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Prisons Boss challenges Police Chiefs powers

BOTSWANA PRISONS COMMISSIONER: Silas Motlalekgosi has added a star to his badge

The Botswana Prisons Service Commissioner, Silas Motlalekgosi has stirred controversy in the disciplined forces after introducing a star on his barge of rank, a decision that seems to have rubbed the Botswana Police Service the wrong way.


The Police view the decision as an ambitious exercise by the Prisons Chief to appear to be at par with the Police Chief in terms of seniority and power.


Weekendpost can reveal that the gigantic Commissioner recently introduced a star on his badge of rank,allegedly to hike his standing and honorability.


Motlalekgosi, a man described as so obsessed with power has reportedly been haunted by the disparities between the disciplined forces. His view and concern is that the three should be treated equally,a thing he believes is not not only happening but far from happening.


We sought a clarification from the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security Segakweng Tsiane who said she would not know about issues of badges as they are departmental. She refered this publication to the Commissioner of Prisons for answers.


According to the Prisons Act, the Commissioner has sweeping powers over badges of rank. “Unless the Commissioner otherwise directs, a prison officer on duty shall wear the approapriate badges of rank prescribed in the Fouth Schedule,” it reads.


The Act stipulates that the Commissioner’s Badge is made up of ‘a crest over crest sorrounded by laurel wreth,a collar gorgettes with silver oak leaf spray and a double silver oak leaf spray on peak of cap.’
The Prisons Commissioner’s controversial move to up his standing by an indian star has angered the police service and has been a matter of discussion within the police service high powererd plartfoms and meetings, this publication has learnt.


The Police posit that the decision by the Prisons Commander is not only ill–adviced but over ambitious and notorious. They are of the view that the decision was undoutedly calculated not only to match the Police Commissioner but to also potray the two as equal in honour and standing.


Asked about the star in their Commissioner ‘s badge of rank, the Spokesperson of the Police Service, Christopher Mbulawa said, “a star was introduced during former Commissioner Norman Moleboge’s times.” He declined to discuss the specifics and significance of the items on the badge questioning this reporter’s motives.He later refered this reporter to his juniors.


The Police Commissioner’s badge of rank is made of Crossed tith staves rounded by a wreath,a star and a national amblem above while that of a BDF Commander is made of a Knife,national emblem and a stick of honour.


We Spoke to the former Commissioner of Police, Moleboge on this development and history.


“When a star was introduced it was a symbol of honour and respect.Back then we had what we called bars on the badge and we thought they didn’t communicate anything at that time hence our decision to develop the badge,” he said.


Asked over the differences between the Prisons Service and Police badges for rank of Commissioners, Moleboge replied that “they never looked the same and did not come close to each other as far as I am concerned,” he said.


He however remarked that issues of power and seniority between the Police and the Prisons services together with the Botswana Defence Force have always been there and that they will not end now until the rulers declare who is above the other.


“We mostly relied on the structures of payments to determine who is senior,” he said.The BDF Commander earns more than the Police Commissioner who earns more than the Prisons Commissioner.


Moleboge however says this has got its own complexities and can often mislead as there are other senior officials like Permanent Secretaries and those at the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crimes who earn more than the said Commissioners.

Moleboge ‘s counterpart who is the former Prisons Commissioner,Herman Kau declined to comment demanding to know where this reporter obtained his mobile number.He declared the conversation an exercise in futility when the reporter expressed discomfort with divulging where he obtained the number.


“ When we parted we agreed that my number will not be a public matter and will only be released by certain individuals under some circumstances,” he said.

But who is really senior?

The Police in the Neighbouring South Africa earn more that the army but Botswana has got her own discrepancies and overlaps between the police and the army.The Prisons officers are trailing at the far end.


Locally, the Police argue that Prisons officers are just the guards who look after the criminals once convicted through the police’s work. Army oficers are often ridiculed because there really is never conflict or wars that would require their service.


A  senior Police officer outlined their responsibility to us saying they are senior and deserve respect. “Our responsibilities define us and set us apart.We deal with a lot of paperwork,we hunt,we arrest,we investigate,we enforce the law,we got to the courts and so fourth.None of these two come close to this,” he charged.


Prisons officers however argue that all should be judged according to the execution of their mandate and nothing else. “We are the guardians and stay with prisoners for the most part of their lives,we look after them,we rehabilitate and perfom other duties like going to the courts amongst others,” said a source.

Conditions of  Service and Welfare

Life has not been easy for Prisons officers. It is understood that the recruits have recently been training using  their own clothes after they were told that there is no uniform.


This doesn’t only end with recruits, officers argue that during winter they are seen with only one jersey while their counterparts from BDF and Police wear various sweaters and different jackets of different makes, for various weather conditions.


