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Job losses loom large

Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) intends to retrench, CEO Jacob Raleru

The Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs has informed President Lt Gen Ian Khama that 55 companies have submitted notifications of intent to restructure which might lead to retrenchment of employees during the next quarter, as required by the Employment Act.

This comes in the wake of further job losses reported by other companies including Kgalagadi Breweries this month. KBL retrenched 88 employees at its Lobatse plant.  Information on possible retrenchments surfaced at President Khama’s briefing by the Ministry last week.

According to Pearl Matome, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs, fourteen companies retrenched a total of 297 employees between March and June 2015. The sector that has had the highest number of retrenched employees is the diamond polishing industry. Zebra Diamond and Leo Schechter Botswana retrenched a total of 82 employees between them.

Notifications of intentions to restructure and retrench came from companies including – Botswana Power Corporation (BPC); Botswana Housing Corporation (BHC); Diamond Trading Company Botswana (DTCB); Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC); Botswana Public Officers Pension Fund (BPOPF); and the Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM), among others.

Matome has also revealed that the Employers’ Organisations Act is being reviewed with particular attention to dismissal process of non performing employees as there is an impression by employers that the process is long and therefore compromises productivity. She pointed out that the current laws were inherited from the pre-independence era and seem to be undermining productivity.

BPC going through transformation

A decision by the Botswana Power Corporation is currently subject to a Management Contract for a period of three years to enable the Corporation to achieve performance turnaround and organisational transformation.

This is said to have influenced the decision to restructure.

The decision was taken pursuant to a Business Operations Review consultancy that was carried out on BPC by an energy consultancy firm based in Ireland, ESB International Limited in 2013.

 A change process for BPC is envisaged that was largely brought about by the Corporation’s transformation from a retailer of power to an electricity generator with a higher asset base due to increased generation and transmission infrastructure.

“It is imperative that BPC be transformed from its current operating status to a financially viable power utility and  a BPC 2018 end state strategy has been developed to achieve this,” read an earlier statement by the BPC.

This is seen as an opportune time for the project given the following developments in the Botswana electricity industry; The external expertise will assist BPC to ready itself for competition in the electricity industry in line with Government’s decision to open up the market to independent power producers; With the imminent setting up of an electricity regulator, BPC will also be assisted to prepare itself to operate within a regulated environment.

The Management Contract service provider took over the operations of Botswana Power Corporation for a three year period to facilitate the transformation. The management and staff of BPC are participating in the transformation process with a view to leading the transformed organisation at the end of the contract period. It is expected that at the end of the three year Management Contract the service provider will deliver a transformed BPC in line with the agreed performance indicators.

DTC Botswana goes for efficiency

Diamond Trading Company Botswana (DTC Botswana) is a 50/50 Joint Venture partnership between the Government of the Republic of Botswana and De Beers. DTC Botswana sorts and values Debswana Diamond Company’s rough diamond production.

Debswana Diamond Company (Pty) Ltd is a 50/50 Joint Venture partnership between the Government of the Republic of Botswana and De Beers. DTCB could be embarking on a restructuring process because of market pressures and the need to optimise its operations.

BITC wants a lean organisation

BITC is mandated to promote export led investment and seek export markets for Botswana products. The parastatal has been operating amidst a still, subdued global economy that is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.

However, despite the economic gloom, BITC believes that Botswana remains an attractive destination for investment not only in terms of the growing size of an increasingly affluent consumer base, but also taking into account the returns that investors have been able to achieve in Africa over the years.

BITC has a complex organisational structure, its possible re-organisation may phase out some positions, and there is little suggestion that there will be new posts created. Sources say the BITC may be looking at making the organisation leaner while still executing its mandate efficiently.   
DPSM may phase out posts

Government’s employing organ, the Directorate of Public Service Management has also notified the Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs of its intentions to restructure which may lead to retrenchments. This is despite the fact that government currently has over 10 000 vacancies.

