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Botswana could exit FATF “greylisting” in October

Botswana remains on the grey list of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the “black list” of the European Union, a status quo that highlights the country as one of the high-risk jurisdictions to deal with money.

The far-reaching implications of these listings is a compromised Foreign Direct Investment drive for Botswana. In particular, these listings mean investors now have to exercise some caution and restrain when thinking about putting their money in Botswana. On Tuesday, Minister of Finance and Economic Development Peggy Serame said that Botswana could see itself out of the “undesirable listing” by October this year.

Serame called for united and concerted efforts towards liberating Botswana out of this financial noncompliance tag. She said the delisting could be archived by concerted efforts from all stakeholders: players in the financial services sector, non-financial services businesses, regulators, and every individual who deals with transactions.

Botswana is a founding member of the Eastern and Southern Africa Anti-Money Laundering Group (ESAAMLG). This regional body subscribes to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to combat money laundering and financing of terrorism and proliferation.

One of the membership obligations to ESAAMLG is for Botswana to be peer-reviewed by the other Member States and other international bodies like the World Bank, IMF or FATF.
The most recent assessment for Botswana to gauge compliance with the FATF standards was conducted by ESAAMLG in 2016 and culminated with publishing the Mutual Evaluation Report (MER) in 2017.

Following the discussion and adoption by the Task Force and approval of the MER by the Council of Ministers, the country was placed under enhanced follow-up. This led to a one (1) year observation period in which the country was expected to improve its technical compliance (legislative framework) by correcting the deficiencies identified in the MER.

After one year, in October 2018, the Task Force decided that the country was not taking sufficient steps to implement the recommendations made by the assessors in the MER. The Task Force recommended that Botswana be referred to the International Cooperation Review Group (ICRG) for monitoring and potential listing often referred to as the ‘FATF greylisting”.

Following the FATF greylisting, the EU placed Botswana on its list of high-risk third countries, often referred to as the ‘black list.’ In 2018, Botswana and FATF agreed to an Action Plan that had six items with several timelines. In terms of Risk and coordination, Botswana was told to develop and implement a risk-based comprehensive national AML/CFT strategy, assess the risks associated with legal persons, legal arrangements, and NPOs, and operationalize the modernized company registry to obtain and maintain essential information and Ultimate Beneficial Ownership information.

Botswana was further advised to enhance the capacity of the supervisory staff, including by developing risk-based supervision manuals and providing adequate training, implement risk-based AML/CFT supervision and impose sanctions against violations.

Furthermore, Botswana was instructed to improve analysis and dissemination of financial intelligence by the Financial Intelligence Unit, including operationalizing an online Suspicious Transactions Report filing platform and prioritizing high-risk predicate crimes, and enhancing the use of financial intelligence among the relevant law enforcement agencies.

Regarding terrorism financing investigation, Botswana was instructed to develop and implement a Counter Financing of Terrorism Strategy, operationalize the Counter-Terrorism Analysis and Fusion Centre, and ensure the Terrorism Financing investigation capacity of the law enforcement agencies.

In 2018, the 11th Parliament passed 25 pieces and, later, six others related to AML/CFT/CFP. At the just ended Parliamentary session of the 12th Parliament, lawmakers passed the Financial Intelligence (Amendment) Act to address the definition of beneficial ownership.

Cabinet approved the National AML/CFT/CFP Strategy of 2019-2024 in October 2019. At the June 2021 FATF Plenary meetings, the FATF made the initial determination that Botswana had substantially addressed the Action Plan and that this warranted an on-site assessment to verify that the implementation of Botswana’s AML/CFT/CFP reforms is in place and is being sustained.
Furthermore, an assessment was to be instituted to check if the necessary political commitment remains to sustain implementation in the future.

Serame said in a televised press briefing that Botswana’s exit from the FATF grey list and the EU black list would be determined by the outcome of the on-site assessment, which will be discussed at the FATF Plenary in October 2021.

She revealed that the Botswana delegation attended the Eastern and Southern Africa Anti-Money Laundering Group 42nd Task Force of Senior Officials meeting from the 26th August to the 6th September 2021, followed by the Council of Ministers on the 7th September 2021.

