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NBFIRA blacklists Tibone as Stock markets battle rages on

The Non-Bank Financial Institution Regulatory Authority (NBFIRA) has taken a tough stance against Stock Brokers Botswana (SBB) and its Managing Director, Titose Tibone following a decision by the latter to request for suspension from the Stock Exchange. This has been a culmination of events which started with the dismissal of an accountant at SBB who was later fined P10 000 by the NBFIRA for practicing as a Controller without permission.

But the grass is still suffering as Titose Tibone and NBFIRA herald a possible showdown as the former refuses to accept possible penalties and a removal from practice by the latter. Titose Tibone assumed the position of Managing Director of Stock Brokers Botswana in June 2012 upon the acquisition of this company by the current shareholders during that period.

In a letter addressed to the Chairman of the Board of Stock Brokers Botswana by NBFIRA CEO, Mr Oaitse Ramasedi, a directive in terms of Section 53(3) and a Civil Penalty in terms of Section 93 of the NBFIRA Act is directed at the Company and Titose Tibone. “ Please be informed that the Capital Markets Department of the NBFIRA has noted several instances of non-compliance by Stock Brokers Botswana Ltd, and to this end, have reffered the same to the Compliance Department for enforcement action. In particular, the Compliance Department has been instructed that through its Managing Director, Mr Titose Tibone, the SBB has:

Appointed a controller to the organization without prior approval of the Authority as required in terms of Section 65 of the NBFIRA Act; Failed, on several occasions and despite numerous requests, to provide the Authority with information regarding the job descriptions of Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer functions, how the two relate to each other, and who is the more superior between the two; And on August 30, 2016 sent an email to the Authority and the Botswana Stock Exchange, indicating that the SBB wishes to wind down its operations due to inability to operate as a going concern, although winding down was never the intention of SBB, and the contents of the email did not present a true reflection of the SBB position. This was thus misleading and false statement made to the Authority, which statement had the potential to disrupt and discredit capital markets of Botswana.”

Ramasedi argues on behalf of NBFIRA that the issues outlined, all precipitated by Mr Titose Tibone as Managing Director, indicate that Mr Titose Tibone conducts himself in a careless manner that breaches his fiduciary duties towards SBB and its clients. “To this end, the Authority has formed the view that he is no longer fit and proper to hold office as a controller, much less a managing director or director, at SBB.”

The NBFIRA Chief indicated that the Authority issues Directive in terms of Section 53(3) that effective from September 6, 2016, Mr Titose Tibone be removed from holding office as a controller, a Director and the Managing Director of SBB. “The Authority further directs that a formal letter be submitted by SBB indicating that it takes note of this directive and has actioned it. Such letter should be submitted to the Authority no later than September 9, 2016.

Ramasedi further pointed out that NBFIRA will impose a civil penalty on SBB in line with Section 93 (a) of the NBFIRA Act for knowingly making a false statement to the Authority. However he has given SBB 21 days to request a hearing, if it wishes for one, to show cause why the proposed penalty should not be imposed. In the meantime SBB has complied with the directive to remove Titose Tibone as Managing Director and Director.

TITOSE TIBONE ON HIS OWN DEFENCE

Although SBB has agreed to comply with the directive, from its rebuttal of the NBFIRA letter, it is clear that the company is not happy with the decision. “ We now refer to your paragraph 4 of the aforesaid letter in which you have issued a directive in terms of Section 53 (3)(b) of the NBFIRA Act to remove our Managing Director, Mr Titose Tibone from holding office as a Controller, as Director and the Managing Director of our company. On a without prejudice basis, we hereby confirm that we will comply with this directive and that we have requested Mr Titose Tibone not to be involved in the management and business affairs of the company,” writes SBB chairman

However SBB says it notes the action of removing Mr Titose Tibone in their view is highly prejudicial to the company in that Mr Titose Tibone has played a major role in the success of this company. They further point out that Mr Titose Tibone is a fit and proper person and without him, they strongly believe that the continued profitability and success of the company will be compromised.

