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Attorney smells conspiracy in Neo Moroka defence

Legal representatives locked shoulders Thursday morning defending and shoring interests in a civil case where De Beers Botswana head honcho, Daniel Neo Moroka is being sued for an amount  of P2 million for killing of Tshabong youngster, Kealeboga Danster in the fall of 2014.

For some time attorneys in the case, Kgosietsile Ngakaagae, representing Moroka and Letlhogonolo Makgene representing the litigant and the deceased’s mother Margaret Danster, became locked in an argument where Ngakaagae, representing Moroka is yet to file a plea, a development that inadvertently holds back the filing of a default judgement by the accuser’s legal representative.

Ngakaagae had cited confusion in the rules saying they did not know whether the court had to tell them to file a plea or whether they had to file it on their own, playing it down as the selection of either of the two options. However, Makgene openly wondered how Moroka, represented by an experienced barrister could have failed to file a plea. He also pondered to the Judge why Ngakaagae as an experienced barrister could cite confusion in the court rules that were last reviewed in 2008.

Makgene said, “Without trying to cast aspersions on Ngakaagae I do not think that there was confusion on when to file, there must be another reason, more so that the litigant is represented by an experienced lawyer.”

Ngakaagae shot down Makgene and Danster’s argument made in the declaration that she is entitled to compensation for her son’s death, on the premise that she being the mother deserved compensation because the life of the deceased was cut short.

Ngakaagae contended that there has never been a cause of action affirming compensation for the loss of a loved one and that no individual can be compensated for the life of another individual, safe for where the life expectancy of an individual has been reduced and right to long quality life had been taken due to negligence by another person.

He further argued that should Danster be given the judgement she requests, the law will be thrown into pandemonium and confusion as there will be no limit as to who could claim compensation for the death of a family member as any other next of kin or even friend can lay own claims.

Ngakaagae also argued that the judgement might also precipitate a state of affairs where people might accelerate deaths of other people eyeballing laying their own claims.

He pointed out to Danster’s statement that says the deceased was only 18 years old when he passed on and she was hoping that in future he will earn money and take care of her, saying that she ought to show and prove that the deceased was supporting her when he passed on and not the anticipated or speculated future support. Ngakaagae contended that the elder Danster’s own life is still intact; therefore she has no legal standing to seek recompense and is not even in the clear as to whether she is administrator of the estate of the deceased.

He said that on the claim of loss of dependency and support, such claim is premised on uncertainty and is futuristic. He argued that nobody knows what could have become of the future life of the deceased. “Possibly he could have become something in life-we don’t know, they don’t know but they are asking for damages.” Ngakaagae sniped before adding that the litigant’s claim does not hold water and it should collapse.

The litigant’s lawyer Makgene however retorted by saying and conceding  that while a case of this kind has never been brought before the courts of law in the country it will be simplistic to say that the parent of a child who has been killed has no remedy to seek recompense for the loss.

He argued that there are a number of jurisdictions in the commonwealth where shortened life is claimable and it should not only be with past as there has been an action for loss of prospective support that you raise a child so that they pay back by supporting the parent, an argument which presiding Justice Godfrey Nthomiwa questioned the application’s use of the word ‘pay back.’

However, Makgene still held his own against a ferocious counter- argument from Ngakaagae reiterating his stance that an individual can still claim loss of future support not only for the past but for the future as well, before letting known that Danster had not asked expressly for the P2million figure, but a judgement and the court or the registrar will determine the quantum of damage.

He also contended that if judgement is served in favour of the defendant it will then be easier and cheaper to maim than to kill as there is no civil claim when you kill, particularly since the relative child has been killed which is itself a prima facie.

He also argued that since in the broader context the body (Directorate of Public Prosecutions) responsible for prosecutions has abdicated its duty of criminally prosecuting Moroka, a judgement on the contrary will effectively mean Moroka is allowed to get away scot free having already escaped from accountability under criminal law.

Ngakaagae countered Makgene in the extended legal affray saying that in common law no parent has the right of support from a child except in circumstances where the parent brings action of support because such parent is destitute, then that right arises. He continued slicing and dicing Makgene’s argument saying any parent who says, “I hope for the future” is effectively saying, “I am actually eyeballing a life of poverty” also adding that parents are not reserved the right of support from their children as that support is only given as societal obligation and not a right.

Ngakaagae added that Neo Moroka does not undermine the death of the deceased and Danster’s argument is prone to collapse since its success is at present premised on the mercy of the court. “We do not in any way undermine the death of this poor soul but this application is simply ill advised and pleading sentiment before the court,” he said.

Moroka, who is a former Minister of Trade and Industry is being sued for killing Kealeboga Danster in a hunt for a rogue stray dog that terrorised farm hands at his farm about 22 kilometres from Makopong in Kgalagadi South.

Moroka, it is believed holds the defence that the projectile that killed the younger Danster came from the barrel of his (Moroka) gun that had been aimed in the direction of a camping tent where it was believed the stray dog was in, but had ricocheted in a different direction toward the youthful Danster.

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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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