An almost perfect week for Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST) which was punctuated by the opening of the academic year was interrupted by a calculated bomb scare and, later, a delivery of a 36 page so called rebuttal by an organisation representing the former Vice Chancellor of the University, Professor Hillary Inyang to the Assistant Minister, Dr Unity Dow.
As Dr Dow was perusing through the voluminous document, security agents were busy evacuating the school and searching the campus for a potential explosive for the better part of Wednesday. All the while students were bussed to various points for safety and the academic calendar disrupted.
Several hours after the bomb scare reports, the former Distinguished Professor of the University delivered a dossier titled, “Open letter of rebuttal of your claims against former BIUST Vice Chancellor before the eminent Parliament of Botswana on Friday, December 12, 2014 as reported in the widely distributed WeekendPost of Saturday, December 13 – 14, 2014.” While Dow was reportedly unfazed by the rebuttal, there were indications from the context of the prose that Inyang and the Ministry had serious differences on the handling of BIUST affairs.
Weekend Post has established that Prof Inyang had wanted to set up satellite BIUST campuses around the country at such places as Maun, Serowe, Francistown and others, but the Ministry did not support the idea. The Serowe campus was already on the pipeline.
Dr Dow vehemently opposed a budget proposal by Inyang which some qualified in the billions of Pula and was allegedly even more than the Ministry’s annual budget. This publication learns that the figure would have been about P13 billion over a considerable period of time. The Former Vice Chancellor had also wanted to set up a School of Sociology within BIUST, officials at the Ministry praised his idea but advised that it was not suited for a science and technology oriented university like BIUST adding that there were going to be budget constraints to finance its setup. In his proposal to the Ministry Inyang had budgeted for a total intake of 5000 students, an idea which was also shot down because of budget constraints.
Prof Inyang and his team take issue with Dr Dow because: “you as a prominent member of the Botswana legal community, endorsed rumours about operations at BIUST and the former Vice Chancellor-Distinguished Prof. Hilary Inyang, and took the shocking step of reporting them as facts to the Parliament of Botswana without contacting him or any of his associates, or the former Council Chair-Mr. Serwalo Tumelo, or the Chancellor Mr. Festus Mogae for verification.” The Professor’s team say the rebuttal is also necessitated by the need to clear potential reputational damage that Dr Dow’s claims in Parliament against the former Vice Chancellors may occasion.
They wrote: “On behalf of our organization – The Global Union of Experts for International Development (GUEFIND) which is an informal union of internationally acclaimed intellectuals, serving former public servants at ranks that include ex-ministers/cabinet members of several countries, entrepreneurs, and opinion leaders across cultures and nationalities including Batswana, we hereby congratulate you on your recent appointment as Assistant Minister of the Ministry of Education and Skills Development (MOESD) of the Republic of Botswana.”
The reasons that the Assistant Minister had handed to Parliament over the resignation of the Vice Chancellors, particularly Prof. Hilary I. Inyang, are not true. “Prof. Inyang clearly stated reasons for his resignation. These reasons (mostly interference which is herein reported in succeeding sections) were also echoed by both his predecessor and successor.” He disputes reports that he hired foreigners without permits, paid them higher salaries compared to locals, and even created posts for them. He qualifies these as rumours spread by some staff members.
In his resignation letter dated October 7, 2014, Prof. Inyang says he had stated that “If there are any outstanding allegations against me or my BIUST Administration, I would like to know about them so that we can address them before my departure from BIUST,” and “Per my contract, this will allow six months for my help to the Ministry in an interim period during which my successor can be recruited.”
Inyang is of the view that his departure was hurried in late November, 2014, through a letter to him urging him to leave without serving the Interim period that he had proposed which would have helped in concluding academic programming, staffing and accommodation arrangements for students early enough for the opening of the 2014/2015 academic year. The Ministry had duly paid the Distinguished Professor for the six months he demanded and decided not to keep him around. Upon his exit, it is understood that Inyang had made a proposal to the Ministry to the effect that he be engaged as a consultant to help BIUST, but the Ministry had other ideas.
In his rebuttal Prof. Inyang explains why he opposes long-term career-long appointments of staff at BIUST. “In an academic institution, unproductive staff often uses the cushion of permanent appointment to perpetuate mediocrity and unproductivity.”
This how the former BIUST Chancellor esteems himself: “GUEFIND notes that BIUST and indeed Botswana had been fortunate to attract Distinguished Professor Hilary Inyang to lead BIUST. Though unassuming and polite, he is an internationally admired and respected scholar who exerts considerable influence on agencies and scholars worldwide. He is a member of the Education Caucus of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development, a multiple award winner in several countries and a recent finalist for the position of United Nations Assistant Secretary-General.”
As the security agents continue their search for the potential source of the bomb threat, and Dr Dow scans through Professor Inyang’s rebuttal, BIUST is back to normal. Classes have resumed and there are over 1500 students trying to build a future at the University. The new chairman of the BIUST Council, Bernard Bolele is confident that the University has stabilised and should be in a position to produce high quality graduates soon.