She told the media that at these meetings, Botswana was commended for making progress in complying with the FATF standards by addressing deficiencies in her AML/CFT/CFP framework.
“We are making all these efforts of complying with the FATF standards so that we guard against our financial system being used for money laundering, terrorism financing and proliferation financing,” she said.

“We are hopeful that at the October 2021 FATF Plenary meetings, the outcome of the on-site visit undertaken by the FATF in August 2021 will bear positive results, leading to Botswana being delisted from the FATF greylisting,” she said. However, Minister Serame called on all stakeholders to support the government to remove Botswana from the greylisting.

“As Government continues its efforts of putting in place the necessary legislative and institutional framework, due diligence must be exercised by all institutions, including the ordinary Motswana, so that no one is found dealing with financiers whose credibility is wanting,” she said.

The minister reiterated that all players in the financial services sector had a role to play: “It is important that where unsolicited funds are offered, the individual or entity so receiving the offer must ensure that the funds being offered are not associated with unlawful acts. If we are not diligent, criminals may use unsuspecting people and entities to launder proceeds of crime.”

She reiterated that the government is committed to doing all within its power to remove the country from the FATF “grey list” and the EU “black list”. However, she noted that to achieve that requires the cooperation and assistance of financial institutions, designated non-financial businesses and professions and individuals to ensure full compliance with AML/CFT/CFP rules and regulations.

“These efforts will not only assist us to be removed from these mentioned lists but are for the benefit of our country to maintain a high standard of financial prudence and an economy which genuine investors can have the confidence to invest in,” Serame explained.

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INSIDE THE NEW DISABILITY LAW

21st February 2024

The new Disability Law in Botswana is a significant step towards ensuring the rights and inclusion of persons living with disabilities in the country. This act, which was passed into law on the 11th of December 2023, is a reflection of Botswana’s commitment to upholding the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

One of the key provisions of the act is the prohibition of discrimination against persons with disabilities in work-related matters. This means that employers will no longer be able to discriminate against individuals based on their disability when it comes to hiring, promotion, or any other aspect of employment. This is a crucial step towards creating a more inclusive and equitable society for all.

The act also establishes a National Disability Council, which will be responsible for overseeing the implementation of the act and ensuring that the rights of persons with disabilities are protected. This council will play a vital role in advocating for the rights of persons with disabilities and ensuring that they have equal access to opportunities in all areas of life.

In addition to prohibiting discrimination in the workplace, the act also sets out disability standards that must be adhered to by employers and other entities. These standards are designed to ensure that persons with disabilities are able to access the same opportunities and services as everyone else, without facing any barriers or discrimination.

Furthermore, the act provides for actions plans to be developed to address the needs of persons with disabilities, as well as administrative penalties and fines for those who fail to comply with the provisions of the act. This sends a clear message that discrimination against persons with disabilities will not be tolerated in Botswana.

Overall, the new Disability Law in Botswana is a positive step towards creating a more inclusive and equitable society for all. By prohibiting discrimination in the workplace and setting out clear standards for the treatment of persons with disabilities, this act will help to ensure that all individuals, regardless of their abilities, have the opportunity to fully participate in society.

 

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BotswanaPost announces Nkobolo as Face of People Living with Disabilities

21st February 2024

BotswanaPost’s decision to appoint Onkabetse Nkobolo as the Face of People Living with Disabilities is a commendable and inspiring move towards promoting inclusivity and support for all members of society. Nkobolo, a former sprint sensation who was tragically injured in a road accident in 2020, has shown incredible resilience and determination in the face of adversity. Despite being confined to a wheelchair, he continues to be a shining example of strength and courage.

The partnership between BotswanaPost and Nkobolo is a powerful statement of their commitment to ensuring that people living with disabilities are not only included but also celebrated and supported. By appointing Nkobolo as the Face of PWD, BotswanaPost is sending a clear message that everyone, regardless of their physical abilities, deserves to be recognized and valued.

It is heartening to see organizations like BotswanaPost taking proactive steps to promote inclusivity and support for people living with disabilities. By partnering with Nkobolo and sponsoring the PWD Race Category at the FNBB Kanzungula Bridge Marathon, BotswanaPost is not only providing a platform for individuals with disabilities to showcase their talents and abilities but also raising awareness about the challenges they face on a daily basis.

