Umbrella for Democratic Change President, Duma Boko has sent a chilling warning to Botrswana Democratic Party, that they know who the purveyors of corruption are and that their “time to eat is up”. Addressing the media on Monday in Gaborone Boko said that the corruption and abuse seen across all sectors of government was and is still a function of institutions deliberately designed to preclude any robust oversight and probing accountability.
Accountability, he said, is about a detailed account of the real costs and benefits of any trip or outing by the President and organs of the state to give the nation an “accurate visual and aural understanding of what actual value the nation derives from all these adventures”. He dismissed all the existing institutions as either, weak and tepid in the execution of their mandates or destitute of any ounce of credibility.
Turning to the National Petroleum Fund saga, Boko said these problems and challenges cannot be addressed by way of changing the faces of Presidents while retaining the same system and organisation that brought these problems to the nation. “We know who they are and we will smoke them out. Their time to eat is up,” he warned. He said the ascendance of Dr. Mokgweetsi Masisi of the Botswana Democratic Party to the high office of President of Botswana is but a “frail and fitful palliative” that can only “mollify but not uproot” the causes of all these maladies.
The UDC leader said this was so because all the leaders of BDP, past and present, are complicit in the mess “we have and are culpable without exception”. Boko pointed out that the current problems in the country require systemic solutions with a comprehensive forensic audit of all government institutions to determine what happened and how the controls and processes failed.
However he said the challenges that face the country have been troubling the nation for decades since independence. The country still groans under high rate of unemployment and lack of opportunities for its people. “The health care system is most appalling and deplorable; marked and defined by a demoralised workforce, acute shortages of essential and basic medication as well as chronic inefficiency and wastage.
“Our education system continues to deteriorate at an alarming pace, spelling doom and disaster for many young people and their families, and wreaking havoc on the whole nation. Corruption and wanton abuse of office have run amok in our country”. Boko said that the UDC is ready and up to the task of liberating this country from the stranglehold of predatory and collusive dealings between the political elites and their handlers in the business community.
He explained that UDC is currently in the process of dealing with all lingering internal matters especially ward allocations and the few constituencies affected by the BMD matter. “All these will be resolved by the end of February. We demand a review of our constitution to correct the aberrations that have resulted in the current mess the country is in”. Boko said they promise to create 100 000 decent jobs in their first 12 months in office.
Botswana is likely to sign the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AcFTA) at the next African Union Assembly of Heads of State and Government scheduled for 11th to 13th February 2019 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
However, whether we are likely to sign will depend on what Cabinet will advise President Dr. Mokgweetsi Masisi. This is according to Director, Department of International Trade in the Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry, Gideon Mmolawa.He told Botswana Guardian that, “as officials” and having resolved issues of concern, “we have recommended that Botswana sign”. Botswana could have signed the Agreement during the December 2018 meeting of African Ministers of Trade but was held back by some outstanding issues.
Asked what these outstanding issues were, Mmolawa said they had to do with finalisation of modalities relating to the threshold of sensitive and exclusion products. “Reaching consensus on these would pave the way for operationalising the Agreement and also demonstrate certainty of the value proposition for Botswana,” he said.The Continental Free Trade Agreement provides Botswana access to the African market estimated at 1.6 billion people in 55 countries.This means a wider and increased market access for Botswana exports; among which are live animals, beef, salt, vaccines for veterinary medicine, minerals and leather products.
The Agreement also diversifies the current export markets and reduces our reliance on traditional markets, said Mmolawa in as much as it gives Botswana’s private enterprises access to inputs at competitive prices. Other benefits of the Agreement include increased opportunities for investment attraction and growth in the services sector across borders.
However, access to markets is one side of the coin. The flipside, which will ensure that the country exploits the free trade agreement, requires coming up with programmes to improve output and efficiencies of local businesses.Mmolawa is confident that Government especially through the Botswana Investment and Trade Centre has placed the country on a pedestal to compete. He cites the implementation of the Botswana Exporter Development Programme as one such programme as a means to this end. The BEDP targets local enterprises who wish to export by developing export marketing plans, capacitating on quality management systems and improvement of productivity, and country market surveys for export development. He said local enterprises are enrolled following diagnostic assessments with a view to determining their export readiness and also to develop interventions that are appropriate.
Awareness creation workshops on signed Agreements for example, trainings on market access opportunities including trading requirements and regulations are also held for local businesses to position them to compete. Meanwhile, Botswana signed the Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) on the 30th January 2018, which has also provided it access to a market of 700 million people.
The TFTA is between three regional economic blocs, being East African Community (EAC); Common Market for East and Southern African States (COMESA) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Botswana has not yet ratified the Agreement. According to Mmolawa, ratification is dependent on the conclusion of tariff offers between the East Africa Community and the Southern African Customs Union. Mmolawa said that under this Agreement Botswana will be able to access the market for live animals, beef, salt, vaccines for veterinary medicine, minerals, leather products and other products.
As for the policy space to enable businesses to explot this Agreement he cited the National Trade Policy whose objective is to expose local producers and consumers to a wider scope of international inputs, goods and services; and also provides for a conducive environment for industrial development, economic diversification, export-led growth and economic integration.Mmolawa also mentioned the National Export Strategy of 2010 whose objective is to enable global competitiveness for Botswana. This strategy was refocused with a view to accommodating the dynamic industrial revolution, where Botswana wishes to achieve possible expansion of current levels of exports and future prospects in the international markets as well as diversify the country’s export base.
