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DISS must fix its image Govt Study

DISS Director; Isaac Kgosi


A Vision 2016 commissioned study sponsored by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) says the Directorate on Intelligence and Security Services (DISS) is doing ‘very little or nothing to correct its battered image’.

The study however praises transparency, accountability and information sharing by the DISS hierarchy.

The Vision 2016’s new report on household opinion survey was conducted by LOGICA consultancy during the months of July and September 2015 and was published at the end of last month.

It notes that since its formation in 2008, DISS has unearthed and exposed organised crime syndicates threatening national interests. These organised groups are involved in an array of illegal activities such as terrorism, drug trafficking, money laundering, fraud, human smuggling and trafficking, and official corruption, the study acknowledges.

However, the study continues that “Although the DISS was established for a good reason, the agency’s work is not appreciated by some citizens as they believe that it is not doing what they expect it to do. There is a problem of credibility as some people believe that it was created to spy on them while others believe that its leaders are accountable unto themselves,” reads the study in part.

In addition the study points out that there is a perception that there is no transparency in the way national resources are handled by the agency.

“The role played by the DISS must be clearly defined so that citizens can appreciate its relevance to the modern society. Lessons can be drawn from countries such as the USA where intelligence agencies have been in existence for many years and still have the trust and confidence of the citizens,” reads an extract from the study.

The authors of the Vision 2016 count down study conclude by indicating that a concerted effort must be made to improve the image of the DISS.

“Its achievements must be shared with members of the public. Furthermore the leaders of the urgency must be transparent in terms of how national resources allocated to them are utilised,” says the study.

VISION 2016 SURVEY BLOWS HOT AND COLD

Meanwhile, the same Vision 2016’s report on household opinion survey conducted by LOGICA consultancy has been characterized as not being representative of the citizens’ response to the Vision as a whole.  

Stakeholders lambasted the Vision 2016 household survey that had applied among other things a statistical survey method which had 1 777 respondents. The stakeholders lampooned the 1 777 figure of respondents as not being representative of the opinion of the entire populace.

They also shot down the ‘trivial survey’ as it failed to mention the baseline of improvements from the previous period to the current times.

The Vision 2016 household survey has revealed that the majority of respondents across all the administrative districts as well as five cities and towns have heard of the vision. It has also revealed that the vision 2016 meaning has still not effectively trickled down to the far flung countryside areas as only 70.7 percent of Batswana dwelling in the cattle posts and lands have heard of the vision.

The report also states that in the rural villages 80.6% have said they have not heard of the vision, also showing that there are still Batswana in metropolitan areas who still have not heard of vision 2016 despite it being in its last months as a national vision. In terms of Vision 2016’s first pillar on education the survey states that Batswana believe that progress has been made in improving quality as reflected by the number of qualified teachers employed, introduction to technology in schools and a reduction in the teacher pupil ratio has substantially been reduced in public schools.

The report also says that 60 percent of Batswana felt that living conditions such as housing, health, clothing conditions and food consumption have improved. It also says that unemployment is on the decline, still unacceptably high at 19 percent for a country of Botswana’s economic standing while living standards in the lands and cattle post areas have improved marginally with 39.2 percent of respondents reporting improvement in their living standards compared to the last 5 years while Botswana’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita has been increasing steadily.

Concerning the pillar of ‘A safe and secure nation’ the report states that in the past female soldiers were not allowed in to the army while in current times they have since been allowed and there has been a 16% reduction rate in serious, violent and intrusive crime while there has also been as an increase in road safety. However it also says that Batswana are dissatisfied with the country’s shoot to kill policy that concerns poaching as it might harm the country’s diplomatic relations with neighbouring states and eventually the safety of its citizens.

It also goes on to mention that 55.7% of the respondents were satisfied with the services provided by health care facilities and that 16.3% of Batswana live below the poverty datum line.

On the pillar of ‘An Open, Democratic and Accountable Nation’ the survey states that about 60 percent of respondents confirmed various international agencies reports that Botswana is one of the best governed and least corrupt countries in Africa.

The report also lists broadcast as the most medium that has the farthest reach in disseminating the Vision 2016 message at 60 percent followed by Broadcast television at 35 percent while private newspapers hover at 10 percent.

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FaR property assets value clock P1.47 billion

6th December 2023

FaR Property Company (FPC) Limited, a property investment company listed on the Botswana Stock Exchange, has recently announced its exceptional financial results for the year 2023. The company’s property asset value has risen to P1.47 billion, up from P1.42 billion in the previous year.