The Prisons Act stipulates that Officers should wear a Khakhi suit with long sleeves in winter.The officers argue that they have given up on salary structure amendments as the government seems to be biased in favour of the BDF and the Police.


Asked over why the Prisons officers are subjected to the harsh treatment, particularly in winter, the Permanent Secretary, Tsiang fell shot of blaming the Prisons department.


“No, if there is a problem then it has to be departmental. They determine their uniform so for them to blame us is unfortunate,” she said.


This was reinterated by Moleboge who said that “uniform is a departmental issue but often heavily relies on one ‘s budget”.


The Police also argue that they are the victims of the yawning gaps between their salary structures with those who are above them either by a step or two.The Prisons Commissioner could not comment as he said he was in a long meeting at the time of going to press.

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FaR property assets value clock P1.47 billion

6th December 2023

FaR Property Company (FPC) Limited, a property investment company listed on the Botswana Stock Exchange, has recently announced its exceptional financial results for the year 2023. The company’s property asset value has risen to P1.47 billion, up from P1.42 billion in the previous year.

FPC has a diverse portfolio of properties, including retail, commercial, industrial, and residential properties in Botswana, South Africa, and Zambia. The company owns a total of 186 properties, generating rental revenues from various sectors. In 2023, the company recorded rental revenues of P11 million from residential properties, P62 million from industrial properties, and P89 million from commercial properties. Overall, the company’s total revenues increased by 9% to P153 million, while profit before tax increased by 22% to P136 million, and operating profit increased by 11% to P139 million.

One notable achievement for FPC is the low vacancy rate across its properties, which stands at only 6%. This is particularly impressive considering the challenging trading environment. The company attributes this success to effective lease management and the leasing of previously vacant properties in South Africa. FPC’s management expressed satisfaction with the results, highlighting the resilience of the company in the face of ongoing macroeconomic challenges.

The increase in profit before tax can be attributed to both an increase in income and effective control of operating expenses. FPC managed to achieve these results with fewer employees, demonstrating the company’s efficiency. The headline earnings per linked unit also saw an improvement, reaching 26.92 thebe, higher than the previous year.

Looking ahead, FPC remains confident in its competitiveness and growth prospects. The company possesses a substantial land bank, which it plans to develop strategically as opportunities arise. FPC aims for managed growth, focusing on consumer-driven developments and ensuring the presence of supportive tenants. By maintaining this approach, the company believes it can sustainably grow its property portfolio and remain competitive in the market.

In terms of the macroeconomic environment, FPC noted that inflation rates are decreasing towards the 3% to 6% range approved by the Bank of Botswana. This is positive news for the company, as it hopes for further decreases in interest rates. However, the fluctuating fuel prices, influenced by global events such as the war in Ukraine and oil output reductions by Russia and other Middle Eastern countries, continue to impact businesses, including some of FPC’s tenants.

FPC’s property portfolio includes notable assets such as a shopping mall in Francistown with Choppies Hyper as the anchor tenant, Borogo Mall located on the A33 main road near the Kazungula ferry crossing, and various industrial and commercial properties in Gaborone leased to Choppies, Senn Foods, and Clover Botswana. The company also owns a shopping mall in Mafikeng and Rustenburg in South Africa.

The majority of FPC’s properties, 85%, are located in Botswana, followed by 12% in South Africa and 3% in Zambia. With its strong financial performance, competitive position, and strategic land bank, FPC is well-positioned for continued growth and success in the property market.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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BPC Signs PPA with Sekaname Energy

4th December 2023

The Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) has taken a significant step towards diversifying its energy mix by signing a power purchase agreement with Sekaname Energy for the production of power from coal bed methane in Mmashoro village. This agreement marks a major milestone for the energy sector in Botswana as the country transitions from a coal-fired power generation system to a new energy mix comprising coal, gas, solar, and wind.

The CEO of BPC, David Kgoboko, explained that the Power Purchase Agreement is for a 6MW coal bed methane proof of concept project to be developed around Mmashoro village. This project aligns with BPC’s strategic initiatives to increase the proportion of low-carbon power generation sources and renewable energy in the energy mix. The use of coal bed methane for power generation is an exciting development as it provides a hybrid solution with non-dispatchable sources of generation like solar PV. Without flexible base-load generation, the deployment of non-dispatchable solar PV generation would be limited.

Kgoboko emphasized that BPC is committed to enabling the development of a gas supply industry in Botswana. Sekaname Energy, along with other players in the coal bed methane exploration business, is a key and strategic partner for BPC. The successful development of a gas supply industry will enable the realization of a secure and sustainable energy mix for the country.

The Minister of Minerals & Energy, Lefoko Moagi, expressed his support for the initiative by the private sector to develop a gas industry in Botswana. The country has abundant coal reserves, and the government fully supports the commercial extraction of coal bed methane gas for power generation. The government guarantees that BPC will purchase the generated electricity at reasonable tariffs, providing cash flow to the developers and enabling them to raise equity and debt funding for gas extraction development.

