The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Councillor in the Central District village of Thabala, Kadimo Oremeng, popularly known for his three Million Pula Riverwalk Mall suit against the Government of Botswana and former permanent secretary in the Ministry of Local Government, Lands and Housing, Elvidge Mhlauli is suing again over a land owned by Cash Bazaar Holdings which he says was was originally his.
Oremeng is suing a certain Patrick Sello Kaote, a resident of Francistown, who he says solely and secretly sold their jointly owned chunk of land in Gabane to Cash Bazaar Holdings after the two failed to sell it to Choppies following the Kweneng Land Board denying them change of land to multi residential use as was per Choppies’ demands.
The two in 2010, according to Oremeng entered into an oral agreement, where Kaote appointed Oremeng as his agent regarding the sale of Kaote’s plot. The agreement according to court papers was that Oremeng shall find a buyer for the land and in return be paid P150 000.00 as commission.
The potential buyer at the time was Mogoditshane Motors who was sourced by Oremeng. They had paid P1 400 000.00 as deposit towards the purchase of the plot. The money was paid back to Mogoditshane Motors when the land was sold back to Cash Bazaar Holdings.
“In 2011, the defendant (Kaote) wrote another letter to his then attorney in which he offered Oremeng P370 000.00 commission for the sale of the same plot, this time to Cacic Enterprises. The said buyer was sourced by Oremeng. The agreed purchase price here was One Million Ten Thousand Pula. The sale referred to above never materialsed as the Land Board did not aceed to the change of land use request from a ploughing field to commercial,” says Oremeng.
Following the denial, the two renewed the land ownership deal for the smooth and speedy sale of the plot, according to Oremeng. Oremeng now was to facilitate the change of land use by the land board and find a buyer.
“The parties now jointly have equal rights to the land and that the parties shall therefore equally share the proceeds of the sale of the land should it find a buyer,” the court papers reveal.
The Chief Executive Officer of Choppies, Ramachandran Otttoppatu then proposed to buy the three hectars land at a tune of P8.2 Million after meeting Oremeng. “The offer is valid subject to the condition that multi residential zoning of the property gets approved by the relevant authorities. Kindly confirm the acceptance of the offer at the earliest,” he said in a letter to both Kaote and Oremeng.
Choppies had already paid the two a deposit of P100 000.00 which was returned after the Land Board refused the change of land use to multi residential use. The land owners then took the matter to the land tribunal. While there, the parties engaged the land board for an out of court settlement beneficial to both parties. “The Land Board made it a condition that for the parties must withdraw the case with the land tribunal,a condition that was granted,” reads the court papers filed by the plaintiff.
“The Land Board then agreed to a settlement in terms of which Kaote was allocated 2 hectares within his field and 1 hectar elsewhere, 5.7 hectars then reverted to the Land Board.The Board further agreed to change the land use to commercial,” argues Oremeng in the court papers.
According to Oremeng it was after this success, that Kaote made a secret deal with Cash Bazaar Holdings to sell the land to them without his knowledge and consent. The plot was bought by Cash Bazaar Holdings in the sum of six million five hundred thousand Pula, a sum which was paid to Kaote and his legal representative, Yame Tshepo Kebabonye of Sadique Kebonang Attorneys believe to have been Ten Million Pula before the land agents took their part.
Oremeng and his lawyer argue that Kaote has breached his agreement by failing to pay Oremeng half the price of the purchase as agreed. “The plaintiff has duly perfomed all his obligations per the agreement and has tirelessly worked to get the change of land use of the said property and secure a buyer,” Oremeng’s lawyer, Kebabonye argues in the court papers.
Oremeng and his lawyer say they want the sum of P3 250 000.00 representing half of the purchase price of the sold land. He also wants interest at the rate of 10 percent per annum from the date of breach of full and final payment. The two will be banking on surrounding evidence to prove their case.
