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Khama’s move to Orapa House finalised

Office of the president concludes move to Orapa House

The President and his staff will finally relocate to the highly secure Orapa House. The move to the new office has been a  topic of discussion for the past two years, with much debate centreing on the ownership of the building and its worth.

The move however comes with a litany of conditions and questions.

At the core, is whether the Office of the President and the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning overode a decision by Parliament which rejected the proposal to buy Orapa House under the belief that government may be buying own property.The buidling was to be bought at a cost of a negotiated P79 million.

In 2012 the then Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, Mokgweetsi Masisi withdrew his request in Parliament for funds to buy Orapa House from De Beers after details emerged that the building could be owned by the Botswana government.

Masisi advised the Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Kenneth Matambo to take up the matter and investigate it. Masisi told Weekend Post this week that “the house has been fully paid for by the government and now belongs to the government.”

The PSP Cater Morupisi however said he was not in a position to say whether the building had been purchased or not. “We are still in the process of doing so but you may reach out to the secretary to the President.”He said the matter that was before Parlaiment had been dealt with “as we went back and corrected the said budgetary issues”.

The procuring entity,The Ministry of Infrastructure,Science and Technology and Public Procurement and Assert Disposal Board have according to a PPADB document before Weekendpost, taken a decision that only four companies namely Murray & Roberts, Landmark Projects, Stefanutti Stocks and Katz Holdings (pty) Ltd are eligible to refurbish the envisaged State President Ministry – Orapa House. One of the bidders Murray & Roberts also happens to the constructor of Orapa House which was contructed over decades ago.

WeekendPost can reveal that there has been a series of meetings over who should be invited for the 11 000 m2 floor space building refurbishment after the President gave the project caretakers a word that “things should be done properly”.By this heavily loaded statement, the caretakers understood the President to mean that stern measures should be put in place to avoid the growing catastrophical culture of structural failures and unneccesary over expenditures.

The President has in the past spoken strongly against some Chinese contractors whom he has repeatedly accused of ruining the country’s developmental agenda.The Chinese, popularly known for their insatiable appetite and qualifications for mega projects will not be able to bid and rebuild the President’s office as the tender number PR 9/3/3/14 (VIII) to refurbish the Orapa House was never gazetted.

The Minister of Infrastructure, Science and Technology, Nonofo Molefi could not shed more light on the project, as to why it wasn’t gazetted and what the refurbishing would entail. He refered this publication to his Permanent Secretary who could not provide answers at the time of going to press.

“My understanding is that the building, though structurally sound, there are a number of issues that should be addressed to restore the building and modify it to suit our requirements. I will not be able to respond to some of your questions right now as I do not sit in some of the meetings, please reach out to my PS,” he said.

His PS Dikagiso Mokotedi said the government has decided to buy the building and use it for accommodation. “We selected a few companies which we thought had the capacity to deal with the project. They are expected to give us their proposal time frames and other aspects for consideration,” he said.

Mokotedi said he doesn’t know what the current location of Office of the President is going to be used for once they relocate to Orapa House. “We were just called to assist with the renovations and other related structural issues,” he said.

The architecture of Orapa House is perfectly designed for grading diamonds taken from Botswana's diamond mines. Natural, rather than direct sunlight is essential for the sorting process.

In 2012 Masisi withdrew his proposal following a decision by the Finance and Estimates Committee not to approve the funds request and an intervention by Tati East Member of Parliament, Charles Tibone who argued that Botswana government may find itself buying a building that actually belonged to the tax payer already.

Government had wanted to buy the Orapa House for “a negotiated P79m” but the Finance and Estimates Committee of Parliament had rejected the request because of the inconsistencies realised in the supporting documents of the proposed procurement. The valuation of the building was put at P74 million. The Ministry of Lands and Housing had initially offered De Beers P73,000,000 as the purchase price. However, De Beers countered with P85,000,000. On negotiation and converging of the minds, wrote Thebe, the selling price was finally agreed at P79,000,000.

