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VALENTINE’S DAY: Put a price tag on love day!


Stumbling upon headlines that Americans will spend a stunning $18.9 billion just to celebrate Valentine’s Day was, to say the least disturbing.  Undeniably, Valentine’s is the hallmark of love and spending for love is acceptable to some extent, but I believe by now even the worst suckers for the “special day” know by now how commercialized the day is, but some people believe in splurging their good money to demonstrate their feelings for that special someone, love and money have always gone together!


It is quite intriguing too that even locally, a lot of people have spent to celebrate the day, what with our shops going all out with the crazy specials on lingerie, chocolates, lovey-dovey mugs, teddy bears and a list of other totally useless items.


What is preposterous however is the notion of self-gifting on Valentine’s Day. Some women have been known to buy and send themselves flowers or chocolates or a cuddly, fluffy red and white toy while some even have gone into lingerie shops to buy themselves matching pairs of lacy underwear.


Valentine’s has really come a long way. For centuries, the day was a mash-up of a wild Roman pagan festival known as Lupercalia, a Roman festival during which men slaughtered a goat and a dog and used the hides to lash the women in order to enhance their fertility and the celebration of two catholic saints (both named Valentine) who were executed on February 14, by Emperor Claudius II of ancient Rome. By the middle ages, it was the norm to give loved ones hand-made cards or flowers during valentines.


The Valentine’s we celebrate today was most probably spurred by entrepreneurship, and research suggests that we have Richard Cadbury and Esther Howland to thank or this. Cadbury belonged to the famous chocolate making family, he then had an idea to package the delectable in heart-shaped boxes and selling them, this was in the mid-1800s.


Howland built her reputation as the “Mother of the American Valentine” by designing and popularizing high-quality lace-paper Valentine cards featuring messages of love and devotion through her company, the New England Valentine Company which she reportedly kept thriving for decades.


A random survey in a local mall shows that most men spend only because they feel obligated. An elderly gentleman spotted at a bookstore’s Greeting Cards section said he was buying his wife and mother of his three children a card. “She simply wouldn’t be happy if I don’t buy her anything, I buy her simple things like a card or chocolate, just anything special,” he said adding that if he could spend more he would because it would make his wife happy.


On asking him if he ever got anything from his wife, the gentleman revealed that he has always gotten gifts from her and she was the one who made him believe in buying valentines gifts. “I think she gives thought to the gifts she buys because I can keep the gifts she bought me before, last year I got a foot massager, and I have shirts, t-shirts and even socks from way back.  I tried to discourage her in the beginning because I was clueless about these kinds of things but failed,” he said.


Another younger looking man, who only wanted to be identified as “Kg” said he always wants to go all out to impress his lady. He revealed that he had spent the last two valentines with her. “The first Valentines I took her out to a dinner and presented her with some chocolates and perfume, clearly I was trying to impress her but now I feel I have to keep that standard.” He however said he was now trying to spend less but still trying to make her feel special. “I doubt it will match the first time we celebrated together because I obviously spent more then, but it will still be as romantic this time,” he added.


Some men believe in spending because they think that is what most women want. “Girls love us to spend on them, especially during days like Valentines, when you don’t buy her anything your love is suddenly questioned,” says Teddy Mokgosi.
He says that he has had experiences with past girlfriends where their fights were about him not buying a birthday or Valentines’ gift and he has resorted to buying a gift, or spending money on a dinner or lodges just to “keep the peace”.


Another couple seen at the same mall revealed that they both agreed about spending less for valentines’ because they didn’t need a day to validate their love or relationship.  They said that they intended on spending the day like any other and go out together in the night, like always.


Contrary to popular belief, most women do not make a fuss about the price tag of a gift they receive.


Host of popular RB2 program Night Caps, Otshidile Onkabetse believes that a lot of people want to be appreciated and want it expressed through gifts.  “I think every man feels the pressure whether a woman expresses her desire to be spoilt on the day or not. Shopping outlets and the media are doing a real good job at reminding people to do something for their partners on valentine’s and while others may turn a blind eye, most people feel the pressure.

On the flip side there could be some ladies who make it known that they want a man to spend on them, but i think it’s only because they want to be appreciated, i should think that if men only knew that women just want to be appreciated and that it’s not only about the gifts but rather the thought and the effort. Even if he did something extraordinary which showed he loved and appreciated her without spending money she would still feel special,” she said.


