The 2014 general elections have come and gone. Sadly a number of legislators have gone with the just-ended elections. More disturbing is that most Ministers have not come back, raising questions of not only their replacements but most importantly those of their next move.
An observant eye will have noticed that during the just-ended elections campaign for the ruling party, all the defeated Ministers and BDP backbenchers stood in support of the winners and remained loyal to the party, something that is very different when one looks at the history of the notorious BDP primary elections.
Although some were said to be bitter following the much protested party primary elections, which were shrouded in controversies, we later saw rare reconciliatory efforts which saw the BDP united going into the just-ended elections. Candidates supported each other and those who lost the primary elections soiled their hands in response to Khama’s appeal at the 52nd BDP National Congress that those who devote their time and energy to the party will earn his recognition.
At the said meeting Khama told primary elections losers not to despair and we quote him verbatim, “ standing up and demonstrating your party patriotism, and continued involvement in active party affairs will earn you recognition by me and the leadership as much as those who were succesful. This I assure you of,” he said.
“Withdrawing from participation will be regrettable and unfortunate and would tend to demonstrate your involvement with this party is only for personal interest only. Many of you who lost have accepted the outcome despite the issues and challenges I refer to. I thank them for being true democrats,” he said.
Surely Khama did not anticipate that a huge number of his trusted men will fall again in the just-ended elections. Unluckily for him, the number has increased from those who lost during the primary to general elections. It is now common knowledge that unlike in the opposition ranks when an Minister or MP loses elections in the ruling party they start harbouring some aspirations and hoping for presidential mercy.
This attitude and rewards have for over the years been a topical issue from the opposition ranks and the academia who often argues that some positions are used to reward elections losers and close associates.
With a lot of them this time around and in consideration of Khama’s promise that they have earned his recognition, the million dollar question is who is going where, when and how. A couple of Ministers have fallen and they include among others, Gloria Somolokae, Patrick Masimolole, Gaotlhaetse Matlhabaphiri, Olebile Gaborone Ramadeluka Seretse, Lebonaamang Mokalake, Eric Molebatsi, Phandu Skelemani, Rev John Seakgosing, Peter Siele, Keletso Rakhudu and Jonhny Swarts. We all can recall seeing these men and woman campaigning for the BDP. Many of us can attest to the fact that we saw them the primary elections losers activism during rallies and launches. The big question is would they ordinarily engage on such a tourturous, industrious and time consuming exercise freely?
It is not far-fetched to conclude that each of these Ministers expect something from Khama.We have seen in some instances elections losers emerging winners outside politics due to this arrangement.But how do they do it? New regimes exploit an array of plum public jobs like postings in foreign missions and State Corporations to reward political allies and cronies.
While many losing candidates land on their feet, some end up in better-paying jobs than the ones they sought at the ballot box. In fact, the list of defeated candidates who parlayed government experience or political connections into gainful employment elsewhere is long and common in Botswana as is the case in the region and internationally.
While some of the defeated candidates on today’s ballot will fade into history, never to be heard from politically again it is something different for those who went into races with good connections or whose political party controls patronage positions.
This is ussually the case with ruling party members. For opposition, most are often attractive to public or private employers or lobbying firms because of the skills they acquired in government or because they as well developed valuable relationships with powerful players.
This publication has learnt that the Khama is in a tight corner this time around with many expecting favours from him. The deafeat of almost the entire cabinet will give the president a headache,insiders say. Information reaching this publication is that already many have been disappointed at the specially elected MPs as they were hoping to be considered.Sources say there was a lot of acrimony at the choices. After all is said and done at parliament a lot of eyes will now be fixed to the president. We now zoom into Khama’s Ministers who have lost elections.
GLORIA SOMOLEKAE An academic of note who lost with a heart-wrenching margin of three votes to Kefentse Mzwinila. Having been brought into parliament through the specially elected ticket, her bid to save her prestigious job was all in vain. Her transfer from Khama’s office to the Ministry of Health raised eyebrows but not many could offer a concrete and credible analysis of the move. While many suspected she might not have blended well with Khama’s tastes, others argued that her some virtues she were noticed that warranted her move to the Ministry of Health. Somolekae will be unemployed soon and like many, she has been traversing the land campaigning for the BDP as well as promoting and defending the not so easy to defend party. She has been delegated by the party as a representative in various occasions and was caught in some instances stretching herself beyond her innermost convictions and principles. Where will she go?
