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PSP threatens BUAN petitioners

Morupisi says petition is un-procedural, unnecessary

In an unprecedented turn-of-events, the Permanent Secretary to the President (PSP), Carter Morupisi has this week threatened Botswana University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (BUAN) staff members who recently petitioned Minister of Agriculture (MoA), Patrick Pule Ralotsia, over the appointment of university’s acting vice chancellor.

WeekendPost has it on good authority that Mr Morupisi summoned the petitioners in what he termed an “emergency meeting” to Office of the President on Monday this week to call them to “order.”

The trio Dr. Nelson Tselaesele, Dr. Mogadime Rammolai and Mr Maano Dibeela were assigned to hand over the petition to MoA on behalf of BUAN staff members. The petition was necessitated by Ralotsia’s recent appointing of Dr Mataba Tapela to act as BUAN VC with effect from 1st August 2016 until 31st January 2017.

In the petition the staff members strived to register their concern about repeated reinstatements of Dr Tapela despite “his lack of leadership skills.”

However,the PSP is said to have questioned the BUAN petition and condemned why it was initiated in the first place.

“Actually he said if we were handing the petition to him he could have trashed it out rightly as it was disrespectful in a way,” a source who was present at the meeting revealed.

The emergency meeting was also graced by Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture, Boipelo Khumomatlhare as well as Ministry’s legal Counsel.  

According to the sources, what was of particular concern to the petitioners was the notion by PSP that he had called them to “warn” them about their “behaviour” in relation to the prompting of the petition.

“If it was me receiving this, I could have teared it apart,” Morupisi is reported to have stressed at the meeting.

He is said to have also cautioned against making an ultimatum to the Minister. In the petition, Ralotsia was allotted 14 days to have responded, failing which the staff members threatened to boycott the long awaited launch of BUAN, the former Botswana College of Agriculture which is now a transformed fully fledged university.

“You know we were so baffled by the PSP’s reaction towards the petition honestly because we believe that it is our fundamental constitutional right; we are free to petition authorities on any subject matter of our concern at any day we wish,” one source pointed out to this publication.  

In a more revealing way, the PSP is said to have stated that the appointment of substantive Vice Chancellor who will replace Dr Tapela might take 2 years or so and they should just remain calm until then.

Approached for a comment the, PSP confirmed that indeed such meeting transpired where he called some BUAN petitioners to OP in a mission to ‘condemn’ them for trying to precipitately hand the petition to the Minister.

“Yes it is true I had called them to my office so that I assist them with the procedure that they should follow instead,” Morupisi highlighted to this publication in an interview.

According to the PSP, he had wanted them to first seek audience with the acting Vice Chancellor Dr. Mataba Tapela and discuss with him their issues and concerns before they reach even the minister.
If they are not satisfied at that point, that is when they could have made an arrangement for an appointment with minister Ralotsia.  

Morupisi asked rhetorically, “why should they petition a minister while he has not refused to meet with them? You see they never attempted! They must first make appointment with the minister.”

“Mind you we are talking about lecturers here who are mature and expected to be responsible and exemplary to students. They should not behave like school boys,” the PSP pointed out.

From his judgement Morupisi emphasised that the petition is un-procedural, and it is unnecessary as he believes they should engage the minister in a more structural way.

In the petition the BUAN staff members have requested that the appointment of the Dr Tapela be reversed and another qualified staff member be appointed to act on the period of 1st August 2016 to 30th January 2017.

In the petition, the staff members demanded response from Ralotsia within 14 days failure of which they threatened to boycott the launch of the university. Nonetheless, 14 days have now elapsed and there is no official response to the petition lest for intimidation they encountered at the highest office in the land.

At the time of going to print, it was unclear what the staff members’ cause of action would be.

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Batswana owe banks P79 billion

27th March 2023

The Minister of Finance, Peggy Serame, has disclosed that the total bank credit extended by commercial banks amounted to P79 billion, out of which P53.4 billion was retail loans and advances to households.

Parliament was informed this week in response to a question by the Member of Parliament for Selibe-Phikwe West and Leader of Opposition (LOO), Dithapelo Keorapetse.

“As at 31st December 2022, loans and other advances extended to households by banks constituted the largest share of bank-lending at 67.6 percent, the majority of which was unsecured personal loans at P36.2 billion (67.8%),” said Serame.

She added that the total household Debt to GDP ratio was 21.9%, while the total private business credit to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio was 10.8%.

On the other hand, it was noted that outstanding mortgage loans extended to households were P14.2 billion (26.6% of household debt) or 5.9% of GDP. Overall, total bank credit as a ratio of GDP stood at 32.7 percent.

It was acknowledged that there are 10 deposit-taking banks in the country, that is, nine commercial banks and one statutory bank (Botswana Savings Bank). This statistics excludes the National Development Bank (NDB), which is a development finance institution. The nine commercial banks include an indigenous bank, Botswana Building Society Bank Limited (BBSBL), which was issued with a commercial banking license by the Bank of Botswana in October 2022.