She says that she personally doesn’t care much about the gift or its price but would still appreciate it “I would just like someone to go the extra mile to celebrate the love we share and not the day. I think that’s where people miss the whole point of valentine’s, it’s not just a day set apart to buy gifts and celebrate the day itself but a day to celebrate love, if people saw it that way their approach towards the day would be different and even buying gifts would be less burdensome on those who purchase and for those who receive,” the radio personality asserted.


For 22 year old Precious Jansen, using money to buy expensive gifts on Valentine’s is a total waste. “Although it is sweet that someone would want to buy something for their loved one, I don’t think people need to spend money on luxurious stuff, even a home cooked meal would do the job,” she said.


While it is very unlikely that sharing priced gifts on one glorified day alone could in any way assure a happy or healthy relationship, it is worth noting that the high of that one day does add memories to one’s love life, but then again, with another Valentine’s literally upon us, it’s worth wondering how deep a whole we have put in our pockets, or of those we love.

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Botswana’s development agenda in jeopardy

21st September 2020
Botswana’s-development-agenda-in-jeopardy--water-construction

Stanbic Bank Botswana Quarterly Economic Review indicates that Botswana will fail to meet some of its Vision 2036 targets, particularly unemployment reduction and reaching high-income status.

The report says this is mainly due to the slow economic growth that the country is currently experiencing. This Quarterly Economic Review focuses on the 2020 Budget Speech.

The first paper reviews the entire budget with its key observations being that this budget is prepared as prescribed by the Public Finance Management Act; the priorities it seeks to address are drawn from Vision 2036 and the eleventh

The 2020 budget Speech, which was the maiden speech by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Dr. Thapelo Matsheka, and the first after the 2019 general elections, was delivered to Parliament on the 4th of February 2020.

It has been well received by the labour unions, business community, and the public at large as well as international organisations such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

It mainly derived its support from key facets including, emphasis on changing the business-as-usual approach to development; outlining the transformation agenda; fiscal reform that minimizes the negative impact on economic development and human welfare, competiveness and the decision to implement the 2019 negotiated and agreed public sector.

The budget’s progress review shows that economic growth was consistent with the NDP 11 projections, with growth of around 4 percent. At this growth rate, the country would neither ascend to a high-income status nor reduce unemployment towards the Vision 2036 target of a single digit.

Simple calculations of this review confirm that the economy will need to grow the Vision 2036’s target of 6 percent over the next 16 years for per capita income to increase from around USD 8,000.00 to above USD 12,000.00 in current prices.

Further, the population is anticipated to grow by only 2 percent per annum.

For this reason, the focal areas for the forthcoming FY’s budget include measures to increase economic growth towards an average of 6 percent per annum.

Economic diversification is reportedly progressing fairly well. The report says, the share of the non-mining private sector in value added has risen to 66 percent in 2018 from to 63 percent in 2015.

The sectoral pattern of growth showed that the performance of services sector (particularly transport & communications, trade, hotels & restaurants, and finance & business services) has been the silver lining and that of mining sector was subdued whilst the utility sector disappointed.

The drive towards the service sector of the economy, especially to low-productivity activities (tourism, public administration, wholesaling and retailing) does not bode well for the country’s development aspirations.

In the previous versions of this Quarterly Review, it was noted that there is need for the rethinking of economic diversification. Since the country’s domestic market is small, it is inevitable that economic diversification not only focus on broadening the product mix, but also the composition of exports and markets.

This understanding of economic diversification has not been embraced by this year’s budget. Consequently, Botswana’s exports are still overwhelmingly diamonds, which means that the rest of economic sectors are still highly dependent on foreign-exchange earnings from diamonds. Thus, “the transformation programme requires a review of the country’s entire ecosystem”.

The budget review of the economic context also depicts that an economy with positive medium-term prospects, with growth expected to recover to 4.4 percent in 2020 from the expected growth of 36 percent in 2019 largely due to faster growth of services sectors and, thereafter, to slow-down to 4 percent in 2021.

