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CKGR burial divides opinion as case heads to CoA

It has been over four months since Pitseng Gaoberekwes corpse has been lying in a government mortuary in Ghanzi awaiting to be buried in his ancestral land, next to his late fathers grave in Central Kalahari Game Reserve.

The government has resisted efforts to have Gaoberekwe buried in the CKGR. The family of the deceased has pleaded with the court and authorities, albeit unsuccessfully, to be given access to bury their family member in CKGR.

The High Court in Gaborone this week gave an order that the son of the deceased, Lesiame Gaoberekwe, be arrested and imprisoned if the corpse is not buried within 10 days.

In a defiant spirit, Lesiame said he is not willing to bend and bury his father anywhere else beside the CKGR. Maybe it is better if I get jailed because I want to bury him next to his father, there is a graveyard in CKGR, he said.

The burial debacle has sparked much controversy from various quarters of the society and opinion leaders.

BASARWA ARE SPOILT SIDNEY PILANE

Speaking to the media, Advocate Pilane who is representing the government on the matter said Basarwa are spoilt and must be treated like anyone that comes to court.

Basarwa must pay costs. When you come to court, and you lose the case you pay costs, but we told the judge not to instruct them to pay the cost, but I think in the future they must pay costs so that they do not think they can just run to court and not pay the costs . We are making them used to having things for free, there are poor Batswana out there, but we did not make them get used to be done everything for free.

There is no evidence that the deceased wanted to be buried in CKGR and there is no evidence that he was living in CKGR, but we work with evidence in court. The evidence that we have indicates that the deceased has been living in New Xade since 1997. The government has stopped Pitseng to be buried in CKGR because its a game reserve. Should we allow every Motswana to be buried in CKGR? Is that what we should do? What will then be a point of having national reserves? Why should Basarwa have that right when we dont have that right?

BASARWA NEVER ASKED FOR ASSISTANCE FROM GOVT MOTSAMAI

A Member of Parliament for the constituency in which the family hails from, Motsamai Motsamai has also added his voice on the matter saying the government should not interfere with the way of life of the Basarwa who lived in peace in CKGR.

This is ridiculous. I doubt if one corpse can taint a reserve that is the size of Lesotho. Pilane says Basarwa are spoilt, that was not right. They never asked assistance from government, it wanted to change their lives. What could have been done was to improve their lives in the CKGR so that they can know how to make economic sense out of the game they were hunting. This is not right, we are talking about old people who have been in the CKGR.

My view, the court should have determined those who were born in the CKGR, and they should be buried there. It is their ancestral land. Only the next generations could be buried elsewhere. Initially, they said the death was caused by Covid related ailment, but look at the period that has elapsed, Covid corpse do not stay for long, it was just a gimmick from the state, from there Pilane passes this kind of remarks. I will meet with the family for final decision. The court was to make a ruling on the matter of costs, as he is in Govt mortuary.

BASARWA HAVE SACRIFICED A LOT GAKEMOTHO KHWEBE SATAU

Gakemotho Khwebe Satau, who is the regional Chair for Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee (IPACC) has also added his voice on the matter:

I concur with the bereaved who needs access to CKGR in order to lay his father at a rightful last home. This case is a symptom of anomalies not addressed during the 2006 court ruling. The rulings divided descendants of the CKGR between the applicants and those who were coerced by the government to relocate. Those coerced to relocate cannot claim heritage rights to CKGR as their demise. The 2006 case focused on eviction only without other human rights. No other fringe rights were included in the rebuttals.
We need to do that now. Those evicted had no bargaining power or their heritage rights inclusive of social cultural and economic freedoms were excluded from the narratives of eviction and the results of the court ruling came as a surprise. The eviction did not touch on issues of access and benefits sharing, since they were forced to relinquish those rights.

In Botswana, the Bakhwe have sacrificed a lot; land as conservation and mining areas without royalties, their language, their identity and their traditional economies among others. Bakhwe in totality have suffered systematic exclusion at the hands of arrogant and devilish government. And the Botswana government succeeded in their exploitation, keeping them fragmented through resettlement program and lies to Batswana and the world in general. Bakhwe have tried their level best to lobby the government of the day to recognize their human rights obligations by hiding calls from human rights organizations, scholars, independent UN special missions, African Commission, SADC etc.

but were refused to listen. Now is the time for us Bakhwe to unite and find a fit in to the broader society as people who have rights, land and resources and deserve to be respected accorded the bargaining power in development discourses and decisions. Apparently, God sent Batswana have pledged to support on the case. I am preparing to pledge towards that call and have been encouraging people to be at the forefront to support against the ordeal that has befallen our fellow men. Encouraging other Bakhwe to lead the struggle and support at the forefront.

