Seasoned economist Dr. Thapelo Matsheka currently campaigning for a parliamentary sit in Lobatse under the ruling party ticket, has applauded President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s administration for its endevours to prop up local entrepreneurs and companies.
Matsheka’s sentiments come after the Finance and Economic Development Minister, Kenneth Matambo announced that the proposed expenditure estimates for the year 2019/2020 has 45.1 billion pula budgeted for procurement of good and service.“It’s a very good but delayed initiative,” said Dr. Matsheka on the sidelines of the 2019 Budget Speech presentation, adding that the High Level Consultative Council (HLCC) has already highlighted to President Masisi that parastatals and government institutions are not supporting locals under the ploy ‘citizens do not deliver’.
He said the 2019/2020 budget proposals indicate President Masisi’s commitment to ensure that citizen empowerment becomes central tenet of his delivery.“We appreciate the amount of money that has been set aside but what we often find is that institutions that do procurement set themselves for failure by adopting rules that exclude citizen companies,” said Dr. Matsheka. Dr. Matsheka further condemned the procurement institutions irrational qualification requirements citing experience clauses, as one of the deliberate stumbling block.“These companies with
20 years experience were supported by their own governments to reach those years. The reason why they are here is because they have saturated the market in their domestic economies,” said Matsheka, highlighting that government has to deliberately nurture citizen companies to grow into the region. He dismissed notions that local companies are heavily reliant on government. “Government expenditure is part of the national income accounting system. There is no way that government that taxes Batswana cannot in-turn, give them work but give work to foreign companies because presumably they have got more years in the market, in their own countries,” said Matsheka. The veteran economist challenged the government to further review the combination between startups and expansion of already existing businesses in procuring goods and services.
On privitisation of parastatal which according to minister Kenneth Matambo government will be aggressively pushing, Matsheka said what has been lacking is to push the government entities to business model of operating. “I am hoping that the new dispensation will give them latitude.” He however warned that some parastatals can never be privatised because they have a social function, adding that the country still has too many parastatals. “It is going to be very important that they are looked at and clustered in a manner that allows some to be merged, so that we can streamline operations,” said Matsheka.
Meanwhile, Business Botswana, the country’s apex business body has announced that it is ready to fully participate in the economy and utilise the 45.1 billion proposed for goods and services to create employment. “However, until we sit down and breakdown the 45 billion and know where it is sitting and how accessible it is, the business community cannot be proactive,” said Gobusamang Keebine, Business Botswana President. Keebine said despite the significant procurement budget estimate, BB has its own views and vision, which are being dovetailed close to government initiatives. Commenting on the budget in overall, Keebine said it is an election budget, as opposed to the employment creation line being sold to the nation.
Botswana Savings Bank (BSB) plans to roll out Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) to several villages and towns in its drive to reach more customers and make banking services more accessible.
The state savings owned bank would launch its eighth ATM today in Kang. The launch follows recent launches in other villages and towns across Botswana, including Letlhakeng, Serowe and Francistown. BSB Chief Executive Officer, Nixon Marumoloa said the provision of financial services in areas where the bank is not physically represented is core to BSB strategy.
“The bank is continuously exploring ways to put in place distribution channels for the delivery of financial services in Botswana as a way of extending its outreach and maximizing its brand visibility,” said Marumoloa. He explained that all ATMs are VISA compliant and as a result the ATM will not only service BSB clients but other banks’ clients will also be able to transact.
Last year the Ministry of Transport and Communications formed Botswana Postal and Savings Group (BPSG) company whereby all shares in Botswana Postal Services and Botswana Savings Bank following conversion from statutory entities to public limited companies under the Companies Act, would be held as the 100 percent shareholder.
This was followed by a directive to amalgamate Botswana Post and Botswana Couriers and Logistics into a single entity. The Directive also instructed that BSB be transferred back to Ministry of Finance and Economic Development (MFED). BSB will now partner with the amalgamated entity, BPSL to provide financial inclusion to communities that are unbanked. This will lead to the dissolution of the holding company, BPSG.
Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) listed property company, PrimeTime is optimistic that its retail portifolio will record positive growth, as impasse on licensing of foreign retailers has been resolved.
