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Women entrepreneurs put PPADB on notice

WIBA to submit a women threshold proposal to PPADB

Women in Business Association (WIBA) President, Tumi Mbaakanyi has said they are preparing a proposal for consideration government through which they instruct on how women entrepreneurs could be encouraged.  

The Public Procurement and Assets Disposal Board (PPADB) policy currently has no instruments put in place to assist women entrepreneurs to empower them to compete successfully against male counterpart who remain domineering in the procurement industry.

While the major aim of public procurement is to ensure that governments acquire goods, works and services some countries have long used public procurement as a tool to promote socioeconomic objectives. These objectives are usually referred to as horizontal or collateral because they are ancillary to the primary purpose of public procurement, which is to acquire goods and services for the government.

Women entrepreneurs have been eluded by favourable government policies despite government having made strides in some areas like introduction of some exceptions in process that are followed when considering bids for youth owned businesses. Government also has reserved 20 percent of the procurement to youth owned companies as a way of empowering them.

However, Mbaakanyi said the same cannot be said about women entrepreneurs who in Botswana have to access empowerment privileges in procurement only if they also belong to youth category.

In an economy of Botswana’s size, government continues to be the main player and the biggest provider of business to private sector. Government expenditure through public procurement activities represents about 70% of the Gross Domestic Product.

This essentially means the participation of entrepreneurs in the economy of Botswana including women solely rest on the public procurement policies when compared to most developed countries where public procurement account to a less percentage of up to 20 percent.

Women in Business Association (WIBA) President Mbaakanyi said they will put before Public Procurement and Assets Disposal Board (PPADB) a proposal to request for a threshold in reservation of tenders for women entrepreneurs, “It was matter which was agreed at BOCCIM fair earlier this year and we are currently doing a research to make a solid presentation,” said Mbaakanyi. “We are also benchmarking against other countries to see how they do it because we are dealing with government.”

Mbaakanyi said the proposal will also look at sectors like construction which are dominated by male and for a long time have been a no go area for women entrepreneurs. “We want government to consider these sectors and give women entrepreneur some preferential policies to allow them to compete successfully. In Russia for instance, in some sectors goods imported by women owned businesses are not required to pay customs tax as way of empowering them,” she said.

A document published by International Trade Centre (ITC) titled ‘Empowering Women through Public Procurement’ contend that women-owned businesses have limited value unless governments also address the challenges that prevent these firms from accessing and fully participating in public procurement markets.

“Lack of consistency, clarity and data in this area (public procurement) has frustrated past efforts to promote increased participation by women Entrepreneurs,” states the document. “Businesses owned by women and those owned by men are not similarly situated. Seemingly gender-neutral rules, policies and programmes can have a disparate impact on women-owned businesses.”

Kenya recently announced it would amend its public procurement regulations to reserve 30% of government contracts for women, youth and persons with disabilities.

World Economic Forum’s 2014 Global Gender Gap Report and Index however put Botswana in favourable ranking in terms of achieving gender equality. Botswana was ranked 51 out of 142 countries surveyed, while in terms of female participation in the economy Botswana was ranked 8th  in the world.

Botswana, in terms of equality on educational attainment was ranked at the top of the table, sharing first place over the past five years with a number of other countries for having achieved an almost perfect gender balance at all levels.

Government through the Women’s Economic Empowerment and Poverty Eradication Programme had funded 64 Women’s groups at a total cost of just P9.5 million in 2013/14, resulting in job creation for 320 beneficiaries. This brings the total of supported women’s groups to 310 at a total cost of P34.3 million benefitting a total of 2,480 individuals.

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DPP halts JSC, Judge’s back to work plan

25th January 2021

The Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP)’s decision to reject and appeal the High Court’s verdict on a case involving High Court Judge, Dr Zein Kebonang has frustrated the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and Judge Kebonang’s back to work discussions.

JSC and Kebonang have been in constant discussions over the latter’s return to work following a ruling by a High Court panel of judges clearing him of any wrong doing in the National Petroleum Fund criminal case filed by the DPP. However the finalization of the matter has been hanged on whether the DPP will appeal the matter or not – the prosecution body has since appealed.

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BDP rejects Saleshando payment proposal

25th January 2021
MP saleshando

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) top brass has declined a request by Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) to negotiate the legal fees occasioned by 2019 general elections petition in which the latter disputed in court the outcome of the elections.