The 11000 square metres office building has been home to Botswana Diamond Valuing Company (BDVC), a subsidiary of De Beers and Debswana Diamond Company for several years. The building became vacant after Diamond Trading Company (DTC) relocated to the state of the art building along the airport road in Block 8.

THE PROPOSED OFFICES CONTRACTORS

Murray & Roberts
Murray & Roberts, A South African company has been locally present and operated in Botswana for more than four decades, making a significant contribution to the development of the country during this period.

As a subsidiary of leading South Africa-based JSE listed engineering and contracting Group, Murray & Roberts, the company's core strength is its superior construction as well as construction management ability, with regard to structures requiring bricks and/or concrete materials, featuring a combination of scale, complexity and a design/build aspect.

Its project highlights include the Central Business District tallest building I-Tower Phase 1, Tati Nickel Mine, FNB Gaborone, Rail Park Mall, Airport Road Development Gaborone, Distribution Depot & Warehouses Gaborone, Jwaneng Mine Cut 8 Civils, Jwaneng Mine Slimes Dam No. 7, Bulk Diamond Sorting Centre (BDVC), Gaborone, FNB Francistown and Shashe River Bridge, Kalakamati. They also happen to be the builders of Orapa House.
 

Stefanutti Stocks
Stefanutti Stocks is one of South Africa’s leading engineering and construction groups with an annual turnover in excess of R7 billion, over 9000 employees and the capabilities to deliver a range of projects of any scale to a multitude of clients in diverse markets.

Their operating sectors include Structures, Roads and Earthworks, Property and Concession, Mining Services, Mechanical, Electrical and Power, Interior fit-out and the Construction and Building sector.
According to their website, their clients include governments, parastatals and local authorities, major mining houses, leaders of industry, large corporate groups, financial institutions and property developers.

The company is active in South Africa and across sub Saharan Africa including Angola, Lesotho, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. It is also active further abroad in the Middle East region.

The Botswana Building division has undertaken a variety of projects for both private and public sector clients. In 2003 they completed the remote Maun Hospital; they have completed numerous retail & leisure facilities and were also the proponents of the first office accommodation public private partnership in Botswana in 2007.

In South Africa they operate in structures, roads and earthworks, property and concessions, mining services, mechanical, electrical and power as well as the construction and building sector. In the Middle East region their operations cover interior fit-outs, refurbishments, electro-mechanical installations and construction.

Landmark Projects
The company is headed by a Chinese, Mr Ben Liu but 100 percent citizen owned. Landmark has been delivering professional construction and development services for 16 years and its mission is to be nationally recognised as an excellent construction industry. The Company says its registration with PPADB as appended confirms its ability to take on projects of unlimited value in both general building and civil engineering industry.

The company’s previous clientele includes high profile Botswana businesses and government such as Pop INN, Botswana Power Corporation, BDC Pula projects, Charlton Electrical, Sasa Investments, DBES, Botswana Housing Cooperation, Jwaneng Town Council, Botswana Defence Force, Ministry of Works and Transport, Kgatleng District Council, Botswana Meat Commission, government and North West District Council.

Katz Holdings
Efforts to reach out to Katz holdings were unsuccessful.

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 Zakhem vindicated

15th September 2021
Zakhem

Botswana Football Association (BFA) leadership appears to be bowing down to Nicolas Zakhem’s football pressure. The development comes to the open roughly 24 hours after the Gaborone United director publicly labelled Maclean Letshwiti and his committee failures for deciding to chop five premier league clubs under the pretext of club licensing disqualification.

As early as Wednesday noon, the BFA emergency committee met with one agenda item to discuss the possibility of reinstating the clubs. This publication gathers that the committee saw it fit to pardon the five clubs without entertaining a second thought. The committee even invited the clubs to the meeting, sources say.

Late last month, the five teams were disqualified from playing in the premier league, pending the appeal outcome. The teams are Notwane, Extension Gunners, BR Highlanders, Mogoditshane Fighters, together with Gilport Lions. The immediate decision by BFA follows what Zakhem had said and advised that it was wrong to chop clubs given the COVID-19 situation in the country.

