The newly established Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Council, a derivative of the NGO Policy that was approved by cabinet in November 2012 has been put under the spot light on issues of proper independence as expected of NGOs.
It is understood that since its launch in April 2014, the Council has been housed under the roof of government offices, in particular the Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs. However observers believe that the arrangement may hinder the Council in their role as NGOs to effectively hold the government accountable without fear or favour and provide checks and balances.
The NGO sector in Botswana has been accused of deafening silence with regards to participation in national discourse, in particular BOCONGO which, as the umbrella of NGOs leads its affiliates with one voice to tackle issues of national interest.
The weakness in the NGO sector has been blamed partly on self-censorship by NGO’s as they fear to speak up on dogmatic matters. This has been interpreted as them avoiding biting the hand that feeds them.
Weekend Post has gathered that the NGO Council moreover periodically receives grants from government, and part of it is disbursed to umbrella organisations being Botswana Council of Non-Governmental Organisations (BOCONGO) and Botswana Community Based Organisation Network (BOCOBONET) under a formal arrangement as dictated by the NGO Policy.
However, to elude the self censorship, the NGO Council has hinted that it will establish an endowment fund that would serve as a basket of funds earmarked for NGO support from various strategic partnerships and resource mobilization sources.
“An endowment fund will be in place; it is at formative stage right now as we are still working on modalities on how it will operate,” NGO Council Chairperson, Bookie Kethusegile confirmed at a press conference on Thursday in Gaborone.
Kethusegile explained that the fund would be open for various stakeholders in the society to put money in to assist NGOs and that would enable them to be sustainable in the long run. She pointed out that they are currently involving other stakeholders on how to go about this fund to make it a success.
A member of the NGO Council and former BOCONGO Vice Chairperson, Owen Isaacs also added that since the endowment fund will be derived from private sector, government, donor community and individual citizens, independence of the NGO Council in running the fund will be cast-iron.
The NGO Council was established to bring together government and Non State Actors to partner in the development process of the country. Some of its responsibilities would include implementing programmes that are of national interest and to facilitate the execution of NGO Policy, providing mediation on conflicts between NGOs and Umbrella bodies; provide overall policy guidance on all aspects of NGO operations and activities within the framework on the NGO policy.
Sometimes, the NGO sector may be required to monitor a particular government agency to make sure they are doing their jobs and spending public resources appropriately.
If they are not, that’s when NGOs need to speak up and demand changes, and it is expected that the NGO Council should lead in the role. The NGO Council is in the meantime surrounded by questions of whether they will escape being prisons of government funds before the endowment fund is in full swing.
The Council is made up 14 members: 7 members of Civil Society being Peggy Ramaphane, Oscar Motsumi, Gaontebale Mokgosi, Owen Isaacs, from BOCONGO; and Robertson Mabuta, Isaac Letlole, Dr. Connie Rapoo from BOCOBONET.
In addition there are 5 representatives of government in the Council which includes Jacob Momene from Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, Botshabelo Othusitse representing Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism, Ruth Radibe from Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development and a representative from Ministry of Health. There is also 1 member from Business Botswana and an independent person (1) who is also its chairperson Bookie Kethusegile.
Meanwhile, another NGO Council member and BOCONGO Board member Gaontebale Mokgosi has stated in a recent opinion piece that: “cooperating with Government for development projects does not necessarily mean losing the independence, integrity and credibility of NGOs. Such a conclusion is very simplistic, imprecise and misleading. It indicates a spirit of sentimental romanticism.”
The renowned NGO activist also asserted that NGOs should as well have an effective system of accountability in place and provide transparency in the NGO management. He said the NGO Policy postulates Government`s commitment to work with NGOs as the relationship has been very loose and not so formal.
“Certainly NGOs should guard against being controlled by Government and they should not ‘unquestioningly’ accept government initiatives,” he concluded.
Botswana Telecommunications Corporation Limited (BTC) has announced that its 3rd Francistown Marathon will be held on Saturday 20th April 2024 at Obed Itani Chilume Stadium in Francistown. The BTC Francistown Marathon is officially recognised by World Athletics and a Comrades Marathon Qualifier will offer race categories ranging from 42.2km, 21.1 km, 10km, 5km fun run, 5km peace run for children and has introduced a 5km and 10km categories for wheelchairs athletics.