These projected growth rates are comparable to those of the IMF staff’s baseline scenario of 4.2 percent in 2020 and 4 percent in 2021. Thus, the business-as-usual scenario produces growth rates that are still too low to achieve Botswana’s development objectives and create enough jobs to absorb the new entrants into the labour market.

Trade tensions between the two major markets for diamond exports, viz., the United States of America and China, is one of the factors that are cited as contributing to, indeed, undermining not only the domestic growth, but also the fiscal position.

Another notable downside risk to both global and domestic growth is outbreak of the coronavirus in China around January 2020. This has been declared as a global health emergency. In an attempt to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus pneumonia, the Chinese authorities have ordered city lockdowns and extended holidays, of course, at the expense of near- term economic growth, according to the new Stanbic Bank Botswana report.

According to Nomura Holdings Inc., fewer migrant workers returned for work than in previous years and business activities have been slow to pick up. The havoc wreaked by the virus on the world’s second largest economy is likely to spill over to the global economy. In fact, it has resulted in a glut in crude oil and, thereby placed oil markets into a contango, i.e., a market structure where near-term prices trade at a discount to future contracts.

It also presents significant risks one of Botswana’s main drivers of economic growth, diversification and foreign exchange earnings. According to the Financial Times (February 13, 2020), Chinese tourists spent $130 billion overseas in 2018. Regardless of whether the growth materializes, the projected domestic growth rate would not transform the economy to a high-income one.

Progress towards reduction of unemployment, to a target of single digit, and poverty and achieving inclusive growth has also been relatively slow, the Stanbic Bank Botswana Review says.

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OP leases Orapa House

21st September 2020
Orapa House

Ministry of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration (MOPAGPA) has through the Office of the President (OP) proposed to avail Orapa House for use by private training institutions as well as research institutions involved in the area of technology development.

For a very long time the monumental building located in the heart of the city has been a white elephant, despite government purchasing it for nearly P80 million from De Beers in 2012.

However, government has now identified a productive use for the iconic building. “The overall vision is for the building to be transformed into a hub for digital technology research and development to be carried-out by institutions, such as; Limkokwing University, BIUST, BITRI and other relevant stakeholders.”

The decision was taken as government traverse a new path of transforming the economy from a mineral led economy to a knowledge based economy through the promotion of research and innovation. However, the facility will need major maintenance to be carried-out in order to meet the requirements of the proposed change in use.

“The work will include provision of laboratories, work stations, production areas and seminar rooms; audio visual centre, high speed internet connectivity, exhibition areas and offices,” reads the proposal note for the development.

These developments will be done through the refurbishment and maintenance of the main building, workshop, and ablution block, gate house, parking area, grounds, and access control and security service.

“There will be minimal modifications to the structure as it stands. The project is estimated to cost approximately P50, 000, 000,” says the report. In this regard, it is said, the initial scope of the OP facility will be modified to accommodate the envisaged digital technology research and development hub.

With funds needed to improve the building, OP has requested that; “the 2020/21 annual budget provision for Orapa House will need to be increased by P37,500,000 from P2,500,000 to P40,000,000 to kick start the maintenance works.” Funds will be sourced from the projects that have been delayed due to Covid-19 protocols during the 2020/21 financial year.

The building has been a thorny issue for government for years. Initially, OP was expected to move there but the move never materialised. At one point it was a question of whether the Office of the President and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development were planning to override a decision by Parliament which rejected the proposal to buy Orapa House under the belief that government may be buying its own property. The building was to be bought at a negotiated cost of P79 million.

Again in 2012, Government had wanted to buy Orapa House for a negotiated P79m but the Finance and Estimates Committee of Parliament had rejected the request because of the inconsistencies realised in the supporting documents of the proposed procurement. The valuation of the building was put at P74 million.

The Ministry of Lands and Housing had initially offered De Beers P73, 000,000 as the purchase price. However, De Beers countered with P85, 000,000. On negotiation and converging of the minds, the selling price was finally agreed at P79, 000,000.

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Sad state of Brigades: dumped and ignored!

21st September 2020
Brigades

Auditor General, Pulane Letebele, has expressed discontentment at the worrying and deteriorating state of brigades in the country.

In an audit inspection which was carried out at Tshwaragano Brigade in Gabane, a number of observations showed weaknesses and shortcomings in the conduct of the financial affairs of the institution.

