Connect with us
Advertisement

Why reputation matters to Tafa

Lawyer Parks Tafa

In court papers making his case before the Lobatse High Court against Business Weekly and Review publication, prominent lawyer Parks Tafa muses and gloats in the same breadth about his part in the success story of Collins Newman and Company (CNC) legal firm.

Tafa who qualified as a practicing attorney in 1991 and became Managing partner at Collins Newman and Company in 2004 says that, “I am consistently rated by major legal surveys and publications (such as Chambers Global, PLC Which Lawyer? and IFLR 1000) as a ‘band 1’ leader in my field of practice, which is largely corporate and transactional in nature.”

He also says that Senior Partner at CNC Rizwan Desai who has been his partner since 2000 is also consistently rated as a ‘band one’ leader by major legal surveys and publications and is regarded as one of the leading corporate and transactional lawyers in Botswana and enjoys recognition amongst his peers and clients alike.

The Harvard School of Law educated Desai is former Chairman of Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) and is presently Chairman of the board of directors of Barclays Bank of Botswana Limited while Tafa is Chairman of the University of Botswana Council, Stanbic Bank Limited and Wilderness Safari’s, respectively.

Tafa continues: “I have also acted as an advisor to past three Presidents of Botswana in various regulatory matters and I am frequently consulted by various spheres of government.”

He also says that Collins Newman and Company which has been operating as a law firm in 1997 is an established leader in the field of commercial advice and litigation and is the largest firm in Botswana. He also asserts its excellence by saying that, “presently it is a member of a prestigious Africa Legal Network (ALN) group of leading law firms across the continent.”

Tafa also in his evidence continues to say that, CNC counts among its blue chip clientele domestic and international firms such as Anglo American, Standard Chartered Bank, First National Bank, Rand Merchant Bank, GE Capital, Hana Mining Limited Sasol Petroleum, Cathay Fortune Investments, JP Morgan and Deutshe Bank among others.

He says that in the country CNC also acts as an advisor to many government and statutory institutions such as Bank of Botswana, Botswana Power Corporation, Debswana, BCL Limited, Botswana Meat Commission, Botswana Oil, Botswana Ash, Botswana Public Officers Medical Aid Scheme, University of Botswana and Botswana Telecommunications Corporation among others.

He also adds that his firm has throughout always sought to employ only the best available legal talent in the country, before citing the paper he is suing when it described CNC as “…one of the country’s most prominent legal law firms” and as a “go-to legal firm for the corporate sector and the political leadership.”

CNC is representing Bank of Botswana in an on-going case which was bungled by a CNC attorney, one Bokani Machinya after she was found to have forged court papers. Bank of Botswana is being sued by EBC Guernsey Limited in respect to losses it is said to have incurred as a result of the collapse of Kingdom Bank Africa Limited.

Tafa also adds: “the preservation of CNC’s reputation is dear and important to me. Naturally the preservation of my own reputation and that of Desai is equally important.” he continues, “We care about what members of the public think about CNC not because this is necessary for the purposes of our professional dealings, but also because it has always been a source of pride for Desai and myself as individuals,” he says.

He further said that he is the longest serving professional in CNC and thus he considers himself the primary guardian of its well ‘established reputation’ and never before has CNC hauled one of its attorney before Law Society of Botswana (LSB) except concerning the forgery incident with Machinya.

If monetary figures on his resume are anything to go by, calculations would indicate that Tafa has presided over purchases and procurements, transferrals of movable and immovable assets, syndicated financing, negotiating of maintenance and operation agreements, presiding over acquisition of assets and buildings, real estate developments, secondary listings and recapitalisations among others cumulatively worth $ 7, 9 billion or P 79, 23 billion.

Calculations would also indicate on Desai’s resume that he has also presided over a wide spectrum of corporate and commercial transactions ranging from Initial Public Offerings, demutualisation, acquisitions and re-acquisitions, restructuring activities, inward listings and cash injections among others, valued at $4.25 billion or P45.49 billion.