THE CKGR IS NOT A GAME RESERVE. ITS A HOME NGAKAAGAE

A prominent attorney Kgosi Ngakaagae who has mobilized financial assistance to help the family to get the best legal representation has through his Facebook account called on the government to allow the family to bury their father in CKGR.

We need to disabuse ourselves of the thinking that the CKGR is a game reserve. The CKGR is first and foremost a home for the inhabitants of the first people of our country. They are entitled to be buried there, the same way I am entitled to be buried in Mahalapye, or Serowe. They are entitled to live there the same way I am entitled to live in the Gammangwato area. We need a reset of attitudes, on this score. The arrogance of Batswana tribes (which run the government), is atrocious. It epitomizes the worst expression of man’s inhumanity to man. One day, we will look at our handling of the CKGR, issue, and our treatment of fellow citizens (Basarwa), with unforgivable shame.

BASARWA HAVE BEEN ROBBED OF THEIR ANCESTRAL LAND -TAOLO LUCAS

A Bobirwa legislator Taolo Lucas who is vocal about the social injustices and equal rights to minority posits that the government has stolen the Basarwa land.

It is disheartening to note that the systemic marginalization of Basarwa follows them to their graves. The Basarwa have been robbed of their ancestral land and even after they have won that famous landmark case on their access to the CKGR, several legal and administrative hurdles are placed on their way to access the land of their forefathers even just to use that land as their final resting place.

Burials, in all cultures, have deep spiritual, emotional and sentimental dimensions and to deny a person burial at the place of their choice is tantamount to defining the spirituality and the human rights of such individuals. As a country, we have trampled on all manner of rights for Basarwa, and it’s time we stop paying lip service to Basarwa socio-economic, political and cultural empowerment. I associate with those who are taking the matter on appeal. It is my hope that the Appeals Bench will transcend narrow stereotypes and issue a final verdict that shall recognise the dignity and human rights of Basarwa.

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FaR property assets value clock P1.47 billion

6th December 2023

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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BPC Signs PPA with Sekaname Energy

4th December 2023

The Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) has taken a significant step towards diversifying its energy mix by signing a power purchase agreement with Sekaname Energy for the production of power from coal bed methane in Mmashoro village. This agreement marks a major milestone for the energy sector in Botswana as the country transitions from a coal-fired power generation system to a new energy mix comprising coal, gas, solar, and wind.

The CEO of BPC, David Kgoboko, explained that the Power Purchase Agreement is for a 6MW coal bed methane proof of concept project to be developed around Mmashoro village. This project aligns with BPC’s strategic initiatives to increase the proportion of low-carbon power generation sources and renewable energy in the energy mix. The use of coal bed methane for power generation is an exciting development as it provides a hybrid solution with non-dispatchable sources of generation like solar PV. Without flexible base-load generation, the deployment of non-dispatchable solar PV generation would be limited.

Kgoboko emphasized that BPC is committed to enabling the development of a gas supply industry in Botswana. Sekaname Energy, along with other players in the coal bed methane exploration business, is a key and strategic partner for BPC. The successful development of a gas supply industry will enable the realization of a secure and sustainable energy mix for the country.

The Minister of Minerals & Energy, Lefoko Moagi, expressed his support for the initiative by the private sector to develop a gas industry in Botswana. The country has abundant coal reserves, and the government fully supports the commercial extraction of coal bed methane gas for power generation. The government guarantees that BPC will purchase the generated electricity at reasonable tariffs, providing cash flow to the developers and enabling them to raise equity and debt funding for gas extraction development.

Moagi highlighted the benefits of developing a gas supply industry, including diversified primary energy sources, economic diversification, import substitution, and employment creation. He commended Sekaname Energy for undertaking a pilot project to prove the commercial viability of extracting coal bed methane for power generation. If successful, this initiative would unlock the potential of a gas production industry in Botswana.

