Former Ngwaketse West Member of Parliament, Mephato Reatile
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) has successfully deployed its cadres across the country through the nomination of councillors’ dispensation. The Minister of Local Government and Rural development, Slumber Tsogwane increased the number of nominated councillors to 119 this term.
A number of ruling party members who lost in the just ended general elections and in the 2013 party primary elections have been given a new lease of life but with a strong mandate this time. It is understood that the deployed nominated councillors should work on ensuring that the party regains its presence in areas where it lost ground.
Indications are that some of the nominated councillors did not even apply to the District Commissioner’s office. They were handpicked and re-deployed countrywide.
This week Tsogwane presented amendments to Statutory Instruments provisions that will allow him to increase representation of nominated councillors. This move will see an increase in number of nominated councillors in Sowa Town Council, Ghanzi District Council, Francistown Town Council and Gaborone City Council.
Leader of the Opposition (LOO) Duma Boko scorned the system in his response to President Ian Khama’s State of the Nation Address saying once again the dispensation is used to award proven failures and rejects of the electoral process. “It (BDP) has used this dispensation to dilute and undermine the outcome of the recent elections,” he said, ‘I must record the indignant rage felt by us in the opposition and indeed the scornful resentment all reasonable citizens feel at this disgraceful conduct.”
This publication has it on good authority that the appointments are a pre-thought ‘political deployment’ that will help ensure that the ruling BDP increases its presence in certain constituencies to enhance its chances in the next general elections.
Mephato Reatile, Oliphant Mfa, Sylviah Muzila, Kagiso Ntime, Reaboka Mbulawa, Mpho Moruakgomo, Alec Seametso, Andy Boatile, Peter Ngoma and MacDonald Peloetletse appear to be some of the nominees in Tsogwane’s list.
Mephato Reatile recently lost Jwaneng-Mabutsane to Shawn Nthaile of Umbrella for Democratic (UDC) a constituency which BDP could win back in the next general elections.
Mfa, the former Assistant Minister of Local Government will be deployed to Sowa Township Council. Mfa lost his parliamentary seat in 2009, after losing the 2008 BDP primary elections for Nata-Gweta to Ryner Makosha. Mfa has made several efforts to make a comeback to the legislative house but on all occasion the efforts proved to be futile.
BDP also nominated the party Youth Wing chairman, Andy Boatile to serve in the Francistown City Council. Boatile has always during his leadership come in defence of BDP and President Khama. When former presidents Quiet Masire and Festus Mogae made remarks that did not sit well with the current BDP leadership, Boatile responded with strong words, warning that the two old statesmen have no business in discussing the leadership style of the BDP under Khama, pointing out that they should just stay home and enjoy ‘pension benefits.’ It is understood that Boatile is one of the youngsters who are being groomed to challenge for parliamentary seats in the next elections.
Former BNF Youth League President, Kagiso Ntime also got the nod. The controversial young politician joined BDP in 2012 and has proved to be a trusted figure within the BDP. With the opposition having done well in attracting young voters in the past elections, the likes of Ntime and Boatile are being given the opportunity to emerge as the next generation of young BDP leaders.
BDP has also given Sylviah Muzila a lifeline. Muzila was defeated by Wynter Mmolotsi of UDC in the past general elections. BDP Campaign Manager in past general elections has also been nominated. The notorious man has also previously served as a nominated councillor.
Reaboka Mbulawa who mounted one of the most expensive campaigns in the last general elections has also been nominated. Mbulawa contested and lost against Batawana royal, Kgosi Tawana Moremi II who was representing the UDC. Although BDP lost the constituency, they believe they still have the strength to retain it in the coming general elections. This is attested by the fact that, even though UDC won the constituency, the BDP won all council seats in the constituency except one.
MFA, REATILE HIT BACK AT CRITICS Asked to comment on the criticism that he is being rescued from near poverty after many years of failed comeback, former cabinet minister, Olifant Mfa hit back at his critics. He said people should know that he is a farmer of repute, “I sell just one of the cows to make a councillor’s monthly salary.
Mine is to serve the nation of Botswana. Those who are willing to appreciate reality will know that I am the founding councillor of Sowa Township and I am definitely going to make a positive input in the development agenda of that area,” he said. Mfa said he has accepted national service as directed by the party which he has served for many years. “I will continue to stand for elections as long as I am fit to render my services to Batswana and the BDP,” stressed the former Nata/Gweta MP.