The Minister of Finance and Development Planning has on a number of occasions indicated that government is going leaner and was looking at lowering the wage bill. There is generally a freeze of recruitment within government and most government departments are working towards having streamlined organisational structures. DPSM is likely to lead the way in trimming down staff numbers.

BHC has notified Government  

“The signs of recovery from the global financial crisis are creeping in at a slow pace and Botswana is not an exception. The local GDP is expected to grow by 5.9% during 2014. The growth is driven by the recovery in the mining sector, especially diamonds. The contribution of mining to GDP is still much less than the pre-2008 levels. This slow recovery has had a negative impact on the Botswana Housing Corporation as Government scaled down on new construction projects, leading to low activity in the construction and infrastructure sector. The prospective BHC customers were also affected as they struggled to afford the houses. In some cases, prospective customers prioritised other basic necessities like food and clothing over home ownership. It is evident that the BHC customers have not benefited from the low interest rates currently prevailing in the market due to issues of affordability of our houses,” wrote BHC chairperson in her report in the BHC 2014 annual report.

BHC as a parastatal is not doing badly. Their balance sheet looks healthy despite reduced economic activity which is acknowledged by the chairperson. It is evident that they may be going through a phase where they need to realign their workforce and slot them into a new structure that will promote efficiency. Observers are not expecting a full scale retrenchment but rather restructuring.
Government Austerity program  

When a government tightens its belt in tough economic times the entire nation feels the squeeze. With less money to pay for the full spectrum of government services because of declining tax revenues and increasing debt, deep cuts in expenditures would seem inevitable. Minister Kenneth Matambo has already alluded to the fact that government will have to make cuts in spending. He was emphatic on the need to reduce the government workforce among other things.  

At its simplest, an austerity program, usually enacted by legislation, may include one or more of the following:

A cut, or a freeze without raises, of government salaries and benefits.

A freeze on government hiring and layoffs of government workers.

A reduction or elimination of government services, temporarily or permanently.

Government expenditures may cut. Previously planned government spending programs – infrastructure construction and repair, healthcare and veterans' benefits, for example – may be cut, suspended or abandoned.

An increase in taxes, including income, corporate, property, sales and capital gains taxes.

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Minister Kgafela begs self-exiled brother to return

4th August 2021
Kgafela

A heartfelt message of good wishes from Minister Mmusi Kgafela to his self-exiled brother and Bakgatla paramount chief, Kgafela Kgafela II, this week urged the latter to consider calls for his return to Botswana to visit his tribe and family.

“On behalf of our father’s people, your people, I wish to inform you that Bakgatla are thinking of you, and they miss you dearly. They request that you should find time to visit them. Please come to Botswana to spend some time with them, to see and greet them,” said Mmusi as part of his 50 years birthday message to Kgafela Kgafela II, who has vowed never to set foot in Botswana.

However, Mmusi Kgafela did not shed light on how his brother will deal with the arrest warrant, which triggers once he sets foot in Botswana.

The Bakgatla Kgosikgolo, who went on a self-imposed exile in 2012 to South Africa, faces a decade-old-plus warrant of arrest issued by the Village magistrate court after his non-appearance in Court over criminal charges relating to flogging of his subjects. Kgafela described the charges as ‘political persecution’ before jetting out to his second home in South Africa, Moruleng, where he is also a Chief.

Asked over his views on the complications around the warrant of arrest, Mmusi, a lawyer by training, said, “what people need to understand is that a warrant of arrest is not a prison sentence.”

He continued: “There is a need for reconciliation and discussions to put all these issues behind us. We need to move on. What I have also realized is that the state is not keen on pursuing the matter as they have not sought his extradition,” he said.

In 2017, the then Minister of Defence, Justice, and Security, Shaw Kgathi, told Parliament that the arrest warrant issued against Bakgatla Kgosi-kgolo is still valid.