The company’s 2018 annual report released this week indicate that the occupational retail market is now settling down following a period of uncertainty as foreign retailers’ expansion was impaired by licensing difficulties. “That issue now appears to have been resolved, which has given the sector a renewed confidence,” said Sandy Kelly, Managing Director for Prime Time.
Over the past three years, investment and trade authorities have been at loggerheads with business community over the licensing of foreign retailers. In 2016, 30 percent of South African retailer tenants on Prime Time’s Pilane Mall were denied trading licences by the government, a development that dented the company’s revenues. Apart from retail space, Kelly said office market is developing rapidly on the local market, with new developments in the CBD continuing to rise from the ground and a real critical mass of businesses now located there, pulling more occupiers to the area.
Kelly notes that the property market has seen a rapid expansion over the past years with substantial new space delivered in the office and retail sectors. “Investor appetite for high-quality assets is strong, supporting capital values through competition between buyers for standing institutional grade property. Although competition has compressed yields, there will be investment opportunities in various markets across the country as Botswana grows,” said Kelly. Some of the properties under Prime Time’s portifolio on the local market are Mantlo House already sold above book value, AFA HOUSE undergoing renovations with a new lease signed, The Design Quarter and Ramotswa Shopping Centre. Kelly said several of the company’s properties on the local market are subject to ground leases and as their terms shorten the market value is adjusted accordingly.
“We are at the advanced stages of negotiating a substantial extension on one of these and on purchasing the freehold on another, both of which should be completed in the 2019 financial year.”In Zambia, despite the ups and downs of the copper price and Kwacha in recent years, Prime Time’s footprint is growing due to urbanising population and a general lack of good quality stock.
Kelly said urbanisation and limited stock present a compelling case for the long-term prospects of the property market.“There has also been considerable retail development, which is taking a while to absorb in some areas, especially parts of Lusaka. “However, the overall provision of formal retail space in comparison to other countries in the region is low and will provide opportunities for investment for years to come,” Kelly said.
Government is currently finalizing the review of the National Tourism Policy, which was formulated in 1990, amidst concerns of neglect from the local participants in the industry.
Commenting during the stakeholder briefing last week, Botswana Tourism Organisation (BTO) Chairman Laurence Khupe said Government recognizes the diamond industry ahead of tourism although tourism is the second contributor to GDP. “If you look at linkages, government funding is significantly low. If you look at the roads there are potholes, clearly government is failing somewhere,” said Khupe.
However, he said under the new policy, government will provide financial resources for tourism development and improve its financial contribution to tourism. “All the concerns are noted and we are sure that under the new policy there will be increased funding for tourism marketing and promotion and the development of infrastructure,” said Khupe.
The new draft policy states that government realizes that the sector is narrowly focused on wildlife and wilderness tourism. The development, diversification and expansion of tourism attractions and experiences are prerequisites for the nation to expand its market reach and share.
In her presentation, Botswana Tourism Organization Acting Business Operation Manager, Bigani Setume highlighted that there is a need for tourism investment and business expansion. “We are going to develop a framework of incentives to facilitate investments that meet strategic criteria such as investment in rural areas and investment in diversified products such as cultural and heritage tourism, adventure and sports tourism as well as community based tourism.”
According to the new draft policy, joint ventures between citizens and foreigners have been extremely limited. “Very few tourism related companies have floated their shares for wider citizen participation, community owned and operated ventures have generally not proven successful due to a lack of entrepreneurial drive,” reads the paper.
The paper also states that government will facilitate formation of tourism sector clusters which will be formed by private sector entities and supported by government to promote collective efficiencies and to heighten product and destination competitiveness.
The wait continues as the local sporting fraternity is anxious to learn of the name of the next Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) Chairperson. This is after Solomon ‘Solly’ Reikeletseng, the immediate past Chairperson, resigned a fortnight ago. Names of potential candidates have been thrown around, endorsements made but nobody is certain of anything while only one man, the minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development, Tshekedi Khama is anticipated to bring the matter to conclusion.
The Ministry has explained that the process of finding a suitable candidate is ongoing and a name will be released soon. Meanwhile, National Sport Associations (NSAs) as the key sports deliverables, have wasted no time but came out to define and propose their ideal candidate. Their hope is that the minister brings forward a name that is well acquainted in terms of sports needs. According to some, the ideal candidate should not be an imitation of Reikeletseng but be their own rolling wheel that will drive forward the mandate of BNSC. When speaking to BG Sport in an interview, the President of Botswana Golf Union Enoch Mushango’s words were sharp as an arrow, “Botswana needs new age thinkers with visionary leadership skills and not those who will come and align themselves with certain sport codes. Blind leaders will not take us anywhere, we need strategic thinkers with a firm backbone to make informed decisions,” he said.
