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All oversight bodies on DIS rendered ‘dead’

Investigations carried by this publication on the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Service have unearthed the controversial dealings within the DIS and it’s Director General Peter Fana Magosi.

Reliable information reaching Weekend post indicates that prior to Magosi retaining his seat in Magosi has disabled the intelligence oversight structures that are provide by the Intelligence and Security Security Act.  The Intelligence Act in its nature provides for the establishment of the Central Intelligence Committee, National Intelligence Community, Intelligence and Security Council, the Tribunal and the Parliamentary committee on Intelligence and Security.  

Right-hand sources with the intelligence have made this publication aware that ever since taking over by Magosi, the above mentioned committees have never been in operation without any reasonable explanation as to why. “If these committees existed and effective the DIS would not be characterized by so many complaints and litigations because there would be guidance on the proper way of doing things.”

By virtue, the Act provides for the establishment of the Central Intelligence Committee which is chaired by the President. The functions of these committee, are amongst others, to guide the DIS on all matters relating to national security and intelligence matters as well as to approve intelligence and security assessments. According to information gathered by this publication, the last meeting of this Committee was in 2018. President Mokgweetsi Masisi was part of the committee during Former President Seretse Khama Ian Khama tenure.

 Sources within the DIS elucidated that the Committee ought to have been guided by the DIS on the alleged threat assessment that resulted in the deployment of the resources of Former President Khama. On the 11th February 2020, the DIS released a press statement that they have conducted a security threat assessment of all VIPs and this assessment resulted in the deployment of resources from President Khama’s office.

Allegedly the threat assessment of all VIPs including the former Presidents ought to have been deliberated in this Committee because some members of the Committee, the Commissioner of Police and Commander of the Botswana Defense Force are important stakeholders on this issue. “Magosi made some very crucial decisions without consulting anyone within the committee. He only shared information to the President.” Further revelations point out that the threat assessment never existed as it had been claimed. “The Committee has never convened and deliberated on the reported threat assessment that is claimed to have resulted in the protection of some government officials by the DIS.

BEHIND ELECTION MACHINE PURCHASED BY DIS

Investigations carried by this publication indicate that the decision by Magosi to purchase some equipment, a machine that was to be procured from a Switzerland based company was solely the DG’s decision. The Committee was not aware of the alleged threat assessment that informed by the DG that the IEC data base for the 2019 general election was being manipulated.

 Last year the DG was quoted as having said that the IEC data base was being targeted hence the need to procure some equipment from Switzerland. Although the Act provides that this Committee must guide the DIS on all matter relating to security and intelligence interests as well as approving intelligence and security assessments, Magosi decided to make a public statement on the IEC database without including the Committee on the alleged threat assessments.

“There was never any threat assessment conducted that informed the DIS that the IEC data was being targeted. The committee was never briefed about the gathered intelligence that there were plans to manipulate the IEC data for the 2019 general election,” revealed the source. The DIS Act provides for the National Intelligence Community and the functions of this Community are to, amongst others, review and coordinate intelligence. In terms of the Act, this Committee is chaired by the DG of the DIS and it consist of heads of law enforcement agencies that deal with intelligence.

THE MULTIPLE RAIDS IN 2019

Conferring to sources close to this Committee, although the Committee’s responsibility is to review and coordinate intelligence, the Committee was never involved in the decision that resulted in the raids of some companies early 2019. Last year was welcomed with simultaneous raids conducted by the DIS and Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crimes invade high profiled persons and companies, in an initiative by the President to clean up and help promote a zero corrupt nation.

Former Spy Chief Isaac Kgosi was amongst those who were raided together with other allies who were alleged to have been involved in corruption dealings. Other associates linked to the Former President Khama were also raided. Information reaching this publication further claims that the Committee is not aware of the plot to assassinate the President. Since his arrival at the DIS, Magosi has been making prerogatives that there are plots to assassinate the President but, “this was never shared with the Committee nor the Commissioner of Police and the Commander of the BDF who are important stakeholders in the protection of the President” revealed the source.

