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LAPCAS damning verdict is out

A damning report to the Office of the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Lands and Housing has jabbed at the characters behind the failure of the Land Administration Procedures Capacity and Systems (LAPCAS) and praised its original intentions.

LAPCAS was conceived in 2009 in partnership with the Swedish Government. The intentions were to improve land administration in Botswana by impacting on procedures, capacity of personnel and systems.

According to a report authored a consultant once engaged by the Ministry, LAPCAS was to ensure that all plots in Botswana are surveyed, legally owned as verified by the Land Authority resolution, captured both manually and electronically; in short, where it is clear where which plot is and as to who it belongs to. There was also an intention to give each plot a unique identity.

It is understood that the programme was seen as the springboard for socio-economic development of the country through electronic based service delivery. LAPCAS was also linked to e-Governance which was developed to know where each individual resides, each plot in the country must be registered, surveyed and captured in the national electronic data base, it must be adjudicated; it must have a unique ID; it must have a location address; land information so generated must reside in a secure platform; with a system that enables interaction with all government departments and agencies.

In the LAPCAS manuscript, development planning was to become easy when all land information in Botswana has been entered into the national data base. It was envisaged that with a plot a national planner would know how many people reside in that plot, their age, education profile, number of livestock, incapacities, number of vehicles, number of plots they own, at home and elsewhere – and thereby facilitating equity and easy decision making as to where and when to intervene.

LAPCAS was aimed at enabling government to know at touch button where priority areas are, for instance in the provision of bitumen road, schools, hospitals, police posts, releasing more land for settlement expansion or even determining new political wards and constituencies. LAPCAS was to arrest voter trafficking among other things. Those who came up with the idea of LAPCAS thought rates collection will be eased, there would be no need for Population and Housing Census and Delimitation Commissions as this information will be readily available at any given time.


Reports indicate that the programme failed because it had the same Project Manager to lead the Programme starting with formulation of prototypes through implementation.

The current head of LAPCAS has been with the project for seven years now, since 2009. His approach was to be hands on in every component and in the process stifled creativity, spontaneity and ownership of processes. He was the means and the end. Consequently, he starved himself time to coordinate, to set timelines and demand results.

After the components were not load enough, he still maintained, to this day, his position as Director of Surveys and Mapping. He allocates himself juicy assignments mainly international travel to the exclusion of the Acting Director DSM.

Currently he is the Acting Deputy permanent Secretary at the same time retaining his two portfolios of LAPCAS Head and DSM Director. The permanent secretary was told that the danger of allocating the same officer a lot of functions is that if they are less effective and respected then the collapse of the intent and the vision is guaranteed.

The person leading LAPCAS presided over Ghanzi Land Board in 2001/2002 where he often recorded below 50 percent in performance assessment reviews. He maintained his trend to Kweneng Land Board, DSM and LAPCAS to this day.

The plan was to have all land in the Land Boards registered by 2016. About One million plots were to be covered in 2016, but this has not happened because only 10 percent of the proposed number has been covered in over three years. About 100 project officers were hired for this project on a three year term and the project budget end mid-2016 and this has come to naught.

Realising that the project was failing, the head of LAPCAS decided to transfer Land registration exercise to individual Land Boards Secretaries. The role of a national coordinator was removed such that the exercise runs without a pivotal person to provide direction, support and much needed supervision.

Land registration was poorly marketed as LAPCAS. Instead of talking to the bigger government intent of easy service provision, the protagonists went for the most resented purpose, of knowing where one resides, thus dealing with the means and not the end to the general collapse of the land registration exercise.

Land Registration needs to be revitalised and rebranded. It has to be given dominance over other components, without neglecting concurrency, as all other components are dependent on it as a basis for land information. It will become of no use if there is no land information to manage and inform quality decision making to advance delivery across all sectors of the economy.

Of the entire country only three localities have been addressed (given location addresses). About 90 percent of tribal land was unregistered in the last quarter of 2015. This publication learns that the LAPCAS team has failed to establish a land information centre, a project that was agreed upon some years back. The Land Information Centre was to act as a hub for all land information across the three tenure system.

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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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