The decision to appoint Nkobolo as the Face of People Living with Disabilities is a testament to his strength, resilience, and determination. Despite facing significant challenges and setbacks, Nkobolo has continued to inspire others with his positive attitude and unwavering spirit. His story serves as a reminder that disability does not define a person and that with the right support and opportunities, individuals with disabilities can achieve great things.

BotswanaPost’s announcement of Nkobolo as the Face of People Living with Disabilities is a powerful and meaningful gesture that highlights the importance of inclusivity and support for all members of society. By recognizing and celebrating individuals like Nkobolo, we can create a more inclusive and compassionate society where everyone is valued and respected. Nkobolo’s story is a reminder that with determination, courage, and support, individuals with disabilities can overcome any obstacle and achieve their dreams.

BOTSWANAPOST’S TEBOGO LEBOTSE-SEBEGO ON NKOBOLO PARTNERSHIP

  1. Why did you decide to partner with Nkobolo?

As previously announced, the Post is the Official Sponsor of the People with Disabilities (PWD) Category at the upcoming FNBB Kazungula Bridge Marathon as our way of demonstrating our commitment to inclusivity and support for individuals with disabilities.

As part of this sponsorship the organization saw it fit to join forces with the star athlete to represent this category.  His inspiring journey, overcoming adversity and his determination aligns seamlessly with BotswanaPost’s values. Having been in a car accident that altered his life but his career as a star athlete.

  1. What will be his role? 

Mr. Onkabetse Nkobolo comes on board as the face of People with Disabilities (PWD) Race Category that is sponsored by BotswanaPost at the 2024 FNBB Kazungula Bridge Marathon. He will essentially champion the cause of inclusivity and diversity particularly in the sporting field.

  1. Is the partnership specifically for the 2024 FNBB Kazungula Marathon?

Yes, for the time being. However, should the partnership extend to other focus areas BotswanaPost will provide an update accordingly.

  1. How will this partnership benefit him?  

The partnership provides Nkobolo with a platform to push his cause of championing his love for sports and tell his story on the realities of inclusivity and diversity matters where people with disabilities are concerned. Additionally, there’s financial benefit as part of the partnership.

 

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Lack of accurate enumeration disadvantage IWDs

19th February 2024

In Botswana, individuals with disabilities (IWDs) face significant challenges due to the lack of accurate registration and enumeration. The 2011 Population and Housing Census estimated the number of IWDs at 70,628, accounting for 3.49% of the population. However, without proper registration, the exact number of IWDs remains unknown, leading to a potential underrepresentation of this vulnerable group.

Regional analysis reveals disparities in the prevalence of disabilities in Botswana. The highest proportion of IWDs was found in Kweneng East (10.77%), Central Serowe Palape (10.73%), and Central Tutume district (9.14%). This data highlights the need for targeted interventions and support in these regions to address the specific needs of individuals with disabilities.

Gender disparities among IWDs are minimal, with a nearly equal ratio of 99 males to 100 females with disabilities. This balanced representation emphasizes the importance of gender-sensitive approaches in addressing the needs of IWDs in Botswana.

Prior to the 1991 Population and Housing Census, estimates of IWDs were based on the World Health Organization’s criteria of 10% of the country’s population for developing countries. The 1991 census was a landmark event as it was the first enumeration of IWDs in Botswana, revealing a prevalence rate of 2.23%.

Following censuses in 2001 and 2011 showed an increase in the percentage of IWDs to 2.99% and 3.49%, respectively. However, differences in data collection methods and definitions could impact the accuracy of disability statistics. While the Population and Housing Census focuses on weakening, the WHO’s criteria of disability consider activity limitations, leading to different prevalence rates.

Moving forward, there is a critical need for robust and comprehensive data collection strategies to provide detailed information on the prevalence, nature, and extent of disabilities in Botswana. Accurate registration and enumeration of IWDs are essential for developing inclusive policies, allocating resources effectively, and ensuring that individuals with disabilities have access to the necessary services and support they deserve.

As Botswana strives towards a more inclusive society, addressing the data discrepancy in disability statistics is a crucial step towards promoting the rights and well-being of individuals with disabilities. By improving data collection methods and ensuring accurate enumeration, Botswana can better understand the needs of IWDs and work towards creating a more inclusive and supportive environment for all its citizens.

 

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