The Intelligence Act further inaugurates the Intelligence and Security Council that should consist of the PSP, Attorney General, DG and Deputy DG. The functions of this Council are to, amongst others, review intelligence policies and activities and examine the expenditure and administration of the DIS. Just like the other committees above sources within the intelligence have revealed that this Council has never met since the arrival of Magosi.

“Even though the Council is responsible to examine expenditure of the DIS, the Council is not aware of any major DIS operations that could have contributed to the depletion of the operational funds since November 2019. The Council is not aware of any approval for the use of the operational funds to buy cattle feeds, farms, and suits in Angola and other clothing in Molepolole,” revealed the source.

The Council is also responsible for the administration of the DIS but it is purportedly not aware that a decision was taken to transfer every officer who worked for the DIS during the tenure of Kgosi. Magosi is assumed to have transferred some senior officials within the DIS such as the Director of Finance, the Director Legal and the HR Director because they worked under Kgosi’s occupancy.  According to our sources, these directors were transferred because they were against the misappropriation of operational funds and the employment of friends and relatives.

The DIS Act auxiliary provides for the establishment of a Tribunal to be appointed by the President. According to sources, the last Tribunal was appointed by the former President Khama and almost all the members of this Tribunal have resigned. This is supposedly despite the fact that the legislature in their wisdom established the Tribunal to assist members of the public who may have been aggrieved by the DIS operatives. It is held that there are so many complaints against the DIS from the public as well as members of the DIS but these complaints cannot be attended to because there is no Tribunal.

Just like the other oversite structures within the DIS, the Parliamentary Committee on Intelligence and Security that is provided by the Act is none existent since 2018.   The functions of this Committee are to, amongst others, examine the expenditure and administration of the DIS. According to a source in the intelligence community as well as some lawyers who are familiar with the Intelligence and Security Service Act, it is a statutory requirement that these committees are established and that they are functional. It is not optional that these committee must be established.

There are reports on allegations that Magosi is deliberately disregarding the establishment of these committees because he does not want to account to anyone.  In terms of the Act, some members of these committees such as the Parliamentary Committee and the Tribunal are appointed by the President and, it is not clear on why the President has not yet appointed anyone within these committees.

It is also sketchy on why the Central Intelligence Committee is dysfunctional. The lack of any functional committee within the DIS raises an eyebrow on how decisions and daily operations of the intelligence unit are conducted. Intelligence experts have deduced that these committees are important so that decisions made on national security are not central to one person of body.

There are reports that because of his inclination to misappropriate operational funds, employment of his friends and relatives as well as abuse of office, Magosi prefers to be the one deciding who to employ and who to promote. According to sources close to the DIS, he always justifies the absence of the committees by saying that His Excellency the President does not trust people from the previous administration who, by virtue of their positions are members of some of these committees.

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Vendors ready for the Tobacco Control Bill

21st September 2021
Vendors

Some vendors have been misled
Vendors thrive on households goods and fresh produce

Despite the previous false allegations that the Tobacco Control Bill will lead to several 20 000 vendors across the country losing their jobs, several local vendors have expressed that they are ready for the bill and because vendors sell mostly household goods

“This is something that we openly accept and receive as street vendors, the problem is some of our counterparts were misled and made to believe that we will not be allowed to sell cigarettes on our stalls.

Some of us got to understand that the bill states that we have to be licensed to sell cigarettes, we are not supposed to sell them to children under the age of 18 years of age and eliminating the selling of single sticks. We understand that this agenda is meant to develop a healthy nation but not take us down,” said Mbimbi Tau a vendor who operates from Mogoditshane.

The Tobacco Control Bill has been passed in several countries and street vendors are operating properly without any challenges faced. Tau further mentioned that there is no way that the Tobacco Control Bill will affect their business operations, all they have to do as vendors are to get the required documentation and do what the bill requires.

Another vendor Busani Selalame who operates from Gaborone Bonnington North was not shy to express his support towards the Tobacco Control Bill, “the problem is that some people within our sector have been misled and now they think that the bill is meant to take our operations down and completely stop selling cigarettes.