BTC also used this opportunity to announce beneficiaries who received donations from proceeds made from the 2nd BTC Francistown Marathon that was held on April 23rd 203. BTC donated a play area, plastic chairs and wooden tables for pupils worth a total of thirty eight thousand, one hundred and three pula, fifty thebe each (P38, 103.50) to Monarch Primary School, Tatitown Primary School, Mahube Primary School and Gulubane Primary School. Ditladi and Boikhutso clinics each received a donation of benches, television sets and 10, 000 litre water tanks worth thirty seven thousan, eight hundred and ninety eight pula (P 37, 898.00). Additionally, BTC also donated seventy thousand pula (P70,000.00) to their marathon technical partner, Francistown Athletics Club (FAC) which will be used for daily operations as well as to purchase equipment for the club.
The BTC Francistown Marathon aligns seamlessly with BTC’s corporate social investment programme, administered through the BTC Foundation. This programme is a testament to BTC’s dedication to community development, focusing on key areas such as health promotion. The marathon, now in its third year, not only promotes a healthy lifestyle but also channels all proceeds to carefully chosen charities as part of BTC’s commitment to impactful and sustainable projects.
Speaking at the launch, the BTC Managing Director Mr Anthony Masunga stated that the marathon underscores BTC’s commitment to community upliftment and corporate social investment. He stated that “the annual event which has been in existence since 2016, having taken a break due to the covid and other logistical issues, is instrumental to the economic upliftment of the city of Francistown”. He congratulated all the beneficiaries for having been nominated to receive the donations, adding that “the donation of proceeds from the 2023 marathon aims to highlight BTC’s commitment and heart for Batswana and our continued impact in the different industries”.
He further stated that through this marathon, “we demonstrate our steadfast commitment to having a good influence on our communities, this event is a manifestation of our dedication to promoting education and a healthier, more active society”. He concluded by stating that “BTC looks forward to another successful marathon that will leave a lasting positive influence on the greater Francistown community and the country at large” he said.
Giving welcome remarks, the Councillor for Donga, Honourable Morulaganyi Mothowabarwa stated that “he is ecstatic that BTC is collaborating with the City of Francistown on yet another installment of the Marathon”. He continued to offer his support to BTC to enable this marathon to continue over the coming years, stating that the “CSI element is a welcome development that helps empower our communities”, he said.
The 3rd BTC Francistown Marathon is officially open for registrations and athletes may use the following platforms to register and pay; through Smega by dialling *173# and choosing opton 5, then choose Option 3 for the Francistown marathon, at any BTC store or by visiting the BTC website and clicking on the BTC Francistown Marathon and choosing the relevant options.
Thapelo Letsholo, Member of Parliament for Kanye North, delivered a moving speech at the United Nations International Anti-Corruption Day commemoration, praising President Dr. Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi’s digitalization initiative in the fight against corruption. Letsholo highlighted the importance of embracing digitalization in governance as a crucial step in curbing corrupt practices.
According to Letsholo, the implementation of digital systems in government services can significantly reduce direct interactions between citizens and officials, which often serve as fertile grounds for corruption. By minimizing these opportunities for illicit activities, the efficiency and transparency of public services can be enhanced. Letsholo pointed to Estonia’s success in digital governance as an example, where public services have become more transparent, accessible, and efficient.
The MP commended President Masisi’s commitment to digitalization and E-Governance, emphasizing that it aligns with global anti-corruption standards. He called for full support and active participation from all sectors to ensure the success of this initiative.
Letsholo also stressed the importance of improving detection methods and refining whistleblower laws to effectively combat corruption. He highlighted the unseen and unspoken facets of corruption as its lifelines, emphasizing the need for robust detection mechanisms and a system that encourages and protects whistleblowers.
Addressing the societal role in fighting corruption, Letsholo focused on the crucial role of everyday citizens and civil servants who often witness corrupt practices firsthand. He acknowledged the existing reluctance to report corruption due to the perceived risks of repercussions. To change this narrative, Letsholo advocated for creating an environment where staying silent is deemed more detrimental than speaking out. He called for a cultural shift where the potential benefits of exposing corruption outweigh the risks, ensuring that whistleblowers are protected and feel secure in coming forward.
Letsholo called for collective responsibility and action in creating a system that not only detects and reports corruption but also supports those who stand against it. He expressed hope that under President Masisi’s digitalization initiatives, the future of governance in Botswana will be characterized by integrity, transparency, and accountability. Letsholo’s speech resonated with the sentiments of hope and determination that permeated the commemoration, emphasizing the need for unity in the fight against corruption.
In summary, Letsholo lauded President Masisi’s digitalization initiative in the fight against corruption, highlighting its potential to curb corrupt practices, enhance efficiency and transparency in public services, and align with global anti-corruption standards. He emphasized the importance of improving detection methods, refining whistleblower laws, and creating an environment where speaking out against corruption is encouraged and protected. Letsholo called for collective responsibility and action in creating a future characterized by integrity, transparency, and accountability in governance.
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.