On noting reasons for declaring him, not to be a fit and proper person, SBB tabulated a rebuttal, which we or Mr Titose Tibone, can substantiate and prove, should the opportunity be given to us:-

In relation to the allegations that they appointed a controller before vetting, SBB says Mr Titose Tibone, or the company, did not and has never appointed Ms Rebaone as a controller of the company. “It is for this reason that we had not applied for the prior approval of the Authority. Ms Rebaone was an accounting clerk/officer and not a controller and it was as a result her own self-doing that she gave the impression to the Authority that she was a controller and not by any instructions from Mr Titose Tibone or the company. It is for this reason she was penalized and paid P10 000.00 and was accordingly dismissed. If at all, it was the intention to appoint her as a controller, we would have thereafter applied for her vetting so as to re-instate her. We believe that using this again to penalize Mr Titose Tibone is unfair and not in the spirit of the NBFIRA Act.” 

SBB is of the view that using this as a ground to hold Mr Titose Tibone is unfair and not in the spirit of the NBFIRA Act.

On the charge of disruption capital markets and presenting a false and misleading position of the company (SBB): “In relation to the allegations stated at clause 2.3 of your letter, we confirm that this matter was dealt with and the reasons were given by Mr Titose Tibone for sending such an email. This was done at a meeting held on the 30th day of August 2016, at. At this meeting Mr Titose Tibone explained that as a result of the dismissal of Ms. Rebaone, the accountant and not having a financial manager in place (as the approval process was being pursued), he felt that it would be in the interest of the clients of the company to stop trading until the affairs of the company were sorted out. It is our opinion that this was a responsible move because without a finance manager and without an accountant, the company would not be able to manage the accounts, which would in turn prejudice the clients. It is for this reason that at the meeting, the parties confirmed that instead of using the words “winding down”, which would give an impression that the company is closing down instead of giving the true intention of Mr Titose Tibone, which was to suspend trading until such time that the affairs of the company were sorted out, the company should state that it is suspending trading, thus use the words “suspend trading”.”

SBB Board indicates that they believe that the email was sent out with the client interests and protections at the core of Mr Titose Tibone’s intentions and that same was not made with any bad intentions as correctly stated in Ramasedi’s letter.

“Further to this, it is stated that, you will note that this statement was not published, that is, it had never entered the public domain, it was an email sent to the Authority and the BSE. Therefore we disagree that it had any potential to disrupt and discredit the capital markets of Botswana. It was sent to the Authority and to the BSE to advise them that there is a problem at the company and to let them know that as a result the company wanted to stop trading and await further instructions from the Authority and the BSE.”  

Titose Tibone and his Board are of the view that when joined, the company was not performing well.  In fact it had showed losses in the amount of P8,000,000.00. They state that shortly thereafter the fortunes of the company had reversed. “We are therefore confident that based on market share figures and profitability, the CEO of the BSE, Thapelo Tsheole can attest not only to the successful turnaround strategy implemented by Mr Tibone but also to the extent to which SBB has contributed to the fiscus of the BSE under the tenure of Mr Tibone. The shareholders from a profitability and management side are pleased with Mr Titose Tibone performance.” 

SBB says at this stage there is no threat of the company being insolvent, in fact, “we worry that with the removal of Mr Titose Tibone, the company might end up in such a position. Having said the above, which we felt would be necessary to bring to the attention of the Authority; we do note that the issue of Mr Titose Tibone’s removal will be dealt with separately.” 

SBB has sought clarification on imposition of a civil penalty because they are of the view that it can only be imposed on a person who has committed an act within the purview of that section and that the company cannot be penalized under that section. SBB says the civil penalty on the company will be unlawful.

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No end in sight for Nam, Botswana borderline feud

27th July 2021
Namibian-report

Despite the President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi and his Namibian counterpart, Hage Geingob giving an impression that the borderline security disputes are a thing of the past and that diplomatic ties remain tight, fresh developments from Namibia suggest otherwise, following Geingod’s close confidante’s attack on Botswana and its army.

