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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.

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Mowana Mine to open, pay employees millions

18th January 2022
Mowana Mine

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.”

Negotiated estate is P35, 563,000

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Councilors’ benefits debacle-savingram reveals detail

18th January 2022

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.

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Households spending to drive economic recovery

17th January 2022

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.”

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