In a bid to restore confidence and bring about good results the Ministry of Basic Education is holding workshops around the country in regions to ensure uniformity in applying teaching skills.
Speaking to Botswana Guardian, Coordinator of School Turn Around, Tshwarelo Hosia revealed that they have been running workshops for the regions and so far they have covered five regions being Gantsi, Kgalagadi, Kgatleng, North West and Chobe.
The strategy wants schools to worry less about external factors because there has been a culture of shifting the blame, diverting attention from the school to outside forces.
“We are saying even in the worst case scenario, if families were to become dysfunctional, schools must become functional. We are saying it is the duty of a principal to establish a unique and distinct culture which is different from the village culture. A student must realise that they are on holy ground which is different from where he comes from,” said Hosia.
According to him the school head should establish a culture of hard work, a culture of reading by the manner in which he manages his own school. That is why no turn around strategy in the world has ever taken place without a strong principal. In fact, research says that there is a direct and intimate link between leadership and results. “That is why as we move about, the response is overwhelming; our principals- you can ask them all over the region that we have covered- are saying that this workshop is one of a kind.
Unique because for the first time it is taking us to what we know we should be doing and we have not been doing. “For in instance, we are taking the principals back to tried and tested methods which somewhat fell by the wayside. We are saying what is wrong with common planning, with common scheming, collaborative teaching, with peer teaching”?
Teachers in the same department are working in silos and not necessarily as a team to support one another. The strategy says it is the duty of the principal to ensure that first of all there is harmony in the department; the school should become a professional learning community where there is exchange of notes and ideas on the best instructional practices. “We are saying every day is an opportunity for the school to be better than yesterday.
Everything rests with the principal, knowing your teachers well means you know their strengths and weaknesses. It is the duty of the principal to ensure that gaps are identified and closed”.Further teachers must be assisted on issues of lesson preparation, is this lesson planned, examining the quality of the lesson plan and how well the lesson plan will help the learners to learn better.
“What is happening now is that people are lesson planning for the purpose of compliance because the school says that they should plan and they prepare lesson plans which are not necessarily scrutinised to check issues of quality. People are assessed occasionally for purposes of filling the performance forms but not necessarily to improve the instructions every day. This is where the problem is because performance improvement is seen as an external imposition,” he said.
The strategy came following the appointment of Dr. Collie Monkge as Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Basic Education. It is a component of the Education Training Sector Strategic Plan (ETSSP) coupled with a research that was done by the Ministry of Education.
The Ministry had engaged Professor Kipper as consultant to look into why academic achievement levels are very low in the ministry of basic education. Some of Professor Kipper’s observations were that the ministry must strengthen governance and accountability in schools since Principals had taken their feet off the pedal regarding supervision of the classroom. The strategy is about ensuring that the principal gets involved in classroom issues.
“The teachers are coming from the same colleges and University of Botswana; they are the same as they have the same qualifications. Therefore what will differ is management, how the principal is managing the resources. Issues of deployment are the responsibility of the principal to ensure that he knows his teachers very well, who can teach a standard seven class, a low class, who can teach pure sciences and for what reason”.
Hosea said they have been advising the teachers that the allocation of classes for results is the prerogative of the school head but that teachers say they want the classes to be allocated on a rotational basis. The Turn Around on the other hand demands that the principal use data as a basis for allocating classes. It is about getting the principal back into the classroom.
The principal must assume his rightful place as an instructional leader in the school set up. The principal cannot confine himself in office when the school is not really doing well. “We are saying the quality of a school cannot exceed the quality of the principal or teachers”.
The principals are being asked if they know what they are looking for when they go to observe a lesson. This is so, because sometimes people observe the teacher and care little about the learner. “We remind the principals to look at the learners what are they doing and saying –a teacher can dramatise the lesson, teach to impress the one who is observing”.
Hosea says that during the observation one must ensure that all different cognitive skills are covered. This is because at times teachers complain that learners are unable to comply. The teacher determines the attitude of the learners. “There is the issue of professional development, some people think it means the ministry must send you for further studies abroad, others say the in service department has died, well there is an element of truthiness in it, but where does professional development begin?
It begins at school level, when receiving new teachers, how does the principal immerse the new arrivals into the professional culture? Teachers can go as high as the principal wants them to go”.Hosea said at the moment the culture of teaching is not about resources, it has collapsed because students are not given enough practice and feedback on time. “Much as we appreciate there are challenges in resources, but the biggest resource at the disposal of the principal is the teacher”.
