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NDB cracks whip on top 20 non-performing loans


The Management of the National Development Bank (NDB) is accused of interfering in debt collection of some accounts in which they have strong interests, the WeekendPost can reveal.


This publication has established that as a result of a decline in financial position, the bank is on a debt collection rampage and, to achieve this, it has identified top 20 accounts that contribute significantly to the Non Performing Loan (NPL).


This publication has intercepted communication between the bank Senior Monitoring Officer and Credit Portfolio Manager concerning the alleged management interference.   


It is understood that a department at the bank – Monitoring and Collection Unit has been mandated to reduce the Loan Book to acceptable levels but management is poking its nose in the operations of the department.
The Senior Monitoring Officer Modiri Itseng indicated in the communiqué that management was prying in the accounts of Trilobite Holdings, Tomorrow (pty) Ltd and Tati River Lodge – which altogether owe NDB almost P30 million.


With regard to Trilobite Holdings, Itseng stated in his complainant letter that after Trilobite failed to pay off its arrears and while they were at a time of issuance of a summons to the company, they received an instruction from the Chief Operating Officer (COO) to “halt collections activity until given a go ahead” by him.


“We are not aware of the reasons advanced by the COO as to why we should not demand payment from the client given the status of the account,” the letter stated.


Itseng further decried that it seemed that the said client was given preferential treatment under circumstances that may be questionable. He went on to say, “you will further recall that the promoter owns Lurid Investments (pty) ltd which is currently being written off after the client was favoured with a discounted settlement of over P149,000. 00. The total amount being written off is over P177,000.00.”


This publication has also gathered that Trilobite Holdings is under the directorship of a renowned farmer Monty Chiepe. The account contributes to over a whooping P10 million on the bank NPL book.


According to Itseng, another company, the Tati River Lodge‘s account, as per the end of January portfolio report contributed to over 8million on the NPL book.


Itseng stated in the letter that Tati River Lodge in Francistown failed to pay as advised and they commenced collections process demanding payment of arrears failing which, legal proceedings would have been instituted.


“Upon following the rightful procedure of which we were on the verge of having a summons issued, the COO, without advising the collections team handling the account, committed the bank in agreement with the client by signing an offer letter of rescheduling the loan account,” he said.


According to the Senior Monitoring officer, this lack of communication from the COO’s office has in part defeated the purpose of arrears collection.


“Non collection, in this instance a rescheduling without prior payment by client is detrimental to the state of the business in that, our cash flow is adversely affected. A rescheduling is merely a postponement of payment which the bank should not encourage. (Unless the clients demonstrate commitment by reducing arrears before rescheduling is considered)” he pointed out.


According to the Senior Monitoring Officer, staff morale at the bank was also affected as the lack of communication reflected that there was no trust that officers could fully execute their duties without senior management interference.


“This was not only demoralizing to officers attempting to collect from the client, it was also embarrassing to have issued conflicting and contradicting information from the same bank.”


It is understood that Tati River Lodge’s sister company Prideaux (by the same directors) – was foreclosed due to default of payment.


It also said that judgement was granted in favour of the bank but the deputy sheriff, duly instructed by the internal attorney responsible for collections was stopped from executing the writ.


“I have been reliably informed by Senior Collections Officers in Francistown that the instruction not to execute was issued by the COO. Prideaux contributed over P1.7million in NPL as at end of January portfolio report,” Itseng stated.


Another similar intervention by the NDB COO was exercised in respect of Tomorrow (pty) Ltd, whose account also is a major contributor to the NPL book, adding over 8 million as at end of January 2015. The client was offered rescheduling of the loan account without the officers who were pursuing the client to pay off the arrears being informed.


“Please note that we have agreed with you that clients should be advised to demonstrate commitment by reducing arrears before indulgence to reschedule could be given. This was to be the case on accounts with high arrears and contribute significantly to the NPL book such as the above stated accounts,” the NDB official lambasted.


Itseng further stated he believed that the same clients that NDB management was always willing to give indulgence to were servicing their loans elsewhere for fear of litigation, but are taking advantage of being considered “high profile clients” by NDB and that they could phone the CEO to avoid servicing the loans. 

“This is an impediment to our collection strategy efforts. I therefore employ you to impress upon the CEO and COO, to let us, through your office and that of the Head of Operations carry out our mandates to manage the bank’s portfolio and collect,” he decried.