Reports suggest that Mfa, who has Member of Parliament for 15 years did not apply to be nominated, but his loyalty to the party encouraged BDP leaders to deploy him to Sowa Township.
For his part, former Ngwaketse West Member of Parliament, Mephato Reatile indicated that opposition parties had also submitted their wish lists to be nominated, “I did not see or hear of a single name of BDP members in the opposition wish list, why should the BDP nominate them,” he asked. He said like any sane political party, the BDP has re-deployed its cadres for political purpose. “It is not about the money, we all the salaries at that level,” he pointed out.
Mowana Copper Mine in Dukwi will finally pay its former employees a total amount of P23, 789, 984.00 end of this month. For over three years Mowana Copper Mine has been under judicial management. Updating members, Botswana Mine Workers Union (BMWU) Executive Secretary Kitso Phiri this week said the High Court issued an order for the implementation of the compromise scheme of December 9, 2021 and this was to be done within 30 days after court order.
“Therefore payment of benefits under the scheme including those owed to Messina Copper Botswana employees should be effected sometime in January latest end of January 2022,” Kitso said. Kitso also explained that cash settlement will be 30 percent of the total Messina Copper Botswana estate and negotiated estate is $3,233,000 (about P35, 563,000).
Messina Copper was placed under liquidation and was thereafter acquired by Leboam Holdings to operate Mowana Mine. Leboam Holdings struck a deal with the Messina Copper’s liquidator who became a shareholder of Leboam Holdings. Leboam Holdings could not service its debts and its creditors placed it under provisional judicial management on December 18, 2018 and in judicial management on February 28, 2019.
A new company Max Power expressed interest to acquire the mining operations. It offered to take over the Mowana Mine from Leboam Holdings, however, the company had to pay the debts of Leboam including monies owed to Messina Copper, being employees benefits and other debts owed to other creditors.
The monies, were agreed to be paid through a scheme of compromise proposed by Max Power, being a negotiated payment schedule, which was subject to the financial ability of the new owners. “On December 9, 2021, Messina Copper liquidator, called a meeting of creditors, which the BMWU on behalf of its members (former Messina Copper employees) attended, to seek mandate from creditors to proceed with a proposed settlement for Messina Copper on the scheme of compromise. It is important to note that employee benefits are regarded as preferential credit, meaning once a scheme is approved they are paid first.”
A savingram the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development sent to Town Clerks and Council Secretaries explaining why councilors across the country should not have access to their terminal benefits before end of their term has been revealed.
The contents of the savingram came out in the wake of a war of words between counselors and the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development. The councilors through the Botswana Association of Local Authorities (BALA) accuse the Ministry of refusing to allow them to have access to their terminal benefits before end of their term.
This has since been denied by the Ministry. In the savingram to town councils and council secretaries across the country, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development Molefi Keaja states that, “Kindly be advised that the terminal benefits budget is made during the final year of term of office for Honorable Councilors.” Keaja reminded town clerks and council secretaries that, “The nominal budget Councils make each and every financial year is to cater for events where a Councilor’s term of office ends before the statutory time due to death, resignation or any other reason.”
The savingram also goes into detail about why the government had in the past allowed councilors to have access to their terminal benefits before the end of their term. “Regarding the special dispensation made in the 2014-2019, it should be noted that the advance was granted because at that time there was an approved budget for terminal benefits during the financial year,” explained Keaja. He added that, “Town Clerks/Council Secretaries made discretions depending on the liquidity position of Councils which attracted a lot of audit queries.”
Keaja also revealed that councils across the country were struggling financially and therefore if they were to grant councilors access to their terminal benefits, this could leave their in a dire financial situation. Given the fact that Local Authorities currently have cash flow problems and budgetary constraints, it is not advisable to grant terminal benefits advance as it would only serve to compound the liquidity problems of councils.
It is understood that the Ministry was inundated with calls from some Councils as they sought clarification regarding access to their terminal benefits. The Ministry fears that should councils pay out the terminal benefits this would affect their coffers as the government spends a lot on councilors salaries.
Reports show that apart from elected councilors, the government spends at least P6, 577, 746, 00 on nominated councilors across the country as their monthly salaries. Former Assistant Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Botlogile Tshireletso once told Parliament that in total there are 113 nominated councilors and their salaries per a year add up to P78, 933,16.00. She added that their projected gratuity is P9, 866,646.00.
A surge in consumer spending is expected to be a key driver of Botswana’s economic recovery, according to recent projections by Fitch Solutions. Fitch Solutions said it forecasts household spending in Botswana to grow by a real rate of 5.9% in 2022.