“….because a Court order once issued remains valid and enforceable unless it is rescinded by the Court that issued it, in this case being Village Magistrate Court. It may also be revoked by a higher court being the High Court or the Court of Appeal,” Kgathi said.

As things stand, the Government will arrest Bakgatla Kgosi Kgafela II if he crosses over to Botswana, Parliament heard.

Kgathi responded to a question by the then Mochudi West Member of Parliament, Gilbert Mangole, who wanted to know if the arrest warrant imposed on Kgafela was still valid.  Further, he wanted clarity on what it would take for the Government to trigger the removal of the warrant to enable Kgosi to visit his tribe in Botswana if he so wishes.

Could Mmusi be under pressure to facilitate Kgafela’s return?

Although Mmusi denies the claim, some royal sources opine that he (Mmusi) is under pressure to help President Dr. Mokgweetsi Masisi fulfill his 2019 electoral campaign pledge to the tribe. The President had pledged that he would “not rest until their chief, Kgosi Kgafela Kgafela II, is back home.”

Mmusi, however, says Masisi has not personally engaged him on Kgafela.

Kgafela’s former lawyer, Advocate Sydney Pilane, has in the past told this publication that he suspects that as the leader of the BDP, President Masisi hopes that if he brings Kgosi Kgafela back, BaKgatla may be grateful to the BDP, and benefits might accrue in consequence.

While Mmusi says the matter will need to be discussed and dealt with, private attorney Kgosiitsile Ngakaagae who was prosecuting Kgafela, warned that there is nothing to address or facilitate.

“There is no need for political intervention. Kgosi Kgafela is officially a fugitive from Justice. It’s for the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to issue a nolle prosequi (we shall no longer prosecute) to enable his return. Constitutionally the DPP cannot be dictated to by politicians. The matter is beyond the President unless he violates the DPP’s constitutional mandate,” charged Ngakaagae.

“An arrest is intended to bring someone to Court. Secondly, a party who has become aware that a warrant has been issued against them can apply to Court before it is implemented for it to be discharged.”

The only option for the state currently, which the state is reluctant to pursue, is to drop the charges and withdraw the warrant of arrest or decide on a deliberate non-enforcement of the warrant, according to lawyers who spoke to this publication.

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The secrecy behind BDF deployment budget

4th August 2021
President Masisi & BDF

In South Africa, President Cyril Ramaphosa recently told his parliament that the deployment of his army to Mozambique had cost close to a billion rand, with the exact figure placed at R984,368, 057. On the other hand, the Botswana government is yet to say a word on their budget concerning the deployment.

In his National Assembly report tabled last week Tuesday, Ramaphosa said:

“This serves to inform the National Assembly that I have authorized the employment of 1,495 members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) for service in fulfillment of an international obligation towards SADC, to assist Mozambique combat acts of terrorism and violent extremists in the Caba Delgado province. This deployment had cost close to a billion rand, with the exact figure placed at R984,368,057.”

The soldiers, he said, are expected to remain there for the next three months.

Botswana, however, is yet to publicize its expenditure. Asked by this publication over why they have not and whether they will, the Minister of Defence, Justice, and Security, Kagiso Mmusi, said they would when the time is right.

“As you may be aware, nobody planned for this. It was not budgeted for. We had to take our BDF resources to Mozambique, and we are still doing our calculations. We also need to replace what we took from the BDF to Mozambique,” he said.

This week, President Dr. Mokgweetsi Masisi revealed that the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Botswana government would share the sustainment of the Mozambique military combat deployment. SADC has given Botswana its share to use according to its needs.

The costs in such deployments are typically categorized into three parts-boots on the ground or handling the system, equipment, and operational sustenance logistics.

It is unknown how much combat pay, danger pay, or sustenance allowance the soldiers will get upon return. However, President Masisi has assured the soldiers that they will get their money.

Masisi has said deployment comes when the country is faced with economic challenges that have been exacerbated to a great extent by the COVID-19 Pandemic, which is inflicting enormous health, financial, and social damage to all nations.