Giving a Zambezi region state of the affairs last week, a Geingob-appointed governor of Zambezi region, Colonel Lawrence Ampofu, a retired Colonel in the Namibian Defence Force, former plan combatant during the liberation struggle of Namibia, in a written speech, charged at the BDF and condemned their killings of the Namibians as unacceptable.

“The security situation within our borders remains calm. The incidence of the Botswana Defence Force shootings and wanton killings on the Nchindo Brothers on 05 November 2020 and other 37 Namibian lives lost since independence remain a serious challenge with our neighbor, Botswana.

Our residents living along the Chobe, Linyanti and Kwandu rivers are living under constant threats, harassment, fear, intimidation and killings and such activities are condemned and not acceptable,” he said under the safety and security title.

The attack suggests that Namibia has not bought Botswana’s story. Ampofu was part of the entourage that accompanied Geingob to the three Nchindo brothers and their cousin who were gunned down by the BDF, and is reported to be privy to the details of the unpublished Botswana-Namibia joint investigations report about the killings as a governor or political head of the region which has eight electoral constituencies.

The report contains the sensitive details of how the three Namibians referred as poachers by the BDF – and Fisherman by the Namibian government were gunned down on 5 November last year along the Chobe River.  They were Tommy (48), Martin (40) and Wamunyima Nchindo (36), and their cousin Sinvula Muyeme (44).

His views are not really in contrast to his President’s views who also described the BDF as trigger happy in a scripted report to his cabinet.

The Zambezi region is located in the extreme north east part of Namibia and covers a total of 14,667.6 square kilometres. “We share borders with Angola, Zambia to the north, Zimbabwe to the east and Botswana to the South,” he said.

Sampofu was first appointed governor of the former Caprive Region in 2010 by the former Namibian president, Hifikepunye Pohamba and was reappointed as Zambezi governor by President Dr.Hage Geingob in 2015, a term running to 2025.

37 Namibia residents killed by Botswana army so far

Sampofu is a man who continues to insist that Botswana has killed 37 residents of his region. A video posted by the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) shows him alleging that at least 37 Namibians were killed by the BDF, after he met with the community at Impalila.

“It is true, the BDF started long ago. As we speak 37 lives have been lost here in Impalila along the Chobe river going to Linyanti and Kwado rivers up to Lizauli. All those families lost their loved ones,” Ampofu said in the video posted by NBC.

It is not known how the BDF, which has maintained their position that the Namibians were engaging in illegal activities of poaching, treats the constant attacks by the Namibian authorities, but they have repeatedly vowed to continue protecting the country’s sovereignty and natural resources.

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Masisi gives KBL the “middle finger”

27th July 2021
President Masisi

Botswana’s premier brewer and leading distributor of beer, Kgalagadi Breweries Limited (KBL), this month dragged the government of Botswana to court after President Mokgweetsi Masisi imposed an alcohol ban with immediate effect. KBL labelled the decision as unjustifiable, irrational and that it overrides the rights that are enshrined in the constitution.

This week, Masisi through attorneys representing the government disparaged the case in his written affidavit of KBL’s application, referring to it as frivolous and that it ought to be dismissed with costs on a punitive scale.

In his court papers, Masisi reminded KBL that Botswana is a Republic whose laws find validity from the constitution, and in terms of Section 17 of the constitution the President is empowered to declare a State of Emergency and that it is a common cause that Botswana is under such state.

“It is common course that there is in existence emergency powers (Covid-19) Regulations 2020 as amended from time to time which is solely designed to regulate the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.

Masisi pointed out that he denies that the application before Court is proper such as to challenge the lawfulness and validity of a regulation made and a notice published in the exercise of a legislative function in accordance with the Emergency Powers Act which empowers the President to make regulations as appear to him to be necessary and expedient for securing public safety.

Furthermore, the President revealed that the decision to ban alcohol sales was not arrived at willy-nilly, but rather that there had been careful considerations that the risks posed by Covid-19 had increased and therefore it was expedient and necessary to suspend all liquor licenses.

Moreover, Masisi denied that the decision to reinstate the ban should be made by the Director of Health Services as indicated by KBL in their nature of the application, “the Director is to cause the notice to be published in the Gazette after consultation with the President.”

