Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) secretary general, Botsalo Ntuane has used P6000 in total to lure Thato Osupile, Viginia Masole, Oganne Mazwigwila and others into the ruling party. The money was classified as transport money to cover fuel and communication because the group had pledged to mobilise across the country, especially in Francistown, to recruit Botswana Congress Party (BCP) members to the BDP.
Political experts agree that Ntuane and his partner in the BCP invasion, Mephato Reatile are well within their rights to raid the opposition Dumelang Saleshando led party and other opposition parties like the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) is their pursuit to quench their thirst for more opposition ranks at the ruling party. But some within the ruling party express discomfort at the ‘recklessness’ demonstrated in the leaked tapes.
BDP commentators who have listened to the leaked audio featuring Ntuane, former chairman of the BDP Political Education subcommittee, Reatile are worried that the new secretary general is bordering on recklessness because of the statements he is making to lure the frustrated opposition members. First he indicates that politics has nothing to do with principle, it is about the belly and self, period.
Ntuane is describing the BDP as a desperate party that used to be arrogant. He states that the BDP is no longer arrogant because of the changing political climate and the poor election performance of 2014. He uses himself as a case study to pick at the BDP desperation, “You see they voted for me to be the secretary general despite the fact that I have just arrived from the BMD. It shows that the arrogance is gone,” he says.
“The beauty of the BDP of today is that there is no arrogance because of the party’s dismal performance in the just ended 2014 elections. They just want new ideas to rescue the party’s sinking ship. They are now open minded, they are no longer selfish,” he says in the leaked tape.
Ntuane is using his circumstances to lure the opposition ranks into the BDP. He is clearly stating that changing political homes is not a problem. “I know some people always find it difficult to change political homes after staying for some many years at a particular party, for us, this is not a problem, life goes on. I used to be at BMD, a party I founded, and now I am with the BDP and I am its secretary general,” he preaches.
“If it was that old party known of arrogance, they would have not even voted for me in Mmadinare, they would have easily snubbed me saying I divided the party and formed the very splinter party that has undoubtedly affected the party’s electoral fortunes. But they voted for me because they thought I could be of assistance to the party and bring in some new people for the party. So basically, the party is at the moment on survival mode. At this stage of survival, everyone should benefit.”
While Ntuane has had his own personal wars with the BCP when he was still with the BMD, some feel that his current excursions into the BCP is more about asserting himself as a worthy secretary general for the BDP. He wants to prove that he can recruit for the party despite the many doubts expressed by the group that did not support him at the Mmadinare congress.
Further in the tape Ntuane had encouraged the renegade BCP members not to write any resignation letters. He had wanted them to do an act of surprise on the BCP leadership. “We want you to be paraded at the Phitshane-Molopo rally, so that you surprise them.
Even if they are to plan a disciplinary hearing, there is no way that they will discipline a member of a different party. That is what we did to the BDP when we formed the BMD. How could they institute disciplinary proceedings against a leader of another party,” said Ntuane selling his story to the bemused former BCP members.
To explain the P6000 given to the disgruntled former BCP members, the leaked audio tape captures a conversation below:
“Comrade, we were given the money which we were told it was for fuel, and other expenses, and there were 5 of us while the amount was P 6 000. Florah then said she was not jumping ship, and we agreed that her P 1000 will be included in the fuel expenses, and then her One grand was put aside, XXL got his P 1000, and XXT got his as well, including XXV. And we were left with P 2 000.”
The conversation continues:
“In the first meeting we were told that, as Domkrag were no longer dishing out money to buy politicians even though they used to. But they are now finding themselves in situations where by a lot of people who jump ship also want that money, but since the money is no longer there, they assured us that there were opportunities that came with joining the party.
We were given an example that XXXXX was awarded a P7 million loan from a parastatal with all the procedures intentionally flouted and manipulated to favour him to start a company. But unfortunately due to poor management he failed to pay back the loan agency – but again the party broke the law and protected him so that his asserts were not repossessed and impounded – you see that’s an opportunity.
The other example was that of KN who never contested for the past elections but he was given a specially elected seat. If you look at it closely you will see that in opposition there is nothing for us, if you lose primary of general elections there is basically nothing in store for you whereas with the BDP you can get special nomination.
Also, we were told that with BDP, controlling the economy there was much in store for us. For example, if you are running a supplies business and we are given a tender, we can allocate it to Minister X and if we gave it to her we would have given to around 20 BDP members since we will instruct her to longer purchase from South Africa. The other good thing about the BDP is that if you make an assignment using your costs you are catered for.”
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.”
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.
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.”