Unbeknownst to BFA leadership, observers stress that Zakhem exerted public pressure and influenced them to change tone without asking. At the meeting, BFA president Maclean Letshwiti, his vices, Marshlow Motlogelwa and Masego Ntshingane, Aryl Ralebala, the Botswana Football League (BFL) chairman, together with Alec Fela, an ordinary member in the now stubborn NEC.

However, the reactive move by the association to reinstate the clubs is highly welcomed in certain quarters, but it also appears to have left a permanent scar, especially at BFL. As things stand, the general feeling on the ground is to oust chairman Ralebala for failing to defend these clubs before the eyes of President Letshwiti.

This publication has intercepted an ongoing petition to unseat Ralebala and his deputies from the BFL board. Strange enough, the signed petition has thus far attracted clubs with household influence in the league itself. GU, Township Rollers, Notwane, Extension Gunners, Police XI are some clubs that have already appended their signatures to have Ralebala removed.

The big clubs are believed to fighting for principle and demand fair governance at BFL. The reality is that these clubs command a large following, and sponsors can always have a say based on their presence.

When approached for clarity, Ralebala said he could not comment on allegations or issues that lack substance. He concedes that he has heard about the rolling petition but is yet to lay his eyes on it.
“I have heard about the petition, but I don’t know where it is coming from. I think it is best you ask those who have signed it. My focus is to commence the league and make sure everything is on point,” said Ralebala.

Football observers state that Ralebala, together with Letshwiti, are now faced with a dilemma. Reports coming from Lekidi Football Centre, although yet to be fabricated, are that the big guns lead others to form a parallel structure where they will play on their league. The clubs are angry at their chairman for taking many of the instructions from the BFA boss, and already a general melee is gathering traction that the two must resign as football has lost direction.

Zakhem says, although he supported Letshwiti, he has a sense of duty to stand for the truth. “I knew I supported Letshwiti and his troops, but you see, these guys have lost direction. I have long advised them that chopping clubs like this will cause confusion and delay progress, but they cannot listen. Letshwiti gave BFL autonomy, but I do not know why he is still interfering,” Zakhem said.

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The untold brighter side of the P100bn case fall

15th September 2021
President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi

You may, by now, have heard about the dark side of the high profile P100 billion case, but wait, there is also the brighter side. Staff Writer AUBREY LUTE explores the positives accruing from the fall of the country’s biggest financial ‘scam-dal’.

A chance to fix the country’s financial record

They have not publicly been saying it, but the state agencies and the President, Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi, have been at pains to explain and rationalise how an amount almost equal to the country’s GPD left the central bank.

Many insiders attributed the country‘s troubled financial status to the case, including the grey-listing, non-compliance and identified deficiencies, some of which were hitting citizens around the globe. Botswana was in 2018 taken aback by FATF news that the country has been listed alongside countries that do not comply with (AML/CFT). The European Union Commission later flagged Botswana in March 2019 for lacking strategic deficiencies in AML/CFT regulations.

A chance to restore the dignity of the law enforcement arms

The case, without a doubt, was a distraction object on the law enforcement agencies, which spent a chunk of their time bickering and finger-pointing. A leaked audio recording exposing the explosive meeting of the law enforcement arms of government, being the Intelligence Services, Corruption and Economic Crimes agency, and the Prosecutions division summed it all.

The case presented a monumental crisis threatening the core of their being. Following these developments, the Presidency, clearly under the influence of a tripartite member, took a spine-chilling decision to disband the DCEC, a move that was saved by the organisation’s founding director- Tymon Katlholo’s bold protest.

The DPP, the Police, and the DCEC staff were used in the process to carry out bizarre instructions, some of which left the state with an egg on its face. Mistrust and backstabbing were the order of the day within the law enforcement agencies, and the P100 billion case was to blame. “Some badly wanted the plot executed while the other side badly wanted it to end to restore sanity,” an insider says.

The source further adds that “if the case did not end soon, it was going to end a lot of people’s relationships and careers because those who refused to carry the insane instructions were seen as sympathisers to former President Ian Khama.” With the case having fallen, these agencies can reflect, reconcile and go back to work.