Mushango is of the view that NSAs are a reflection of what is happening at club level, with that, associations should be listened to and allowed to express their opinions. He said it was sad that in some instances they are sidelined during meetings, when they should actually be the ones to determine the agenda of the day. If it were up to Mushango, the NSAs would propose the name while the minister assesses all the recommendations before making his final decision. “If the Minister is really looking for quality, he should know better than appointing someone who is not passionate about sport because NSAs will frustrate him and he will be pushed out in no time,” Mushango said. He added that the minister is spoilt for choice as Botswana has many capable minds.
Botswana Karate Association (BOKA) Tshepo Bathai noted that the next chairperson should be someone who is a turnaround specialist with great ethics and a good administrator, “The focus area should be on the review of the current policies because they are not working out for sporting codes, all of them need to be improved,” Bathai said. Bathai added that Tshekedi should appoint someone with a vast experience in sports, public and private service and at least having held executive positions in all those. “Corporate and Board experience is vital because the chairperson will be responsible for directing the BNSC board and management but above all, someone who will be loved and supported by most NSAs,” he said.
Thato Patlakwe, the president of Botswana Boxing Association (BoBA) wants nothing but that the incoming boss pays close attention to schools and club development. Patlakwe is of the view that more attention needs to be paid to development especially at club level saying challenges encountered at that level hinder development. For him, clubs are what make BoBA but because of the limited resources, they are unable to produce desired results. “We appreciate what BNSC is offering but I really wish they can assist clubs, I mean if there are things such as constituency leagues, I do not believe that it would be impossible to offer clubs financial support,” he said.
Maclean Letshwiti of Botswana Football Association (BFA) said that the commission has been in existence for a very long time and perhaps it was time the objectives were revisited and their relevance checked. He explained that the BNSC needs a mature brain that is not only after the top position but will be passionate about the job. Former Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) President Negroes Kgosietsile added that there is need to offload the human resource structure to enhance capacity. “In my opinion, BNSC can do with less staff compared with federations. In doing such we will address capacity without increasing the wage bill,” he said. Kgosietsile expressed concern that athletes' welfare is also limited to some extent because much attention is given to professional athletes, which he said compromises development.
BGSport: You recently resigned from your position as Chairman of the Botswana National Sports Commission. Can you share some of the highlights of your journey at the Commission?
Solly: I took the position at a very young age and back then I did not have the experience I now obviously have. When you are young, you make so many mistakes because you are ambitious. There are so many things you want to achieve and so many things you want to do. You tend to think things are easy when they are not.
BGSport: What were some of the immediate challenges you faced when you took over as BNSC Chairperson?
Solly: When I took over the Commission there was a very big feud between the Botswana National Sports Commission and the Botswana National Olympic Committee. I came in 2011 and found out that the long running feud was a territorial turf war. After my arrival the feud carried on for some time, I did not manage to stop it immediately. Over time we were able to engage in talk to the point where we ended up reviewing the BNSC Act and found a way to co-exist. After some time, there was cordial relations and we came up with separation of duties and eventually signed a Memorandum of Understanding between the two organisations.
BGSport: What are the changes you made upon arrival at the BNSC?
Solly: After dealing with the protracted feud with the BNOC, we focused on restructuring the BNSC. When I came in the BNSC was a huge organisation with so many people, a lot of resources and there was so much money being used in the secretariat than on the actual sports programmes, so I did the restructuring exercise and made it a fit for purpose organisation. I recruited Percy Raditladi from the corporate sector and he came in and went right into business as he was a private sector guy. At the time I was happy that someone like him came in and restructured the organisation. We were now able to be liquid and paid salaries as well as sports programmes.
BGSport: What are some of your career highlights as BNSC chairman?
Solly: One of our major successes was qualifying for the 2012 Afcon finals which was a big thing and the first time in the history of the country. Those young people did well. They were knocked out of the preliminaries but they did well and put up a good fight. A lot of things changed back then as it was not just about playing sports. The Zebras were the only team wearing an African kit, All Kasi kit that was made in Botswana. All Kasi was the brand that people were wearing at the time. Our industry was able to make quality products. This led to other brands like Dlala being born and growing to where they are.