Itseng reminded the Credit Portfolio Manager that, “you will recall that on several meetings, both the Head of Operations and yourself have continued to remind us of our targets and the ultimate goal of the recovery plan the bank has embarked on, which is to collect on ALL arreared loans in order to reduce our NPL and improve our cash flow. It comes as a surprise that you have forwarded the instruction form the COO’s office without interrogation and subsequent explanation to the collection team regarding the suspension of collection on the account.”


The accounts are also said to be targeted by the Collections Strategy Project Implementation Committee which reduces loans because of their value and resultant contribution to the Non Performing Loan Book.
The Project Implementation Committee is tasked to among other things, follow up on the top 20 accounts (including the 3 stated) and demand payment of arrears and ultimately have the accounts removed from the NPL book.


When reached for comment the Marketing and Communications Manager Harry Marks said the bank, like any financial institution in the country, is exposed to economic cycles and has lately had to contend with limited liquidity (more so that it is not yet deposit taking), low interest rates; “higher than average incidence of non-performing loans” and squeezed margins.


“In its 51 years in existence, NDB has successfully circumnavigated the business terrain in which it operates, and of recent past as a self-sustaining entity,” Marks said.


According to Marks, the bank has in this regard been able to touch the lives of many Batswana by focusing on business landscapes that other Banks are not keen to finance, such as agriculture and start-ups. “To date the Bank has paid government dividends amounting to P130.2 million in the past two decades. The Bank consistently executes its mandate towards economic diversification of the country and has a proud record of development to showcase. It is our commitment to continue on the path of aggressively executing this mandate,” he said.


However indications are that the accounts owing the bank millions of pula are treated with kids’ gloves and affecting the bank negatively. Altogether the accounts total exposure for Gaborone branch amounted to 81 million as at end of October 2014, a figure which continues to increase exponentially recording a high of 93 million as at end of December last year.


Efforts to solicit a comment from National Bank Development Employees Union (NDBEU) President Gilbert Watshipi proved futile at the time of going to press.


Meanwhile the former Secretary General of NDBEU John Matlapeng, who has since been replaced by Bose Masuke, has through a communication of 12 December 2014, warned the board chairperson Mr Vincent Seitei about the effects of the uncollectable debt.


“To date, and as is the case every year, management is struggling to persuade the external auditors to endorse the annual accounts. As usual, management and staff are called upon to cook up some gymnastic explanation with regard to its bad debt provisioning methodology, and generally account for how it has factored the impact of its substantial uncollected debt. Such a situation cannot be allowed to persist as an annual ritual, year in and year out.”

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Details emerge in suspected Batswana poachers in Namibia

28th June 2022
suspected Motswana poacher arrested

New details about a suspected Motswana poacher arrested in Namibian and his accomplice who is on the run were revealed when the suspect appeared in court this week.

The Motswana Citizen who was shot and wounded by Namibia’s anti poaching unit is facing criminal charges under criminal case number (CR NO 10/06/2022) which was registered at the Divundu Police Station in the Mukwe constituency of the Kavango East Region on 10 June 2022.

It is alleged that a patrol team laid an ambush after discovering a giraffe’s fresh carcass in a snare wire and hanging biltong.  According to the Charge Sheet, the suspect Djeke Dihutu, aged 40 years, is charged with contravening and transgressions of Nature Conservation Ordinance andcontravening Immigration Act 07 in Mahango Wildlife Core Area, Bwabwata National Park. Dihutu’s first court appearance was on the 17th of June 2022, Rundu and it was postponed to the 07 July 2022. He is currently hospitalized in hospital under Police Guards.

Commenting on this latest development, the Namibian Lives Matter Movement National Chairperson Sinvula Mudabeti applauded the Namibian Anti Poaching Unit for its compliance with what it called the universal instrument on the Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials adopted by the United Nations General Assembly resolution 34/169.

“We are aware that the duties of the police carry a great deal of risk, but our police has shown that they have a moral calling and obligation to protect even foreigners suspected of serious crimes on Namibian soil,” said Mudabeti.

According to him, whereas the Botswana Police Service, the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) and Directorate of Intelligence Service (DIS) have “very low moral ethics, integrity, accountability and honesty, the Namibian security agencies has shown very high levels of ethical leadership in the discharge of their duties even under duress.”

He said Namibian’s anti poaching unit has exercised one very important value, that is, the use of force only when it is reasonable and necessary. Mudabeti said this is in harmony with international best practices as enshrined in Article 2 of the UN instrument on law enforcement conduct, “In the performance of their duty, law enforcement officials shall respect and protect human dignity and maintain and uphold the human rights of all persons.

