The executive changes at the helm of newly acquired ABC holdings have brought in a new chief executive and group chief finance officer, who will both be in acting capacities.
Dr. Blessing Mudavanhu, the new acting chief executive officer of the group that owns Banc ABC, has been with ABCH for nearly six years. He has served, since joining ABC Holdings in February 2009, as Group Chief Risk Officer. Dr. B Mudavanhu worked for many years in financial services in New York and, prior to joining ABCH, had been a director in Global Risk Management at Bank America Merrill Lynch.
He has been a member of the ABCH Executive Committee for several years and has led or participated in discussions and decisions related to all aspects of the Group’s operations. Dr B Mudavanhu has a doctorate in Mathematics from the University of Washington and a Masters in Financial Engineering from the University of California.
Wallace Siakachoma has been with ABCH for twelve years. He has served for the past six years as Group Finance Executive, providing leadership in all matters relating to the Group’s financial reporting, financial planning and financial controls. Before joining the head office management team, he was the Head of Finance for BancABC Mozambique.
He has worked closely with the finance teams in each of ABCH’s countries of operation and is well-versed in all facets of the responsibilities of the Group Chief Financial Officer. Prior to joining ABCH in 2002, he worked for five years at PriceWaterhouse Coopers in Zambia and Kenya. He is a chartered accountant with membership to the ACCA and ICAEW and has an MBA from Oxford Brookes University.
The former BancABC management team which included former chief executive Douglas Munatsi, chief financial officer Beki Moyo and Francis Dzanya, the group’s chief operating officer left at the end of last year. According to a release by ABC, Munatsi, Moyo and Dzanya received a total of 1 743 888 Atlas Mara shares in consideration for the transfer of their shares in ABC Holdings at the time of the completion of the BancABC acquisition. It added that "in connection with" the departure of the three, Atlas Mara had agreed to purchase their shares at a price of $10 per share.
The arrival of Robert Diamond’s Atlas Mara set heads rolling at Banc ABC parent company, ABC Holdings and in December 2014, Simbarashe Pfende, who previously headed Standard Bank’s operations in Nigeria and Uganda, was appointed to lead a new management team picked by Bob Diamond’s Atlas Mara to take over the reins at Botswana-based banking group, African Banking Corporation (ABC).
Diamond and Ashish Thakkar, a Ugandan businessman – who founded Atlas Mara – are buying banking properties across the continent, which they say offers massive investment opportunities.
Their company, which raised more than $320 million (P3.5 billion) in an initial public offering in December last year, bought into ABC, which owns the BancABC banking operations in Zimbabwe, Botswana, Zambia, Tanzania and Mozambique. The transaction, which marked Atlas Mara’s first entry into the African banking scene, had a value of about $265million.
This century is always looking at improving new super high speed technology to make life easier. On the other hand, beckoning as an emerging fierce reversal force to equally match or dominate this life enhancing super new tech, comes swift human adversaries which seem to have come to make living on earth even more difficult.
The recent discovery of a pandemic, Covid-19, which moves at a pace of unimaginable and unpredictable proportions; locking people inside homes and barring human interactions with its dreaded death threat, is currently being felt.
Member of Parliament for Kanye North, Thapelo Letsholo has cautioned Government against excessive borrowing and poorly managed debt levels.
He was speaking in Parliament on Tuesday delivering Parliament’s Finance Committee report after assessing a motion that sought to raise Government Bond program ceiling to P30 billion, a big jump from the initial P15 Billion.
Government Investment Account (GIA) which forms part of the Pula fund has been significantly drawn down to finance Botswana’s budget deficits since 2008/09 Global financial crises.
The 2009 global economic recession triggered the collapse of financial markets in the United States, sending waves of shock across world economies, eroding business sentiment, and causing financiers of trade to excise heightened caution and hold onto their cash.
The ripple effects of this economic catastrophe were mostly felt by low to middle income resource based economies, amplifying their vulnerability to external shocks. The diamond industry which forms the gist of Botswana’s economic make up collapsed to zero trade levels across the entire value chain.
The Upstream, where Botswana gathers much of its diamond revenue was adversely impacted by muted demand in the Midstream. The situation was exacerbated by zero appetite of polished goods by jewelry manufacturers and retail outlets due to lowered tail end consumer demand.
This resulted in sharp decline of Government revenue, ballooned budget deficits and suspension of some developmental projects. To finance the deficit and some prioritized national development projects, government had to dip into cash balances, foreign reserves and borrow both externally and locally.
Much of drawing was from Government Investment Account as opposed to drawing from foreign reserve component of the Pula Fund; the latter was spared as a fiscal buffer for the worst rainy days.
Consequently this resulted in significant decline in funds held in the Government Investment Account (GIA). The account serves as Government’s main savings depository and fund for national policy objectives.
However as the world emerged from the 2009 recession government revenue graph picked up to pre recession levels before going down again around 2016/17 owing to challenges in the diamond industry.
Due to a number of budget surpluses from 2012/13 financial year the Government Investment Account started expanding back to P30 billion levels before a series of budget deficits in the National Development Plan 11 pushed it back to decline a decline wave.
When the National Development Plan 11 commenced three (3) financial years ago, government announced that the first half of the NDP would run at budget deficits.
This as explained by Minister of Finance in 2017 would be occasioned by decline in diamond revenue mainly due to government forfeiting some of its dividend from Debswana to fund mine expansion projects.
Cumulatively since 2017/18 to 2019/20 financial year the budget deficit totaled to over P16 billion, of which was financed by both external and domestic borrowing and drawing down from government cash balances. Drawing down from government cash balances meant significant withdrawals from the Government Investment Account.
The Government Investment Account (GIA) was established in accordance with Section 35 of the Bank of Botswana Act Cap. 55:01. The Account represents Government’s share of the Botswana‘s foreign exchange reserves, its investment and management strategies are aligned to the Bank of Botswana’s foreign exchange reserves management and investment guidelines.
Government Investment Account, comprises of Pula denominated deposits at the Bank of Botswana and held in the Pula Fund, which is the long-term investment tranche of the foreign exchange reserves.
In June 2017 while answering a question from Bogolo Kenewendo, the then Minister of Finance & Economic Development Kenneth Mathambo told parliament that as of June 30, 2017, the total assets in the Pula Fund was P56.818 billion, of which the balance in the GIA was P30.832 billion.
Kenewendo was still a back bench specially elected Member of Parliament before ascending to cabinet post in 2018. Last week Minister of Finance & Economic Development, Dr Thapelo Matsheka, when presenting a motion to raise government local borrowing ceiling from P15 billion to P30 Billion told parliament that as of December 2019 Government Investment Account amounted to P18.3 billion.
Dr Matsheka further told parliament that prior to financial crisis of 2008/9 the account amounted to P30.5 billion (41 % of GDP) in December of 2008 while as at December 2019 it stood at P18.3 billion (only 9 % of GDP) mirroring a total decline by P11 billion in the entire 11 years.
Back in 2017 Parliament was also told that the Government Investment Account may be drawn-down or added to, in line with actuations in the Government’s expenditure and revenue outturns. “This is intended to provide the Government with appropriate funds to execute its functions and responsibilities effectively and efficiently” said Mathambo, then Minister of Finance.
Acknowledging the need to draw down from GIA no more, current Minister of Finance Dr Matsheka said “It is under this background that it would be advisable to avoid excessive draw down from this account to preserve it as a financial buffer”
He further cautioned “The danger with substantially reduced financial buffers is that when an economic shock occurs or a disaster descends upon us and adversely affects our economy it becomes very difficult for the country to manage such a shock”