The bullish Fitch Solutions noted that “This is a considerable deceleration from 9.4% growth estimated in 2021, it comes mainly from the base effects of the contraction of 2.5% recorded in 2020,” adding that, “We project total household spending (in real terms) to reach BWP59.9bn (USD8.8bn) in 2022, increasing from BWP56.5bn (USD8.3bn) in 2021.” According to Fitch Solutions, this is higher than the pre-Covid-19 total household spending (in real terms) of P53.0 billion (USD7.8bn) in 2019 and it indicates a full recovery in consumer spending.
“We forecast real household spending to grow by 5.9% in 2022, decelerating from the estimated growth of 9.4% in 2021. We note that the Covid-19 pandemic and the related restrictions on economic activity resulted in real household spending contracting by 2.5% in 2020, creating a lower base for spending to grow from in 2021 and 2022,” Fitch Solutions says.
Total household spending (in real terms), the agency says, will increase in 2022 when compared to 2021. In 2021 and 2022, total household spending (in real terms) will be above the pre-Covid-19 levels in 2019, indicating a full recovery in consumer spending, says Fitch Solutions. It says as of December 6 2021 (latest data available), 38.4% of people in Botswana have received at least one vaccine dose, while this is relatively low it is higher than Africa average of 11.3%.
“The emergence of new Covid-19 variants such as Omicron, which was first detected in the country in November 2021, poses a downside risk to our outlook for consumer spending, particularly as a large proportion of the country’s population is unvaccinated and this could result in stricter measures being implemented once again,” says Fitch Solutions.
Growth will ease in 2022, Fitch Solution says. “Our forecast for an improvement in consumer spending in Botswana in 2022 is in line with our Country Risk team’s forecast that the economy will grow by a real rate of 5.3% over 2022, from an estimated 12.5% growth in 2021 as the low base effects from 2020 dissipate,” it says.
Fitch Solutions notes that “Our Country Risk team expects private consumption to be the main driver of Botswana’s economic growth in 2022, as disposable incomes and the labour market continue to recover from the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.” It says Botswana’s tourism sector has been negatively impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic and the related travel restrictions.
According to Fitch Solutions, “The emergence of the Omicron variant, which was first detected in November 2021, has resulted in travel bans being implemented on Southern African countries such as South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Eswatini. This will further delay the recovery of Botswana’s tourism sector in 2021 and early 2022.” Fitch Solutions, therefore, forecasts Botswana’s tourist arrivals to grow by 81.2% in 2022, from an estimated contraction of 40.3% in 2021.
It notes that the 72.4% contraction in 2020 has created a low base for tourist arrivals to grow from. “The rollout of vaccines in South Africa and its key source markets will aid the recovery of the tourism sector over the coming months and this bodes well for the employment and incomes of people employed in the hospitality industry, particularly restaurants and hotels as well as recreation and culture businesses,” the report says.
Fitch Solutions further notes that with economies reopening, consumers are demanding products that they had little access to over the previous year. However, manufacturers are facing several problems. It says supply chain issues and bottlenecks are resulting in consumer goods shortages, feeding through into supply-side inflation. Fitch Solutions believes the global semiconductor shortage will continue into 2022, putting the pressure on the supply of several consumer goods.
It says the spread of the Delta variant is upending factory production in Asia, disrupting shipping and posing more shocks to the world economy. Similarly, manufacturers are facing shortages of key components and higher raw materials costs, the report says adding that while this is somewhat restricted to consumer goods, there is a high risk that this feeds through into more consumer services over the 2022 year.
“Our global view for a notable recovery in consumer spending relies on the ability of authorities to vaccinate a large enough proportion of their populations and thereby experience a notable drop in Covid-19 infections and a decline in hospitalisation rates,” says Fitch Solutions. Both these factors, it says, will lead to governments gradually lifting restrictions, which will boost consumer confidence and retail sales.
“As of December 6 2021, 38.4% of people in Botswana have received at least one vaccine dose. While this is low, it is higher than the Africa average of 11.3%. The vaccines being administered in Botswana include Pfizer-BioNTech, Sinovac and Johnson & Johnson. We believe that a successful vaccine rollout will aid the country’s consumer spending recovery,” says Fitch Solutions. Therefore, the agency says, “Our forecasts account for risks that are highly likely to play out in 2022, including the easing of government support. However, if other risks start to play out, this may lead to forecast revisions.”