Stakes are high at Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Gaborone South constituency as Bulela-Ditswe date draws nearer with fears that the election will be compromised.
Botswana Guardian has established that all is not well in the constituency as the voters’ roll is being contested by some candidates on grounds that there has been voter trafficking. News of trafficking broke out this week when verification was being done.
The two camps of Monametsi Abel Kalayamotho and Dumizweni Meshack Mthimkhulu, who are both vying for the Parliamentary seat, have for some time been at crossroads.
This has now affected the council candidates aligned to them. Information gathered by this publication is that two letters complaining of voter trafficking have so far been written.
“The election might not happen because some of the candidates are disgruntled and want the election for Gaborone South to be postponed. There are also claims that some of the people who have been registered do not appear in the voters’ roll,” said a source close to the developments.
This publication has it on good authority that members of Political Education and Electoral Committee (PEEC) tried to intervene on Monday this week with the aim of putting the matter to rest. It has since emerged that some of the candidates and their teams would not compromise and get along to participate in the elections. PEEC is expected to make its decision on the matter this week.
Some members are said to have called for recovery of all the books that were used during registration so that names could be cross-checked. However, the unfortunate part is that the former Branch Secretary, with whom the books were kept, passed away recently. Thus it has proved hard to have the books recovered. The PEEC meeting in the constituency follows another one which was held by Central Committee member Tebogo Masire last week.
During the meeting which was a pre-counselling for candidates, Masire appealed for calm and peace during campaigns. He implored the candidates to work together during this internal process so that at the end the BDP would be able to defend the constituency as a united force. He encouraged the candidates to reconcile following their recent complaints against each other regarding campaigns.
Gaborone South Branch Chairman Alfred Moatlhaping confirmed the complaints but stated that there is no how elections would not continue. He said what was missing was the master registration book.
“I have gone to the party office to look for the copy of the master registration book. I have managed to locate registration books which we would annex and avail to the candidates. I have the situation under control and everything will fall into place. We are going to the polls like other constituencies next week,” Moatlhaping pointed out.
Between April and June this year the two camps were firing from all cylinders in a bid to have one of the candidates fall during vetting. At the centre of controversy were accusations from both camps of campaigning before time. Letters flew from one office to the other as the smear campaign by both teams intensified.
Mthimkhulu’s team has written letters to BDP Secretary General Mpho Balopi complaining that Kalayamotho, who transferred his membership from Gaborone Bonnington North to Gaborone South, engaged in early campaign by hosting activities at Old Naledi and branding and distributing t-shirts to constituents with the aim of luring them to vote for him in August this year. Letters seen by this publication also questioned Kalayamotho’s membership transfer.
The complainants say the transfer was done under dubious circumstances. An Entrepreneurship Summit which Kalayamotho hosted at Old Naledi and Bontleng Halls on the 17 May 2018 to reach out to the unemployed has also been cited as one of his campaign tactics for votes. He is said to have resorted to use such a stunt because he arrived in the constituency late and is only using his financial muscle to buy popularity.
Kalayamotho’s team has hit back and written to Branch Committee accusing Mthimkhuku’s team of applying underhand tactics to canvass for votes. Mthimkulu’s team is said to campaign by organising activities such as soccer tournaments and buying alcohol for constituents in exchange for them to register so as to vote for Mthimkhulu. It is also alleged that a WhatsApp Group page has been opened which is used for campaigning - a platform the BDP has indicated should not be used.
Power struggle and hunger for power is what has landed Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) at loggerheads over the appropriate Constitution to be filed with Registrar of Societies, Botswana Guardian has learnt.
Following the filing of the Constitution by President Advocate Duma Boko and one of the Vice Presidents, Dumelang Saleshando who is also President of Botswana Congress Party (BCP) two UDC contracting partners Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) and Botswana People’s Party (BPP) wrote objecting letters through their Secretary Generals.
The Constitution submitted by Advocate Boko and Saleshando provided for one Vice President and gave powers to the UDC congress and the President. The Vice President would be the running mate for the president during the general election.
The letters written to the Registrar of Societies indicate that since UDC is made up of four contracting partners the constitution must be signed by all in order to be registered.
