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Motshegwa defends ‘stable’ BLLAHWU

  • Labels the seven defectors dissidents
     
  • Says they have always caused chaos
     
  • BLLAHWU has 12000 members

Following the formation of Botswana Progressive Workers Union, whose founders are former members of Botswana Land Boards, Local Authorities and Health Workers Union (BLLAHWU), this publication caught up with the Secretary General of BLLAHWU, Ketlhalefile Motshegwa to share on the status of his union following the departures.  

Weekend Post:  There are reports of a union which claims to be a breakaway from BLLAHWU; could this be a matter of fact?

Motshegwa: BLLAHWU is intact, stable and prospering well. We continue to receive new members. The structures of the Union are well revived as the National leadership and Regional Organizers of the Union continue to liaise with structures and update them on pertinent industrial relations issues.

We note that there are about seven (7) members of the Union who have been making noise that they have resigned from the Union and formed a new one. We are not worried because given their integrity no one will be fooled by such characters and they won't attract anyone. As we speak we have not experienced any resignation from members.

Weekend Post: Are you aware of any disgruntled former members of BLLAHWU out there?

Motshegwa: Members of the Union are happy, optimistic and inspired by the Union and its performance. This was further clear in the Governing Council of the 20th August 2016 which was productive and progressive.

Weekend Post: What were their concerns? And have they attempted to engage leadership on finding solutions to the challenges they identified at the time?

Motshegwa: The seven troublesome members have no genuine reasons whatsoever. It's just that they have a history of being dissidents and delinquent to the Union. Motelebane Motelebane has that dark history of being trouble to the Union. He has always been like that during the days when the Union was an Association called BULGSA. He has always engaged in attacking and belittling Union leadership as long as he was not in leadership. Every time he loses elections he then resorts to attacking leadership. They tried twice to overthrow the current Committee but they failed because members put them to order. So they don't have any reasons expect that they are driven by hunger for power. That is why having lost Presidential elections in BLLAHWU in 2013 and this year he claims to form a Union and become its President.  

Weekend Post: What would you say is the position of BLLAHWU at the moment, on a balance scale, will you say it is still a strong union?

Motshegwa: BLLAHWU is very strong, stable. The departure of Motelebane and his crew has helped BLLAHWU attain peace and stability because they were always causing chaos and instability in the Union. It was clear at the Governing Council that members were happy that finally the Union is stable and attractive.  

Weekend Post: Substantiate with figures, how many members do you have in the books?

Motshegwa: BLLAHWU is currently at 12000 members and having great potential for growth with its reputation of loyalty to the workers cause and representation of members on Industrial Relations matters.

Weekend Post: What is the diversity of your union membership, what cadres subscribe to BLLAHWU?

Motshegwa: BLLAHWU organises different cadres in the whole public service.

Weekend Post: There have been questions of accountability at your union, especially failure to submit audited statements to the Registrar as a required by law, does this hold water?

Motshegwa: The Union submits audited financial report every year to the Conference and submit Annual returns to the Registrar of Trade Unions. This we have constantly complied with without fail. The Union has good corporate governance practices in place which are guided by internal control measures such as Financial and accounting policy, procurement policy, and anti-money laundering policy, human resource conditions of service, Information and technology policy, Board charter for Union investments. Our practices are anchored on reporting, responsibility, transparency and accountability.
 
Weekend Post: What is your view on the deduction that those who defected from BLLAHWU could only be doing so because of a personal battle against yourself as the Secretary General?

Motshegwa: Their actions are personalized for they have failed to prove themselves within the Union. They lost the elections in 2013, and the Union is heading for elections in the Congress of 1-4 December 2016 and they have anticipated their loss and members were fed up with them. That is why now they resorted to malicious lies; propaganda against the Union particularly targeted at the Secretary General to try and paid him in bad. But that has not worked and hence why they jumped ship realizing that they have squandered their reputation.

Weekend Post: Put the matter of your employment by the union to rest, there are claims that it was un-procedural. Explain to your loyal members for the record and clarity.

Motshegwa: The Constitution of BLLAHWU has always provided that the Secretary General is an employee of the Union. That provision has always been there since 2009. What the Constitution says is that when one is becomes the Secretary General of the Union he or she automatically becomes an employee of the Union by virtue of being the Secretary General.

The employment of the current Secretary General having been catered for in the Constitution was endorsed and confirmed in the Governing Council and Conference of the Union in 2015 following the dismissal of the Secretary General from the public service following fights with the employer.

Those who challenge this are actually pouring water on the Constitution, the Governing Council, Conference and Congress of the Union. In fact they are driven pettiness and jealously.