OLEBILE GABORONE This is the man whose affinities with the Khamas cost the BDP the Tlokweng constituency. The inconcievable blunder by the BDP to recall the party’s representative Elijah Katse has shown how far Khama can go to favour Katse. It is alleged that the two have ventured into businesses together and come a long way. Of late, the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development has been silent with some labelling him a spent force. Insiders say he will definately get something big but what could that be?
RAMADELUKA SERETSE The outgoing Minister of Defence, Justice and Security who happens to be the President’s cousin who was humiliated by his longstanding rival Kgotla Autlwetse by a huge margin. Efforts to save Seretse under blurry circumstances by the leadership were futile following a blunt refusal by the electorates through the ballot.
Contrary to popular view, Khama did not bring him back as a specially elected member and we now know that he will not be coming back to parliament. Insiders say the fact that he was not brought back as a specially elected member despite been close to Khama and having led the Ministry so close to Khama should be a serious warning that something has been spared for him. Others however hint that he may have refused to go back to the Ministry he has been heading owing to his squabbles with the Directorate of Intelligence Services, Isaac Kgosi. Surely he cant be jobless. Where is Ndelu heading?
KELETSO RAKHUDU Some say he actually did not want to contest the general elections but was forced by his party into doing so. One can buy it by reflecting on the manner in which he instantly responded to the news of his loss to former Gaborone city Council Mayor, Haskins Nkaigwa. He was jubilant and stress-free. A hustler and streetwise man whose surviving skills are immeasurable, Rakhudu seems a man going his way and not waiting for Khama.Insiders say should he get something, it will be for him, a bonus. He has hinted to some that he intends to persue his business interests.
REV JOHN SEAKGOSING He lost the primary elections and has been very active in the party, assisting it to wrestle power from the opposition. He is said not to be either nearer or distant from Khama’s heart. A diplomatic and loyal fellow, Seakgosing many say will do well on a diplomatic mission and is highly likely to go there.
PHANDU SKELEMANI He has long lost primary elections. A trained lawyer, former judge and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation who many have been faulted for Botswana’s confusing foreign policy. Often indiscreet, observers said Skelemani’s tone on sensitive international issues was Khama’s voice speaking through Skelemani. A tired-looking fellow who seems not eager to pursue further his political and professional interests. He has been silent of late and has not been featuring in the party’s campaigns. Insiders say he might not feature in Khama’s political rewards plan for allies and cronies.
GAOTLHAETSE MATLHABAPHIRI Has been left devastated by the unexpected loss to Mahommed Khan. A loyal fellow to the Khama regime who was swapped with Somolekae. One of the tried and tested members of the party whose commitment to the BDP cannot be disputed. He will surely be considered when the cake is divided.
PETER SIELE One of Khama’s trusted men, aging gracefully, he has not done badly on his assignments. He lost the primary elections and consequently he was in distress. He initially complained that he was beaten unfairly at the notorious Bulela Ditswe but soon relented. Like many of his fellow democrats, he has been campaigning for the party in times of need and will surely expect something. His anguish following his loss was a clear testimony that he relies heavily on the political office and would want to be given something as well. However, insiders say Khama may consider him a spent force and pick others ahead of him. His consideration they say, will depend on the number of vacancies.
LEBONAAMANG MOKALAKE He lost the primary elections and like others, has been trying by all means to impress through various means and avenues. He however has been looking a worried man. Some say he has headed a lucrative Ministry and should have made a few land transactions to fall back on in case of any calamity.
OREEDITSE MOLEBATSI Ousted by Dorcas Makgato-Malesu in the primaries. An active member of the party whose relation with Khama is unclear. His presence and absence in the government and associated arms, insiders say, is insignificant in Khama’s book.
JOHNY SWARTS A man who was gradually turning the Ministry of Science, Infrustructure and Technology around. A fighter and commited professional. He will surely be among those considered for something.
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.”
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.
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.”