On the other hand, the Constitution that the BMD and BPP approve of has provision for two vice presidents. According to the Constitution once UDC is in power 1st Vice President would be the country’s vice president. BMD has all along maintained that it occupies the seat of 1st Vice President within the UDC. The argument has been that BCP is a new comer in the UDC. However, UDC leader Advocate Duma Boko has on several occasions indicated that there is no 1st and 2nd Vice Presidents within the UDC.
He stated that they are all equal but perform different roles. If this Constitution is approved and UDC wins power, BMD leader Advocate Sidney Pilane would be Botswana’s Vice President according to Article 11.2 of the Constitution.
Article 11.4 the Chairperson of the UDC shall be the Senior Minister of the cabinet of Republic of Botswana when UDC is in power. BPP President Motlatsi Molapisi is UDC Chairman.
This means when UDC attains power, Molapisi would be minister for presidential affairs. It is yet to be seen what would be the way forward once the Registrar of Societies has acted on all the documents before his office.
Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) could face a backlash from employees through court action if the union forges ahead with salary cuts.
A fortnight ago the union employees were informed that the union of choice as BOPEU is affectionately known, is going through financial difficulties. It was announced at the meeting that this therefore forces the union to reverse its decision of last year of implementing a new pay structure. In 2017, BOPEU restructured the organisational chart and introduced a new one in which a new pay structure was introduced effective beginning of November. The new structure followed the engagement of a consultant to carry out an audit.
Now employees are up in arms and have dared the employer to go back on the decision eight (8) months later. The reversal is expected to be effective this month but letters which were to be given to the employees have not been availed. BOPEU has branches in Palapye, Francistown, Maun, Kang, Head office and BOPEU College. Information gathered by Botswana Guardian suggests that the employees have already identified a lawyer who will take up the matter.
“While we engage the lawyer we would at the same time engage in a go-slow. We do not understand why the employer would want to change now after eight months. What is interesting is that prior to implementing the new structure, they had engaged a consultant who looked at all the factors to be considered. Our expectation is that financial statements were looked into and projections taken into consideration and how BOPEU has been performing financially,” said a source at head office.
The union leadership is said to have implemented the pay structure in November last year before implementing the organisational structure which was only done early this year. It has since emerged that the National Executive Committee had given a go ahead for the implementation of the organisational structure and not the pay structure.
Information gathered is that some branches have made their presentation to the management querying the pending reversal. Only the head office is yet to make its case heard after they met last week Friday.
“It would be suicidal for the employer to do that. Legally it is unheard of to cut salaries. What we have noticed is that the management is trying to employ a divide and rule tactic among us as they say this is consultation but we understand they want to implement this month (July). We are currently waiting for letters of notification for the implementation. Initially we were to be given the letters before going for the long holidays.
“As to what is delaying them to usher the letters has not been communicated to us. We understand a letter has been written to General Secretary Topias Marenga by President Masego Mogwera and First Deputy President, Martin Gabobake to have the salary changes reversed. But this is despite the fact that they are also the ones that authorised for the implementation of the new structure,” said a source.
It is alleged that increments are ridiculous under the new structure. As people were being moved to other
Water Utilities Corporation (WUC) on Wednesday shut down the Borolong plant in Maun, to start the works of replacing the malfunctioning Actifio Clarifier pump and filter unit.
Acting Corporate Communications Manager at WUC, Beauty Mokoba told Botswana Guardian that the new works at the plant are expected to resolve the discerning colour currently observed in Maun. She said the works would be done jointly with the plant contractor, Veolia Water Technologies and is expected to complete mid this month.
Mokoba said WUC procured the components and equipment required to undertake the works from South Africa at the tune of P1.4 million. She said that Delta water tends to be different from perennial and ephemeral rivers as the water is subject to drying up and flooding.
She said this consequently makes the water quality to change with the flooding of the river as turbitides and colour tend to be enhanced. Asked if the plant water plant station was inspected before the plant came into operation, Mokoba responded in the affirmative.
“All major projects undertaken by WUC are subjected to Environmental Assessment which basically informs the impact of the projects on the environment,” she said. She explained that, however an analysis of raw water is carried out to inform the design of the plant while the water demand on the other side informs the size of the plant.
Mokoba said that as a result of the plant closure, water shortage is expected in Maun during the maintenance period. She explained that this is because the water will be supplied drawn from boreholes which only produce five million litres of water per day, down from the 11 million litres of water that is currently supplied to Maun when Borolong Plant is in operation.