The other thing that I am very proud of is that the same year in 2012 we got a silver medal at the Olympics, getting a silver medal at the Olympics was not a small thing. That was a great thing, the country got united and everybody was happy and then Botswana started becoming number one in athletics especially in the middle distance where we witnessed the likes of Isaac Makwala and Amantle Montsho becoming world champions in 2014. They became millionaires. Even softball we had the best pitcher in the world. It’s not easy to compete with Americans and Japanese. One thing I was involved in and directly pursued was chess, I made it my project; We started having Grand Masters and I took chess under my wing. It doesn’t pull a lot of resources and it was easy for chess to find sponsors and venues.
BGSport: What policies and reforms did you come up with during your tenure?
Solly: We came with a lot of policies and programs and one of the programmes is the BNSC Hall of Fame as veteran sports people were forgotten. That was a great thing. We introduced salaries for national teams starting with volleyball and football. People did not like this at first but eventually, it was working but it was later scrapped of which I never understood and disagreed to. This initiative saw national team players earning a salary whether there was a tournament or not. This meant national team members would have to work hard because they did not want to lose the salary.
BGSport: The BNSC hosted an impressive number of international sport events in a space of five years. How instrumental were you in luring international sporting organisations to Botswana?
Solly: The one international event I played a pivotal role in was the hosting of the International Working Group (IWG) and the WSBC which were hosted in Gaborone. I was also involved in the hosting of the 2014 Africa Youth Games where I was Vice President of Operations, which meant everything that involved sports was under my role, that’s why I ended up moving games from BNOC to BNSC and we delivered excellent games. Another thing that we managed to do was to acquire land from the city council and town councils. The land is zoned for sports and we have land in Kanye, Oodi, Maun and Letlhakane. One of the things I leave, having signed a deal is the High-Performance centre at BFA, I worked with Botswana Football Association president Maclean Letshwiti to get it done. The other project that I signed off is the golf development, this one will be massive, it has hotels, offices, private property, golf course. It is a resort and it is designed to raise money for golf. The golf course will be able to host major games.
BGSport: You are well known for being a former karate athlete. What is your take on the current state of the Botswana Karate Association?
Solly: Before we came in, karate was given a P500 000 grant, but when we came in, they were given P1,2 million and it was a good way for them to be self-sustaining. We made sure they hosted tournaments. As you know there was leadership crisis including coups. The current leaders are not able to work together. They are the most talented sports code in the country. We are going to the Olympic games and Karate can be able to get a medal there. The problem we are having is that the heads of the different styles are not able to work together. So, everyone is protecting their style. They have to make a decision to say no more new styles and then they will win.
BGSport: What are the biggest challenges the BNSC is facing currently? Are there any solutions?
Solly: The biggest problem facing our sport over and above funding is the over reliance on volunteerism. This thing is killing our sport. It is very hard to hold volunteers accountable; they have passion and use the little time and resources they have. What I feel we should move towards at least for Vision 2028 is to have a secretariat for at least five major sporting codes. One other thing that I know I will be unpopular with but I don’t think I have a problem, we cannot manage 43 sporting codes with the same blanket and broom. We get P70 million from government and disburse it to 43 codes, that thing doesn’t work, it’s like running a social programme. We must make a hard decision to pick five sporting codes we can work on and let others work towards letting others to get there. If we get P70 million, we can get P40 million to the five and P30 million to assist the rest. The manner in which we give out individual P1 million grants to everyone has led to some codes not pushing as much as they need to while others end up returning most of the money. Look at cricket, they try a lot, they are serious about the development of sport. Athletics and football have competitive advantage as schools are dedicated to them.
BGSport: May you shed light on the recent transition from Council to Commission?
Solly: With the BNSC commercialisation from council to commission, we have not moved an inch as everyone is still reliant on government. Transition from council to commission is very blurry, it is just the same…. business as usual. Commission said we are a regulator not an implementor but it is still running the development programmes like Re ba bona ha. Commercialisation was meant to have sporting codes operating on their own. We are not supposed to be running things like Botswana Games. That thing doesn’t work, I think we need to review the BURS Act. There must be a tax reform. On the other hand , the Gambling Act must get its act together, it’s too late its 50 years later and there is no benefit. The trivias have been stopped because the Gambling Authority is still setting up regulations. These trivias were important in raising money for sports especially in football. In the UK, gambling is the biggest thing and government is not spending money in sports. There are horse races where people bet instead of watching a race for entertainment only.
