A three-months long conflict at the Botswana Public Officer’s Pension Fund (BPOPF) over the appointment of the new board of trustees has reached a boiling point and the fund’s acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) has been threatened with a criminal charge and a legal suit as the new board tries to stop her from funding the legal battles through the worker’s fund.
The board has not convened since the court battles started in September this year and the Fund’s Chief Executive Officer, Lesedi Moakofi has run to court for help and has not succeeded so far.
Moakofi, who this week took the country’s employee unions to court due to dissatisfaction in regards to the election process of the new board has been warned by the Botswana Federation of Public Service Unions (BOFEPUSU) lawyer, Mboki Chilisa that she would pay every single Thebe she gets from the Fund to finance the court case.
“The above are deeply concerned that you continue to engage in litigation in the courts of law, at the expense of the fund without requisite authorisation of the Fund’s Board of Trustees. This letter serves to place you on notice that should any money be disbursed from the fund as a result of your unauthorised acts, we shall be instituting proceedings at the instance of members of the fund for recovery of same from you,” Chilisa notified Moakofi of their intention.
The letter was written this week and a day before the case was heard before Justice David Newman of the Gaborone High court.
Meanwhile Johnson Motshwarakgole of BOFEPUSU told the court of their intention to report Moakofi to the Police as they believe she was fraudulently using the fund to finance her personal interests.
“This dishonesty on the part of the deponent is a further basis upon which the court must order her to pay the costs of this application personally. It would be most unfair to the Fund’s members to have to foot the costs of such a frivolous application that lacks integrity, candour and honesty. We are in the process of lodging a complaint with the Botswana Police and the Non Banking Financial Regulatory Authority against the deponent for perjury,” Motshwarakgole stated in the answering affidavit.
In fact the non-banking financial regulatory authority has already been notified of the intended action.
Justice Newman, dismissed the urgent application and referred the matter to Justice Tshepo Motswagole who had heard a similar matter earlier.
The reason as to why the union wants the cost to be ordered personally against the CEO is that none of the newly appointed trustees have authorised her to institute the current processing and in the absence of these trustees, there is no quorum and “she is therefore on a frolic of her own.”
According to the Union, the issue of whether employee representation has been properly appointed must be litigated by the recognised employee associations and an issue in respect of which the Fund should not take sides.
Nonetheless, Moakofi who lost the urgent application on Thursday this week, maintains that the elections of the board of trustees from the union side was done done correctly as some of the unions were not represented.
According to her, the Fund wants all unions to be included in the voting process which ultimately will decide which members sit in the board.
“The board cannot currently function due to the fact that the composition of the board is incomplete and this issue needs to be addressed as one of utmost urgency as urgent decisions need to be made about the placement of investments and other issues,” Moakofi contended before court.
However Justice Newman disagreed and ruled that the matter was not urgent and that it has to be heard by justice Motswagole as a similar matter was brought before him in September this year. The initial case before Motswagole was filed by the National Amalgamated Local Central Government and Parastatal Worker’s Union which wanted to organise a ballot of all unions who have representation on the board in terms of the rules of the Fund.
The parties that were cited eventually settled the matter, signed a settlement agreement and obtained a court order to that effect. A few weeks later, two Unions, BOTASA and TAWU moved an urgent application before Justice Lackvinder Walia complaining that they had not been given an opportunity to respond to the original application and to participate in the voting process. The application was dismissed with costs.
“Despite this, these and other unions have raised concerns about their exclusion and it is this internal and constant disagreement, which the applicant (Fund) has had to come to court to seek redress on the actual parties allowed to participate in the voting process,” Moakofi further stated.
Nonetheless, the other unions maintain that the election process was inclusive of all recognised and registered unions and that the elected board was legal.
Former Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Member of Parliament for Gaborone North, Haskins Nkaigwa has confirmed his departure from opposition fold to re-join the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).
Nkaigwa said opposition is extremely divided and the leadership not in talking terms. “They are planning evil against each other. Nothing much will be achieved,” Nkaigwa told WeekendPost.
“I believe my time in the opposition has come to an end. It’s time to be of value to rebuilding our nation and economy of the country. Remember the BDP is where I started my political journey. It is home,” he said.
“Despite all challenges currently facing the world, President Masisi will be far with his promises to Batswana. A leader always have the interest of the people at heart despite how some decisions may look to be unpopular with the people.
“I have faith and full confidence in President Dr Masisi leadership. We shall overcome as party and nation the current challenges bedevilling nations. BDP will emerge stronger. President Masisi will always have my backing.”
Nkaigwa served as opposition legislator between 2014-2019 representing Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) under UDC banner. He joined BMD in 2011 at the height public servant strike whilst Gaborone City Deputy Mayor. He eventually rose to become the mayor same year, after BDP lost majority in the GCC.
Nkaigwa had been a member of Botswana National Front (BNF), having joined from Alliance for Progressives (AP) in 2019.
Botswana has received assistance worth over P100 million from Japanese government since 2019, making the latter of the largest donors to Botswana in recent years.
