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UDC proposes additional P2 billion for new projects


Leader of Opposition in Parliament and Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) President, Duma Boko has proposed that in addition to the budget presented by Minister of Finance and Development Planning on Monday, a further P2 billion be added to engage in new projects that will enhance the country’s economic growth and create jobs.


Responding to the Budget Speech presented by Minister Matambo on Monday, Boko said government should set aside P500 million for land servicing; P200 million for Research and Development; P20 million for the Police Service as part of significantly enhancing its capabilities and capacity as a professional law enforcement agency.


Boko has also proposed for an additional expenditure of P800 million this year for spending on the development of vocational training and education in Botswana. He says government should consider proposal to finance the training of more than 10 000 citizens for six month and one year courses to equip the unemployed but trainable citizens for semi-skilled and skilled (depending on level) role jobs in the envisaged construction of the trans-Kalahari railway, Kazungula bridges, local area Government maintenance work and other community infrastructure projects.


The UDC also wants government to invest an additional P300 million in Public Private Partnerships (PPPS) for water drainage infrastructure/ technologies and solar/bio power technologies to harvest water and generate power effectively in communities.


UDC is of the view that there should not be any shortage of water in a place like Gaborone where there are occasional floods, and where if the water was harvested effectively, the country would not be under water-shortage strain. “We have noted the already existing investments in the north-south water carrier, but we believe much more can be done if resources were permitting,” he noted.


Boko holds that improving public sector efficiency is strongly linked with adoption of procurement policies that are derived from the creation of a Citizen Economic Law in this country.


The UDC president says privatization of public entities should be informed by a strong policy on who will own the privatized entity; how many jobs will be created as a result of such efficiencies and how privatization results in economic growth. Boko is of the view that citizen economic empowerment should be an integral part of sustained economic growth; and one of doing this should be through ensuring that Citizens participate in the privatization process.


Boko argues that for the privatization programme to be sustainable and beneficial to Batswana, government should come with a scheme that will ensure that Batswana participate and benefit from the privatization process. Boko says government should establish an Investment Fund, to allow Batswana to buy into state assets which are up for privatization. 

“Although Citizen Economic Empowerment Law is critical for Botswana to create sustainable jobs, it has to be part of a broad industrial Policy Framework which under the UDC Government will provide a strategic direction to the economy,” said Boko.


Boko warned that without a citizen economic empowerment Law, Batswana shall remain poor; and Botswana will continue as the 3rd leading country in the world in terms of income inequality. Boko contends that to create jobs, there is a need for economic empowerment law that will support citizen SMME businesses through procurement.


Boko also took a swipe at the government’s failure to maintain efficiency in project implementation in Botswana, saying the country’s projects in recent years have not been completed on time and or on budget. Boko says the adoption of E-Procurement solution by PPADB will not help improve project implementation.


He noted that E-Procurement could only expedite allocation of projects; which is the whole objective of the solution. “What Botswana faces is poor implementation of projects which mainly causes cost overruns and failure to deploy the right human resource complement. E-Procurement solution will not address this,” he contended.


Boko says as a government which has ambition of being efficient and innovative, there is a need to invest in Research and Development to be spearheaded by Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST) to develop commercial products based on our natural resources. Boko says Botswana should have been self-sufficient in beef and dairy products, and also be one the leading exporters of these products.



Boko, who is also Member of Parliament for Gaborone Bonnington North says foreign pharmaceuticals are securing patents based on indigenous medicinal herbs, contending that local pharmacists and medical researchers should also be given the means to do that. “This indigenous knowledge that has been accumulated over millennia should be harnessed, not lost. Botswana is renowned for developing and exporting animal husbandry vaccines. This achievement can be replicated in other areas,” he said.


 Boko says government has failed on its mandate of providing affordable house saying the situation is even becoming worse with time. “Now more than ever before, housing is beyond reach for the majority of the working population. Late in the day, even the rolled programme does not meet the demand for low-cost housing,” he observed. “We would propose an additional P500 million to purchase more land and embark on Public Private Partnerships for the servicing of those land-parcels in-order to make more land available for housing needs of a large number of Batswana,” Boko said.