Moagi highlighted the benefits of developing a gas supply industry, including diversified primary energy sources, economic diversification, import substitution, and employment creation. He commended Sekaname Energy for undertaking a pilot project to prove the commercial viability of extracting coal bed methane for power generation. If successful, this initiative would unlock the potential of a gas production industry in Botswana.

Sekaname Energy CEO, Peter Mmusi, emphasized the multiple uses of natural gas and its potential to uplift Botswana’s economy. In addition to power generation, natural gas can be used for gas-to-liquids, compressed natural gas, and fertilizer production. Mmusi revealed that Sekaname has already invested $57 million in exploration and infrastructure throughout its resource area. The company plans to spend another $10-15 million for the initial 6MW project and aims to invest over $500 million in the future for a 90MW power plant. Sekaname’s goal is to assist BPC in becoming a net exporter of power within the region and to contribute to Botswana’s transition to cleaner energy production.

In conclusion, the power purchase agreement between BPC and Sekaname Energy for the production of power from coal bed methane in Mmashoro village is a significant step towards diversifying Botswana’s energy mix. This project aligns with BPC’s strategic initiatives to increase the proportion of low-carbon power generation sources and renewable energy. The government’s support for the development of a gas supply industry and the commercial extraction of coal bed methane will bring numerous benefits to the country, including economic diversification, import substitution, and employment creation. With the potential to become a net exporter of power and a cleaner energy producer, Botswana is poised to make significant strides in its energy sector.

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UDC deadlock: Boko, Ndaba, Reatile meet  

4th December 2023

It is not clear as to when, but before taking a festive break in few weeks’ time UDC leaders would have convened to address the ongoing deadlock surrounding constituency allocation in the negotiations for the 2024 elections. The leaders, Duma Boko of the UDC, Mephato Reggie Reatile of the BPF, and Ndaba Gaolathe of the AP, are expected to meet and discuss critical matters and engage in dialogue regarding the contested constituencies.

The negotiations hit a stalemate when it came to allocating constituencies, prompting the need for the leaders to intervene. Representatives from the UDC, AP, and BPF were tasked with negotiating the allocation, with Dr. Patrick Molotsi and Dr. Philip Bulawa representing the UDC, and Dr. Phenyo Butale and Wynter Mmolotsi representing the AP.

The leaders’ meeting is crucial in resolving the contentious issue of constituency allocation, which has caused tension among UDC members and potential candidates for the 2024 elections. After reaching an agreement, the leaders will engage with the members of each constituency to gauge their opinions and ensure that the decisions made are favored by the rank and file. This approach aims to avoid unnecessary costs and conflicts during the general elections.

One of the main points of contention is the allocation of Molepolole South, which the BNF is adamant about obtaining. In the 2019 elections, the UDC was the runner-up in Molepolole South, securing the second position in seven out of eight wards. Other contested constituencies include Metsimotlhabe, Kgatleng East and West, Mmadinare, Francistown East, Shashe West, Boteti East, and Lerala Maunatlala.

The criteria used for constituency allocation have also become a point of dispute among the UDC member parties. The issue of incumbency is particularly contentious, as the criterion for constituency allocation suggests that current holders of UDC’s council and parliamentary seats should be given priority for re-election without undergoing primary elections. Disadvantaged parties argue that this approach limits democratic competition and hinders the emergence of potentially more capable candidates.

Another disputed criterion is the allocation based on the strength and popularity of a party in specific areas. Parties argue that this is a subjective criterion that leads to disputes and favoritism, as clear metrics for strength and visibility cannot be defined. The BNF, in particular, questions the demands of the new entrants, the BPF and AP, as they lack a traceable track record to support their high expectations.

The unity and cohesion of the UDC are at stake, with the BPF and AP expressing dissatisfaction and considering withdrawing from the negotiations. Therefore, it is crucial for the leaders to expedite their meeting and find a resolution to these disputes.

In the midst of these negotiations, the BNF has already secured 15 constituencies within the UDC coalition. While the negotiations are still ongoing, BNF Chairman Dr. Molotsi revealed that they have traditionally held these constituencies and are expecting to add more to their tally. The constituencies include Gantsi North, Gantsi South, Kgalagadi North, Kgalagadi South, Good Hope – Mmathethe, Kanye North, Kanye South, Lobatse, Molepolole North, Gaborone South, Gaborone North, Gaborone Bonnignton North, Takatokwane, Letlhakeng, and Tlokweng.

The resolution of the contested constituencies will test the ability of the UDC to present a united front in the 2024 National Elections will depend on the decisions made by the three leaders. It is essential for them to demonstrate maturity and astuteness in resolving the constituency allocation deadlock and ensuring the cohesion of the UDC.

 

 

 

 

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