FPC has a diverse portfolio of properties, including retail, commercial, industrial, and residential properties in Botswana, South Africa, and Zambia. The company owns a total of 186 properties, generating rental revenues from various sectors. In 2023, the company recorded rental revenues of P11 million from residential properties, P62 million from industrial properties, and P89 million from commercial properties. Overall, the company’s total revenues increased by 9% to P153 million, while profit before tax increased by 22% to P136 million, and operating profit increased by 11% to P139 million.

One notable achievement for FPC is the low vacancy rate across its properties, which stands at only 6%. This is particularly impressive considering the challenging trading environment. The company attributes this success to effective lease management and the leasing of previously vacant properties in South Africa. FPC’s management expressed satisfaction with the results, highlighting the resilience of the company in the face of ongoing macroeconomic challenges.

The increase in profit before tax can be attributed to both an increase in income and effective control of operating expenses. FPC managed to achieve these results with fewer employees, demonstrating the company’s efficiency. The headline earnings per linked unit also saw an improvement, reaching 26.92 thebe, higher than the previous year.

Looking ahead, FPC remains confident in its competitiveness and growth prospects. The company possesses a substantial land bank, which it plans to develop strategically as opportunities arise. FPC aims for managed growth, focusing on consumer-driven developments and ensuring the presence of supportive tenants. By maintaining this approach, the company believes it can sustainably grow its property portfolio and remain competitive in the market.

In terms of the macroeconomic environment, FPC noted that inflation rates are decreasing towards the 3% to 6% range approved by the Bank of Botswana. This is positive news for the company, as it hopes for further decreases in interest rates. However, the fluctuating fuel prices, influenced by global events such as the war in Ukraine and oil output reductions by Russia and other Middle Eastern countries, continue to impact businesses, including some of FPC’s tenants.

FPC’s property portfolio includes notable assets such as a shopping mall in Francistown with Choppies Hyper as the anchor tenant, Borogo Mall located on the A33 main road near the Kazungula ferry crossing, and various industrial and commercial properties in Gaborone leased to Choppies, Senn Foods, and Clover Botswana. The company also owns a shopping mall in Mafikeng and Rustenburg in South Africa.

The majority of FPC’s properties, 85%, are located in Botswana, followed by 12% in South Africa and 3% in Zambia. With its strong financial performance, competitive position, and strategic land bank, FPC is well-positioned for continued growth and success in the property market.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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BPC Signs PPA with Sekaname Energy

4th December 2023

The Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) has taken a significant step towards diversifying its energy mix by signing a power purchase agreement with Sekaname Energy for the production of power from coal bed methane in Mmashoro village. This agreement marks a major milestone for the energy sector in Botswana as the country transitions from a coal-fired power generation system to a new energy mix comprising coal, gas, solar, and wind.

The CEO of BPC, David Kgoboko, explained that the Power Purchase Agreement is for a 6MW coal bed methane proof of concept project to be developed around Mmashoro village. This project aligns with BPC’s strategic initiatives to increase the proportion of low-carbon power generation sources and renewable energy in the energy mix. The use of coal bed methane for power generation is an exciting development as it provides a hybrid solution with non-dispatchable sources of generation like solar PV. Without flexible base-load generation, the deployment of non-dispatchable solar PV generation would be limited.

Kgoboko emphasized that BPC is committed to enabling the development of a gas supply industry in Botswana. Sekaname Energy, along with other players in the coal bed methane exploration business, is a key and strategic partner for BPC. The successful development of a gas supply industry will enable the realization of a secure and sustainable energy mix for the country.

The Minister of Minerals & Energy, Lefoko Moagi, expressed his support for the initiative by the private sector to develop a gas industry in Botswana. The country has abundant coal reserves, and the government fully supports the commercial extraction of coal bed methane gas for power generation. The government guarantees that BPC will purchase the generated electricity at reasonable tariffs, providing cash flow to the developers and enabling them to raise equity and debt funding for gas extraction development.

Moagi highlighted the benefits of developing a gas supply industry, including diversified primary energy sources, economic diversification, import substitution, and employment creation. He commended Sekaname Energy for undertaking a pilot project to prove the commercial viability of extracting coal bed methane for power generation. If successful, this initiative would unlock the potential of a gas production industry in Botswana.