Boko wants the government to spend an additional P200 million for further PPP Research and Development, commercialization and joint ventures in potentially niche sectors of Botswana such as food (meat recipes, cheeses, chocolates, morula drinks, honies), medicines, material sciences, coal beneficiation, solar technology.

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13 AUGUST 2022 Publication

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DIS blasted for cruelty – UN report

26th July 2022
DIS BOSS: Magosi

Botswana has made improvements on preventing and ending arbitrary deprivation of liberty, but significant challenges remain in further developing and implementing a legal framework, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention said at the end of a visit recently.

Head of the delegation, Elina Steinerte, appreciated the transparency of Botswana for opening her doors to them. Having had full and unimpeded access and visited 19 places of deprivation of liberty and confidentiality interviewing over 100 persons deprived of their liberty.

She mentioned “We commend Botswana for its openness in inviting the Working Group to conduct this visit which is the first visit of the Working Group to the Southern African region in over a decade. This is a further extension of the commitment to uphold international human rights obligations undertaken by Botswana through its ratification of international human rights treaties.”

Another good act Botswana has been praised for is the remission of sentences. Steinerte echoed that the Prisons Act grants remission of one third of the sentence to anyone who has been imprisoned for more than one month unless the person has been sentenced to life imprisonment or detained at the President’s Pleasure or if the remission would result in the discharge of any prisoner before serving a term of imprisonment of one month.

On the other side; The Group received testimonies about the police using excessive force, including beatings, electrocution, and suffocation of suspects to extract confessions. Of which when the suspects raised the matter with the magistrates, medical examinations would be ordered but often not carried out and the consideration of cases would proceed.

“The Group recall that any such treatment may amount to torture and ill-treatment absolutely prohibited in international law and also lead to arbitrary detention. Judicial authorities must ensure that the Government has met its obligation of demonstrating that confessions were given without coercion, including through any direct or indirect physical or undue psychological pressure. Judges should consider inadmissible any statement obtained through torture or ill-treatment and should order prompt and effective investigations into such allegations,” said Steinerte.

One of the group’s main concern was the DIS held suspects for over 48 hours for interviews. Established under the Intelligence and Security Service Act, the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) has powers to arrest with or without a warrant.

The group said the “DIS usually requests individuals to come in for an interview and has no powers to detain anyone beyond 48 hours; any overnight detention would take place in regular police stations.”

The Group was able to visit the DIS facilities in Sebele and received numerous testimonies from persons who have been taken there for interviewing, making it evident that individuals can be detained in the facility even if the detention does not last more than few hours.

Moreover, while arrest without a warrant is permissible only when there is a reasonable suspicion of a crime being committed, the evidence received indicates that arrests without a warrant are a rule rather than an exception, in contravention to article 9 of the Covenant.

Even short periods of detention constitute deprivation of liberty when a person is not free to leave at will and in all those instances when safeguards against arbitrary detention are violated, also such short periods may amount to arbitrary deprivation of liberty.

The group also learned of instances when persons were taken to DIS for interviewing without being given the possibility to notify their next of kin and that while individuals are allowed to consult their lawyers prior to being interviewed, lawyers are not allowed to be present during the interviews.

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention mentioned they will continue engaging in the constructive dialogue with the Government of Botswana over the following months while they determine their final conclusions in relation to the country visit.

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Stan Chart halts civil servants property loan facility

26th July 2022
Stan-Chart

Standard Chartered Bank Botswana (SCBB) has informed the government that it will not be accepting new loan applications for the Government Employees Motor Vehicle and Residential Property Advance Scheme (GEMVAS and LAMVAS) facility.

This emerges in a correspondence between Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance Boniface Mphetlhe and some government departments. In a letter he wrote recently to government departments informing them of the decision, Mphetlhe indicated that the Ministry received a request from the Bank to consider reviewing GEMVAS and LAMVAS agreement.

