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AP congress to map future in opposition politics

Alliance for Progressives (AP), the second newest political formation in the country will meet for its first ever National Congress in Francistown during the July Presidential holidays.

The party is expecting a cordial congress punctuated by progressive submissions from the members especially looking at the current political climate and dynamics. The congress will start with a purple walk which will be aimed at telling the Francistowners about AP. The party will share with the community about the vision of AP being a paragon of shift, especially on pandemics like unemployment which affects the youth mostly.

Consequently, the congress according to the party Secretary General Dr. Phenyo Butale will discuss a number of issues including the future of the party and grapple with issue of cooperation. The last policy forum mandated the party Central Committee (CC) to look for a like-minded organization and spearhead opposition unity and we hope to have a conversation around that and for the CC to report back to rank and file on the efforts that have been made towards achieving a united opposition and not a specific partnership with a single opposition party but we will be talking about efforts to unite the opposition.

AP has been of late been accused of conniving with Botswana Congress Party (BCP) as their partners especially going to Bophirima ward by elections. In the past Dr. Butale has maintained that the decision to support BCP in the past by-election was a decision taken by the Central Committee and denied any divisions in the party subsequent to that pronouncement. He however says, as AP they cannot speculate as to whether they will work with BCP for the 2024 pools but will demand a coalition that is fair, truthful and accountable to lead Botswana.

The two parties are said to be seriously considering working together in the next elections in Botswana. It is so serious that there is an underground movement called Peoples Coalition for Change (PCC) and have been meeting for more than three months now according to sources. In terms of the contest, the party says it allows for the challenges and AP members in good standing will challenge for various positions after nomination which are done on the floor for any position.

So far there is no hint of any members going for challenge, initially it was said there are members who want to take party Chairman Pius Mokgware and VP Wynter Mmolotsi. Those that have interest will be allowed to do so by nominations on the floor by challenging for any positions and as the Secretariat we are preparing for the elections through the specialized committee and we will be ready for that, Dr. Butale said in an interview.

AP has been losing a number of members to other parties how are they faring in membership drive? We are receiving droves of members who are inspired by our vision and tenacity towards the New Botswana. We have a target of 50 constituencies at the congress and we are now above half of that and branches are holding congresses and we are receiving reports that the party is revitalized and people are now much more reinvigorated to continue with the journey.

He said those that have been leaving the party is a drop in the ocean compared to the masses they recruit. He went on to say, their analysis shows that those who are leaving have been dormant members who used the party to stand for the general elections and they are glad that they have left them

In terms of unity in the party, Dr. Butale said; All the office bearers are fully united and we are pulling to the same direction and the Party Chairman is extremely committed to the party and currently spearheading the development of the three year strategic plan and he recently chaired a CC meeting in Palapye and at AP we are all united.

Rank and file of AP which is a splinter party of the now moribund BMD want to enjoy the party after tumultuous years. Ever since the death of Gomolemo Motswaledi in 2014 they say they have always been fighting and now it is time to enjoy their association with AP. Remember after that death in 2014, a BMD congress in 2015 which pushed us away then the Bobonong Congress in 2017 where we were pushed out. Now it is the time to enjoy being members without any fights and squabbles and if I had powers I would push for no contest at the congress, concluded a party member.


Batswana owe banks P79 billion

27th March 2023

The Minister of Finance, Peggy Serame, has disclosed that the total bank credit extended by commercial banks amounted to P79 billion, out of which P53.4 billion was retail loans and advances to households.

Parliament was informed this week in response to a question by the Member of Parliament for Selibe-Phikwe West and Leader of Opposition (LOO), Dithapelo Keorapetse.

“As at 31st December 2022, loans and other advances extended to households by banks constituted the largest share of bank-lending at 67.6 percent, the majority of which was unsecured personal loans at P36.2 billion (67.8%),” said Serame.

She added that the total household Debt to GDP ratio was 21.9%, while the total private business credit to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio was 10.8%.

On the other hand, it was noted that outstanding mortgage loans extended to households were P14.2 billion (26.6% of household debt) or 5.9% of GDP. Overall, total bank credit as a ratio of GDP stood at 32.7 percent.

It was acknowledged that there are 10 deposit-taking banks in the country, that is, nine commercial banks and one statutory bank (Botswana Savings Bank). This statistics excludes the National Development Bank (NDB), which is a development finance institution. The nine commercial banks include an indigenous bank, Botswana Building Society Bank Limited (BBSBL), which was issued with a commercial banking license by the Bank of Botswana in October 2022.