According to Letebele’s report, former students of the brigade had been engaged to carry out maintenance works on the school premises, comprising of painting, tiling, plumbing and electrical works, which covered the period from July 2017 to June 2018.

Although the agreed maintenance period had elapsed, the works had not been completed because of unavailability of funds and this situation had persisted up till the time of inspection in November 2019.

Auditor General says arrangements should have been made in time for funds to be available to complete these relatively minor works even before the works commenced.

Various contractors had been engaged for clearing the bush and for the supply of concrete stones, pit and river sand and hiring equipment for digging the trench towards the construction of an auto mechanics workshop, the report said.

It stated that the cost of services and supplies provided totalled P117 949.80. However, despite the services and the supplies having been paid for, the construction works had not commenced for a long period afterwards, resulting in the trench filling back in.

The audit inquiries had not elicited satisfactory responses as both the institution and the Ministry had not accepted the responsibility for the project, although orders for the provision for the supplies had been made. For their part, the Ministry had stated that they had sub warranted funds for the purchase of porta cabins.

Letebele indicated that it is therefore confusing that a project which is critical to the functioning of an institution such as this one would commence without a well-defined plan.

Furthermore, the accounting and maintenance of records for the supplies items were not of the standard prescribed by the Supplies Regulations and Procedures in that the supplies ledger cards, the main accounting records for Government assets, were not properly maintained for the recording of receipts and issues.

This had resulted in significant discrepancies between physical and ledger balances, while in other instances the supplies items had not been recorded at all.

The report says 24 of the 91 new computers found in the computer laboratory at Kumakwane ABC campus were not recorded anywhere, as were the other computers in the storeroom which could not be counted due to the disorderly storage conditions.

The institution had entered into a contract agreement with a security company for the provision of security services at Tshwaragano Brigade, ABC and Horticulture campuses at Kumakwane for a 2-year period which ended in June 2018, WeekendPost learnt.

After the contract expired in June 2018, an extension was granted till the 30th September 2018. Since then, there has been no security service coverage for the institution to-date. According to Auditor General, in the face of prevailing crimes, it is of paramount importance that government properties be protected by provision of security services at all times.

At Tlokweng Brigade, it was noted that the kitchen staff were working under difficult conditions as the kitchen facilities and equipment, such as the cold room, tilting pot, food warmers and solar power for hot water were dysfunctional. The kitchen roof was leaking and men’s restrooms was not working. All these need to be brought to a reasonable and functional state of repair.

The kitchen staff should use a purpose-designed Rations Ledger for the recording of receipts and issues of foodstuffs to reflect the usage of those items. As far back as 2014 the Department of Buildings and Engineering Services had found that the house occupied by the bursar was uninhabitable on account of structural defects, the report said.

A site visit during the audit had established that the house was indeed unfit for occupation as there were cracks on the walls, power switches were not working and the roof was leaking. On a sadder note, there were a number of finished items of clothing, such as dresses, shirts, and jackets from students’ practical exercises from the Fashion Design Textiles Workshop.

Auditor General shared her take on this, saying: “I have not been able to ascertain the policy on the disposal of products from these practicals. A trace of 103 green acid-proof overalls which had been purchased in August 2018 had indicated that there was no record of these items having been recorded or issued, nor were they available in stock. I was not able to obtain any explanation for this situation.”

Kgatleng brigade was also audited and inspected by Auditor General who observed that the brigade has 26 institutional houses at Bokaa, both old campus and new campus. Some of these houses are very old and dilapidated, with two declared uninhabitable. The condition of the houses is a clear indication of lack of care and maintenance of these properties.

At the time of the audit, there was no contractor engaged for the provision of security guard services at the new campus, after expiry of the previous one in July 2019.  It is hoped that steps would be taken to safeguard the security of the premises and government properties against any acts of hooliganism.

In August 2019, there was a break-in at the electrical and at the plumbing maintenance workshops and a number of high value items, such as drilling machines, bolt cutters, spanners and cables, were stolen. The break-in and theft were reported to the police.

“However, at the time of writing this report I was not aware of the outcome of the police investigation, nor of any loss report submitted in terms of the Supplies Regulations and Procedures,” Letebele said.

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