BGSport: Do you have any regrets?
Solly: There are so many regrets, it is the kids we lose through the cracks at form 3 and form 5. You may know someone who was very talented at school but they fell off after failing at form three or five. Another thing is that we have failed dismally in decentralisation and everything is done in Gaborone so you can’t do development within a centralized system. The other thing I should have done is to disband the national team and play national league. And set up a group of 10 or 12-year-old put them together and plan four years from now. We should put our resources there and get a coach and have them grow together, right now we just go to the stadium to break our hearts. Freeze it and have a 15-year-old team and have them playing international friendless. Another thing is procurement, we have local products like Dlala and All Kasi we could have focused on.Nevertheless I am not lost to sports, I sit in international bodies. I am also planning to run programmes for young people, like an academy but at a personal level.
BGSport: Do you have any ambitions of joining politics and ultimately become sports minister one day?
Solly: I am going to join politics someday. I think the next general elections I am going to be involved. Sports is my passion I never felt at home doing anything else. I hated people who stopped me from going to karate with a passion. I would die to be a sport minister. It’s something that at some point in my life I would like to do. God willing very soon I will be taking up that post. We have a new president so I would like to make him shine. I have also been the chairman of the Botswana National Youth Council (BNYC), so I have the youth element as well. I resigned before my term concluded but I am in a happy space, I just don’t like some stories going around at the moment.
Botswana Tertiary Students Sport Association (BOTESSA) Vice-President Technical, Keorapetse Setlhare is reported to be positioning himself well to take over as president, BG Sport can confirm. BOTESSA will be going to the polls on the 22nd of February 2019. This comes after the resignation of former president Herbert Letsebe late last year due to ill health.
BG Sport was this week reliably informed by sources within the BOTESSA structures that the man who used to be Letsebe’s right hand man, Setlhare, is gunning for the presidential title. Actually he is the man who is currently in charge of the BOTESSA office since the departure of Letsebe. On paper, it does not seem like an ugly transition of power, where a deputy takes over when his boss steps down, however with BOTESSA contested re- elections, it appears there is more to the matter than meets the eye.
According to highly placed sources, Letsebe and Setlhare’s relationship deteriorated in the last few months leading to Letsebe’s resignation. In fact, it was even alleged that Setlhare has long fancied his chances. At the time, divisions had rocked the association, with issues of unprofessionalism and funds embezzlement prevalent. This saw even some members of the national executive committee suspended from office.
However, things appeared to have stabilized with time and BOTESSA was able to bring in First National Bank Botswana (FNBB) as a sponsor. FNBB pumped a massive P3 Million into BOTESSA coffers. Despite the successes, it is alleged that both Setlhare and Letsebe had lost confidence and trust in each other.
During the association’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) held in Maun in December last year, it was revealed that BOTESSA is knee deep in debt. The debt was reported to be close to two million and was accumulated during the Confederations of University and College Sports Association (CUCSA) Games held back in June 2018. The association has not cleared the debt yet.
Another alleged entrant in the presidential run is Jomo Moalosi, a man who served as a Secretary General (SG) more than eight years ago and is now said to be planning a return to the BOTESSA scenes.Moalosi is alleged to have the support of some affiliates who believe Setlhare is too ambitious and very young for the BOTESSA ultimate position. This would mean the 31-year-old Setlhare will have to prove his mettle against the experienced Moalosi who has been observing developments at BOTESSA for the longest period.
While the build up to the elections heats up, the association spokesperson, Duncan Segabo has revealed that the BOTESSA elections committee met this past weekend under closed doors. The committee is expected to release the opening and closing dates for those intending to contest for the top seat as early as next week.
The elections committee is expected to officially announce the names of nominees once the vetting processes have been concluded. “For now, even those interested are not allowed to publicly say it until their names are approved by the elections committee,” Segabo said.
The annual Yarona FM Music Awards(YAMAs) caused some fashion frenzy this past Saturday at the GICC.