He said: “In summary SCBB requested the following; Government should consider reviewing GEMVAS and LAMVAS interest rate from prime plus 0.5% to prime plus 2%.” The Bank indicated that the review should be both for existing GEMVAS and LAMVAS clients and potential customers going forward.

Mphetlhe said the Bank informed the Ministry that the current GEMVAS and LAMVAS interest rate structure results into them making losses, “as the cost of loa disbursements is higher that their end collections.”

He said it also requested that the loan tenure for the residential property loans to be increased from 20 to 25 years and the loan tenure for new motor vehicles loans to be increased from 60 months to 72 months.

Mphetlhe indicated that the Bank’s request has been duly forwarded to the Directorate of Public Service Management for consideration, since GEMVAS and LAMVAS is a Condition of Service Scheme. He saidthe Bank did also inform the Ministry that if the matter is not resolved by the 6th June, 2022, they would cease receipt of new GEMVAS and LAMVAS loan applications.

“A follow up virtual meeting was held to discuss their resolution and SCB did confirm that they will not be accepting any new loans from GEMVAS and LAMVAS. The decision includes top-up advances,” said Mphetlhe. He advised civil servants to consider applying for loans from other banks.

In a letter addressed to the Ministry, SCBB Chief Executive Officer Mpho Masupe informed theministry that, “Reference is made to your letter dated 18th March 2022 wherein the Ministry had indicated that feedback to our proposal on the above subject is being sought.”

In thesame letter dated 10 May 2022, Masupe stated that the Bank was requesting for an update on the Ministry’s engagements with the relevant stakeholder (Directorate of Public Service Management) and provide an indicative timeline for conclusion.

He said the “SCBB informs the Ministry of its intention to cease issuance of new loans to applicants from 6th June 2022 in absence of any feedback on the matter and closure of the discussions between the two parties.”  Previously, Masupe had also had requested the Ministry to consider a review of clause 3 of the agreement which speaks to the interest rate charged on the facilities.

Masupe indicated in the letter dated 21 December 2021 that although all the Banks in the market had signed a similar agreement, subject to amendments that each may have requested. “We would like to suggest that our review be considered individually as opposed to being an industry position as we are cognisant of the requirements of section 25 of the Competition Act of 2018 which discourages fixing of pricing set for consumers,” he said.

He added that,“In this way,clients would still have the opportunity to shop around for more favourable pricing and the other Banks, may if they wish to, similarly, individually approach your office for a review of their pricing to the extent that they deem suitable for their respective organisations.”

Masupe also stated that: “On the issue of our request for the revision of the Interest Rate, we kindly request for an increase from the current rate of prime plus 0.5% to prime plus 2%, with no other increases during the loan period.” The Bank CEO said the rationale for the request to review pricing is due to the current construct of the GEMVAS scheme which is currently structured in a way that is resulting in the Bank making a loss.

“The greater part of the GEMVAS portfolio is the mortgage boo which constitutes 40% of the Bank’s total mortgage portfolio,” said Masupe. He saidthe losses that the Bank is incurring are as a result of the legacy pricing of prime plus 0% as the 1995 agreement which a slight increase in the August 2018 agreement to prime plus 0.5%.

“With this pricing, the GEMVAS portfolio has not been profitable to the Bank, causing distress and impeding its ability to continue to support government employees to buy houses and cars. The portfolio is currently priced at 5.25%,” he said.  Masupe said the performance of both the GEMVAS home loan and auto loan portfolios in terms of profitability have become unsustainable for the Bank.

Healso said, when the agreement was signed in August 2018, the prime lending rate was 6.75% which made the pricing in effect at the time sufficient from a profitable perspective. “It has since dropped by a total 1.5%. The funds that are loaned to customers are sourced at a high rate, which now leaves the Bank with marginal profits on the portfolio before factoring in other operational expenses associated with administration of the scheme and after sales care of the portfolio,” said the CEO.

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