Sekaname Energy CEO, Peter Mmusi, emphasized the multiple uses of natural gas and its potential to uplift Botswana’s economy. In addition to power generation, natural gas can be used for gas-to-liquids, compressed natural gas, and fertilizer production. Mmusi revealed that Sekaname has already invested $57 million in exploration and infrastructure throughout its resource area. The company plans to spend another $10-15 million for the initial 6MW project and aims to invest over $500 million in the future for a 90MW power plant. Sekaname’s goal is to assist BPC in becoming a net exporter of power within the region and to contribute to Botswana’s transition to cleaner energy production.

In conclusion, the power purchase agreement between BPC and Sekaname Energy for the production of power from coal bed methane in Mmashoro village is a significant step towards diversifying Botswana’s energy mix. This project aligns with BPC’s strategic initiatives to increase the proportion of low-carbon power generation sources and renewable energy. The government’s support for the development of a gas supply industry and the commercial extraction of coal bed methane will bring numerous benefits to the country, including economic diversification, import substitution, and employment creation. With the potential to become a net exporter of power and a cleaner energy producer, Botswana is poised to make significant strides in its energy sector.

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UDC deadlock: Boko, Ndaba, Reatile meet  

4th December 2023

It is not clear as to when, but before taking a festive break in few weeks’ time UDC leaders would have convened to address the ongoing deadlock surrounding constituency allocation in the negotiations for the 2024 elections. The leaders, Duma Boko of the UDC, Mephato Reggie Reatile of the BPF, and Ndaba Gaolathe of the AP, are expected to meet and discuss critical matters and engage in dialogue regarding the contested constituencies.

The negotiations hit a stalemate when it came to allocating constituencies, prompting the need for the leaders to intervene. Representatives from the UDC, AP, and BPF were tasked with negotiating the allocation, with Dr. Patrick Molotsi and Dr. Philip Bulawa representing the UDC, and Dr. Phenyo Butale and Wynter Mmolotsi representing the AP.

The leaders’ meeting is crucial in resolving the contentious issue of constituency allocation, which has caused tension among UDC members and potential candidates for the 2024 elections. After reaching an agreement, the leaders will engage with the members of each constituency to gauge their opinions and ensure that the decisions made are favored by the rank and file. This approach aims to avoid unnecessary costs and conflicts during the general elections.

One of the main points of contention is the allocation of Molepolole South, which the BNF is adamant about obtaining. In the 2019 elections, the UDC was the runner-up in Molepolole South, securing the second position in seven out of eight wards. Other contested constituencies include Metsimotlhabe, Kgatleng East and West, Mmadinare, Francistown East, Shashe West, Boteti East, and Lerala Maunatlala.

The criteria used for constituency allocation have also become a point of dispute among the UDC member parties. The issue of incumbency is particularly contentious, as the criterion for constituency allocation suggests that current holders of UDC’s council and parliamentary seats should be given priority for re-election without undergoing primary elections. Disadvantaged parties argue that this approach limits democratic competition and hinders the emergence of potentially more capable candidates.

Another disputed criterion is the allocation based on the strength and popularity of a party in specific areas. Parties argue that this is a subjective criterion that leads to disputes and favoritism, as clear metrics for strength and visibility cannot be defined. The BNF, in particular, questions the demands of the new entrants, the BPF and AP, as they lack a traceable track record to support their high expectations.

The unity and cohesion of the UDC are at stake, with the BPF and AP expressing dissatisfaction and considering withdrawing from the negotiations. Therefore, it is crucial for the leaders to expedite their meeting and find a resolution to these disputes.

In the midst of these negotiations, the BNF has already secured 15 constituencies within the UDC coalition. While the negotiations are still ongoing, BNF Chairman Dr. Molotsi revealed that they have traditionally held these constituencies and are expecting to add more to their tally. The constituencies include Gantsi North, Gantsi South, Kgalagadi North, Kgalagadi South, Good Hope – Mmathethe, Kanye North, Kanye South, Lobatse, Molepolole North, Gaborone South, Gaborone North, Gaborone Bonnignton North, Takatokwane, Letlhakeng, and Tlokweng.

The resolution of the contested constituencies will test the ability of the UDC to present a united front in the 2024 National Elections will depend on the decisions made by the three leaders. It is essential for them to demonstrate maturity and astuteness in resolving the constituency allocation deadlock and ensuring the cohesion of the UDC.

 

 

 

 

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