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CoA puts final nail in 2019 polls petitions

Mogalakwe Mogalakwe

Court of Appeal (CoA) has this week put to bed opposition parties’ 2019 general elections rigging claims by dismissing the last case on the matter as appealed by former Councillor for Mosolotshane/Morolane in the Shoshong constituency, Mogalakwe Mogalakwe.

When delivering the judgement this week in Gaborone, the presiding Judge, Justice Lakhvinder Singh Walia, upheld the verdict of the High Court. “The application is dismissed with costs, including costs of Counsel,” he stated.

The Judge further added that: “In the end results, Mogalakwe has failed, in my view, to provide any exceptional circumstances accounting for the delay, nor very strong prospects of success.”
The CoA justified the previous High Court ruling: “The decision of court a quo to dismiss the petition was based on findings of fact and credibility. It is trite that an appellate court will not disturb findings of fact or credibility by a trial court unless such findings are manifestly wrong or result from a misdirection.”

According to Walia, there is no mention whatsoever of violation of any constitutional provision. “I must say at once, that the raising of section 65A of the constitution in the notice of appeal is a disingenuous afterthought,” he lashed out. This comes after another opposition, Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) had also appealed the High court verdict that dismissed their contestation of the outcome of the said recent national elections.

Both parties had cited massive irregularities in some constituencies in some parts of the country which contend tilted the election results in favour of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).
Following the matter, the appeal was later launched which was premised on the ground that the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) was in breach of its constitutional mandate to conduct a free and fair election.

Mogalakwe had lost elections in the Council ward representing the Alliance for Progressives (AP) in which the BDP through Kesebelwang Gaarongwe won the elections with 674 votes slightly ahead of Mogalakwe with 637 while Lucas Mokalake of the UDC trailed behind with only 72 votes.

Having lost with a slim margin, Mogalakwe then forged ahead to launch a protest to the results at High Court, the mater which was then dismissed by three panel of Judges; Omphemetse Motumise, Itumeleng Segopolo and Gaolapelwe Ketlogetswe.

Before the court a quo, Mogalakwe had sought court to declare the election held on the 23rd of October 2019 for Mosolotshane/Moralane ward in the Shoshong local government as irregular, null and void and not in compliance with the Electoral Act of Botswana, Cap 02:09. He also wanted court to set aside the election, and direct a re-run of the election within 60 days from the date of the order.

Mogalakwe complained about canvassing for votes at the polling station in which he said he got information from a source he did not disclose, and that a certain Kaudimba made a report to the presiding officer.

The second complaint, the Judge narrated, was about thunderstorms on the day of the voting, which prevented some voters from casting their vote and the election officers not having made adequate arrangements for their protection from the elements.

“The third complaint related to absence of adequate lightning during the voting process, a cadac lamp having failed and cell phones having to be used to provide lighting,” Walia pointed out.
He further said that the fourth complaint was about lack of assistance to illiterate and disabled voters, and this related to inadequate training of electoral officers to assist non-Setswana speakers and deaf/mute voters.

He then observed that, “the next complaint was about the denial by the court of Mogalakwe’s request to call two additional witnesses who had not been listed in the list of witnesses provided to the court.” The Court of Appeal further explained that the other complaints were about the failure to enforce the law against canvassing within 200 metres from the polling station and the breach of section 121 (1) of the Electoral Act.

The case marks the end of the road for opposition in Botswana with regard to their vote rigging claims over the highly contested 2019 General Elections. In the matter, Advocate Patrick Kgoadi represented Mogalakwe while Advocate Otsile Rammidi and Lesego Babitseng stood in for Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) and Busang Manewe and Itseng Mothibamele for Kesebelwang Gaarongwe and Lucas Ehutsahetse Mokalake respectively.

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Households spending to drive economic recovery

17th January 2022

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.”