The event was held under the theme, Retro Five in recognition of the awards celebrating five years since inception. A number of locals came out dressed to the nines. The interpretation of the theme was diverse as best gowns were on display for the night.
The ever gorgeous, Masi Sithole was like a dream in a gown that is just out of this world. Mercy Thebe was strikingly beautiful in a Delayna Scott creation. Ever stylish, she is always on point when it comes to dressing up for any occasion.
Fashion designer, Mothusi Lesolle of iZaura was flamingly hot in a red attire from his own collection. Obonye Malope who stole our hearts last year with a Chandida collection was on it again this year. Style is looking forward to next year’s event.
The celebrated and famous Bonang Matheba goes through the same struggles just like any ordinary woman. The South African personality tells this publication in an interview that after a busy day working and pushing her brand, the first thing she looks forward to is to take off her bra.
The jet-setting personality was in the country over the past weekend for the annual YAMA Music Awards, where she was the MC, alongside Loungo Andre Pitse. This interview took place ahead of the awards that suffered a four-hour delay. The delay, it turned out was due to her missing wardrobe and stylist who were apparently stuck in Kenya. It is alleged that, an unnamed designer stepped in at the eleventh hour and saved the day. Letting her body breath by removing her bra is one of two things that she looks forward to doing every time she returns home.
“Taking off my bra is one thing. I think that every woman knows,” she says. The second thing, she loves her telly, reality television shows in particular, especially cooking shows such as Masterchef. Ahead of the awards, she highlighted that her expectation was finding new artists, and that she finds new artists at all the incredible places where she has travelled to. “I am also looking forward to seeing how the industry is doing in Botswana, and how far it is. And what the pop culture is doing,” She explains.
She also says that she has managed to stay relevant in the industry by evolving, and moving at the pace of the world, and staying true to yourself. She also highlights that her secret is finding a place in the world where all of those things fit; adding your own spin to it, being unique, true and authentic. People always reciprocate and react positively to love and passion, and authenticity,” She points out. She also says that it also comes with doing a lot of research, reading and making sure that one is aware of what others are up to.
“It’s hard, but being consciously aware of your surroundings is a great way to start,” says Matheba. Matheba points out that at 31 years, she is nowhere near slowing despite all her success. She says that she is still passionate about what she is doing, and that there is still so much that she wants to do before she can consider calling it a day. “I am very far from that. There are many award shows that I would like to host and a lot of music that I would like to hear; many lives that I would like to change as well as many more places that I would like to go to,” she explains.
She further says that her fans can determine whether there is a difference between Bonang, the brand and Bonang at home. She notes that her reality tv show, Being Bonang, which is currently in production for Season 3 was trying to get them as close as possible to her, and show them the real Bonang. “The reality show is trying to create another avenue for myself, and show a different side to my fans,” she says. Season 3, she explains started shooting in Gaborone, and is one of the many international trips that fans can look forward to in the upcoming season. She also says that she will be moving to New York for a while this year, where she is slated to appear in a documentary film, which she co-produced. The film will be showing at the Manchester Film Festival. She will be working on her lingerie collection and a bagful of other things this year.
“Season 3 has a lot of laughs, a lot of Quotables, and a lot more of my family and international trips,” she notes, adding that her cousin Pinky will also be appearing on the show, and exploring new paths. As for what she eats, besides her love for Mogodu, she says that she eats a lot of chicken wings, rice, potatoes and that she loves bread.
“There are days when I detox, and I go for facials, fasts, and go on diets,” she says adding that there are other things that she gets to do to take care of herself which people don’t get to see. Matheba explains that her life at the moment revolves around her work. And that her job involves a lot of travelling, interacting with people and being away from home. “My job consumes me. My life is perfectly balanced at the moment. And when that comes I will find a way of balancing that too,” she says referring to having her own family.
The metropolitan that is Gaborone was a launch pad for one of the most creative recording artist, DJ, record producer and businessman namely Oscar Bonginkosi Mdlongwa popularly known as Oskido. Long before he became one of the most sought after and highly successful creative that he is today, he used to practice his craft in the streets of Gaborone. Last Friday, he shared with an audience at the Yarona FM Music Awards workshop held at Masa Hotel his humble beginnings in the music industry, and his journey in this cut throat industry.