The assistance include relatively large-scale grant aid programmes such as the COVID-19 programme (to provide medical equipment; P34 million), the digital terrestrial television programme (to distribute receivers to the underprivileged, P17 million), the agriculture promotion programme (to provide agricultural machinery and equipment, P53million).
“As 2020 was a particularly difficult year, where COVID-19 hit Botswana’s economy and society hard, Japan felt the need to assist Botswana as our friend,” said Japan’s new Ambassador to Botswana, Hoshiyama Takashi.
“It is for this reason that grants of over P100 million were awarded to Botswana for the above mentioned projects.”
Japan is now the world’s fourth highest ranking donor country in terms of Official Development Assistance (ODA).
From 1991 to 2000, Japan continued as the top donor country in the world and contributed to Asia’s miracle economic development.
From 1993 onwards, the TICAD process commenced through Japan’s initiative as stated earlier. Japan’s main contribution has been in the form of Yen Loans, which are at a concessional rate, to suit large scale infrastructure construction.
“In Botswana, only a few projects have been implemented using the Yen Loan such as the Morupule “A” Power Station Rehabilitation and Pollution Abatement in 1986, the Railway Rolling Stock Increase Project in 1987, the Trans-Kalahari Road Construction Project in 1991, the North-South Carrier Water Project in 1995 and the Kazungula Bridge Construction Project in 2012,” said Ambassador Hoshiyama.
“In terms of grant aid and technical assistance, Japan has various aid schemes including development survey and master planning, expert dispatch to recipient countries, expert training in Japan, scholarships, small scale grass-roots program, culture-related assistance, aid through international organizations and so on.”
In 1993, Japan launched Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) to promote Africa’s development, peace and security, through the strengthening of relations in multilateral cooperation and partnership.
TICAD discuss development issues across Africa and, at the same time, present “aid menus” to African countries provided by Japan and the main aid-related international organizations, United Nations (UN), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Bank.
“As TICAD provides vision and guidance, it is up to each African country to take ownership and to implement her own development following TICAD polices and make use of the programmes shown in the aid menus,” Ambassordor Hoshiyama noted.
“This would include using ODA loans for quality infrastructure, suited to the country’s own nation-building needs. It is my fervent hope that Botswana will take full advantage of the TICAD process.”
Since then, seven conferences where held, the latest, TICAD 7 being in 2019 at Yokohama. TICAD 7’s agenda on African development focused on three pillars, among them the first pillar being “Accelerating economic transformation and improving business environment through innovation and private sector engagement”.
“Yes, private investment is very important, while public investment through ODA (Official Development Assistance) still plays an indispensable role in development,” the Japanese Ambassador said.
“For further economic development in Africa, Japan recognizes that strengthening regional connectivity and integration through investment in quality infrastructure is key.”
Japan has emphasized the following; effective implementation of economic corridors such as the East Africa Northern Corridor, Nacala Corridor and West Africa Growth Ring; Quality infrastructure investment in line with the G20 Principles for Quality Infrastructure Investment should be promoted by co-financing or cooperation through the African Development Bank (AfDB) and Japan.
Japan also emphasized the establishment of mechanisms to encourage private investment and to improve the business environment.
According to the statistics issued by Japan’s Finance Ministry, Japan invested approximately 10 billion US dollars in Africa after TICAD 7 (2019) to year end 2020, but Japanese investment through third countries are not included in this figure.
“With the other points factored in, the figure isn’t established yet,” Ambassador Hoshiyama said.
The next conference, TICAD 8 will be held in Tunisia in 2022. This will be the second TICAD summit to be held on the African continent after TICAD 6 which was held in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2016.
According to Ambassador Hoshiyama, in preparation for TICAD 8, the TICAD ministerial meeting will be held in Tokyo this year. The agenda to be discussed during TICAD 8 has not yet been fully deliberated on amongst TICAD Co-organizers (Japan, UN, UNDP, the World Bank and AU).
“Though not officially concluded, given the world situation caused by COVID-19, I believe that TICAD 8 will highlight health and medical issues including the promotion of a Universal Health Coverage (UHC),” said Hoshiyama.
“As the African economy has seriously taken a knock by COVID-19, economic issues, including debt, could be an item for serious discussion.”
The promotion of business is expected to be one of the most important topics. Japan and its partners, together with the business sector, will work closely to help revitalize private investment in Africa.
“All in all, the follow-up of the various programs that were committed by the Co-Organizers during the Yokohama Plan of Actions 2019 will also be reviewed as an important item of the agenda,” Ambassador Hoshiyama said.
“I believe that this TICAD follow-up mechanism has secured transparency and accountability as well as effective implementation of agreed actions by all parties. The guiding principle of TICAD is African ownership and international partnership.”
Directorate on Intelligence Services (DIS) Director General, Brigadier Peter Magosi is said to be hell-bent and pushing President Mokgweetsi Masisi to reshuffle his cabinet as a matter of urgency since a number of his ministers are conflicted.
The request by Magosi comes at a time when time is ticking on his contract which is awaiting renewal from Masisi.
This publication learns that Magosi is unshaken by the development and continues to wield power despite uncertainty hovering around his contractual renewal.