“As a mitigation measure, the corporation will ration the water in line with the drawn rationing schedule,” explained Mokoba. Borolong plant is located in Borolong ward near Maun General Clinic and it supplies water to more than 60 percent of the Maun village.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Gaborone South Constituency is marred by controversy as campaign teams jostling for the area clash on a collision course, Botswana Guardian has learnt.
The constituency will pit Gaborone- based lawyer Meshack Mthimkhulu with businessman Monametsi Kalayamotho in the contest for party representation. The party top brass have also been implicated in the matter as they are accused of having dumped Mthimkhulu for Kalayamotho.
Botswana Guardian understands that Mthimkhulu, who joined BDP from Botswana National Front (BNF) after the 2014 general election was promised that like most of the new recruits he would not be subjected to the process of Bulela Ditswe. Mthimkhulu contested the 2014 general election as an independent candidate after he lost BNF primary elections.
It is alleged that Mthimkhulu was at the time recruited to the BDP by Mokgweetsi Masisi who chaired the Communications and International Relations Committee and promised a clear ride as area Member of Parliament Kagiso Molatlhegi would not be seeking re-election. Mthimkhulu and Kalayamotho are said to be close to President Masisi but the wind now seems to be blowing in the direction of Kalayamotho.
While having enjoyed the blessing from the party leadership both from branch level to Central Committee, tables turned against Mthimkhulu this year when Kalayamotho made his way into the constituency. It is alleged that Kalayamotho was tipped to challenge Annah Mokgethi who was recruited from the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) but he was convinced to relocate to Gaborone South a constituency he grew up in. This was because Mokgethi was also allegedly promised not to be subjected to primary elections.
Now the opposing teams of Mthimkhulu and Kalayamotho are firing from all cylinders in a bid to have one of the candidates fall during vetting.
The duo has successfully managed to forward names for expression of interest to contest in the constituency before closing date a fortnight ago. Vetting is ongoing in the constituencies that would go for primaries in August this year including Gaborone South.
At the centre of controversy are accusations from both camps of campaigning before time.
Letters are flying from one office to the other as a smear campaign by both teams. Mthimkhulu’s team has written letters to BDP Secretary General Mpho Balopi complaining that Kalayamotho, who transferred his membership from Gaborone Bonnington North to Gaborone South, engaged in early campaign by hosting activities at Old Naledi and branding and distributing t-shirts to constituents with the aim of luring them to vote for him in August.
Letters seen by this publication also question Kalayamotho’s membership transfer. The complainants argue that they sense the transfer was done under dubious circumstances. A recent Entrepreneurship Summit which Kalayamotho hosted at Old Naledi and Bontleng Halls on 17 May 2018 to reach out to the unemployed has also been cited as one of his campaigns for votes. He is said to have resorted to using such a stunt because he has arrived in the constituency late and is only using financial muscle to gain popularity.
On the other hand, Kalayamotho’s team has hit back and written to Branch Committee accusing Mthimkhuku’s team of applying underhand tactics to canvass for votes. Mthimkulu’s team is said to be campaigning by organising activities such as soccer tournaments and buying alcohol for constituents in exchange for them to register so as to vote for him.
It is also alleged that a WhatsApp Group page - a platform the BDP has indicated should not be used for campaigns - has been opened and is being used for campaigning. Candidates for the August 2018 Bulela-Ditswe will only be allowed to campaign after 13th July 2018 and will be allowed to use only house to house campaigns.
Kalayamotho told this publication that it would be against BDP rules and regulations to address the media on such matters. He stated that only the branch committee and secretary general would be in a position to comment. Regarding his transfer, he said he worked within the party rules and Branch leadership can attest to his claims. He told this publication that people are quick to run to the media to discuss internal affairs, which is wrong.
Mthimkhulu refuted claims that he has been campaigning in the constituency. He labelled this as a smear campaign to have him vetted out. “I have not carried myself in any manner that violates the BDP Constitution and or Rules and Regulations. I am also not aware of any complaint against me because even the Branch Committee. has not notified me,” said Mthimkhulu who referred further inquiries to the branch committee
Gaborone South Branch Chairman Alfred Moatlhaping said Kalayamotho followed proper channels to have his membership transfer. He said the complaints about Kalayamotho’s campaign were conveyed to the central committee and not the branch committee. “We would not address a matter that was not brought before my committee.