Masisi indicated that the role of the Director of Health Services is to publish a regulation made by the President.

He further, reminded KBL that the power to make regulations in a State of Public Emergency in accordance with the EPA lies with the President, “such power includes the amendment of any enactment, suspending the operation of any enactment or modification of an enactment.”

According to Masisi, his decision to ban alcohol sales was based on evidence provided by the Director of Health Services who indicated to him that there was a sudden spike in the transmission of the Covid-19 virus following the reinstatement of liquor licenses.

Another piece of advice tendered by the Director of Health to Masisi was that bars and other liquor outlets were some of the major hotspots in the sense of such being high-risk areas at which the virus spread rapidly.

“Alcohol was one of the major causes of non-compliance with the health protocols that were put in place to control the spread of the Covid-19 virus. Further, there was an indication that more arrests were made on people failing to adhere to Covid-19 protocols more particularly at places where there were gatherings,” he contended.

He pointed out that therefore, it was expedient and or necessary to preserve lives and to reduce the risks of transmissions of the virus to reinstate the suspension of liquor licenses.

Moreover, the President says that it must be noted that he avers that the Director of Health Services is a credible source on matters of public health of which he also accordingly gave due weight to the Director’s advice on deciding to reinstate the ban through the impugned notice.

“I am aware and was always aware at the time of promulgating the regulation complained of that it shall negatively affect some sectors of the economy. However, after due consideration and receipt of advice, I decided to give priority to the safety and health of the nation,” Masisi said.

He presaged KBL that it would not be prudent and in the best interest of the nation to ignore a health emergency such as Covid-19 and gave preference to trading and making of profits by the applicant. “The results would only be catastrophic to the extent that when we emerge from the scourge we would be left with a depleted and ailing nation from Covid-19 and its side effects.”

Furthermore, his written affidavit further pointed out that the decision to reinstate the ban on alcohol was taken notwithstanding understanding and appreciation of the economic hardships that would befall the country.

However, he said he deliberately made the decision based on the evidence provided to him by the Director of Health, whose evidence he believes to be credible to give public/safety and health priority over economic considerations in some sectors.

In making the decision, Masisi states that he was and considered different options including allowing for sale of alcohol consumption off premises, however the evidence he had been provided with suggested that such other alternatives would not achieve the overall objective of securing public safety and health by reducing the risk of the spread of the virus.

“By the time I imposed the ban, alcohol was already being sold for consumption off-premises. This did not work. The information provided to me by the Director and the Presidential Task-Force team demonstrated that consumers purchased alcohol and then loitered and consumed it within the peripheries of bars and other liquor outlets,” he said.

Attached to the affidavit as emphasis, were photographs and videos of Gaborone West, Phase 4 in mid-June 2021, which he explains circulated on social media and was brought to his attention.

“I need not say much about the photos as they depict a crowd exceeding 50 gathered at the parking area of a bar. There is little or no regard to Covid-19 protocols. It was clear to me and my advisors, including the Director of Health Services and members of the Presidential Task-Force team that the total ban of alcohol was necessary to manage the risk of increase in infections, to understand what seems to have led to an increase in the risk of infection when alcohol is present I was advised by the Presidential Task-Force team that scientifically there has been evidence that alcohol narrows physical distance,” he argued.

Masisi says that allegations made by KBL are serious allegations of infringement of fundamental rights yet they fail to state how imposition and reinstatement of the suspension of liquor licenses out of necessity and expediency of the health of the nation infringes on the rights as alleged.

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Gov’t gives parallel statements on COVAX

27th July 2021
COVAX---lelatisitswe

In  an embarrassing turn of events that depicts disintegration in government communication on the fight against COVID-19, President Mokgweetsi Masisi and Assistant Minister of Health & Wellness, Sethomo Lelatisitswe gave two conflicting statements on the same matter, same day, just minutes apart.

The Commander-in-Chef told health practitioners and residents in Ramotswa that the COVAX facility has scammed African countries after billions were paid in a crowd funding effort to procure COVID-19 vaccines in bulk.