Still in December 2022, it was recorded that there were 376 non-bank lenders in Botswana consisting of 246 micro lenders, 66 finance companies, three leasing companies and 61 registered pawnshops.

According to Minister Serame, the loan book value representing the principal amount lent by these entities to individuals and to small, medium and micro Enterprises (SMMEs) is collated by the Non-Bank Financial Institutions Regulatory Authority (NBFIRA), which at 31st of December 2021, the loan book values were P5.6 billion for micro lenders, P1.6 billion for finance companies, P225 million for leasing companies and P14 million for pawnshops.

Government policy is that price control is not effective or desirable, and, as such, interest rates are not regulated. Non-regulation may, among other things, result in an increase in non-interest rate fees and commissions, reduced price transparency, lower credit supply and loan approval rates.

“It is important to note that, from a macroeconomic perspective, household debt in Botswana is neither a pandemic nor considered to be excessive. Indeed, the Bank of Botswana’s periodic and continuous assessments of household debt, including through the annual Household Indebtedness Surveys, suggest moderate household indebtedness and therefore, is of no apparent risk to the safety and soundness of the domestic financial system,” said Serame.

She also alluded this assessment is validated by the recently concluded Financial Sector Assessment Programme (FSAP) on Botswana undertaken by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank Group.

Keorapetse however rebuked the issue of debt not being excessive and noted the Minister thinks it’s fine for Batswana to be debt burdened in a way that their debts diminishes their quality of life.

“A significant portion of Batswana’s salaries go to servicing debts and because she doesn’t see this as a challenge, there can never be any intervention from her side. There is no price regulation on interest, which can go up to 30%+ a month.  Since President Masisi ascended to the high office in 2018, 2 384 Batswana were put in prison for failure to pay debts, that is 467 Batswana every year. So, for us, debt problems are big and concerning,” said Keorapetse.

He said they are worried because Batswana are drowning in debts because of relative poverty, slave wages and unemployment/underemployment, they buy basic needs and services with borrowed money and noted predatory and unethical lending has become a major problem in Botswana’s financial sector.

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How to fleece P14 million from Chinese investor

27th March 2023

The modus operandi of how five men allegedly swindled a Chinese national P14 million last week continue to unravel. Highly placed sources from the intelligence, the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) and Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) revealed to this publication how the whole scam was concocted.

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ENVIRONMENT ISSUES: Masisi asks Virginia for help

24th March 2023

President Mokgweetsi Masisi says the issue of sustainable natural resources management has always been an important part of Botswana’s national development agenda.

Masisi was speaking this week on the occasion of a public lecture at Virginia Polytechnic, under theme, “Merging Conservation, Democracy and Sustainable Development in Botswana.”

Botswana, according to Masisi, holds the view that the environment is fragile and as such, must be managed and given the utmost protection to enable the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“It is necessary that we engage one another in the interchange of ideas, perspectives, visualizations of social futures, and considerations of possible strategies and courses of action for sustainable development,” said Masisi.

On the other hand, dialogue, in the form of rigorous democratic discourse among stakeholders presents another basis for reconfiguring how people act on their environments, with a view to conserving its resources that “we require to meet our socio-economic development needs on a sustainable basis,” Masisi told attendees at the public lecture.

He said government has a keen interest in understanding the epidemiology and ecology of diseases of both domestic and wild animals. “It is our national interest to forestall the dire consequences of animal diseases on our communities livelihoods.”

President Masisi hoped that both Botswana and Virginia could help each other in curbing contagious diseases of wildlife.

“We believe that Virginia Tech can reasonably share their experiences, research insights and advances in veterinary sciences and medicines, to help us build capacity for knowledge creation and improve efforts of managing and containing contagious diseases of wildlife. The ground is fertile for entering into such a mutually beneficial partnership.”

When explaining environmental issues further, Masisi said efforts of conservation and sustainable development might at times be hampered by the emergence and recurrence of diseases when pathogens mutate and take host of more than one species.

“Water pollution also kills aquatic life, such as fish, which is one of humanity’s much deserved sources of food. In this regard, One Health Approach imposes ecological responsibility upon all of us to care for the environment and the bio-diversity therein.”

He said the production and use of animal vaccines is an important space and tool for conservation, particularly to deal with trans-border animal diseases.

“In Botswana, our 43-year-old national premier pharmaceutical institution called Botswana Vaccine Institute has played its role well. Through its successful production of highly efficacious Foot and Mouth vaccines, the country is able to contain this disease as well as supply vaccines to other countries in the sub-region.:

He has however declared that there is need for more help, saying “We need more capacitation to deal with and contain other types of microbial that affect both animals and human health.”

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