The newly appointed Permanent Secretary to the President Elias Magosi, might be faced with a daunting task of having to dismiss the Director General of the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) Brigadier Peter Magosi from office.
The Magosi duo are the two topmost presidential advisors. President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi relies on them for advice on critical matters. Information reaching this publication indicate that Masisi has expressed numerous concerns to Peter Magosi, asking him to tone down the manner in which he executes his duties. However, it appears that Peter Magosi has not embraced Masisi’s advice, forcing the President, who also has the appointing authority to relieve him of his duties in an attempt to save his Government from further embarrassment.
Elias was appointed earlier last week to replace the outgoing suspended PSP Carter Morupisi. The PSP is the head of civil service and advises the President on matters relating to public administration. Elias will assume his office on substantive basis on Monday, and part of his major task will be handling the dismissal of Peter Magosi, a man who does not only hold a powerful position, but also happens to be his first cousin. Elias is deemed as a man of integrity and professionalism, a reliable source within the DIS has indicated that a decision to fire his cousin can never be a hard one to make.
“He is a professional, the President put him there for a good reason,” the source said. This publication first reported in November 2019 that Peter Magosi’s job was on shaky grounds after speculation that Masisi had slapped him with a suspension letter. Peter Magosi was alleged to have rejected the suspension letter and posed threats that have put Masisi in a constricted position. The spy chief is alleged to have dared Masisi that if he was to temper with his post he was ready to “spill the beans” on the dark secrets of the current administration.
Despite the alleged threats, sources close to Masisi have revealed that letting Brigadier Magosi go is a risk he is willing to take. “The President cannot afford to have Magosi remain as the spy chief. He is pursuing his exit. Keeping him there is a threat to national security of which Masisi is aware of,” the source said. It is purported that for the past couple of months the Office of the President (OP) has been marred by disgruntlements because of the DIS saga.
Sources within the intelligence have indicated that the DIS institution is turning into a laughing stock owing to its diminishing credibility. The DIS credibility was heavily bruised following the famous “Butterfly” saga in which there were serious allegations that evidence had been fabricated to advance a particular agenda. It is purported that some of the cases pursued by Brigadier Magosi are motivated by personal interests amounting to abuse of office.
Brigadier Magosi reportedly played a major role in manufacturing evidence against the undercover agent -Wilhelmina Maswabi famously known as “Butterfly”- in which she was accused of transferring P29 million Pula into the former spy chief Colonel Isaac Kgosi’s account to finance terrorism. This allegation was linked to threats made by Kgosi to “topple the government” during his “Hollywood” arrest in 2019. Magosi has on several occasions been accused of presenting before courts several flawed high profile corruption, terrorism and money laundering cases that have immensely bruised the government’s image.
Sources within the DIS expressed concern that the government could end up losing a lot of money due to these failed cases. Just two weeks back, the Sebina brothers successfully sued the Director General for the return of their properties which had been seized from them in a series of much publicised raids by the DIS in February 2019. The court set aside the seizure warrant obtained by Brigadier Magosi against the Sebina brothers and ordered that their properties be returned to them with immediate effect. The DG is to also to pay the legal costs of the Sebina brothers.
Late last year this publication inquired with Brigadier Magosi on the allegations that he was pursuing investigations for his personal agendas and using the DIS to harass people. Brigadier Magosi denied and rubbished the allegations. He also rubbished claims that his principal had slapped him with a suspension letter claiming that he and the President have “a very tight relationship and a long way to go.”After numerous reports indicating that Magosi was on suspension, he toned down, and was no longer seen actively being involved in guarding the President.
It is however alleged that Magosi’s suspension has been kept as top secret by the intelligence unit and Office of the President (OP). Sources further revealed that this decision came long and hard. Edward Robert, the DIS spokesperson, when asked what this many allegations on their DG means as an institution, he expressed that, “as a Directorate we are of course disturbed by what appears to be a sustained attack on his person. There has been a lot of unsubstantiated allegations and this has the potential to destabilise not only the institution but to bring confusion to the nation as well and it would appear that is the intention of those who peddle such.”
“The Directorate will continue pursuing those they believe have offended the DIS Act. The good thing is our stakeholders can see through this. Staff at the Directorate are happy to have Brigadier Magosi as their leader given his academic qualification and experience in intelligence work and management. He possesses a wealth of knowledge in the trade that staff continues to draw from. There has been a tremendous buy-in to his roadmap.”
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.”