“We have pumped money as developing countries of the African continent into the COVAX Facility but the returns were not satisfactory, they cheated us,” the President said in Ramotswa.

According to President Masisi, the COVAX facility Vaccine only came in bits and pieces, frustrating the continent ‘s head immunity targets amid rapidly spreading Delta Variant which is currently reversing all progress made by Africa in containing the contagious virus.

“What we are getting is very small portions of the vaccine, they keep telling us that there is shortage of supply, this is not fair, but we have paid in advance, however what can we do, we have no choice but to spend more  money and look for other avenues of securing other available vaccines,” he said.

Meanwhile in Gaborone, Assistant Minister of Health and Wellness told Parliament that vaccine from COVAX facility is anchoring Botswana’s vaccination program.

“I am not aware of such information that COVAX facility is not delivering as expected, we are actually bolstered by COVAX facility in this country,” he said responding to a question from Mahalapye West Member of Parliament David Tshere who is also Chairman of Parliament Committee On Health and HIV/AIDS.

“We have received doses as ordered from the COVAX facility, and we are still receiving more, I have not seen that information which is purported to have been revealed by the President, unless its new information, we as the Ministry we are not aware of any frustrations by the COVAX facility,” he said.

COVAX is co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi and the World Health Organization (WHO), alongside key delivery partner UNICEF.

Its aim is to accelerate the development and manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines, and to guarantee fair and equitable access for every country in the world.

The facility is a global coalition that works to ensure fair and equitable access of COVID-19 vaccines around the world. So far, 190 countries have joined the COVAX initiative, including all 22 countries in the Eastern Mediterranean Region.

The COVAX Facility aims to have 2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines available for distribution across the globe by the end of 2021, targeting those most at risk (e.g. frontline health workers) and most vulnerable severe diseases and death (e.g. elderly and people with co-morbidities).

On other vaccination issues President Masisi revealed, still in Greater Gaborone vaccination centre visits, that Botswana has placed orders with Pfizer, a United States vaccine producer noting that they have promised to deliver next year.

Meanwhile, government kick-started phase two of the Covid-19 vaccination program this week, opening up for ages between 30 and 54.

President Masisi revealed that this was done because some elderly were reluctant to be inculcated.

“We can’t take forever trying to convince people to take vaccine, we moved to the next age segments because we cannot afford to have vaccines-which are already in shortage supply to just lie there,” he said.

On Friday, Ministry of Health revealed that it was receiving large numbers of people below the age of 55 lining up to be vaccinated.

In a statement the Ministry of Health said it, “acknowledges the huge turnout that marked the commencement of the Phase two COVID-19 vaccination program”.

Given this high turnout, especially in the Greater Gaborone region, the ministry announced an extension of operation hours in order to serve the huge crowds that had come for vaccination.

Of the nearly 85 000 doses that were being doled across the country as first doses, the majority of the Greater Gaborone vaccination sites were already getting depleted by 1800hrs on 22 July 2021.

As a result of this development, the ministry took a decision to discontinue the extended hours of operation announced yesterday for vaccination sites in Gaborone.

This means that vaccination sites in Gaborone and elsewhere in the country which still have some vaccines, will offer them in the normal working hours and days of the week.

The Ministry says it appreciates the great desire to be vaccinated shown by thousands of citizens and residents of this country and wishes to assure them that it will continue to expedite their vaccination every time vaccines become available. As has been communicated in various fora, more vaccines are expected in August 2021.

As at July 2021, Botswana has so far received 62, 400 doses of AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD bought through the Covax facility, 30,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine donated by the Republic of India, 19, 890 doses of the Pfizer vaccine bought through the COVAX facility, 200, 000 doses of the Sinovac vaccine, donated by the Peoples Republic of China and another 200, 000 doses of the Sinovac vaccine bought through bilateral negotiations with Sinovac company in China.

“We encourage Batswana to remain hopeful that although it’s taking longer than anticipated, enough COVID-19 vaccines will eventually arrive in our country. We urge them to always strictly abide by all COVID-19 protocols so that they protect themselves and others from this deadly virus,” the ministry said.

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