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Voters reject Saleshando, BCP

  • Election Hitlist sends BCP president packing
  • UDC dominates Gaborone and surroundings
  • BCP insiders are on panic mode over rejection
  • Strong showing in rural areas wins BDP elections
  • Duma Boko set to become Leader of Opposition

The leader of Botswana Congress Party (BCP) Dumelang Saleshando was the biggest causality in the 2014 general election after his party embarrassingly lost out the majority of constituencies it held after the 2009 general elections.


By the time of going to print Gaborone Central constituency was a headache for Saleshando as rookie candidate, Phenyo Butale of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) was giving the BCP leader a run for his money.


Butale and Saleshando were almost neck-and-neck at the time of print; BDP’s Rupert Hambira was a distant third. Butale joined the Gaborone Central race two months before polling day after the unfortunate death of UDC deputy president, Gomolemo Motswaledi in a car accident. Butale has made it a point that he hinges on the sympathy that comes as a result of Motswaledi’s death. He has projected his message through the UDC platform in “continuing Motswaledi’s journey”.


The resounding defeat across the country has embarrassed BCP supporters and many are already calling for introspection.


Saleshando was a target of the biggest labour Federation, Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) which accused him of betraying the workers struggle by refusing to be part of the Umbrella project. The Federation released a ‘hitlist’ on the eve of the election calling on Batswana not to vote for Saleshando because he is an enemy of the workers and was helping to keep the BDP in power.


The BCP as a party has also emerged as the biggest loser in this election. The BCP has surrendered more than 75 percent of the constituencies it held before the election. All indications at the time of going to press pointed towards a shrinking Dumelang Saleshando led party.

In 2009 when the party went into elections, it was led by Gilson Saleshando, Dumelang’s father. Observers are quick to point out that BCP insiders will be worried that Dumelang’s leadership has seen the party’s fortunes dwindle.  


Indications were that the BCP had surrendered Chobe and Ngami constituencies to the BDP after winning them from the BDP in 2009. The presence of the UDC in some of the constituencies ensured that votes were split in favour of the BDP. University of Botswana lecturer, Prof Monageng Mogalakwe observes that the strength of the two opposition parties made vote splitting a likely scenario.


In Gaborone the BCP was literally wiped out, losing at Parliamentary and Council wards. The Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) was the biggest beneficiary of the BCP poor showing in the capital city. The UDC will control Gaborone City Council because it recorded a majority of victories at local government level.

In Kgatleng West where the BCP had a Member of Parliament in Isaac Mabiletsa who had defected to the BCP from the Botswana National Front (BNF), voters also kicked out Dumelang Saleshando’s party.  Isaac Davids looked set to be on his way to the National Assembly on account of splendid performance by his council candidates.


To compound BCP problems, the party was not in a shape to cement itself in Francistown. Based on its strong showing in 2009 general election, coming second behind the BDP then in the Francistown South and Francistown East constituency, pundits had expected the BCP to win at least one of the parliamentary seats. The party had lost the majority of council seats to the BDP and the UDC. The BCP was only certain of Parliamentary seat from Okavango and Selibe Phikwe West.


Losing BCP candidates will benefit from an initiative by the Botswana Council of Churches in which pastors have been deployed across the country to counsel candidates. Pastors are concerned that if losing candidates do not receive professional help, they may fail to contain the emotions that come as a result of losing elections. This is in recognition of the costs that come as a result of campaign for a hotly contested election like this one.


BDP lost some, regained some
Despite losing seats in the cities, the BDP compensated by regaining constituencies like Ngami and Chobe from the opposition BCP. The BDP failed to retain Mephato Reatile’s seat in Jwaneng Mabutsane which they benefited after the former MP ditched the BNF citing internal differences over Umbrella party issues.


The BDP also lost Tlokweng to the UDC. The BDP had taken control of the constituency after Olebile Gaborone, the former MP, defected from the BNF to the BDP.


By the time of going for press there were clear contests between the UDC and the BDP in constituencies such as Gabane-Mankgodi, Mmopane-Lentsweletau, Molepolole North and Molepolole South and Lobatse among others. The BDP was however on course to a clean sweep in constituencies in the central district. The three Serowe constituencies, two Mahalapye constituencies, Palapye, two Tswapong constituencies, Tonota, Tati East and Tati West, Nkange, Shashe West, Goodhope-Mabule and Francistown West were almost in the bag for the BDP.
 

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13 AUGUST 2022 Publication

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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.

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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.

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