Kaote who is represented by Sekwenyane Legal Practice however denies ever making an agreement of that nature with Oremeng. He argues that Oremeng failed to facilitate change of land use of the plot and further failed to secure a buyer for the land.
Kaote and his lawyers further charge that Oremeng had promised a lot of people the land and had actually appropriated a lot of money from these various individuals, further saying they had to pay back the money to avoid frustration of any future sale of the land.
For so many years, Botswana has been trying to be a self-sufficient country that is able to provide its citizens with locally produced food products. Through appropriate collaborations with parastatals such as CEDA, ISPAAD and LEA, government introduced initiatives such as the Horticulture Impact Accelerator Subsidy-IAS and other funding facilities to facilitate horticultural farmers to increase production levels.
Now that COVID-19 took over and disrupted the food value chain across all economies, Botswana government introduced these initiatives to reduce the import bill by enhancing local market and relieve horticultural farmers from loses or impacts associated with the pandemic.
In more concerted efforts to curb these food crises in the country, government extended the ploughing period for the Southern part of Botswana. The extension was due to the late start of rains in the Southern part of the country.
Last week the Ministry of Agriculture extended the ploughing period for the Northern part of the country, mainly because of rains recently experienced in the country. With these decisions taken urgently, government optimizes food security and reliance on local food production.
When pigs fly, Botswana will be able to produce food to feed its people. This is evident by the numbers released by Statistics Botswana on imports recorded in November 2020, on their International Merchandise Trade Statistics for the month under review.
The numbers say Botswana continues to import most of its food from neighbouring South Africa. Not only that, Batswana relies on South Africa to have something to smoke, to drink and even use as machinery.
According to data from Statistics Botswana, the country’s total imports amounted to P6.881 Million. Diamonds contributed to the total imports at 33%, which is equivalent to P2.3 Million. This was followed by food, beverages and tobacco, machinery and electrical equipment which stood at P912 Million and P790 Million respectively.
Most of these commodities were imported from The Southern African Customs Union (SACU). The Union supplied Botswana with imports valued at over P4.8 Million of Botswana’s imports for the month under review (November 2020). The top most imported commodity group from SACU region was food, beverages and tobacco, with a contribution of P864 Million, which is likely to be around 18.1% of the total imports from the region.
Diamonds and fuel, according to these statistics, contributed 16.0%, or P766 Million and 13.5% or P645 Million respectively. Botswana also showed a strong and desperate reliance on neighbouring South Africa for important commodities. Even though the borders between the two countries in order to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus, government took a decision to open border gates for essential services which included the transportation of commodities such as food.
Imports from South Africa recorded in November 2020 stood at P4.615 Million, which accounted for 67.1% of total imports during the month under review. Still from that country, Botswana bought food, beverages and tobacco worth P844 Million (18.3%), diamonds, machinery and fuel worth P758 Million, P601 Million and P562 Million respectively.
Botswana also imported chemicals and rubber products that made a contribution of 11.7% (P542.2 Million) to total imports from South Africa during the month under review, (November 2020).
The European Union also came to Botswana’s rescue in the previous year. Botswana received imports worth P698.3 Million from the EU, accounting for 10.1% of the total imports during the same month. The major group commodity imported from the EU was diamonds, accounting for 86.9% (P606.6 Million), of imports from the Union. Belgium was the major source of imports from the EU, at 8.9% (P609.1 Million) of total imports during the period under review.
Meanwhile, Minister of Finance and Economic Development Thapelo Matsheka says an improvement in exports and commodity prices will drive growth in Sub-Saharan Africa. Growth in the region is anticipated to recover modestly to 3.2% in 2021. Matsheka said this when delivering the Annual Budget Speech virtually in Gaborone on the 1st of February 2021.
He said implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA), which became operational in January 2021, could reduce the region’s vulnerability to global disruptions, as well as deepen trade and economic integration.