A chance to fix diplomatic relations…

It was not only South Africa that was accused of Sabotaging Botswana’s prosecutorial goal. The state also accused several countries of refusing or delaying to assist in the process. Of all the nations, only South Africa has decided to take Botswana to task, perhaps on its proximity to Botswana. Others long ignored Botswana’s requests for assistance to the frustration of former DPP deputy director who repeatedly told the courts that they were struggling to get responses from the international community. With the case having fallen, Botswana may get a chance to face her actions, apologise and rectify the promise that lessons have been learnt.

Pressure off the shoulders of those who have to account…

The case did not only affect the law enforcement agencies. All the stakeholders were put in the spotlight to provide answers. The first to bolt out of the circle was the central bank, Moses Pelaelo, who, like DCEC director-general, long declared the case a scam. He told the world that his books were in order and that no money was missing risking his high-paying job.

According to insiders, his superiors, the then Minister of Finance and Development Planning – Dr Matsheka and his subordinate, Dr Wildfred Mandlebe, were only whispering, without success, to the Gods that there is no money missing.

So concerned and under pressure was Dr Sethibe- then the head of the Financial Intelligence Agency- who, like his Ministry supervisors, was engaging in silent screams to warn the powers that be, all in vain. He later jumped the ship to his former employer, the University of Botswana, allegedly to protect his name and career.

At the time of the fall of the case, the DIS and the DPP were at advanced plans to higher American to come and probe the Bank of Botswana’s servers in a move that bankers feared could compromise them further.

The case was bleeding the country’s coffers…

Had it not ended, the case was likely to end up ‘genuinely’ costing the country P100 billion Pula duo to its complexity and challenges. Insiders say sources who had sold the law enforcement agencies some falsified documents were paid handsomely.

Moreover, investigations were costly as they involved the international community and frequent travelling. “We are told there was also motivation for some officers to act abysmally and out of their way,” an insider said.

Lessons leant for public officers…

Public officers are often duty-bound to obey superiors instructions, no matter how irrational. The case was an eye-opener to many public officers that principle pays in the discharge of one’s duty at all times. The professional careers of the P100 billion case conspirators are currently in shambles. And as expected, the influencers, if at all there any, are nowhere to be seen.

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Botswana could exit FATF “greylisting” in October 

15th September 2021
President Dr Masisi & Minister of Finance and Economic Development Peggy Serame

Botswana remains on the grey list of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the “black list” of the European Union, a status quo that highlights the country as one of the high-risk jurisdictions to deal with money.

The far-reaching implications of these listings is a compromised Foreign Direct Investment drive for Botswana. In particular, these listings mean investors now have to exercise some caution and restrain when thinking about putting their money in Botswana. On Tuesday, Minister of Finance and Economic Development Peggy Serame said that Botswana could see itself out of the “undesirable listing” by October this year.

Serame called for united and concerted efforts towards liberating Botswana out of this financial noncompliance tag. She said the delisting could be archived by concerted efforts from all stakeholders: players in the financial services sector, non-financial services businesses, regulators, and every individual who deals with transactions.

Botswana is a founding member of the Eastern and Southern Africa Anti-Money Laundering Group (ESAAMLG). This regional body subscribes to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to combat money laundering and financing of terrorism and proliferation.

One of the membership obligations to ESAAMLG is for Botswana to be peer-reviewed by the other Member States and other international bodies like the World Bank, IMF or FATF.
The most recent assessment for Botswana to gauge compliance with the FATF standards was conducted by ESAAMLG in 2016 and culminated with publishing the Mutual Evaluation Report (MER) in 2017.

Following the discussion and adoption by the Task Force and approval of the MER by the Council of Ministers, the country was placed under enhanced follow-up.  This led to a one (1) year observation period in which the country was expected to improve its technical compliance (legislative framework) by correcting the deficiencies identified in the MER.