Sekaname Energy CEO, Peter Mmusi, emphasized the multiple uses of natural gas and its potential to uplift Botswana’s economy. In addition to power generation, natural gas can be used for gas-to-liquids, compressed natural gas, and fertilizer production. Mmusi revealed that Sekaname has already invested $57 million in exploration and infrastructure throughout its resource area. The company plans to spend another $10-15 million for the initial 6MW project and aims to invest over $500 million in the future for a 90MW power plant. Sekaname’s goal is to assist BPC in becoming a net exporter of power within the region and to contribute to Botswana’s transition to cleaner energy production.

In conclusion, the power purchase agreement between BPC and Sekaname Energy for the production of power from coal bed methane in Mmashoro village is a significant step towards diversifying Botswana’s energy mix. This project aligns with BPC’s strategic initiatives to increase the proportion of low-carbon power generation sources and renewable energy. The government’s support for the development of a gas supply industry and the commercial extraction of coal bed methane will bring numerous benefits to the country, including economic diversification, import substitution, and employment creation. With the potential to become a net exporter of power and a cleaner energy producer, Botswana is poised to make significant strides in its energy sector.

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UDC deadlock: Boko, Ndaba, Reatile meet  

4th December 2023

It is not clear as to when, but before taking a festive break in few weeks’ time UDC leaders would have convened to address the ongoing deadlock surrounding constituency allocation in the negotiations for the 2024 elections. The leaders, Duma Boko of the UDC, Mephato Reggie Reatile of the BPF, and Ndaba Gaolathe of the AP, are expected to meet and discuss critical matters and engage in dialogue regarding the contested constituencies.

The negotiations hit a stalemate when it came to allocating constituencies, prompting the need for the leaders to intervene. Representatives from the UDC, AP, and BPF were tasked with negotiating the allocation, with Dr. Patrick Molotsi and Dr. Philip Bulawa representing the UDC, and Dr. Phenyo Butale and Wynter Mmolotsi representing the AP.

The leaders’ meeting is crucial in resolving the contentious issue of constituency allocation, which has caused tension among UDC members and potential candidates for the 2024 elections. After reaching an agreement, the leaders will engage with the members of each constituency to gauge their opinions and ensure that the decisions made are favored by the rank and file. This approach aims to avoid unnecessary costs and conflicts during the general elections.

One of the main points of contention is the allocation of Molepolole South, which the BNF is adamant about obtaining. In the 2019 elections, the UDC was the runner-up in Molepolole South, securing the second position in seven out of eight wards. Other contested constituencies include Metsimotlhabe, Kgatleng East and West, Mmadinare, Francistown East, Shashe West, Boteti East, and Lerala Maunatlala.

The criteria used for constituency allocation have also become a point of dispute among the UDC member parties. The issue of incumbency is particularly contentious, as the criterion for constituency allocation suggests that current holders of UDC’s council and parliamentary seats should be given priority for re-election without undergoing primary elections. Disadvantaged parties argue that this approach limits democratic competition and hinders the emergence of potentially more capable candidates.

Another disputed criterion is the allocation based on the strength and popularity of a party in specific areas. Parties argue that this is a subjective criterion that leads to disputes and favoritism, as clear metrics for strength and visibility cannot be defined. The BNF, in particular, questions the demands of the new entrants, the BPF and AP, as they lack a traceable track record to support their high expectations.

The unity and cohesion of the UDC are at stake, with the BPF and AP expressing dissatisfaction and considering withdrawing from the negotiations. Therefore, it is crucial for the leaders to expedite their meeting and find a resolution to these disputes.

In the midst of these negotiations, the BNF has already secured 15 constituencies within the UDC coalition. While the negotiations are still ongoing, BNF Chairman Dr. Molotsi revealed that they have traditionally held these constituencies and are expecting to add more to their tally. The constituencies include Gantsi North, Gantsi South, Kgalagadi North, Kgalagadi South, Good Hope – Mmathethe, Kanye North, Kanye South, Lobatse, Molepolole North, Gaborone South, Gaborone North, Gaborone Bonnignton North, Takatokwane, Letlhakeng, and Tlokweng.

The resolution of the contested constituencies will test the ability of the UDC to present a united front in the 2024 National Elections will depend on the decisions made by the three leaders. It is essential for them to demonstrate maturity and astuteness in resolving the constituency allocation deadlock and ensuring the cohesion of the UDC.

 

 

 

 

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