of the University of Botswana (UB) was also honoured. 

The honouring of these individuals saw Khama also acknowledging the contribution of a significant number of veterans in the opposition. Among them; KT Motsete who was Botswana Peoples Party (BPP) politician and also the composer of National Anthem, Kgosi Bathoen who belonged to the first crop of Ntlo Ya Dikgosi but later joined Botswana National Front (BNF) as its President.

Those honoured also in the opposition included Philp Matente, the country first Leader of Opposition, Kenneth Nkwa and Thari Motlhagodi, who were first opposition MPs alongside Matante under BPP ticket.

Of the honoured MPs of the first parliament, only three are surviving; Obed Chilume, Gaerolwe Kwerepe and Kenneth Nkhwa. Masire is also part of inaugural parliament.

However, the honouring of the 76 raised eye brows, with Kwelagobe and Koma not finding themselves with the honoured individuals. Kwelagobe is the country’s longest serving MP, having been elected in nine consecutive general elections. DK, as popularly known was an MP from 1969-2014, becoming the only MP and minister to have served under the administration of the four presidents.

Kwelagobe is also the youngest person to be elected MP and to become a cabinet minister. He was only 25 years when he was recruited by founding President Sir Seretse Khama from the civil service to represent BDP in one of Molepolole constituencies.

Kwelagobe is also BDP’s longest serving secretary general, having ascended to the position in 1980, when Masire become party president after Khama’s demise. Prior to that, DK served as Deputy Secretary General. DK held that post until 2007, and have been known to be the most influential man in the BDP since Khama’s death.

Kwelagobe and Khama have been rivals in the factions of the BDP and the two never went along. In the run up to 2009 Kanye Congress, the most divisive congress in the history of the party, Khama and Kwelagobe exchanged words publicly, with the former calling the latter an ailing man and stated that he was not ready to work with.

DK supported Motswaledi, in landmark court battle in 2009, in which Khama’s powers were challenged after he suspended Motswaledi ahead of general elections. More recently, DK supported Dr Margaret Nasha, fall out with Khama, which resulted in her not returning to parliament as Speaker of the National Assembly.

Koma, whom is generally regarded as the father of opposition politics in Botswana, was also omitted. Koma founded BNF in 1965 following the first general elections. The party would go on for the next decades to be the most influential opposition party in Botswana. Since formation, the BNF is the only opposition party which has managed to have representation in parliament after each and every general election.

BNF’s watershed moment was in 1994, under the leadership of Koma in which it won an unprecedented 13 seats in parliament, a development which meant the party was on the verge of winning power, needing only 8 seats in the next general elections to condemn BDP out of power.

Koma became MP in 1984, defeating Botswana’s Vice President, Peter Mmusi for Gaborone South parliamentary seat. He has always been credited with offering alternative policies to the ruling BDP which some of them were later adopted by the party. Among those regarded as his brainchild are the introduction of; old age pension, Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), formation of Directorate On Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) and public protector’s office, the Ombudsman.

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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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