The case in which Tafa wants to interdict the publication awaits ruling.

Continue Reading

Digital Version

13 AUGUST 2022 Publication

12th August 2022

This content is locked

Login To Unlock The Content!

 

Continue Reading

News

DIS blasted for cruelty – UN report

26th July 2022
DIS BOSS: Magosi

Botswana has made improvements on preventing and ending arbitrary deprivation of liberty, but significant challenges remain in further developing and implementing a legal framework, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention said at the end of a visit recently.

Head of the delegation, Elina Steinerte, appreciated the transparency of Botswana for opening her doors to them. Having had full and unimpeded access and visited 19 places of deprivation of liberty and confidentiality interviewing over 100 persons deprived of their liberty.

She mentioned “We commend Botswana for its openness in inviting the Working Group to conduct this visit which is the first visit of the Working Group to the Southern African region in over a decade. This is a further extension of the commitment to uphold international human rights obligations undertaken by Botswana through its ratification of international human rights treaties.”

Another good act Botswana has been praised for is the remission of sentences. Steinerte echoed that the Prisons Act grants remission of one third of the sentence to anyone who has been imprisoned for more than one month unless the person has been sentenced to life imprisonment or detained at the President’s Pleasure or if the remission would result in the discharge of any prisoner before serving a term of imprisonment of one month.

On the other side; The Group received testimonies about the police using excessive force, including beatings, electrocution, and suffocation of suspects to extract confessions. Of which when the suspects raised the matter with the magistrates, medical examinations would be ordered but often not carried out and the consideration of cases would proceed.

“The Group recall that any such treatment may amount to torture and ill-treatment absolutely prohibited in international law and also lead to arbitrary detention. Judicial authorities must ensure that the Government has met its obligation of demonstrating that confessions were given without coercion, including through any direct or indirect physical or undue psychological pressure. Judges should consider inadmissible any statement obtained through torture or ill-treatment and should order prompt and effective investigations into such allegations,” said Steinerte.

One of the group’s main concern was the DIS held suspects for over 48 hours for interviews. Established under the Intelligence and Security Service Act, the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) has powers to arrest with or without a warrant.

The group said the “DIS usually requests individuals to come in for an interview and has no powers to detain anyone beyond 48 hours; any overnight detention would take place in regular police stations.”

The Group was able to visit the DIS facilities in Sebele and received numerous testimonies from persons who have been taken there for interviewing, making it evident that individuals can be detained in the facility even if the detention does not last more than few hours.

Moreover, while arrest without a warrant is permissible only when there is a reasonable suspicion of a crime being committed, the evidence received indicates that arrests without a warrant are a rule rather than an exception, in contravention to article 9 of the Covenant.

Even short periods of detention constitute deprivation of liberty when a person is not free to leave at will and in all those instances when safeguards against arbitrary detention are violated, also such short periods may amount to arbitrary deprivation of liberty.

The group also learned of instances when persons were taken to DIS for interviewing without being given the possibility to notify their next of kin and that while individuals are allowed to consult their lawyers prior to being interviewed, lawyers are not allowed to be present during the interviews.

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention mentioned they will continue engaging in the constructive dialogue with the Government of Botswana over the following months while they determine their final conclusions in relation to the country visit.

Continue Reading

News

Stan Chart halts civil servants property loan facility

26th July 2022
Stan-Chart

Standard Chartered Bank Botswana (SCBB) has informed the government that it will not be accepting new loan applications for the Government Employees Motor Vehicle and Residential Property Advance Scheme (GEMVAS and LAMVAS) facility.

This emerges in a correspondence between Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance Boniface Mphetlhe and some government departments. In a letter he wrote recently to government departments informing them of the decision, Mphetlhe indicated that the Ministry received a request from the Bank to consider reviewing GEMVAS and LAMVAS agreement.