This publication is made aware that UDC Vice President Dumelang Saleshando was left with an egg on his face after the BDP big wigs, comprising of party Chairman Slumber Tsogwane and Secretary General Mpho Balopi rejected his plea.

“He was told that this is a legal matter and therefore their (UDC) lawyer should engage ours (BDP) for negotiations because it is way far from our jurisdiction,” BDP Head of Communications, Kagelelo Kentse, told this publication.

This spelt doom for the main opposition party and Saleshando who seems not to have confidence and that the UDC lawyers have the dexterity to negotiate these kind of matters. It is not clear whether Saleshando requested UDC lawyer Boingotlo Toteng to sit at the table with Bogopa Manewe, Tobedza and Co, who are representing the BDP to strike a deal as per the BDP top echelons suggested.

“From my understanding, the matter is dealt with politically as the two parties are negotiating how to resolve it, but by far nothing has come to me on the matter. So I believe they are still substantively engaging each other,” Toteng said briefly in an interview on Thursday.

UDC petitioners saddled with costs after mounting an unprecedented legal suit before the court to try and overturn BDP’s October 2019 victory. The participants in the legal matter involves 15 parliamentary candidates’ and nine councillors. The UDC petitioned the court and contested the outcome of the elections citing “irregularities in some of the constituencies”.

In a brief ruling in January 2020, Judge President Ian Kirby on behalf of a five-member panel said: “We have no jurisdiction to entertain these appeals. These appeals must be struck out each with costs including costs of counsel”. This was a second blow to the UDC in about a month after their 2019 appeals were dismissed by the High Court a day before Christmas Day.

This week BDP attorneys decided to attach UDC petitioners’ property in a bid to settle the debts. UDC President Duma Boko is among those that will see their property being attached with 14 of his party members. “We have attached some and we are on course. So far, Dr. Mpho Pheko (who contested Gaborone Central) and that of Dr, Micus Chimbombi (who contested Kgalagadi South) will have their assets being sold on the 5th of February 2021,” BDP attorney Basimane Bogopa said.

Asked whether they met with UDC lawyers to try solve the matter, Bogopa said no and added. “Remember we are trying to raise the client’s funds, so after these two others will follow. Right now we are just prioritising those from Court of Appeal, as soon as the high court is done with taxation we will attach.”

Saleshando, when contacted about the outcomes of the meeting with the BDP, told WeekendPost that: “It would not be proper and procedural for me to tell you about the meeting outcomes before I share with UDC National Executive Committee (NEC), so I will have to brief them first.”

UDC NEC will meet on the 20th of next month to deal with a number of thorny issues including settling the legal fees. Negotiations with other opposition parties- Alliance for Progressives and Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) are also on the agenda.

Currently, UDC has raised P44 238 of the P565 000 needed to cover bills from the Court of Appeal (CoA). This is the amount in a UDC trust account which is paltry funds equating 7.8 per cent of the overall required money. In the past despite the petitioners maintaining that there was promise to assist them to settle legal fees, UDC Spokesperson, Moeti Mohwasa then said the party has never agreed in no way to help them.

“We have just been put in debt by someone,” one of the petitioners told this publication in the past. “President’s (Duma Boko) message was clear at the beginning that money has been sourced somewhere to help with the whole process but now we are here there is nothing and we are just running around trying to make ends meet and pay,” added the petitioner in an interview
UDC NEC has in December last year directed all the 57 constituencies to each raise a minimum of P10, 000. The funds will be used to settle debts that are currently engulfing the petitioners with Sheriffs, who are already hovering around ready to attach their assets.

The petitioners, despite the party intervention, have every right to worry. “This is so because ‘the deadline for this initiative (P10, 000 per constituency) is the end of the first quarter of this year (2021),” a period in which the sheriffs would have long auctioned the properties.

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Boko-Khama axis viewed with suspicion

25th January 2021

President of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Duma Boko’s alliance with former President Lt Gen Ian Khama continues to unsettle some quarters within the opposition collective, who believe the duo, if not managed, will once again result in an unsuccessful bid for government in 2024.

While Khama has denied that he has undeclared preference to have Boko remaining as leader of UDC, many believe that the two have a common programme, while other opposition leaders remain on the side-lines.

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