I support the fact that we are not supposed to sell cigarettes to children who are under the age of 18 years of age this has always been wrong, as parents we should be cautious of such and ensure that our children are disassociated with cigarettes,” said Selalame.

The Tobacco Control Bill prohibits advertising, promotion and sponsorship by the tobacco industry to prevent messages, cues, and other inducements to begin using tobacco, especially among the youth, to reassure users to continue their use, or that otherwise undermine quitting.

Renowned economist Bakang Ntshingane is of the view that since vendors sell household goods and fresh produce they are likely to keep on making profits despite what the Tobacco Control Bill comes with. He further stated that the Tobacco Control Bill will not be of harm on the local economy since the country does not manufacture or produce any tobacco related products.

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BANCABC Botswana poised for growth amid tough operating environment

21st September 2021
BANCABC

BancABC Botswana, the BSE-listed bank today announced its half year results for the six months ended 30 June 2021, against a subdued economic backdrop, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and related lockdowns.

BancABC has remained resilient in the current operating environment as business activity increased in the first half of 2021, with Real GDP up by 0.7% in the first quarter compared to a contraction of 4.6% in the previous quarter. Commenting on the results, Managing Director Kgotso Bannalotlhe said, “Currently, economic activity is relatively stable.

While COVID-19 placed significant pressure on the economy and our overall business, BancABC Botswana has shown remarkable resilience amid a tough operating environment.  While the bank operates in an environment that is seeing a rise in COVID-19 infections, it is encouraging that the business has maintained a healthy capital adequacy ratio as well as being successful in improving total expenses with focus on cost containment across the board.”

The retail segment saw an increase in customer deposits this year, signalling an improvement from the previous period and strengthening the current funding mix. This segment has built great momentum and continues to advance its digital strategy, through various products such as the mobile banking app, SARUMoney, as well as enhanced product offerings such as the introduction of fash cash. The Bank has invested in its digital capabilities to ensure a seamless and hassle-free banking experience for all its customers.

The commercial segment was successful in reducing the cost of funding. In addition, Treasury and Global Markets performed well, doubling from the previous comparative period. The current year performance across the bank’s different segments is testament to the bank’s strong income lines, aiding the Bank’s resilience during this time.

“The Bank experienced slow loan book growth due to a constrained economic environment, however, we remain optimistic that as the economy recovers, credit appetite amongst the Bank’s customer-base will increase. In addition, we reported good non-interest revenue, driven by increased trading income on the back of improved margins and volumes. Our outlook remains positive as we expect momentum across the different segments to improve over time,” said Ratang Icho-Molebatsi, BancABC Botswana Finance Director.

In April 2021, BancABC Botswana’s ultimate holding company, Atlas Mara Limited, as well as ABC Holdings Limited and Access Bank Plc announced an agreement to a proposed acquisition of 78.15% of BancABC Botswana. The transaction presented an opportunity for BancABC Botswana’s strong retail banking operation to merge with Access Bank’s wholesale banking capabilities, augmenting itself as one of Africa’s leading banks.

“The transaction provides significant scope for revenue diversification and growth in the corporate and SME banking segment. Increased access to trade finance, treasury, international payments and loans through the wider distribution network offered by Access Bank’s presence in the key trade corridors that connect Africa to the rest of the world, presents solid opportunities for BancABC Botswana”, commented Icho-Molebatsi “With the transaction, BancABC Botswana’s customers stand to benefit from best-in-class digital platforms and product suites, leveraging Access Bank’s group IT infrastructure as well as other fintech solutions”, said Bannalotlhe.

Further, with Access Bank expanding its footprint into Botswana, it will position the Bank to deliver a more complete set of banking solutions to Batswana across the country”, concluded Bannalothle.

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Botswana secures P1.5 billion from African Development Bank 

21st September 2021
Peggy Serame

 Last Friday, the board of Directors of the African Development Bank Group authorised a $137 million (P1.5 billion) loan to support Botswana’s Post COVID-19 pandemic economic recovery.

