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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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Jackdish Shah loses interest in BDP

17th May 2022
Jackdish

As the preparations for the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) congress are about to kick off, reports on the ground suggest that the party’s Deputy Treasurer Jackdish Shah will not defend the position in August as he contemplates relocation.

According to sources, the businessman who joined the BDP Central Committee in 2015 at the 36th Congress held in Mmadinare is ready to leave the party’s politburo. It is said he long made up his mind not to defend the position last year. A prominent businessman, Shah, when he won the position to assist Satar Dada in 2015 was expected to improve the party’s financial vibrancy. By then the party was under the leadership of Ian Khama.

According to close sources, Shah long decided not to contest because he has fallen out of favour with the party leadership. It is said he took the decision after some prominent businessmen who are BDP members and part of football syndicate decided to push him out and they used their proximity to President Mokgweetsi Masisi to badmouth him hence the decision.

“The fight at the Botswana Football Association (BFA) and Botswana Football League (BFL) has left him alone in the desert and some faces there used their close access to the President to isolate him,” said a source. Media reports say, Shah does not see eye to eye with BFA President MacLean Letshwiti who is also Masisi’s buddy hence the decision.

BFL Chairman Nicholas Zackhem is said to be not in good terms with Shah, who at one point Chaired the then Botswana Premier League (BPL). “He is seriously considering quitting because of what is unfolding at the team (Township Rollers) which is slowly not making financial gains and might be relegated and he wants to sell while it is still worth the investment,” said a highly placed source.

Shah is a renowned businessman who runs internet providing company Zebra net, H &G, game farm in Kasane, cattle farm in Ghanzi region and lot of properties in Gaborone. He also has two hotels in USA, his advisors have given him thumbs up on the possible decision of relocating provided he does not sell some of the investments that are doing well.

Asked about whether he will be contesting Shah could not confirm nor deny the reports. It is said for now it is too early as a public decision will have to be taken after the national council meeting and prior to the national congress. “As a BDP Central Committee member he cannot make that announcement now,” a BDP source said.

BDP is expected to assemble for the National Council during the July holidays while the National Congress is billed for August. It is then that the party will elect a new CC members. The last time BDP held elective congress was at Kang in 2019. The party is yet to issue writ.

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Govt ignores own agreements to improve public service

17th May 2022
Govt

The government has failed to implement some commitments and agreements that it had entered into with unions to improve conditions of public servants.

Three years after the government and public made commitments aimed at improving conditions of work and services it has emerged that the government has ignored and failed to implement all commitments on conditions of service emanating from the 2019 round of negotiations.

In its position paper that saw public service salaries being increased by 5%, the government the government has also signalled its intention to renege on some of the commitments it had made.
“Government aspires to look into all outstanding issues contained in the Labour Agreement signed between the Employer and recognised Trade Union on the 27th August 2019 and that it be reviewed, revised and delinked by both Parties with a view to agree on those whose implementation that can be realistically executed during the financial years 2022/23, 2023/24 and 2024/25 respectively,” the government said.

Furthermore, in addition to reviewing, revising and de-linking of the outstanding issues contained in the Collective Labour Agreement alluded to above and taking on a progressive proposal, government desires to review revise, develop and implement human resource policies as listed below during the financial year 2022/23,2023/24,2024/25

They include selection and appointment policy, learning and development policy, transfer guidelines, conditions of service, permanent and pensionable, temporary and part time, Foreign Service, expatriate and disciplinary procedures.

In their proposal paper, the unions which had proposed an 11 percent salary increase but eventually settled for 5% percent indicated that the government has not, and without explanation, acted on some of the key commitments from the 2019/2020 and 2021/22 round of negotiations.  The essential elements of these commitments include among others the remuneration Policy for the Public Service.

The paper states that a Remuneration Policy will be developed to inform decision making on remuneration in the Public Service. It is envisaged that consultations between the government and relevant key stakeholders on the policy was to start on 1st September 2019, and the development of the policy should be concluded by 30th June 2020.

The public sector unions said the Remuneration Policy is yet to be developed. The Cooperating Unions suggested that the process should commence without delay and that it should be as participatory as it was originally conceived. Another agreement relate to Medical Aid Contribution for employees on salary Grades A and B.

The employer contribution towards medical aid for employees on salary Grades A and B will be increased from 50% to 80% for the Standard Option of the Botswana Public
“Officers’ Medical Aid Scheme effective 1st October 2019; the cooperating unions insist that, in fulfilling this commitment, there should be no discrimination between those on the high benefit and those on the medium benefit plan,” the unions proposal paper says.

Another agreement involves the standardisation of gratuities across the Public Service. “Gratuities for all employees on fixed term contracts of 12 months but not exceeding 5 years, including former Industrial class employees be standardized at 30% across the Public Service in order to remove the existing inequalities and secure long-term financial security for Public Service Employees at lower grades with immediate effect,” the paper states.

