Headstrong Bakgatla-ba-ga-Kgafela Chief, Kgafela Kgafela II may get his way and soon return to Botswana to take over the chieftaincy, if ongoing negotiations with the Office of the President conclude successfully. Government informed his tribe in Mochudi this week that Kgafela II is remorseful and is engaging President Lt Gen Dr Ian Khama.
In a development which signalled government’s measured intention deal with the matter to finality, minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Slumber Tsogwane travelled to the Bakgatla capital of Mochudi to brief the tribe about the fate of its chief.
In recognition of issues that arose during the interaction of Bakgatla and the Presidential Task team led by Kgosi Malope II of Bangwaketse, minister Tsogwane took time to explain the bottlenecks around the withdrawal of de-recognition notice – which is one of the demands of morafe.
He said Government is reliably informed that Kgosi Kgafela II has taken South African citizenship. Tsogwane said since Botswana Laws do not allow dual citizenship, the issue of de-recognizing Kgosi Kgafela II can only be considered if he decides to relocate back to Botswana and re-apply for Botswana citizenship.
With Botswana not permitting dual citizenship, it remains to be seen if Kgosi Kgafela II, will be willing to renounce his South African citizenship in order to be recognised again as Bakgatla chief.
This publication has established that the ongoing negotiations between President Khama and Kgosi Kgafela hinge on the latter’s dual citizenship, a move which could see the Bakgatla chief returning home on his terms.
On the subject of Withdrawal of criminal charges and warrant of arrest for Kgosi Kgafela II, Tsogwane said: “the criminal charges against Kgosi Kgafela II are a matter between the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and the accused (Kgosi Kgafela II). The current position is that the DPP has already proceeded to prosecute after consulting the Attorney General. Therefore doors for any consultation are already closed. An option that remains in terms of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act is for Kgafela himself to reconcile with the complainants.”
Speaking directly to the issue of reconciliation between Bakgatla and Government, the minister said lately Kgosi Kgafela II has shown remorse and willingness to reconcile with Government through a letter to the President delivered by Kgosi Leruo Molotlegi of Bafokeng. He said going forward Government will engage Kgosi Kgafela II on the matter.
According Tsogwane, the Office of President has commenced negotiations with the Bakgatla chief with regards to his return to his native country. Kgafela II’s return to Botswana however will happen under conditions that he is recognised as the chief of Bakgatla, with Tsogwane admitting that government had disregarded important clauses in de-recognising the Bakgatla chief.
The negotiations were instigated by Kgosi Kgafela II who had sent a letter delivered by Kgosi Leruo Molotlegi of Bafokeng in South Africa detailing conditions for his (Kgafela) return to Botswana as a recognised chief of the tribe.
Tsogwane was cagey on revealing the contents of the letter or communication between the two parties but affirmed that there is an ongoing exchange of letters between President Khama’s office and Kgosi Kgafela II.
The negotiations between Kgafela II and Office of the President have been augmented by those of a committee appointed by Bakgatla last year to look into the matter.
The downhill Kgotla, which a few years ago at the turn of events, was a no go area for cabinet Ministers was jam-packed as the tribe, which has been without a chief for almost five years descended to the kgotla to get first-hand the affairs about their chief who has been in self exile in neighbouring South Africa since 2012.
Tsogwane inherited destruction and hate problems between Bakgatla tribe and government, the architects of the riddle being his predecessors Lebonaamang Mokalake and Peter Siele.
Kgafela II, who was installed as Bakgatla chief in 2008, left the country in 2012, following a series of battles with government over a number of issues. He had been de-recognised by then Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Mokalake at the time of his departure to South Africa, renouncing the Botswana citizenship in the process, after acquiring South African citizenship.
In a letter written to then Minister of Defence, Justice and Security Ramadeluka Seretse, Kgafela II stated in the letter that; “ I am a King who rules over a tribe in two countries.
That circumstance is not of our own doing but a product of colonialism. The fact of the matter is that I have settled in South Africa permanently as a South Africa citizen. What you do with my citizenship of Botswana is up to you, since you now own the country as a family.”
In his previous battles with government, Kgafela II had challenged the constitution of Botswana wanting it to be set aside as he contended that it was fraudulently adopted.
In South Africa, Kgafela II, where he emerged victorious again, was fighting an even tougher battle where his legitimacy as a ruler of Bakgatla in Moruleng was being questioned by one Nyalala Pilane who had been a regent since 1996. Since Kgafela II’s victory Nyalala has been dethroned with his replacement to be installed soon.
Government, upon the expiry of his deputy and Uncle, Bana Sekai Linchwe’s contract, refused to renew it citing that he had reached retirement age. This created another impasse since the Bogosi Act entitled only the Bakgatla chief to appoint his deputy.
In the absence of Kgafela II, Bakgatla have remained without a chief. The royal house has also been divided, with Kgosi Mothibe Linchwe calling for a truce and peace among those involved and restoration of Sekai to his position as the tribe’s deputy chief.
THE KGOTLA MEETING
At the Kgotla meeting, a subservient Tsogwane listened as the tribe demanded that Kgafela’s return should be under the condition that he is not going to be jailed and that the case before the courts involving him and the state is dropped. The tribesmen also want Sekai reinstated in his position as deputy chief with immediate effect.
Tsogwane however, remarked that government would not interfere with the judicial process, and noted that Kgabo, the Bakgatla Chief, is conversant with the law as a lawyer and would not do anything to interfere with the duties of the court.
“If there is need for forgiveness, such could be done after the courts have finished doing their work. At the moment the matter before the courts is beyond the Office of the President or President [Ian Khama]’s authority and we cannot decide on it,” he said.
Tsogwane said the warrant of arrest issued against Kgafela II does not mean that the chief is guilty and would be arrested as he noted that the Bakgatla chief need only appear before the court as demanded.
The Bakgatla’s conundrum resulted in government and Bakgatla becoming sworn enemies, the condition which did not even help the ruling party in the last general elections as the party lost both seats to opposition Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC).
Still at the meeting, Member of Parliament for Mochudi East Isaac Davids said the decision to derecognize Kgafela II was not well thought out, and blames the government for the impasse which the tribe finds itself in, having gone five years without chief.
“It was an angry decision, and going forward do not make decisions when you are angry,” he quipped.
Davids said that Kgafela II having a case before the courts was besides the point and what mattered most, he expressed, was for Bakgatla to get their chief back.
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.”