The Botswana Council of Non Governmental Organisations (BOCONGO), DITSHWANELO The Botswana Centre for Human Rights and Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LeGaBiBo) have joined the growing chorus that has criticised the Constitutional Commission Review in a petition.
Other notable non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that signed the petition to the government are DITSHWANELO The Botswana Centre for Human Rights, Letloa Trust, Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) and Rainbow Identity Association (RIA). n December last year, President Mokgweetsi Masisi issued a Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the review of the Constitution of Botswana.
Masisi appointed the following 19 members to Presidential Commission of Inquiry. Former Chief Justice Maruping Dibotelo Chairperson, Johnson Motshwarakgole Vice-Chairperson, Other members of the Commission are Kgosi Puso Gaborone, Kgosi Divere Ndando, Professor Gobopamang Letamo, Professor Bontle Mbongwe, Reverend Bonolo Mmereki-Burns, Charles Mokobi , Stella Naledi Moroka , Matthews Letsholo , Moanakwena Keloneilwe, Dr. Goemeone Mogomotsi.
Some of the members are Dikarabo Ramadubu, Kukame Ngwamotsoko, Shirley Kefilwe Keoagile, Roselyn Serumola, Game Dibeela, Chedza Ntobedzi and Siphatisiwe Daniel Membe. Bococongo and other signatories explained that their concerns with the process which has already begun are lack of transparency and accountability; lack of information about the Constitutional Review process itself; lack of consultations with our elected representatives and Dikgosi; and the lack of information about the inclusion of civil society.
The petition states that there has been no transparency about the criteria used for selecting the members of the Constitution Review Committee. The list of members was made public on 17 December 2021. We believe there should have been transparent consultations with all of our elected representatives in Parliament, regardless of their political party affiliation, about the process to be followed for the review including the selection criteria for the members of the Committee, the petition reads in part.
It says the Committee members should include those with knowledge about the basic principles of constitutional law such as human rights, the rule of law and separation of powers. According to the petition, this is because these are core to the effective functioning of our democracy.
The petitioners said the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the review of the Constitution should report to an inclusive, select committee of parliament and not exclusively to the President, to ensure transparency and accountability to the people.
The Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the review of the Constitution should report to an inclusive, select committee of parliament and not exclusively to the President, to ensure transparency and accountability to the people, they said.
The organisations said there is a lack of information about the planned process of reviewing the Constitution. This information about the planned process, they said, is necessary to enable public preparedness to participate meaningfully in this process.
There is also a lack of information about the reasons why the format of a Presidential Commission of Inquiry was adopted and not a Parliamentary Committee tasked with this responsibility, the organisations argued. In light of these concerns, they urged the Botswana government to ensure that the Constitutional review process is inclusive and fair.
The organisations said there was supposed to be a clear civic education about the content of the current Constitution for this Constitutional consultation process to be successful. Public education will facilitate informed participation for people to know what needs to be changed and what needs to be included in the reviewed constitution, while taking into consideration their way of life and human rights, the organisations said.
They urged the government to ensure that the reviewed Constitution reaffirms separation of powers, enables checks and balances for the benefit of all people in Botswana, to prevent arbitrary and abusive use of power by those in authority; and protects and respects the political, socio-cultural and economic rights and dignity of every person.
Political will should enable effective public participation for the people to freely fashion a Constitution of their choice. The constitution-making process should be effected using a bottom-up approach to ensure inclusion, participation, accountability and fairness, the organisations said. They argued that all these are necessary for democratic governance to thrive.
They further argued that representatives of different sectors, including religious bodies and interest groups in the country should have be involved to avoid exclusion of already marginalised groups, including indigenous peoples, youth, persons with disabilities, ex-miners, children, women, workers, LGBTQI+ community (gays and lesbians), domestic and farm workers and the elderly.
It is clear that a constitutional review offers us an opportunity to commit again, to entrenching democracy, good, transparent and accountable governance, and the rule of law; to reaffirm our faith in a consultative polity that believes in free speech and other fundamental human rights and the values of openness, fairness, honesty, human dignity, tolerance and hard work, the organisations said.