Our police have protected the life of a Botswana poacher and accorded him dignity, which is very foreign to our Botswana counterparts,” he said. He said article 3 of the same instrument above, calls for Law enforcement officials to use force only when strictly necessary and to the extent required for the performance of their duty.

“This provision emphasizes that the use of force by law enforcement officials should be exceptional; while it implies that law enforcement officials may be authorized to use force as is reasonably necessary under the circumstances for the prevention of crime or in effecting or assisting in the lawful arrest of suspected offenders, no force going beyond that was used by our Police,” he said.

Furthermore, Mudabeti said, whereas the universally accepted norm of the law of proportionality ordinarily permits the use of force by law enforcement, it is to be understood that such principles of proportionality in no case should be interpreted to authorize the use of force which is disproportionate to the legitimate objective to be achieved.

“Our police have used force proportional to the situation at hand. Great work indeed! Article 6 urges law enforcement officials to ensure the full protection of the health of persons in their custody and, in particular, shall take immediate action to secure medical attention whenever required,” he said.

Mudabeti said the Botswana poacher was immediately taken to hospital whereas the Nchindo brothers who were captured on Namibian soil, beaten, tortured and executed while pleading to be taken to the hospital we left to die.

“The Namibian Doctor gave evidence in court that Sinvula Munyeme’s lungs showed signs of life (during the autopsy) and that he could have survived if he was accorded immediate medical assistance in time but was left to die while BDF soldiers looked and possibly ignored his cry for help,” he said.

Mudabeti said unlike in Botswana where there are no clear separation of powers between the BDF, Botswana Police Service, Department of Intelligence and their Directorate of Public Prosecutions,” we have a system that allows for checks and balances and allows our people and foreigners who are found on the wrong side of the law to be accorded the right to a fair trial.”

He said Botswana citizens are treated with dignity when apprehended in Namibia and not assaulted, tortured and executed. “We are a civilized country that respects international law in dealing with non-Namibian criminals. The Namibian Police have not mistreated the Botswana poacher but have given him the benefit of the doubt by allowing due processes of the law to be followed,” he said.

He added that, “We are a peace loving nation that has not repaid Botswana by the evil that Botswana has done to Namibia by killing more than 37 innocent and unarmed Namibians by the trigger happy BDF.” He concluded that, “Our acts of mercy in arresting Botswana citizens should never be mistaken for cowardice.”

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Gov’t, Unions clash over accommodation

28th June 2022
accomodation

The government has reportedly taken a decision to terminate provision of pool housing and subsidy for civil servants as it attempts to trim the public service wage bill.

This emerges in a dispute that is currently before the Labour Office headquarters lodged by unions representing thousands of civil servants across the country. This publication understands that the decision to cease providing pool housing and rental subsidy for public officers is part of proposals that government put on the table during its negotiations with public service unions in order for it to adjust salaries.

A letter from Labour Office addressed to the Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) shows that the directorate is cited as the First Respondent. The letter is titled, “Dispute lodged: Cessation of provision of pool housing and subsidy for pubic officers.”

“This serves as a notification and requirement to a mediation hearing,” the letter informed DPSM. According to the letter, the Botswana Teachers Union (BTU), Botswana Sectors of Educators Trade Unions (BOSETU) Botswana Nurses Union (BONU) and Botswana Land Board &Local Authorities &Health workers Union (BLLAHW) who lodged the complaint are cited as the Applicant.

“Please come for mediation hearing. The hearing will be conducted by Mr Lebang. The hearing is scheduled for date/time 29th June 2022, 09: 00HOURS at Block 8 District Labour Office, Gaborone. Please bring all relevant documents,” reads the letter in part.

According to a document described as a proposal paper on the negotiations on salaries and other conditions of employment of public officers by the employer (government), the government did not only propose to stop providing accommodation to civil servants but also put a number of proposals on the table.

The proposal papers states that the negotiations (which have since been concluded) cover three government financial years; 2022/23, 2023/24 and 2024/25. The government proposed an across the board salary adjustments as follows; 3% for the financial year 2022/23 effective 1st April 2022, across the board salary adjustment of 3.5% for the financial year 2023/24 effective 1st April 2023 subject to performance of the economy and across the board salary adjustment of 4% for the financial year 2024/25 effective 1st April 2024 subject to performance of the economy.

The government also proposed phasing out of retention and attractive (Scarce Skills) Allowance with a view to migration towards clean pay, renegotiate and set new timelines for all outstanding issues contained in the Collective Labour Agreement, executed by the employer and trade unions on the 27th August 2019, to ensure proper sequencing, alignment and proper implementation.
The government also proposed to freeze public service recruitment for the 2022/23 financial year and withdraw the financial equivalence of P500 million attached to vacancies from Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs).