He said: “In summary SCBB requested the following; Government should consider reviewing GEMVAS and LAMVAS interest rate from prime plus 0.5% to prime plus 2%.” The Bank indicated that the review should be both for existing GEMVAS and LAMVAS clients and potential customers going forward.

Mphetlhe said the Bank informed the Ministry that the current GEMVAS and LAMVAS interest rate structure results into them making losses, “as the cost of loa disbursements is higher that their end collections.”

He said it also requested that the loan tenure for the residential property loans to be increased from 20 to 25 years and the loan tenure for new motor vehicles loans to be increased from 60 months to 72 months.

Mphetlhe indicated that the Bank’s request has been duly forwarded to the Directorate of Public Service Management for consideration, since GEMVAS and LAMVAS is a Condition of Service Scheme. He saidthe Bank did also inform the Ministry that if the matter is not resolved by the 6th June, 2022, they would cease receipt of new GEMVAS and LAMVAS loan applications.

“A follow up virtual meeting was held to discuss their resolution and SCB did confirm that they will not be accepting any new loans from GEMVAS and LAMVAS. The decision includes top-up advances,” said Mphetlhe. He advised civil servants to consider applying for loans from other banks.

In a letter addressed to the Ministry, SCBB Chief Executive Officer Mpho Masupe informed theministry that, “Reference is made to your letter dated 18th March 2022 wherein the Ministry had indicated that feedback to our proposal on the above subject is being sought.”

In thesame letter dated 10 May 2022, Masupe stated that the Bank was requesting for an update on the Ministry’s engagements with the relevant stakeholder (Directorate of Public Service Management) and provide an indicative timeline for conclusion.

He said the “SCBB informs the Ministry of its intention to cease issuance of new loans to applicants from 6th June 2022 in absence of any feedback on the matter and closure of the discussions between the two parties.”  Previously, Masupe had also had requested the Ministry to consider a review of clause 3 of the agreement which speaks to the interest rate charged on the facilities.

Masupe indicated in the letter dated 21 December 2021 that although all the Banks in the market had signed a similar agreement, subject to amendments that each may have requested. “We would like to suggest that our review be considered individually as opposed to being an industry position as we are cognisant of the requirements of section 25 of the Competition Act of 2018 which discourages fixing of pricing set for consumers,” he said.

He added that,“In this way,clients would still have the opportunity to shop around for more favourable pricing and the other Banks, may if they wish to, similarly, individually approach your office for a review of their pricing to the extent that they deem suitable for their respective organisations.”

Masupe also stated that: “On the issue of our request for the revision of the Interest Rate, we kindly request for an increase from the current rate of prime plus 0.5% to prime plus 2%, with no other increases during the loan period.” The Bank CEO said the rationale for the request to review pricing is due to the current construct of the GEMVAS scheme which is currently structured in a way that is resulting in the Bank making a loss.

“The greater part of the GEMVAS portfolio is the mortgage boo which constitutes 40% of the Bank’s total mortgage portfolio,” said Masupe. He saidthe losses that the Bank is incurring are as a result of the legacy pricing of prime plus 0% as the 1995 agreement which a slight increase in the August 2018 agreement to prime plus 0.5%.

“With this pricing, the GEMVAS portfolio has not been profitable to the Bank, causing distress and impeding its ability to continue to support government employees to buy houses and cars. The portfolio is currently priced at 5.25%,” he said.  Masupe said the performance of both the GEMVAS home loan and auto loan portfolios in terms of profitability have become unsustainable for the Bank.

Healso said, when the agreement was signed in August 2018, the prime lending rate was 6.75% which made the pricing in effect at the time sufficient from a profitable perspective. “It has since dropped by a total 1.5%. The funds that are loaned to customers are sourced at a high rate, which now leaves the Bank with marginal profits on the portfolio before factoring in other operational expenses associated with administration of the scheme and after sales care of the portfolio,” said the CEO.

Continue Reading
Weekend Post