“This could also help boost competition and productivity. Successful implementation of AfCFTA will, of necessity, require Member States to eliminate both tariffs and non-tariff barriers, and generally make it easier to do business and invest across borders.”
Matsheka, who is also a Member of Parliament for Lobatse, an ailing town which houses the struggling biggest meat processing company in the country- Botswana Meat Commission, (BMC), said the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) recognizes the need to prioritize the key processes required for the implementation of the AfCFTA.
“The revised SACU Tariff Offer, which comprises 5,988 product lines with agreed Rules of Origin, representing 77% of the SACU Tariff Book, was submitted to the African Union Commission (AUC) in November 2020. The government is in the process of evaluating the tariff offers of other AfCFTA members prior to ratification, following which Botswana’s participation in AfCFTA will come to effect.”
Women continue to shadow men in politics – stereotypes such as ‘behind every successful man there is a woman’ cast the notion that women cannot lead. The 2019 general election recorded one of Botswana’s worst performances when it comes to women participation in parliamentary democracy with only three women elected to parliament.
Botswana’s former Minister of Health, Professor Sheila Tlou who is currently the Co-Chair, Global HIV Prevention Coalition & Nursing Now and an HIV, Gender & Human Rights Activist is not amused by the status quo. Tlou attributes this dilemma facing women to a number of factors, which she is convinced influence the voting patterns of Batswana when it comes to women politicians.
Professor Tlou plugs the party level voting systems as the first hindrance that blocks women from ascending to power. According to the former Minister of Health, there is inadequate amount of professionalism due to corrupt internal party structures affecting the voters roll and ultimately leading to voter apathy for those who end up struck off the voters rolls under dubious circumstances.
Tlou also stated that women’s campaigns are often clean; whilst men put to play the ‘politics is dirty metaphor using financial muscle to buy voters into voting for them without taking into consideration their abilities and credibility. The biggest hurdle according to Tlou is the fallacy that ‘Women cannot lead’, which is also perpetuated by other women who discourage people from voting for women.
There are numerous factors put on the table when scrutinizing a woman, she can be either too old, or too young, or her marital status can be used against her. An unmarried woman is labelled as a failure and questioned on how she intends on being a leader when she failed to have a home. The list is endless including slut shaming women who have either been through a divorce or on to their second marriages, Tlou observed.
The only way that voters can be emancipated from this mentality according to Tlou is through a robust voter education campaign tailor made to run continuously and not be left to the eve of elections as it is usually done. She further stated that the current crop of women in parliament must show case their abilities and magnify them – this will help make it clear that they too are worthy of votes.
And to women intending to run for office, Tlou encouraged them not to wait for the eleventh hour to show their interest and rather start in community mobilisation projects as early as possible so that the constituents can get to know them and their abilities prior to the election date.
Youthful Botswana National Front (BNF) leader and feminist, Resego Kgosidintsi blames women’s mentality towards one another which emanates from the fact that women have been socialised from a tender age that they cannot be leaders hence they find it difficult to vote for each other.
Kgosidintsi further states that, “Women do not have enough economic resources to stage effective campaigns. They are deemed as the natural care givers and would rather divert their funds towards raising children and building homes over buying campaign materials.”
Meanwhile, Vice President of the Alliance for Progressives (AP), Wynter Mmolotsi agrees that women’s participation in politics in Botswana remains a challenge. To address this Mmolotsi suggested that there should be constituencies reserved for women candidates only so that the outcome regardless of the party should deliver a woman Member of Parliament.
Mmolotsi further suggested that Botswana should ditch the First Past the Post system of election and opt for the proportional representation where contesting parties will dutifully list able women as their representatives in parliament.
On why women do not get elected, Mmolotsi explained that he had heard first hand from voters that they are reluctant to vote for women since they have limited access to them once they have won; unlike their male counterparts who have proven to be available night or day.
The pre-historic awarding of gender roles relegating women to be pregnant and barefoot at home and the man to be out there fending for the family has disadvantaged women in political and other professional careers.