Still in December 2022, it was recorded that there were 376 non-bank lenders in Botswana consisting of 246 micro lenders, 66 finance companies, three leasing companies and 61 registered pawnshops.

According to Minister Serame, the loan book value representing the principal amount lent by these entities to individuals and to small, medium and micro Enterprises (SMMEs) is collated by the Non-Bank Financial Institutions Regulatory Authority (NBFIRA), which at 31st of December 2021, the loan book values were P5.6 billion for micro lenders, P1.6 billion for finance companies, P225 million for leasing companies and P14 million for pawnshops.

Government policy is that price control is not effective or desirable, and, as such, interest rates are not regulated. Non-regulation may, among other things, result in an increase in non-interest rate fees and commissions, reduced price transparency, lower credit supply and loan approval rates.

“It is important to note that, from a macroeconomic perspective, household debt in Botswana is neither a pandemic nor considered to be excessive. Indeed, the Bank of Botswana’s periodic and continuous assessments of household debt, including through the annual Household Indebtedness Surveys, suggest moderate household indebtedness and therefore, is of no apparent risk to the safety and soundness of the domestic financial system,” said Serame.

She also alluded this assessment is validated by the recently concluded Financial Sector Assessment Programme (FSAP) on Botswana undertaken by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank Group.

Keorapetse however rebuked the issue of debt not being excessive and noted the Minister thinks it’s fine for Batswana to be debt burdened in a way that their debts diminishes their quality of life.

“A significant portion of Batswana’s salaries go to servicing debts and because she doesn’t see this as a challenge, there can never be any intervention from her side. There is no price regulation on interest, which can go up to 30%+ a month.  Since President Masisi ascended to the high office in 2018, 2 384 Batswana were put in prison for failure to pay debts, that is 467 Batswana every year. So, for us, debt problems are big and concerning,” said Keorapetse.

He said they are worried because Batswana are drowning in debts because of relative poverty, slave wages and unemployment/underemployment, they buy basic needs and services with borrowed money and noted predatory and unethical lending has become a major problem in Botswana’s financial sector.

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How to fleece P14 million from Chinese investor

27th March 2023

The modus operandi of how five men allegedly swindled a Chinese national P14 million last week continue to unravel. Highly placed sources from the intelligence, the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) and Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) revealed to this publication how the whole scam was concocted.

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ENVIRONMENT ISSUES: Masisi asks Virginia for help

24th March 2023

President Mokgweetsi Masisi says the issue of sustainable natural resources management has always been an important part of Botswana’s national development agenda.

Masisi was speaking this week on the occasion of a public lecture at Virginia Polytechnic, under theme, “Merging Conservation, Democracy and Sustainable Development in Botswana.”

Botswana, according to Masisi, holds the view that the environment is fragile and as such, must be managed and given the utmost protection to enable the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“It is necessary that we engage one another in the interchange of ideas, perspectives, visualizations of social futures, and considerations of possible strategies and courses of action for sustainable development,” said Masisi.

On the other hand, dialogue, in the form of rigorous democratic discourse among stakeholders presents another basis for reconfiguring how people act on their environments, with a view to conserving its resources that “we require to meet our socio-economic development needs on a sustainable basis,” Masisi told attendees at the public lecture.

He said government has a keen interest in understanding the epidemiology and ecology of diseases of both domestic and wild animals. “It is our national interest to forestall the dire consequences of animal diseases on our communities livelihoods.”

President Masisi hoped that both Botswana and Virginia could help each other in curbing contagious diseases of wildlife.

“We believe that Virginia Tech can reasonably share their experiences, research insights and advances in veterinary sciences and medicines, to help us build capacity for knowledge creation and improve efforts of managing and containing contagious diseases of wildlife. The ground is fertile for entering into such a mutually beneficial partnership.”

When explaining environmental issues further, Masisi said efforts of conservation and sustainable development might at times be hampered by the emergence and recurrence of diseases when pathogens mutate and take host of more than one species.

“Water pollution also kills aquatic life, such as fish, which is one of humanity’s much deserved sources of food. In this regard, One Health Approach imposes ecological responsibility upon all of us to care for the environment and the bio-diversity therein.”

He said the production and use of animal vaccines is an important space and tool for conservation, particularly to deal with trans-border animal diseases.

“In Botswana, our 43-year-old national premier pharmaceutical institution called Botswana Vaccine Institute has played its role well. Through its successful production of highly efficacious Foot and Mouth vaccines, the country is able to contain this disease as well as supply vaccines to other countries in the sub-region.:

He has however declared that there is need for more help, saying “We need more capacitation to deal with and contain other types of microbial that affect both animals and human health.”

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