Botswana has sent 296 soldiers who left on Monday to Mozambique to join the SADC standby force.

Parliament fumes over being snubbed

In the 1994 Lesotho mission, the Botswana Parliament was engaged after the soldiers were long deployed. A repeat of history this week saw members of parliament grilling the executive over snubbing parliament and keeping it in the dark about the Mozambique military deployment.

Zimbabwe pledges 304 soldiers

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe has pledged 304 soldiers to the SADC Standby Force Mission in Mozambique to train an infantry battalion-size unit at a time, Defence and War Veterans Affairs Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri has said.

In a statement to journalists, Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri said the contingent would consist of 303 instructors and one specialist officer to coordinate the SADC Force Headquarters in Maputo.

Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri said that in terms of Section 214 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, Parliament would be informed accordingly.

During the Extraordinary Summit of the 16-member regional bloc held in Maputo, Mozambique, last month, member states resolved to deploy a force to help Mozambique contain insurgency in its northern provinces where terrorists have left a trail of destruction that also threatens regional peace.

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Isaac Kgosi awarded PhD

4th August 2021
FORMER DIS BOSS: ISAAC KGOSI

Former director general of the Directorate of Intelligence Service, Isaac Kgosi has been awarded doctorate in International and Diplomatic Studies by a Slovenian institution-New University after successfully defending his doctoral dissertation last year.

The institution‘s website shows that in February 2020 Kgosi defended his dissertation titled ‘Southern African Development Community [SADC] Diplomatic Conflict Management Response for Enhancing Human Security: The Case of Mozambique.’

“Faculty of government and European Studies hereby certifies that Seabelo Isaac Kgosi born in Francistown, on 15th December 1958 completed all obligations of the international and Diplomatic Studies doctoral programme on March 22,2021. On these grounds the Faculty of Government and European Studies is conferring  upon him the scientific  title of Doctor of Science in International  and Diplomatic Studies, abbr:PhD,” reads the institution’s conferment certificate dated  O6 July 2021.

Kgosi’s thesis was a study of SADC’s mediation and diplomacy in the Mozambican conflict that is mainly between the ruling Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (Frelimo) government and forces of the National Resistance (Renamo) that was once mediated by the late former president Sir Ketumile Masire in 2016 when it re-emerged after a revival by Renamo in 2012, driven by several grievances including allegations of economic marginalisation, regional economic imbalances and breach of the 1992 Rome General Peace Accords which had ended the post-independence civil war fought from 1977 to 1992. The escalation of conflict in Mozambique in early 2016 resulted in displacement of citizens in affected areas whilst thousands of people crossed the borders into Malawi and eastern Zimbabwe as refugees.

Efforts to search for and locate the document were unsuccessful at the time of going for press.

Kgosi’s curriculum vitae suggests that he has a Diploma in Mechanical Engineering and a Masters in Intelligence and Security obtained from Brunel University, a public research university located in Uxbridge, West London, United Kingdom. The latter qualification was obtained in 2007.

It is not yet known on whether Kgosi will use his qualifications to seek employment locally or internationally, or will decide to open a consultancy firm in line with his experience and academic achievements once the dust surrounding him goes way.

The former spy chief is currently fighting to clear his name in a series of cases against the state, which accuses him of owing the tax man, capturing images of the intelligence agents, as well as their identity between the 18th and 25th February 2019 as well as the identity cards of the officers engaged in a covert operation of the DIS. He is also accused of instructing Bank of Botswana (BoB) to open three bank accounts that were used to loot public funds amounting to over P100 billion together with former president Lt Gen Ian Khama.

Kgosi has countered on all the cases demanding the evidence which links him to the crimes levelled against him, all of which the state is currently struggling to submit before the courts. The state has lost and appealed the photographs case while the P100 billion case has been described as a big lie by various institutions.

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