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I am BNF – Lotlaamoreng

BIDDING HIS MORAFHE FAREWELL: Kgosi Lotlamoreng II of Barolong resigned from his Bogosi duties this week. The former deputy chairperson of Ntlo Ya Dikgosi is expected to represent the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) in the Goodhope-Mabule constituency bye-election following the resignation of Member of Parliament for area, James Mathokgwane.

The Paramount Chief of Barolong, Kgosi Lotlaamoreng II has admitted that he has always been a member of opposition politics.

Speaking in an interview shortly after his resignation from the royal crown, Lotlaamoreng revealed that he joined the Botswana National Front (BNF) when he was still a very young boy in the mid-1980s. However he could not remember whether he joined as a life member or the membership had since expired.

“I have not been paying annual contributions so I am not sure about the status of my membership,” Lotlaamoreng explained.

This was shortly after his tribe grudgingly allowed him to temporarily step aside from the royal throne. The decision was made during a well attended kgotla meeting in Goodhope following his request to be released.

Although he did not openly tell the gathering where he is headed, it is an open secret that the Paramount chief has accepted a request by the opposition, Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) to contest for the coming Goodhope Mabule by-election. His Party, BNF, is a group member of UDC.

The constituency was left without a Parliamentary representative after James Mathokgwane of UDC resigned in pursuit of greener pastures.

Lotlaamoreng has promised to continue serving his tribe albeit from a different forum and maintains that he would not be intimidated by rivalry talks.

Despite rumours that certain individuals close to the top are plotting to keep him out of the royal throne once he is launched as a candidate of a political party in the run off to the elections, Lotlaamoreng and his uncles maintained that, “a chief derives its right from birth.”

Kgosi Lotlaamoreng further revealed that nobody is pushing him out of the royal seat and he does not anticipate any trouble when the time comes for him to reclaim his chieftaincy.

 “Nobody is pushing me out and there has never been confusion over the rightful heir of Barolong chieftaincy. When the time comes for me to return to my seat, I will do that,” Lotlaamoreng said in a brief interview on Tuesday this week in Goodhope.

Lotlaamoreng appointed his Uncle, Botiki Motshegare as Barolong chief regent.

Meanwhile some of his tribesmen who have the experience of politics on the ground fears that Lotlaamoreng may return to the royal throne sooner than the four years he had anticipated.

Boniface Lesomo, a Councillor for Ramatlabama ward, suggested that Lotlaamoreng’s winning chances are slim given that the constituency is vast and include larger areas that are not under his chieftaincy.

“For instance, his kingdom goes as far as Mokatako and beyond that it is Ngwaketse South. This means that areas such as Mabule and Phitshane-Molopo, which hold large numbers of electorates are not under him. He has no direct influence on such voters,” Lesomo contended.

Another argument by Lesomo who is a member of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), is that Lotlaamoreng would be contesting under the UDC ticket, a party whose MP has just resigned. Lesomo’s contention was that Lotlaamoreng would be succeeding Mathokgwane who was marred with controversy including betraying the struggle. According to him voters would not be interested in voting for quitters.

However the UDC sympathisers maintain that Lotlaamoreng would help the party retain the constituency as he is well known in the area as opposed to the current Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, Eric Molale who is said to be the preferred candidate for the BDP.

Nonetheless, primary elections are yet to be held to determine the candidates for various political parties but Lotlaamoreng says if he is to contest for the elections, he stands a good chance of winning.

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Batswana owe banks P79 billion

27th March 2023

The Minister of Finance, Peggy Serame, has disclosed that the total bank credit extended by commercial banks amounted to P79 billion, out of which P53.4 billion was retail loans and advances to households.

Parliament was informed this week in response to a question by the Member of Parliament for Selibe-Phikwe West and Leader of Opposition (LOO), Dithapelo Keorapetse.

“As at 31st December 2022, loans and other advances extended to households by banks constituted the largest share of bank-lending at 67.6 percent, the majority of which was unsecured personal loans at P36.2 billion (67.8%),” said Serame.

She added that the total household Debt to GDP ratio was 21.9%, while the total private business credit to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio was 10.8%.

On the other hand, it was noted that outstanding mortgage loans extended to households were P14.2 billion (26.6% of household debt) or 5.9% of GDP. Overall, total bank credit as a ratio of GDP stood at 32.7 percent.

It was acknowledged that there are 10 deposit-taking banks in the country, that is, nine commercial banks and one statutory bank (Botswana Savings Bank). This statistics excludes the National Development Bank (NDB), which is a development finance institution. The nine commercial banks include an indigenous bank, Botswana Building Society Bank Limited (BBSBL), which was issued with a commercial banking license by the Bank of Botswana in October 2022.