Those people flouted our rules and there is no how we could help them as the branch. So we will wait for the Central Committee to undertake its investigations and report to us the findings,” said Moatlhaping.
He pointed out that he has been made aware of a letter of complaint from Kalayamotho by the Branch Secretary. Moatlhaping said he has not seen the letter, adding that he would know the contents of the letter this week during a Branch Committee meeting. Balopi has indicated that all complaints are directed to lower structures to address so that the central committee could deal with such matters at a higher level as appeals.
Balopi has revealed recently that the party’s Political Education and Election Committee is engaged in mass registration across the country and attending to constituencies that are marred by controversies regarding registration and campaigns. He said this is to deal with claims that some of the structures are captured by some of Bulela-Ditswe candidates.
Molatlhegi won the constituency in 2014 with 3,872 votes, followed by Murray Dipate of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) with 3,629, Akanyang Magama of Botswana Congress Party (BCP) with 2,318 and Mthimkhulu, then an independent candidate coming last with 1,475 votes.
Stanbic Bank Botswana, one of the top four banks in the country is banking on personal markets as well as business banking divisions to drive its growth for the current year, acting Chief Executive Sam Minta has disclosed.
He was sharing information with Botswana Guardian at a media gathering after the bank was chosen as the best bank in Botswana by Global Finance Magazine recently.
The move by the bank to target retail banking for its growth could be a surprise to many as most of the bank’s growth has been coming from investment and corporate banking since they set foot in the country more than 25 years ago.
Minta, who is the substantive Chief Finance Officer, is mindful of the fact that consumers’ disposal incomes have taken a nosedive as a result of consecutive salary adjustments, which were less than inflation in most instances. Equally, the recent rise of petrol prices, electricity as well as inflation will surely put consumers under pressure, basically limiting their ability to get additional credit commitments and related services. Minta, who is seen as potential the candidate to replace Leina Gabaraane as Chief Executive, told the press that they will also increase their digital banking platforms which are a hit with both retail and business banking clients.
The bank’s digital platforms, which have seen the bank partnering with some service providers in the country, will also mean more customers will make less frequent visits to branches as they can now conduct their banking online. Personal and business banking contributed P37 million to the company’s P205 million profits after tax in the year ended December 2017.
The division was moving from a P6 million loss the year before.
“This is (was) a culmination of a strong PBB leadership, strategic investments into people, channels and systems,” said the bank in a statement announcing its 2017 results.
The bank, which is a unit of Standard Bank, Africa’s largest bank by assets, is planning to grow its business banking unit, which will see them supporting small, medium and large enterprises which in the end can create the much needed jobs in Botswana.
Stanbic has been increasing its network of Automated Teller Machines to deal with consumer traffic, stated Head of Marketing, Stephane Stoneham.
Some of its ATMs have also been replaced with ‘modern ones,’ added Stoneham who joined the bank from rival Barclays Bank Botswana some few years ago.
Meanwhile, the bank's head of human capital, Chedza Balopi heaped praises on the bank’s staff adding that they have enabled them to get the bank of the year award from Global Finance Magazine.
She adds that the bank is fortunate to be part of Standard Bank group as this enables them to have fit for purposes employees.
The bank snatched the award in Botswana, as it has been consistent in offering expertise and relationships to assist clients, and negotiate complex financial and regulatory cross-border environments.
“This is done through the bank’s digital journey, customer-centricity and efforts towards providing a universal bank experience,” said Global Finance Magazine in a statement.
“As Stanbic Bank Botswana, we aim to remain consistent in providing universal banking solutions that help move our people forward. Botswana is our home and we will continue to invest in driving the growth of our communities and clients,” said Minta.
President Ian Khama pulled a surprise again this week when he took a backseat and didn’t bid former President Sir Ketumile Masire farewell during the Memorial Service at the University of Botswana.
This conduct fuelled suspicion that Khama has not got over what he considered criticism of his government by Masire when he gave a eulogy at the funeral of Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) President Gomolemo Motswaledi in Serowe in 2014.
Indicators that there was no love lost between the two men were clearly visible when as head of state Khama did not announce Masire’s passing last week but instead delegated the assignment to his Senior Private Secretary Brigadier George Tlhalerwa. The development was this week slammed by former Ambassador to USA, Tebelelo Seretse as un-cultural. It is said that at the time of the death announcement Khama was attending the ground breaking for the construction of Mohembo Bridge. His silence sparked debate among Batswana who began tracing the sour relationship back to the funeral of Motswaledi. During the memorial service at the University of Botswana this Wednesday, Khama who attended did not take to the podium to console the nation and the multitudes that thronged the memorial service.