Another proposal included phasing out of commuted overtime allowance and payment of overtime in accordance with the law and review human resource policies during the financial year 2022/23, 2023/24 and 2024/25.

The government argued that its proposals were premised on affordability and sustainability adding that it was important to underscore that the review of salaries and conditions of service for public officers was taking place at a time when there were uncertainties both in the global and domestic economies.

“Furthermore there is need to ensure that any collective labour agreement that is concluded does not breach the fiscal deficit target of 4% of GDP,” the proposal paper stated. The proposal paper further indicated that beyond salary adjustments, the Government of Botswana is of the view that a more comprehensive consideration “must be taken on the issue of remuneration in the public service by embracing principles such as total rewards compensation which involves taking a fully comprehensive and holistic approach to how our organization compensates employees for the work.”

The proposal paper also noted that, “Clearly, the increase in salaries and changes to other conditions of service which have monetary consequences will further increase the proportion of the budget taken by salaries, allowances and other monetary based conditions of services.”

“The consequential effect would be a reduction of the portion that can be used for other recurrent budget needs (e.g. maintenance of assets, consumable supplies such as medicines and books) and for development projects,” the proposal states.

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BPF NEC probes Serowe squabbles

28th June 2022
BPF

Opposition Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) National Executive Committee will in no time investigate charges party members worked with the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) membership to tip the scales in favour of the latter for Serowe Sub-council Chairmanship in exchange for deputy seat in a dramatic 11th hour gentleman’s deal, leaving the ruling party splinter under the political microscope.

In a spectacular Sub-council election membership last Thursday, the ruling BDP’s Lesedi Phuthego beat Atamelang Thaga with 14 votes to 12 for Serowe Sub-council Chairmanship coveted seat and subsequently the ruling party’s councilor Bernard Kenosi withdrew his candidacy in the final hour for the equally admired deputy chair paving the way for Solomon Dikgang of BPF, seen as long sealed ‘I scratch your back and you scratch mine’ gentleman’s agreement between the contenders.

Both parties entered the race with a tie of votes torn between 12 councillors each, translating for election race that will go down to the wire definitely. But that will not be the case as two BPF councilors shifted their allegiance to the ruling party during the first race for Chairmanship held in a secret ballot and no sooner was the election concluded then the ruling party answered back by withdrawing its candidacy for the deputy chair position to give BPF’s Dikgang the post on a silver platter unopposed.

BPF councilor Vuyo Notha confirmed the incident in an interview on Wednesday, insisting the party NEC was determined to “investigate the matter soon”. “During the race for the Chairmanship, two more BPF voted for alongside the ruling party membership. It was clear Dikgang voted alongside the BDP as immediately after the vote for Chairmanship was concluded, Kenosi withdraw his candidacy to render Dikgang unopposed as a payback,” Notha added.

As for the other vote, Makolo ward councilor will not be drawn for the identity preferring instead to say: “BPF NEC will convene all the councilors to investigate the matter soon and we will take from there.” Notha will also not be drawn to conclude may be the culprit councilors could have defected to the ruling party silently.

“If they are no longer part of us they should say so and a by-election be called,” was all he could say. As it stands now, the law forbids sitting Councilors and Parliamentarians from crossing the floor to another party as to do so will immediately invite for a new election as dictated by the law. Incumbent politicians will therefore dare not venture for the unknown with a by-election that could definitely cost their political life and certainly their full benefits.

Notha could also not be dragged to link the culprit councilors actions to BPF Serowe region Chairperson Tebo Thokweng who has silently defected to the ruling party and currently employed by the party businessman and former candidate for Serowe West Moemedi Dijeng as PRO for the highly anticipated cattle abattoir project in Serowe.

“As for Thokweng he has not resigned from the party but from the region’s chairmanship,” he said. WeekendPost investigations suggest Thokweng is the secret snipper behind the recruitment drive of the votes for the elections and is determined to tear the party dominance in Serowe and the neighbouring villages asunder including in Palapye going forward.

This publication’s investigations also show BPF’s Radisele and UDC’s Mokgware/Mogome councilors are under the radar of investigations for the votes-themselves associated with the workings and operations of Thokweng.

“NEC will definitely leave no stone unturned with their investigations to get into the bottom of the matter. Disciplinary actions will follow certainly,” Notha concluded, underscoring the need to toe the party line to set a good precedent. For the youthful councilor, the actions of his peers has set a wrong precedent which has to be dealt with seriously to deter future culprits.

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