Still in December 2022, it was recorded that there were 376 non-bank lenders in Botswana consisting of 246 micro lenders, 66 finance companies, three leasing companies and 61 registered pawnshops.

According to Minister Serame, the loan book value representing the principal amount lent by these entities to individuals and to small, medium and micro Enterprises (SMMEs) is collated by the Non-Bank Financial Institutions Regulatory Authority (NBFIRA), which at 31st of December 2021, the loan book values were P5.6 billion for micro lenders, P1.6 billion for finance companies, P225 million for leasing companies and P14 million for pawnshops.

Government policy is that price control is not effective or desirable, and, as such, interest rates are not regulated. Non-regulation may, among other things, result in an increase in non-interest rate fees and commissions, reduced price transparency, lower credit supply and loan approval rates.

“It is important to note that, from a macroeconomic perspective, household debt in Botswana is neither a pandemic nor considered to be excessive. Indeed, the Bank of Botswana’s periodic and continuous assessments of household debt, including through the annual Household Indebtedness Surveys, suggest moderate household indebtedness and therefore, is of no apparent risk to the safety and soundness of the domestic financial system,” said Serame.

She also alluded this assessment is validated by the recently concluded Financial Sector Assessment Programme (FSAP) on Botswana undertaken by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank Group.

Keorapetse however rebuked the issue of debt not being excessive and noted the Minister thinks it’s fine for Batswana to be debt burdened in a way that their debts diminishes their quality of life.

“A significant portion of Batswana’s salaries go to servicing debts and because she doesn’t see this as a challenge, there can never be any intervention from her side. There is no price regulation on interest, which can go up to 30%+ a month.  Since President Masisi ascended to the high office in 2018, 2 384 Batswana were put in prison for failure to pay debts, that is 467 Batswana every year. So, for us, debt problems are big and concerning,” said Keorapetse.

He said they are worried because Batswana are drowning in debts because of relative poverty, slave wages and unemployment/underemployment, they buy basic needs and services with borrowed money and noted predatory and unethical lending has become a major problem in Botswana’s financial sector.

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How to fleece P14 million from Chinese investor

27th March 2023

The modus operandi of how five men allegedly swindled a Chinese national P14 million last week continue to unravel. Highly placed sources from the intelligence, the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) and Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) revealed to this publication how the whole scam was concocted.

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ENVIRONMENT ISSUES: Masisi asks Virginia for help

24th March 2023

President Mokgweetsi Masisi says the issue of sustainable natural resources management has always been an important part of Botswana’s national development agenda.

Masisi was speaking this week on the occasion of a public lecture at Virginia Polytechnic, under theme, “Merging Conservation, Democracy and Sustainable Development in Botswana.”

Botswana, according to Masisi, holds the view that the environment is fragile and as such, must be managed and given the utmost protection to enable the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“It is necessary that we engage one another in the interchange of ideas, perspectives, visualizations of social futures, and considerations of possible strategies and courses of action for sustainable development,” said Masisi.

On the other hand, dialogue, in the form of rigorous democratic discourse among stakeholders presents another basis for reconfiguring how people act on their environments, with a view to conserving its resources that “we require to meet our socio-economic development needs on a sustainable basis,” Masisi told attendees at the public lecture.

He said government has a keen interest in understanding the epidemiology and ecology of diseases of both domestic and wild animals. “It is our national interest to forestall the dire consequences of animal diseases on our communities livelihoods.”

President Masisi hoped that both Botswana and Virginia could help each other in curbing contagious diseases of wildlife.

“We believe that Virginia Tech can reasonably share their experiences, research insights and advances in veterinary sciences and medicines, to help us build capacity for knowledge creation and improve efforts of managing and containing contagious diseases of wildlife. The ground is fertile for entering into such a mutually beneficial partnership.”

When explaining environmental issues further, Masisi said efforts of conservation and sustainable development might at times be hampered by the emergence and recurrence of diseases when pathogens mutate and take host of more than one species.

“Water pollution also kills aquatic life, such as fish, which is one of humanity’s much deserved sources of food. In this regard, One Health Approach imposes ecological responsibility upon all of us to care for the environment and the bio-diversity therein.”

He said the production and use of animal vaccines is an important space and tool for conservation, particularly to deal with trans-border animal diseases.

“In Botswana, our 43-year-old national premier pharmaceutical institution called Botswana Vaccine Institute has played its role well. Through its successful production of highly efficacious Foot and Mouth vaccines, the country is able to contain this disease as well as supply vaccines to other countries in the sub-region.:

He has however declared that there is need for more help, saying “We need more capacitation to deal with and contain other types of microbial that affect both animals and human health.”

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