Expectation was that Khama would either address the nation as head of state or leader of Botswana Democratic Party or both. On behalf of the party Khama delegated former BDP chairman Dr Ponatshego Kedikilwe while Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi spoke on behalf of government. It was not stated as to why the president would not speak to the nation about the father of the nation. At press time it was not clear if Khama would speak at the funeral, which took place in Kanye village yesterday (Thursday). It was expected that Masire as one of the longest serving President and being one of the founding fathers of BDP, Khama would have taken the opportunity to speak about his illustrious work for both the party and the country.Early this week there were media reports that Khama cornered the Masire family to bury him on Thursday as opposed to the weekend. In fact Botswana Guardian sister publication The Midweek Sun reports that Masire’s blood brothers revealed that the Thursday burial was agreed at the request of President Khama.
A delegation led by Minister for Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration Eric Molale and family spokesperson Tebogo Masire held a media briefing on Monday this week where they dismissed the claims saying the date was amicably agreed. Khama was reported to have indicated that he would not be able to make it to the funeral if it is on Saturday because he has other engagements.
Family spokesperson and former Commander of Botswana Defence Force Tebogo Masire said the dates were discussed among family members and they settled for Thursday. He stated that they did not want to disrupt other people’s programmes but was quick to dismiss that such programme is for a particular person and not Batswana at large who would have wanted to pay their last respect to the father of the nation.
Bank of Botswana (BoB), the regulator of commercial banks this week allayed fears that the multibillion Pula sector is headed for a second liquidity squeeze in a period of less than two years.
Botswana Guardian understands that between December and January this year, there has been a notable increased activity within the interbank lending market, a clear sign that some commercial banks were short of liquidity to keep their respective operations running. Two years ago, the central bank was forced to devise a rescue plan to bailout the then embattled banking industry which was experiencing liquidity challenges, which limited their ability to generate fresh loans.
At the time, BoB injected P2, 3billion in the industry, after relaxation of Primary Reserve Requirement (PRR) to keep the industry alive. However, there are signs that the sector, which accounts for half the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) might fall into a similar crisis. However, BoB said there is no need to press panic buttons, as the industry is sound.
At a Press conference to announce the Monetary Policy Committee decision on lending rate this week, central bank executives admitted that there have been increased lending activities among banks in the past months. “We are not denying it (liquidity squeeze). This is coming from temporary factors such as reduced government spending and increased demand for funds during the said months (January and December),” newly promoted Head of Financial Markets department, Matthew Wright told Botswana Guardian.
“Some banks might have been short of funds, but they never came to us,” he said. Wright told the Press that, some temporary factors that could have resulted in limited funds in the market include increased demand for foreign currencies, especially during the holiday period when most locals were travelling to foreign countries. “This explains why some banks borrowed funds from each other,” he stressed. During the 2014/15 liquidity squeeze that was experienced within the local banking market, some banks turned away clients under the pretext that they did not meet their lending criteria. However, this time around, there have not been instances where clients are turned down purely because of limited funding.
“We have not come across an instance where a productive project is turned down because of limited funds within the banking industry,” disclosed BoB Governor, Moses Pelaelo. Pelaelo, who succeeded Linah Mohohlo last year, said they are keeping a close eye on developments related to a possible liquidity squeeze before they can act. Despite fresh information suggesting that the local bank might be teetering on the brink of a credit squeeze, some commercial banks’ profits are picking.
Listed commercial bank, First National Bank Botswana has reported a 9 percent increase in profits.
Barclays Bank Botswana, is also expecting improved results in the year that ended December 2016. Meanwhile, BoB’s Monetary Policy Statement (MPS) released this week shows that, banks extended less money to clients in the past year. Annual growth in commercial banks’ credit decreased from 7.1 percent in December 2015 to 6, 2 percent in December 2016.
“The slowdown in annual credit expansion was mostly associated with the decrease in growth in lending to households,” said the report. The bank attributed the fall in households to restrained growth in personal incomes. Property loans declined in the past year. Bank executives attributed the decline to a ‘weak property market’.