They said these must be present as guiding principles throughout the review process from start to finish.
Botswana Telecommunications Corporation Limited (BTC) has announced that its 3rd Francistown Marathon will be held on Saturday 20th April 2024 at Obed Itani Chilume Stadium in Francistown. The BTC Francistown Marathon is officially recognised by World Athletics and a Comrades Marathon Qualifier will offer race categories ranging from 42.2km, 21.1 km, 10km, 5km fun run, 5km peace run for children and has introduced a 5km and 10km categories for wheelchairs athletics.
BTC also used this opportunity to announce beneficiaries who received donations from proceeds made from the 2nd BTC Francistown Marathon that was held on April 23rd 203.Â BTC donated a play area, plastic chairs and wooden tables for pupils worth a total of thirty eight thousand, one hundred and three pula, fifty thebe each (P38, 103.50) to Monarch Primary School, Tatitown Primary School, Mahube Primary School and Gulubane Primary School. Ditladi and Boikhutso clinics each received a donation of benches, television sets and 10, 000 litre water tanks worth thirty seven thousan, eight hundred and ninety eight pula (P 37, 898.00). Additionally, BTC also donated seventy thousand pula (P70,000.00) to their marathon technical partner, Francistown Athletics Club (FAC) which will be used for daily operations as well as to purchase equipment for the club.
The BTC Francistown Marathon aligns seamlessly with BTC’s corporate social investment programme, administered through the BTC Foundation. This programme is a testament to BTC’s dedication to community development, focusing on key areas such as health promotion. The marathon, now in its third year, not only promotes a healthy lifestyle but also channels all proceeds to carefully chosen charities as part of BTC’s commitment to impactful and sustainable projects.
Speaking at the launch, the BTC Managing Director Mr Anthony Masunga stated that the marathon underscores BTCâs commitment to community upliftment and corporate social investment. He stated that âthe annual event which has been in existence since 2016, having taken a break due to the covid and other logistical issues, is instrumental to the economic upliftment of the city of Francistownâ. He congratulated all the beneficiaries for having been nominated to receive the donations, adding that âthe donation of proceeds from the 2023 marathon aims to highlight BTCâs commitment and heart for Batswana and our continued impact in the different industriesâ.
He further stated that through this marathon, âwe demonstrate our steadfast commitment to having a good influence on our communities, this event is a manifestation of our dedication to promoting education and a healthier, more active societyâ. Â He concluded by stating that âBTC looks forward to another successful marathon that will leave a lasting positive influence on the greater Francistown community and the country at largeâ he said.
Giving welcome remarks, the Councillor for Donga, Honourable Morulaganyi Mothowabarwa stated that âhe is ecstatic that BTC is collaborating with the City of Francistown on yet another installment of the Marathonâ. He continued to offer his support to BTC to enable this marathon to continue over the coming years, stating that the âCSI element is a welcome development that helps empower our communitiesâ, he said.
The 3rd BTC Francistown Marathon is officially open for registrations and athletes may use the following platforms to register and pay; through Smega by dialling *173# and choosing opton 5, then choose Option 3 for the Francistown marathon, at any BTC store or by visiting the BTC website and clicking on the BTC Francistown Marathon and choosing the relevant options.
Thapelo Letsholo, Member of Parliament for Kanye North, delivered a moving speech at the United Nations International Anti-Corruption Day commemoration, praising President Dr. Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi’s digitalization initiative in the fight against corruption. Letsholo highlighted the importance of embracing digitalization in governance as a crucial step in curbing corrupt practices.
According to Letsholo, the implementation of digital systems in government services can significantly reduce direct interactions between citizens and officials, which often serve as fertile grounds for corruption. By minimizing these opportunities for illicit activities, the efficiency and transparency of public services can be enhanced. Letsholo pointed to Estonia’s success in digital governance as an example, where public services have become more transparent, accessible, and efficient.
The MP commended President Masisi’s commitment to digitalization and E-Governance, emphasizing that it aligns with global anti-corruption standards. He called for full support and active participation from all sectors to ensure the success of this initiative.