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Vendors ready for the Tobacco Control Bill

21st September 2021
Vendors

Some vendors have been misled
Vendors thrive on households goods and fresh produce

Despite the previous false allegations that the Tobacco Control Bill will lead to several 20 000 vendors across the country losing their jobs, several local vendors have expressed that they are ready for the bill and because vendors sell mostly household goods

“This is something that we openly accept and receive as street vendors, the problem is some of our counterparts were misled and made to believe that we will not be allowed to sell cigarettes on our stalls.

Some of us got to understand that the bill states that we have to be licensed to sell cigarettes, we are not supposed to sell them to children under the age of 18 years of age and eliminating the selling of single sticks. We understand that this agenda is meant to develop a healthy nation but not take us down,” said Mbimbi Tau a vendor who operates from Mogoditshane.

The Tobacco Control Bill has been passed in several countries and street vendors are operating properly without any challenges faced. Tau further mentioned that there is no way that the Tobacco Control Bill will affect their business operations, all they have to do as vendors are to get the required documentation and do what the bill requires.

Another vendor Busani Selalame who operates from Gaborone Bonnington North was not shy to express his support towards the Tobacco Control Bill, “the problem is that some people within our sector have been misled and now they think that the bill is meant to take our operations down and completely stop selling cigarettes.

I support the fact that we are not supposed to sell cigarettes to children who are under the age of 18 years of age this has always been wrong, as parents we should be cautious of such and ensure that our children are disassociated with cigarettes,” said Selalame.

The Tobacco Control Bill prohibits advertising, promotion and sponsorship by the tobacco industry to prevent messages, cues, and other inducements to begin using tobacco, especially among the youth, to reassure users to continue their use, or that otherwise undermine quitting.

Renowned economist Bakang Ntshingane is of the view that since vendors sell household goods and fresh produce they are likely to keep on making profits despite what the Tobacco Control Bill comes with. He further stated that the Tobacco Control Bill will not be of harm on the local economy since the country does not manufacture or produce any tobacco related products.

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BANCABC Botswana poised for growth amid tough operating environment

21st September 2021
BANCABC

BancABC Botswana, the BSE-listed bank today announced its half year results for the six months ended 30 June 2021, against a subdued economic backdrop, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and related lockdowns.

BancABC has remained resilient in the current operating environment as business activity increased in the first half of 2021, with Real GDP up by 0.7% in the first quarter compared to a contraction of 4.6% in the previous quarter. Commenting on the results, Managing Director Kgotso Bannalotlhe said, “Currently, economic activity is relatively stable.

While COVID-19 placed significant pressure on the economy and our overall business, BancABC Botswana has shown remarkable resilience amid a tough operating environment.  While the bank operates in an environment that is seeing a rise in COVID-19 infections, it is encouraging that the business has maintained a healthy capital adequacy ratio as well as being successful in improving total expenses with focus on cost containment across the board.”

The retail segment saw an increase in customer deposits this year, signalling an improvement from the previous period and strengthening the current funding mix. This segment has built great momentum and continues to advance its digital strategy, through various products such as the mobile banking app, SARUMoney, as well as enhanced product offerings such as the introduction of fash cash. The Bank has invested in its digital capabilities to ensure a seamless and hassle-free banking experience for all its customers.

The commercial segment was successful in reducing the cost of funding. In addition, Treasury and Global Markets performed well, doubling from the previous comparative period. The current year performance across the bank’s different segments is testament to the bank’s strong income lines, aiding the Bank’s resilience during this time.

“The Bank experienced slow loan book growth due to a constrained economic environment, however, we remain optimistic that as the economy recovers, credit appetite amongst the Bank’s customer-base will increase. In addition, we reported good non-interest revenue, driven by increased trading income on the back of improved margins and volumes. Our outlook remains positive as we expect momentum across the different segments to improve over time,” said Ratang Icho-Molebatsi, BancABC Botswana Finance Director.

In April 2021, BancABC Botswana’s ultimate holding company, Atlas Mara Limited, as well as ABC Holdings Limited and Access Bank Plc announced an agreement to a proposed acquisition of 78.15% of BancABC Botswana. The transaction presented an opportunity for BancABC Botswana’s strong retail banking operation to merge with Access Bank’s wholesale banking capabilities, augmenting itself as one of Africa’s leading banks.

“The transaction provides significant scope for revenue diversification and growth in the corporate and SME banking segment. Increased access to trade finance, treasury, international payments and loans through the wider distribution network offered by Access Bank’s presence in the key trade corridors that connect Africa to the rest of the world, presents solid opportunities for BancABC Botswana”, commented Icho-Molebatsi “With the transaction, BancABC Botswana’s customers stand to benefit from best-in-class digital platforms and product suites, leveraging Access Bank’s group IT infrastructure as well as other fintech solutions”, said Bannalotlhe.