Annual growth in mortgages declined from 7, 2 percent to 6, 3 percent. Meanwhile, the central bank reported in the same MPS that credit to the mining sector declined mainly because of BCL loan repayment in December 2016. BCL which has been placed on voluntary liquidation received a loan of about P1billion from Barclays Bank Botswana early last year. The loan, which was guaranteed by government, has since been repaid in full.
Botswana Guardian can safely reveal that the unnamed preferred bidder identified by Botswana Government to develop an additional 300MW power supply by extending Morupule B, is the Japanese multinational diversified trading and investment conglomerate, Marubeni Corporation.
Advocate Sadique Kebonang, the Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security recently told Parliament that government was in the process of procuring Independent Power Producers (IPPs) for the development of an additional 300 MW by extending Morupule B with units 5 & 6, each with capacity of 150 Megawatts (MW).However, he did not name the preferred bidder save to say that the procurement process was at the stage of “financial closure,” which he said was expected to be concluded before the end of this year. In fact, Botswana Guardian can this week confirm that Cabinet signed the contract for Units 5 & 6 this week Tuesday amidst opposition from certain ministers that have vested interests as well as opposition from environmentalists.
Marubeni Corporation was founded in 1858 and its focus in Africa include power and other infrastructure projects, as well as projects aligned to industrial diversification imperatives of the region as well as initiatives catering to domestic demand in the commodity field. Marubeni’s association with Morupule B came to light late last month during a joint investment mission undertaken by Embassy of Japan in Botswana and Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC) to South Africa.
The mission engaged the 62-member Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industries at the offices of Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO) on the 4th Floor, West Tower along Nelson Mandela Square in Sandton, Johannesburg.It was here that Chairman of the Chamber, who also doubles as Marubeni Corporation’s Regional Chief Operations Officer (COO) for Africa and General Manager of the Johannesburg Branch, Takashi Yao, confirmed his corporation’s engagement in Botswana.
He said it was true they were preparing to come to Morupule B as Independent Power Producers engaged by Botswana government. He expressed sincere hope that the deal would mark the beginning of a long partnership between Japanese companies and Botswana, a country, he said was unique for its high economic growth trajectory and political stability. Addressing the Japanese investors earlier on, BITC Chief Executive Letsebe Sejoe had said that the commissioning of the two electrical power generation stations was “quite advanced” with discussions ongoing between the two parties. “Just one or two final details need to be agreed and as I understand, it’s just the conclusion of the IPP and we will be able to commission that plant.”It’s expected that commissioning will come on line within 42 months.
Asked by Kaentaro Yoshikawa, an Earth Observation Adviser at South African National Space Agency (SANSA) Earth Observation why Botswana does not rely more on Japan’s expertise for power generation, Sejoe responded;“This is why we are here; we want to talk about that,” he said, adding that lessons learnt in the past have compelled them for the first time ever in their relationship, to gravitate closer to Japan. “Botswana is reaching out more and more to Japan and we will continue to do that because the relationship has to be a strong win-win for both parties, and we think maybe with Japan we will win.”Marubeni Corporation has 132 offices in the world including 12 in Africa.
Its activities include power projects, plants, infrastructure, logistics, finance, industrial machinery to real estate development and construction. The corporation has always been on BITC’s radar. Reitumetse Aphiri, BITC Executive Director for Investment Promotion has been courting this multinational since her days at the defunct Botswana Export Development and Investment Agency (BEDIA).She told Botswana Guardian during the investment mission to Joburg - in which she had accompanied Sejoe along with SA-based Moshie Ratse, the Executive Director for International Business - that Marubeni Corporation was currently doing an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for Morupule B expansion as well as looking for office space in Gaborone.
Further investigations by this publication turned up information that the signing of the deal was delayed by farm owners in the Morupule area and others that have bought fields and are now demanding prodigious sums in compensation from government.
One interested party who is said to have asked for P25 million in compensation this week declined to comment on the issue because he was conflicted by reason of his employment to Debswana, the company that owns Morupule. The joint investment mission to South Africa was hosted by JETRO Africa Region Executive Director Hiroyuki Nemoto and led by Japan’s Ambassador to Botswana, H.E. Masahiro Onishi and Letsebe Sejoe, BITC’s chief executive. Earlier this year, President and Chief Executive Officer of Marubeni Corporation Fumiya Kokubu attended the sixth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD 6) in Nairobi, Kenya.