Botswana Telecommunications Corporation Limited (BTC) has announced that its 3rd Francistown Marathon will be held on Saturday 20th April 2024 at Obed Itani Chilume Stadium in Francistown. The BTC Francistown Marathon is officially recognised by World Athletics and a Comrades Marathon Qualifier will offer race categories ranging from 42.2km, 21.1 km, 10km, 5km fun run, 5km peace run for children and has introduced a 5km and 10km categories for wheelchairs athletics.
BTC also used this opportunity to announce beneficiaries who received donations from proceeds made from the 2nd BTC Francistown Marathon that was held on April 23rd 203. BTC donated a play area, plastic chairs and wooden tables for pupils worth a total of thirty eight thousand, one hundred and three pula, fifty thebe each (P38, 103.50) to Monarch Primary School, Tatitown Primary School, Mahube Primary School and Gulubane Primary School. Ditladi and Boikhutso clinics each received a donation of benches, television sets and 10, 000 litre water tanks worth thirty seven thousan, eight hundred and ninety eight pula (P 37, 898.00). Additionally, BTC also donated seventy thousand pula (P70,000.00) to their marathon technical partner, Francistown Athletics Club (FAC) which will be used for daily operations as well as to purchase equipment for the club.
The BTC Francistown Marathon aligns seamlessly with BTC’s corporate social investment programme, administered through the BTC Foundation. This programme is a testament to BTC’s dedication to community development, focusing on key areas such as health promotion. The marathon, now in its third year, not only promotes a healthy lifestyle but also channels all proceeds to carefully chosen charities as part of BTC’s commitment to impactful and sustainable projects.
Speaking at the launch, the BTC Managing Director Mr Anthony Masunga stated that the marathon underscores BTC’s commitment to community upliftment and corporate social investment. He stated that “the annual event which has been in existence since 2016, having taken a break due to the covid and other logistical issues, is instrumental to the economic upliftment of the city of Francistown”. He congratulated all the beneficiaries for having been nominated to receive the donations, adding that “the donation of proceeds from the 2023 marathon aims to highlight BTC’s commitment and heart for Batswana and our continued impact in the different industries”.
He further stated that through this marathon, “we demonstrate our steadfast commitment to having a good influence on our communities, this event is a manifestation of our dedication to promoting education and a healthier, more active society”. He concluded by stating that “BTC looks forward to another successful marathon that will leave a lasting positive influence on the greater Francistown community and the country at large” he said.
Giving welcome remarks, the Councillor for Donga, Honourable Morulaganyi Mothowabarwa stated that “he is ecstatic that BTC is collaborating with the City of Francistown on yet another installment of the Marathon”. He continued to offer his support to BTC to enable this marathon to continue over the coming years, stating that the “CSI element is a welcome development that helps empower our communities”, he said.
The 3rd BTC Francistown Marathon is officially open for registrations and athletes may use the following platforms to register and pay; through Smega by dialling *173# and choosing opton 5, then choose Option 3 for the Francistown marathon, at any BTC store or by visiting the BTC website and clicking on the BTC Francistown Marathon and choosing the relevant options.
Thapelo Letsholo, Member of Parliament for Kanye North, delivered a moving speech at the United Nations International Anti-Corruption Day commemoration, praising President Dr. Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi’s digitalization initiative in the fight against corruption. Letsholo highlighted the importance of embracing digitalization in governance as a crucial step in curbing corrupt practices.
According to Letsholo, the implementation of digital systems in government services can significantly reduce direct interactions between citizens and officials, which often serve as fertile grounds for corruption. By minimizing these opportunities for illicit activities, the efficiency and transparency of public services can be enhanced. Letsholo pointed to Estonia’s success in digital governance as an example, where public services have become more transparent, accessible, and efficient.
The MP commended President Masisi’s commitment to digitalization and E-Governance, emphasizing that it aligns with global anti-corruption standards. He called for full support and active participation from all sectors to ensure the success of this initiative.
Letsholo also stressed the importance of improving detection methods and refining whistleblower laws to effectively combat corruption. He highlighted the unseen and unspoken facets of corruption as its lifelines, emphasizing the need for robust detection mechanisms and a system that encourages and protects whistleblowers.
Addressing the societal role in fighting corruption, Letsholo focused on the crucial role of everyday citizens and civil servants who often witness corrupt practices firsthand. He acknowledged the existing reluctance to report corruption due to the perceived risks of repercussions. To change this narrative, Letsholo advocated for creating an environment where staying silent is deemed more detrimental than speaking out. He called for a cultural shift where the potential benefits of exposing corruption outweigh the risks, ensuring that whistleblowers are protected and feel secure in coming forward.
Letsholo called for collective responsibility and action in creating a system that not only detects and reports corruption but also supports those who stand against it. He expressed hope that under President Masisi’s digitalization initiatives, the future of governance in Botswana will be characterized by integrity, transparency, and accountability. Letsholo’s speech resonated with the sentiments of hope and determination that permeated the commemoration, emphasizing the need for unity in the fight against corruption.
In summary, Letsholo lauded President Masisi’s digitalization initiative in the fight against corruption, highlighting its potential to curb corrupt practices, enhance efficiency and transparency in public services, and align with global anti-corruption standards. He emphasized the importance of improving detection methods, refining whistleblower laws, and creating an environment where speaking out against corruption is encouraged and protected. Letsholo called for collective responsibility and action in creating a future characterized by integrity, transparency, and accountability in governance.
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.