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Dikgosi threaten Gov’t

Ntlo Ya Dikgosi recently debated a motion that addressed a number of issues including the Bogosi conditions of service. Dikgosi want the Government to address their conditions of service and are particularly unhappy about being at the direction of the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development. Dikgosi Association and Dikgosana Association are busy lobbying to push for amendments to the Bogosi Act. The Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Slumber Tsogwane said he is not aware of complaints from Dikgosi and he has not heard about their meetings.

Bogosi Association and Dikgosana Association are compiling reports to be tabled before the Minister of Local Government and Rural development, Slumber Tsogwane in the near future. Magosi are separately calling for a review of the Bogosi Act, in particular issues that deal with their powers and conditions of service.


Members of Bogosi Association met in Mahalapye this past weekend to address a number of issues linked to the Bogosi Act and are said to be of the view that it must be reviewed and some of their powers be reinstated. Magosi are adamantly incensed by the total powers given to the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development over Dikgosi.


Of particular concern are clauses that deal with recognition of Dikgosi, appointments of Magosi and removal of Magosi. They are concerned that the Minister, at least in the spirit of the Bogosi Act appears to be superior to morafhe and may choose to ignore the natural lineage of a particular Bogosi. 

 
Just recently Ntlo Ya Dikgosi debated a motion which called for a review of their conditions of service and or Bogosi Act and want the Minister to push Cabinet to review it. Weekend Post has gathered that the Minister wants to be given documents relating to the debate.

It has come to light that soon after the debate of this matter, Kgosi Lotlaamoreng of Barolong resigned from Bogosi and joined politics. He is representing the opposition, Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) in the Goodhope-Mabule bye-election.


Dikgosi are annoyed that the Bogosi Act disrespects the Botswana culture especially when a Kgosi retires before the mandatory age of 80 years. A Kgosi can serve until they are 80 years.

But at age 60, the Kgosi is forced to retire by the Public Service Act, and his or her fate rests with the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development who chooses to give or not to give him a contract of employment every five years. Such a contract is reviewed by the Minister and the discretion to appoint solely rests with the Minister.

Dikgosi have used Kgosi Sekai of Bakgatla’s case as an example. Former Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Peter Siele dethroned him following his battle with government during the flogging case. Dikgosi point out that they are at the mercy of politicians because of the prescriptions of Bogosi Act.


This publication has gathered that some Magosi are threatening to jump ship and join the political bandwagon because that is where “their power has been taken”. On the other hand Magosana are at logger heads with government over low salaries and lack of recognition. They want their conditions of service to be reviewed because there are Magosana who are not paid at all, “all we are doing is just a national service,” one Kgosana told WeekendPost.


Dikgosi are of the view that their influence and leadership over merafhe is being undermined by government to an extent that they are treated as civil servants.


Kgosi Gaamangwe Garebakwena, spokesperson of Dikgosana Association indicated that he was aware that Dikgosi Association met at the weekend but he was not privy to the details. He said Dikgosana Association is also meeting very soon to discuss issues affecting their institution. However, he pointed out that it is important to address the root cause of why Dikgosi are joining politics. “What is attracting Dikgosi to politics? We must deal with the cause then we will protect the Bogosi institution,” he said.


There are fears that Magosana in the villages may take a shot at politics come 2019 because they want some resemblance of power, better salaries and improved living standards. “These people are aware of the influence they have in their communities and it can be an easy decision for them to join a structure that could quickly bring changes to their personal lives and the lives of those they lead,” said a Kgosana who preferred anonymity.  In fact during the Ntlo Ya Dikgosi debate one of the Dikgosi remarked that “Dikgosi are a government in waiting.”  


The Repeal of Chieftainship Act

The Chieftainship Act CAP 41:01 was repealed by Section 29 of Bogosi Act of 2008 which commenced on the 30th April 2008. Bogosi Act of 2008 was enacted as a consequence of the Report of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry of 2000 otherwise known as The Balopi Commission, into Sections 77, 78 and 79 of the Constitution of Botswana which dealt with the perceived tribal discrimination. The Balopi Commission was thus aimed at solving the problem of tribal inequality in Botswana. The Bogosi Act of 2008 resulted in the nomenclature – House of Chiefs – changing to Ntlo ya Dikgosi, the title Chief changed to Kgosi and the number of members of Ntlo ya Dikgosi increased from twelve (12) to thirty four (34).


Some contentious clauses as captured from the Bogosi Act:


Who is a Kgosi  

A Kgosi is an individual who- (a) possesses such minimum educational qualifications as may be prescribed from time to time; (b) has been designated as Kgosi under section 6; and (c) is recognised as a Kgosi by the Minister in accordance with the provisions of sections 6  and 21.


Removal of Kgosi

 (1) If- (a) the Minister has reasonable cause to believe that the Kgosi of any tribe; or


(b) any tribe or section of a tribe lodges with the Minister a complaint that the Kgosi of that tribe, is incapable of exercising his or her powers, has abused his or her powers, is being insubordinate or is refusing or has refused to carry out lawful orders, or is for any reason not a fit and proper person to be a Kgosi, the Minister shall make such enquiry or cause such enquiry to be made as he or she may consider appropriate and shall afford the Kgosi an opportunity to be heard.


(2) If after the holding of an enquiry under subsection (1), the allegations made against the Kgosi are proved, the Minister may- (a) caution or reprimand the Kgosi; (b) order the stoppage of increment of the salary of the Kgosi; (c) suspend the Kgosi; (d) if he or she considers it to be expedient and in the interest of peace, good order and good governance, depose such Kgosi or extend the suspension for a period not exceeding two years.


(3) Where the allegations made against a Kgosi have not been substantiated at the enquiry, the Kgosi shall be reinstated.

Withdrawal of recognition from Kgosi

The Minister may, by notice published in the Gazette, at any time, withdraw recognition from a Kgosi if- (a) the Kgosi has been deposed and his or her appeal against the deposition has been dismissed or the period allowed for appealing has elapsed without an appeal having been brought; or (b) the Minister considers it to be in the public interest to withdraw recognition.

Directions by Minister

(1) The Minister may issue directions in writing to any Kgosi, not inconsistent with the provisions of this Act, for the better carrying out of the provisions of this Act. (2) Any Kgosi who without good cause fails to comply with any directions given to him or her by the Minister shall be liable to be reprimanded, suspended, stoppage of increment of salary or deposed in accordance with the provisions of section 13.

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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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