According to Oskido, his love for music dates back to the eighties. For him, he says that it was about passion and unlike some artists, it was not for reasons such as scoring points with girls, and other reasons. He narrates that in the late 80’s, he watched the Beat Street movie, and it was then that he told himself that he would like to emulate the characters in the movie; to one day go into boardrooms, striking deals.In 1989, his life changed when he came upon house music. The music was not easily available, but was popular in taverns. A friend came up with this idea that they needed to come to Botswana, and that the music would be a hit this side. That is how his career started. He shares that they would hire equipment, and started playing the music in places such as Gaborone and Francistown.
“Botswana became the forefront of the movement of house music,” he explains. It was about that when he met with Skizo. They would play in Gaborone and travel to Francistown. He notes that at one of the gigs in Francistown, a young boy came over with 4 or 5 records, and he started to touch their turntables. This young fascinated boy was later given a chance, and it turned out that it was none other than DJ Fresh. At that time, they were playing songs by artists such as Maxi Priest, Aaliyah, and Shabba Ranks. The public was hungry for this type of music, and they wanted access to it but it was not easily available. While working at Razzmatazz club, he started reproducing the music for one record label.
Soon, he realised that the people who were selling the music were just like him, DJ’s. His cassettes were also big, and back then he was trading under the name Oscar the Big O, and was later called Oscar wa rona. The company later changed names to Kalawa Jazmee when (it joined hands with Trompies label, Jazmee). Always curious, he notes that an encounter with Don Laka changed his fortunes. Laka had a studio at home, and they decided to establish Kalawa Records, one of the record labels that has produced the most successful South African artists. The name Kalawa comes from the last two letters of their surnames. At the time Oskido often used Warona. The other founder of Kalawa is DJ Christos Katsaitis, who left the company in 1995. One of their first projects was Boom Shaka. The musical outfit released Its about time in 1993.
“This was during the era of bubble gum music,” he explains, noting that it was not easy breaking through in the music industry. One of the record companies that they knocked on was EMI. After waiting for five hours, they were informed that their music would not work. “They told us that we should throw away the music. But we believed in it,” he says. He also notes that him, and Christos had already tested the music, and they had seen how the audience responded to it. “We were playing it in the underground scene, and we knew that it was working,” he explains. And so they decided that they would press the cassettes themselves. Despite threats from those who were controlling the music industry, he says that they soldiered on. The next step was to approach the Indian business people who were willing to sell the cassettes on their behalf. As for marketing the music, they ventured into university campuses, as well as taxi ranks. Soon their fortunes started to change, and the demand for their music grew.
In 1994, the musical landscape started changing, and they were already working on the next artist. Prior to this, EMI called them for a meeting. Instead of giving them the middle finger, they decided to attend the meeting. Arriving at the meeting, they found a director of the company from abroad who wanted to sign them. They flatly refused the deal, which entailed royalties, marketing, and packaging. This, he says was something that they had been doing themselves, and it was nothing new for them. “We told them to take out marketing as we had been doing that without radio. Royalties, we knew how to calculate them, and we didn’t want that,” he says.
He also says as a team they realised that because their demand was high, they were eating into their profits when it came to distribution. For example, they would send a driver to come and deliver music to Botswana, and this would reduce their profits. That is how they became the first company in South Africa to sign a distribution deal with EMI. “ËMI got 20% and we got 80%,” says Oskido. He also shared with the audience that in life when one door closes, they are opening a bigger door for you. He further advised that those who have a strong belief in something, should go for it.
Quizzed on how he has remained relevant through the years, he says that he has mastered the ability to change. While working on one project, he says that the company was already thinking about their next project. For example, when Boom Shaka was riding high, they were picked up by Bongo Maffin, followed by Mafikizolo. “You always have to be thinking about Plan B,” says Oskido. He further says that they signed Black Motion, Maphorisa, Dr Malinga, and Uhuru as a combo, and started grooming them.
With all this success, he explains that he strongly believes that the more one gives, the more God gives them. One of the people that he mentored, and showed him the ropes was none other Dj Tira. Today, Tira is trending, and his creation Gqom is setting ablaze clubs everywhere.
“Success must be measured by how people you have picked or helped are doing,” he explains. Others that he has helped include Dj Black Coffee. The DJ who is one of the most successful DJ in the region playing at top venues across the world started off by always bothering Oskido. He went as far as following Oskido to his house, and the rest is history.