Letsholo also stressed the importance of improving detection methods and refining whistleblower laws to effectively combat corruption. He highlighted the unseen and unspoken facets of corruption as its lifelines, emphasizing the need for robust detection mechanisms and a system that encourages and protects whistleblowers.
Addressing the societal role in fighting corruption, Letsholo focused on the crucial role of everyday citizens and civil servants who often witness corrupt practices firsthand. He acknowledged the existing reluctance to report corruption due to the perceived risks of repercussions. To change this narrative, Letsholo advocated for creating an environment where staying silent is deemed more detrimental than speaking out. He called for a cultural shift where the potential benefits of exposing corruption outweigh the risks, ensuring that whistleblowers are protected and feel secure in coming forward.
Letsholo called for collective responsibility and action in creating a system that not only detects and reports corruption but also supports those who stand against it. He expressed hope that under President Masisi’s digitalization initiatives, the future of governance in Botswana will be characterized by integrity, transparency, and accountability. Letsholo’s speech resonated with the sentiments of hope and determination that permeated the commemoration, emphasizing the need for unity in the fight against corruption.
In summary, Letsholo lauded President Masisi’s digitalization initiative in the fight against corruption, highlighting its potential to curb corrupt practices, enhance efficiency and transparency in public services, and align with global anti-corruption standards. He emphasized the importance of improving detection methods, refining whistleblower laws, and creating an environment where speaking out against corruption is encouraged and protected. Letsholo called for collective responsibility and action in creating a future characterized by integrity, transparency, and accountability in governance.
FaR Property Company (FPC) Limited, a property investment company listed on the Botswana Stock Exchange, has recently announced its exceptional financial results for the year 2023. The company’s property asset value has risen to P1.47 billion, up from P1.42 billion in the previous year.
FPC has a diverse portfolio of properties, including retail, commercial, industrial, and residential properties in Botswana, South Africa, and Zambia. The company owns a total of 186 properties, generating rental revenues from various sectors. In 2023, the company recorded rental revenues of P11 million from residential properties, P62 million from industrial properties, and P89 million from commercial properties. Overall, the company’s total revenues increased by 9% to P153 million, while profit before tax increased by 22% to P136 million, and operating profit increased by 11% to P139 million.
One notable achievement for FPC is the low vacancy rate across its properties, which stands at only 6%. This is particularly impressive considering the challenging trading environment. The company attributes this success to effective lease management and the leasing of previously vacant properties in South Africa. FPC’s management expressed satisfaction with the results, highlighting the resilience of the company in the face of ongoing macroeconomic challenges.
The increase in profit before tax can be attributed to both an increase in income and effective control of operating expenses. FPC managed to achieve these results with fewer employees, demonstrating the company’s efficiency. The headline earnings per linked unit also saw an improvement, reaching 26.92 thebe, higher than the previous year.
Looking ahead, FPC remains confident in its competitiveness and growth prospects. The company possesses a substantial land bank, which it plans to develop strategically as opportunities arise. FPC aims for managed growth, focusing on consumer-driven developments and ensuring the presence of supportive tenants. By maintaining this approach, the company believes it can sustainably grow its property portfolio and remain competitive in the market.
In terms of the macroeconomic environment, FPC noted that inflation rates are decreasing towards the 3% to 6% range approved by the Bank of Botswana. This is positive news for the company, as it hopes for further decreases in interest rates. However, the fluctuating fuel prices, influenced by global events such as the war in Ukraine and oil output reductions by Russia and other Middle Eastern countries, continue to impact businesses, including some of FPC’s tenants.
FPC’s property portfolio includes notable assets such as a shopping mall in Francistown with Choppies Hyper as the anchor tenant, Borogo Mall located on the A33 main road near the Kazungula ferry crossing, and various industrial and commercial properties in Gaborone leased to Choppies, Senn Foods, and Clover Botswana. The company also owns a shopping mall in Mafikeng and Rustenburg in South Africa.
The majority of FPC’s properties, 85%, are located in Botswana, followed by 12% in South Africa and 3% in Zambia. With its strong financial performance, competitive position, and strategic land bank, FPC is well-positioned for continued growth and success in the property market.