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BHC to increase rent again effective 1st April 2022

17th January 2022
BHC

Botswana Housing Corporation (BHC) will increase rental prices effective 1st April 2022. Tenants have already received letter of rent increment dated 09 December 2021 signed by the Regional Director, Kesebonye M. J. Khimbele. The letter stated that BHC has completed review of its rentals for implementation in the financial year 2022/2023.

The letter further states that, “the review comes on the backdrop of annual rental adjustments approved for the Corporation affecting all tenants (Government, Local Authorities, Parastatals, Private Companies, individuals and other corporate bodies). To this end, notice is hereby given that with effect from 1st April 2022, the Corporation will adjust current rental for your lease. The new rentals will be payable from 1st April 2022 to 31 March 2023. Please note that all other terms of your lease agreement remain the same including the service charges where applicable.”

BHC sensitized the public about its decision to adjust rent in 2020, they stated that they will be increasing their rentals for the next five years in order to meet the market price. When addressing the media about the decision to increase rent to meet the market rate in 2020. BHC officials indicated that the Corporation decided to increase rent and that the decision was backed by the government. Furthermore, BHC had not increased rent in the past 16 years. The Corporation pointed out that it was time to adjust the rent in order to match the market dynamics.

Minister of Infrastructure and Housing Development, Mmusi Kgafela when addressing the media in 2020 about the decision to increase rent by BHC, stated that it is still priority to ensure that they reach BHC’s objective of being at par with the current rental market rates.
The first increment after the public was addressed by BHC and the Minister of Infrastructure and Housing Development was last year 1st April, and the second increment will be on the 1st April 2022.

According to BHC website, BHC is a Parastatal under the Ministry of Infrastructure & Housing Development. The Corporation was established by an Act of Parliament (CAP 74.03) of 1971. The Corporation’s explicit mandate is outlined under section 14 of the BHC Act: To provide for the housing, office and other building needs of the government and local authorities; To provide for and to assist and to make arrangements for other persons to meet the requirements above; To undertake and carry-out and to make arrangements for other persons to undertake and carry-out building schemes in Botswana.

Execution of the explicit mandate covers provision of housing to the general population through a variety of initiatives and structures such as: Government housing pool; Sales of houses to government and its agencies; Provision of project management services; Undertaking housing projects for government departments such as the BDF, BURS etc. The Corporation’s implicit mandate is expressed through Government Policy pronouncements; Directives; Economic/business imperatives; Public & other social considerations.

Effective from 1st April 2012, the Corporation’s mandate has been expanded in accordance with Presidential Directive Cab 20 (B)/2010. The directive pronounced that all Government housing implementation programmes be transferred to BHC to operate as Government’s Single Housing Authority (SiHA). In compliance with the directive, BHC is as from 1st April 2012 responsible for the construction of turnkey SHHA projects as well as District Housing and other housing programmes pronounced by government from time to time such as the Public Housing Initiative and Youth Housing Initiative.

In executing the implicit mandate, the Corporation has to raise money through the market to sustain itself. For instance, 1990’s, government announced cessation of PDSF loans to parastatals. This meant that BHC had to do the following: Raise money from financial markets; Diversification of income stream; Reduced dependence on government.

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Thiite, Lesaso, Letsholo tipped for Ministerial posts

17th January 2022

At least three new faces are expected to join cabinet before or during the second meeting of the third session of the 12th parliament scheduled for the 1st of February 2022. This publication is reliably informed that there are currently three names from the backbench that are being assessed by the principals for possible inclusion in the Ministerial bench.

Businessmen in Gantsi North Member of Parliament (MP) John Thiite, Kanye North legislator Thapelo Letsholo and Shoshong MP Aubrey Lesaso are possible candidates for the executive arm of government. The decision on the three, according to informants, pivots on the claim that the President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi finds it “very difficult to rope in MPs who have served during the era of ex-President Ian Khama.” It is not clear as to what reasons could be, except that Masisi wants his own team that will diligently articulate his game plan until 2028.

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