The funds, extended under the Bank Group’s Botswana Economic Recovery Support Program, will be used to enact multi-sector reforms that will increase spending efficiency, create jobs and drive inclusive growth.

The project has three components: enhancing domestic resource mobilisation and mitigating fiscal risks to enhance macroeconomic performance and create fiscal space for spending on social safety nets; supporting private sector-led agriculture and industry to bolster productivity and value addition and increase job opportunities, and offering business development services to micro and small enterprises to advance social protection and gender equity. The three components are expected to reinforce one another.

“The African Development Bank is providing support for reforms to enhance private sector-led agriculture and transformation of the industrial sector,” said Leila Mokadem, Director General of the Southern Africa Regional Development and Business Delivery Office. “Agriculture value addition can serve as a springboard for industrialisation and job creation,” she added.

The project aligns with the Bank Group’s Ten-Year Strategy (2013-2022) and its High Five strategic priorities, particularly Industrialise Africa and Improve the quality of life of the people of Africa. The African Development Bank observed that Botswana has a very low risk of debt distress and a positive medium-term growth outlook. However, a lack of economic diversification exposes the country to significant vulnerabilities.

The Bank Group’s active portfolio in Botswana amounts to UA 57.7 million ($81.9 million) and comprises four projects. The financial sector accounts for the largest share of the portfolio by industry (97.1%), followed by agriculture (1.7%) and industry (1.2%). In the past, the African Development Bank partnered with various Botswana government agencies to accelerate economic growth.

On the 21st of February 2020, the bank signed a thematic Line of Credit (LoC) of P900 Million for a 10-year tenor with Botswana Development Corporation (BDC), a wholly state-owned investment agency. This was during that time, the single largest transaction of its nature to ever take place in Botswana.

The LoC was penned to support the BDC’s long-term strategy to scale up its investments in critical sectors, including manufacturing, transport and service sectors, with the overall objective of supporting the transformation and industrialisation of the Botswana economy. BDC eyed a more comprehensive socio-economic benefit with this partnership, including attracting investments into the economy and employment creation.

The African Development Bank is a multilateral development finance institution. It has an overarching objective to spur sustainable economic development and social progress in its regional member countries (RMCs) through mobilising and allocating resources for investment and providing policy advice and technical assistance to support development efforts.

This transaction was poised to support further BDC’s focus on safeguarding its balance sheet to ensure financial sustainability whilst fulfilling its mandate as the Botswana Government’s principal investment arm.

The COVID-19 pandemic has landed massive blows on Botswana; apart from claiming more than 2300 lives thus far, the contagious plague has exacerbated existing growth challenges. The effects of the pandemic have led to an estimated real gross domestic product (GDP) contraction of 7.9% in 2020, according to the World Bank, worse than that of the 2009 global financial crisis.

The contraction reflects the impact that reduced global demand, travel restrictions and social distancing measures have had on output in crucial production and export sectors, including the diamond industry and tourism.

Botswana’s fiscal deficit is set to widen to 11.3% of GDP in FY2020/21, from 5.6% in FY2019/20, reflecting a sharp decline in mineral revenues, a sticky public sector wage bill, and the impact of the COVID-19 spending. Similarly, the current account deficit is estimated to have widened to 8 percent of GDP in 2020 following the sharp decline in diamond exports.

Developments in the global diamond industry will significantly impact the short-term recovery, given Botswana’s dependence on the commodity. While recovery is expected in 2021 due to a favourable outlook for the diamond industry, the economic impact of COVID-19 is likely to be deep and long-lasting. The P1.5 billion African Development Bank loan comes after the World Bank approved a P2.5 billion boost for Botswana early this year.

The Programmatic Economic Resilience and Green Recovery Development Policy Loan (DPL) will support the implementation of Botswana’s Economic Recovery and Transformation Plan and is designed to strengthen COVID-19 pandemic relief while bolstering resilience to future shocks.

In August, Botswana received the International Monetary Fund (IMF) 189 Special Drawing Rights allocation worth P3 billion. The IMF SDR is a non-currency asset that Botswana can convert into hard currency by trading it with other IMF member countries.

 

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