The other agreement signed by the public sector unions and the government was the development of fan-shaped Salary Structure. The paper says the Public Service will adopt a best practice fan-shaped and overlapping structure, with modification to suit the Botswana context. The Parties (government and unions) to this agreement will jointly agree on the ranges of salary grades to allow for employees’ progression without a promotion to the available position on the next management level.

“The fan-shaped structure is envisaged to be in place by 1st June 2020, to enable factoring into the budgetary cycle for the financial year 2021/22,” the unions’ proposal paper states. It says the following steps are critical, capacity building of key stakeholders (September – December 2019), commission remuneration market survey (3 months from September to November 2019), design of the fan-shaped structure (2 to 3 months from January to March2020) and consultations with all key stakeholders (March to April 2020).

The unions and government had also signed an agreement on performance management and development: A rigorous performance management and reward system based on a 5-point rating system will be adopted as an integral part of the operationalization of the new Remuneration System.

Performance Management and Development (PMD) will be used to reward workers based on performance. The review of the Performance Management System was to be undertaken in order to close the gaps identified by PEMANDU and other previous reports on PMS between 1st September 2019 and 30th June 2020 as follows; internal process to update and revise the current Performance Management System by January 2020.

A job evaluation exercise in the Public Service will also be undertaken to among others establish internal equity, and will also cover the grading of all supervisory positions within the Public Service.
Another agreement included overtime Management. The Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) was to facilitate the conclusion of consultations on management of overtime, including consideration of the Overtime Management Task Team’s report on the same by 30th November 2019.

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Health Expert rejects ‘death rates’ links to low population growth

17th May 2022
Health-Expert

A public health expert, Dr Edward Maganu who is also the former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health has said that unlike many who are expressing shock at the population census growth decline results, he is not, because the 2022 results represents his expectations.

He rushed to dismiss the position by Statistics Botswana in which thy partly attributes the low growth rates to mortality rates for the past ten years. “I don’t think there is any undercounting. I also don’t think death rates have much to do with it since the excessive deaths from HIV/AIDS have been controlled by ARVs and our life expectancy isn’t lower than it was in the 1990s,” he said in an interview with this publication post the release of the results.

Preliminary results released by Statistics Botswana this week indicated that Botswana’s population is now estimated to be 2,346,179 – a figure that the state owned data agency expressed worry over saying it’s below their projected growth. The general decline in the population growth rate is attributed to ‘fertility’ and ‘mortality’ rates that the country registered on the past ten years since the last census in 2011.

Maganu explained that with an enlightened or educated society and the country’s total fertility rate, there was no way the country’s population census was going to match the previous growth rates.
“The results of the census make sense and is exactly what I expected. Our Total Fertility Rate ( the average number of children born to a woman) is now around 2.

This is what happens as society develops and educates its women. The enlightened women don’t want to bear many children, they want to work and earn a living, have free time, and give their few children good care. So, there is no under- counting. Census procedures are standard so that results are comparable between countries.

That is why the UN is involved through UNFPA, the UN Agency responsible for population matters,” said Maganu who is also the former adviser to the World Health Organisation. Maganu ruled out undercounting concerns, “I see a lot of Batswana are worried about the census results. Above is what I have always stated.”

Given the disadvantages that accompany low population for countries, some have suggested that perhaps a time has come for the government to consider population growth policies or incentives, suggestions Maganu deems ineffective.

“It has never worked anywhere. The number of children born to a woman are a very private decision of the woman and the husband in an enlightened society. And as I indicated, the more the women of a society get educated, the higher the tendency to have fewer children. All developed countries have a problem of zero population growth or even negative growth.

The replacement level is regarded as 2 children per woman; once the fertility level falls below that, then the population stops growing. That’s why developed countries are depending so much on immigration,” he said.

According to him, a lot of developing countries that are educating their women are heading there, including ourselves-Botswana. “Countries that have had a policy of encouraging women to have more children have failed dismally. A good example is some countries of Eastern Europe (Romania is a good example) that wanted to grow their populations by rewarding women who had more children. It didn’t work. The number of children is a very private matter,” said Maganu

For those who may be worried about the impact of problems associated with low growth rate, Maganu said: “The challenge is to develop society so that it can take care of its dependency ratio, the children and the aged. In developed countries the ratio of people over 60 years is now more than 20%, ours is still less than 10%.”

The preliminary results show that Mogoditshane with (88,098) is now the biggest village in the country with Maun coming second (85,293) and Molepolole at third position with 74,719. Population growth is associated with many economic advantages because more people leads to greater human capital, higher economic growth, economies of scale, the efficiency of higher population density and the improved demographic structure of society, among many others.

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