After one year, in October 2018, the Task Force decided that the country was not taking sufficient steps to implement the recommendations made by the assessors in the MER.  The Task Force recommended that Botswana be referred to the International Cooperation Review Group (ICRG) for monitoring and potential listing often referred to as the ‘FATF greylisting”.

Following the FATF greylisting, the EU placed Botswana on its list of high-risk third countries, often referred to as the ‘black list.’ In 2018, Botswana and FATF agreed to an Action Plan that had six items with several timelines. In terms of Risk and coordination, Botswana was told to develop and implement a risk-based comprehensive national AML/CFT strategy, assess the risks associated with legal persons, legal arrangements, and NPOs, and operationalize the modernized company registry to obtain and maintain essential information and Ultimate Beneficial Ownership information.

Botswana was further advised to enhance the capacity of the supervisory staff, including by developing risk-based supervision manuals and providing adequate training, implement risk-based AML/CFT supervision and impose sanctions against violations.

Furthermore, Botswana was instructed to improve analysis and dissemination of financial intelligence by the Financial Intelligence Unit, including operationalizing an online Suspicious Transactions Report filing platform and prioritizing high-risk predicate crimes, and enhancing the use of financial intelligence among the relevant law enforcement agencies.

Regarding terrorism financing investigation, Botswana was instructed to develop and implement a Counter Financing of Terrorism Strategy, operationalize the Counter-Terrorism Analysis and Fusion Centre, and ensure the Terrorism Financing investigation capacity of the law enforcement agencies.

In 2018, the 11th Parliament passed 25 pieces and, later, six others related to AML/CFT/CFP. At the just ended Parliamentary session of the 12th Parliament, lawmakers passed the Financial Intelligence (Amendment) Act to address the definition of beneficial ownership.

Cabinet approved the National AML/CFT/CFP Strategy of 2019-2024 in October 2019. At the June 2021 FATF Plenary meetings, the FATF made the initial determination that Botswana had substantially addressed the Action Plan and that this warranted an on-site assessment to verify that the implementation of Botswana’s AML/CFT/CFP reforms is in place and is being sustained.
Furthermore, an assessment was to be instituted to check if the necessary political commitment remains to sustain implementation in the future.

Serame said in a televised press briefing that Botswana’s exit from the FATF grey list and the EU black list would be determined by the outcome of the on-site assessment, which will be discussed at the FATF Plenary in October 2021.

She revealed that the Botswana delegation attended the Eastern and Southern Africa Anti-Money Laundering Group 42nd Task Force of Senior Officials meeting from the 26th August to the 6th September 2021, followed by the Council of Ministers on the 7th September 2021.

She told the media that at these meetings, Botswana was commended for making progress in complying with the FATF standards by addressing deficiencies in her AML/CFT/CFP framework.
“We are making all these efforts of complying with the FATF standards so that we guard against our financial system being used for money laundering, terrorism financing and proliferation financing,” she said.

“We are hopeful that at the October 2021 FATF Plenary meetings, the outcome of the on-site visit undertaken by the FATF in August 2021 will bear positive results, leading to Botswana being delisted from the FATF greylisting,” she said. However, Minister Serame called on all stakeholders to support the government to remove Botswana from the greylisting.

“As Government continues its efforts of putting in place the necessary legislative and institutional framework, due diligence must be exercised by all institutions, including the ordinary Motswana, so that no one is found dealing with financiers whose credibility is wanting,” she said.

The minister reiterated that all players in the financial services sector had a role to play: “It is important that where unsolicited funds are offered, the individual or entity so receiving the offer must ensure that the funds being offered are not associated with unlawful acts. If we are not diligent, criminals may use unsuspecting people and entities to launder proceeds of crime.”

She reiterated that the government is committed to doing all within its power to remove the country from the FATF “grey list” and the EU “black list”. However, she noted that to achieve that requires the cooperation and assistance of financial institutions, designated non-financial businesses and professions and individuals to ensure full compliance with AML/CFT/CFP rules and regulations.

“These efforts will not only assist us to be removed from these mentioned lists but are for the benefit of our country to maintain a high standard of financial prudence and an economy which genuine investors can have the confidence to invest in,” Serame explained.

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