Further, with Access Bank expanding its footprint into Botswana, it will position the Bank to deliver a more complete set of banking solutions to Batswana across the country”, concluded Bannalothle.

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Botswana secures P1.5 billion from African Development Bank 

21st September 2021
Peggy Serame

 Last Friday, the board of Directors of the African Development Bank Group authorised a $137 million (P1.5 billion) loan to support Botswana’s Post COVID-19 pandemic economic recovery.

The funds, extended under the Bank Group’s Botswana Economic Recovery Support Program, will be used to enact multi-sector reforms that will increase spending efficiency, create jobs and drive inclusive growth.

The project has three components: enhancing domestic resource mobilisation and mitigating fiscal risks to enhance macroeconomic performance and create fiscal space for spending on social safety nets; supporting private sector-led agriculture and industry to bolster productivity and value addition and increase job opportunities, and offering business development services to micro and small enterprises to advance social protection and gender equity. The three components are expected to reinforce one another.

“The African Development Bank is providing support for reforms to enhance private sector-led agriculture and transformation of the industrial sector,” said Leila Mokadem, Director General of the Southern Africa Regional Development and Business Delivery Office. “Agriculture value addition can serve as a springboard for industrialisation and job creation,” she added.

The project aligns with the Bank Group’s Ten-Year Strategy (2013-2022) and its High Five strategic priorities, particularly Industrialise Africa and Improve the quality of life of the people of Africa. The African Development Bank observed that Botswana has a very low risk of debt distress and a positive medium-term growth outlook. However, a lack of economic diversification exposes the country to significant vulnerabilities.

The Bank Group’s active portfolio in Botswana amounts to UA 57.7 million ($81.9 million) and comprises four projects. The financial sector accounts for the largest share of the portfolio by industry (97.1%), followed by agriculture (1.7%) and industry (1.2%). In the past, the African Development Bank partnered with various Botswana government agencies to accelerate economic growth.

On the 21st of February 2020, the bank signed a thematic Line of Credit (LoC) of P900 Million for a 10-year tenor with Botswana Development Corporation (BDC), a wholly state-owned investment agency. This was during that time, the single largest transaction of its nature to ever take place in Botswana.

The LoC was penned to support the BDC’s long-term strategy to scale up its investments in critical sectors, including manufacturing, transport and service sectors, with the overall objective of supporting the transformation and industrialisation of the Botswana economy. BDC eyed a more comprehensive socio-economic benefit with this partnership, including attracting investments into the economy and employment creation.

The African Development Bank is a multilateral development finance institution. It has an overarching objective to spur sustainable economic development and social progress in its regional member countries (RMCs) through mobilising and allocating resources for investment and providing policy advice and technical assistance to support development efforts.

This transaction was poised to support further BDC’s focus on safeguarding its balance sheet to ensure financial sustainability whilst fulfilling its mandate as the Botswana Government’s principal investment arm.

The COVID-19 pandemic has landed massive blows on Botswana; apart from claiming more than 2300 lives thus far, the contagious plague has exacerbated existing growth challenges. The effects of the pandemic have led to an estimated real gross domestic product (GDP) contraction of 7.9% in 2020, according to the World Bank, worse than that of the 2009 global financial crisis.

The contraction reflects the impact that reduced global demand, travel restrictions and social distancing measures have had on output in crucial production and export sectors, including the diamond industry and tourism.

Botswana’s fiscal deficit is set to widen to 11.3% of GDP in FY2020/21, from 5.6% in FY2019/20, reflecting a sharp decline in mineral revenues, a sticky public sector wage bill, and the impact of the COVID-19 spending. Similarly, the current account deficit is estimated to have widened to 8 percent of GDP in 2020 following the sharp decline in diamond exports.

Developments in the global diamond industry will significantly impact the short-term recovery, given Botswana’s dependence on the commodity. While recovery is expected in 2021 due to a favourable outlook for the diamond industry, the economic impact of COVID-19 is likely to be deep and long-lasting. The P1.5 billion African Development Bank loan comes after the World Bank approved a P2.5 billion boost for Botswana early this year.

The Programmatic Economic Resilience and Green Recovery Development Policy Loan (DPL) will support the implementation of Botswana’s Economic Recovery and Transformation Plan and is designed to strengthen COVID-19 pandemic relief while bolstering resilience to future shocks.

In August, Botswana received the International Monetary Fund (IMF) 189 Special Drawing Rights allocation worth P3 billion. The IMF SDR is a non-currency asset that Botswana can convert into hard currency by trading it with other IMF member countries.

 

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