The country also creates contacts and business match making through outward investment promotion missions; and has a trade facilitation programme whose objective is to reduce the time and cost of importing and exporting. This is made possible through a One Stop Border Post which enables neighbouring countries to coordinate import, export and transit processes so that those transiting stop only once at either side of the border to undertake regulatory formalities, for example, between Botswana and Namibia.
Mmolawa said that other interventions being implemented include the National Single Window, which is a single electronic data information exchange platform that facilitates movement of goods and services across countries; as well as the ongoing Kazungula Bridge Project, which is set to open up the transport corridor between Botswana and Zambia with a view to reducing transit time. It will also contribute to the regions ideals of economic integration.
President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi met public sector unions Wednesday at the Office of the President to hear their complaints regarding delays to commence salary negotiations for financial year 2019/2020.
At the end of the closed door meeting, Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) President Masego Mogwera told the Press that they had come to seek redress regarding the delay in salary negotiations that were supposed to have resumed in December last year.
“We were not discussing the details of how much salaries would be increased by, but our concern is the delay from the employer.
“The President has however, assured us that negotiations will start before January 28, 2019, so that by April 1, public sector employees receive a salary increment,” Mogwera said. According to Mogwera, the delay might have been because the employer seems not to be ready, something which is surprising because “they are the ones who wrote us a letter on November 21, 2018 that negotiations should begin so that they should atleast conclude by December 24, 2018, but that did not happen.” “On our part, we got ready and prepared rules of engagement, and everything that needed to be done but were just awaiting the final meeting with the employer.”
Olebile Molamu of the National Amalgamated Central, Local and Parastatal Manual Workers’ Union believes that the meeting with the President was productive. “From the look of things, the President seems genuine and committed to the process, stating that there is no reason they cannot trust that he will ensure that the process of negotiation takes place and ultimately the public service receive a salary hike come April 1,” he said.
Acting Director of Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM), Tefo Bogosi said they had set themselves a target that they believed they would meet, but unfortunately that did not happen. He believes that meeting with the President was welcome, because “he was also interested in what has caused the delays.” Bogosi could not explain why there was a delay, save to say this year’s salary negotiations are a bit different because they cover over a period of two years, something they have never dealt with before.
Gaborone High Court Judge Michael Mothobi says President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi is untouchable in as far as Section 41 (1) of the Constitution of the Republic of Botswana is concerned.
Justice Mothobi stated this in his judgement this week Wednesday in the case in which Dr Masisi’s immunity was tested in a case in which his legitimacy as President of Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) was challenged by Kamal Jacobs.
Jacobs has argued that Dr. Masisi is not the substantive President of the BDP and as such did not and does not have powers to appoint committees of the Central Committee including the BDP Appeals Board Committee chaired by Kinsley Sebele in terms of Article 33 of the BDP Constitution.
Jacobs is one of the losers in the Lobatse Constituency which was won by economist Thapelo Matsheka. Matsheka was up against Ahmed Shabbeer Ishael, Kamal Jacobs, Patrick G. Kebailele, Sadique Kebonang (incumbent) and Lone Lincoln Bome. In the 25th August 2018 Bulela Ditswe results Sadique Kebonang got 1073, Lone Bome 66 votes, Ahmed Shabeer Ishmail 317 votes, Patrick Matlhodi 218 votes, Kamal Jacobs 1219 votes and Thapelo Matsheka won with 1376 votes. Jacobs’ attorney Kagisano Tamocha argued before Justice Mothobi that Section 41 (1) of the Constitution of Botswana is not applicable in their case because they are talking about the presidency of the BDP.
Section 41(1) states “whilst any person holds or performs the functions of the office of President no criminal proceedings shall be instituted or continued against him or her in respect of anything done or omitted to be done by him or her either in his or her official capacity or in his or her private capacity and no civil proceedings shall be instituted or continued in respect of which relief is claimed against him or her in respect of anything done or omitted to be done in his or her private capacity.”
Justice Mothobi said the Gomolemo Motswaledi 2009 case sets a good precedent and he had to apply it in the current case. The judge agreed with the respondents in the case that the sitting president is immune in both criminal and civil proceedings. He also agreed with the respondents that both the current case and that of Motswaledi are similar because they involved an action by the president in his or her private capacity.
“I agree entirely with the reasoning of the respondents. The Motswaledi case holds good precedence and I apply it here. The objection raised by the respondents in point in law is accepted. The decision by the High Court followed by the Court of Appeal in the Motswaledi case speaks the same language,” said the judge.
Bogopa of Bogopa, Manewe, Tobedza and Company representing Dr Masisi, BDP, BDP Electoral Board, Appeals Board and BDP Southern Region told the court earlier that in accordance with the section Dr Masisi is immune from the suit and he should have not been cited in the case.
He said it is not disputed that Dr. Masisi is the sitting president and as such no criminal or civil suit should be instituted against him. “The interpretation of this section has been done by both the High Court and the Court of Appeal in the 2009 Gomolemo Motswaledi case. The two cases are not distinguishable.
The current case is a civil application in which a relief is sought against Dr Masisi about something he has done in his private capacity as a member of the BDP. Both High Court and Court of Appeal have proved that actions taken by the president in his or her private capacity- no civil proceedings could be instituted against him or her,” said Bogopa.
Section 41 (1) of the Constitution of the Republic of Botswana does not give President Dr. Mokgweetsi Masisi immunity in a case in which his legitimacy as President of Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) is being challeneged, Kamal Jacobs’ lawyer has argued.
Jacobs argues that Dr. Masisi is not the substantive President of the BDP and as such did not and does not have powers to appoint Committees of Central Committee including the BDP Appeals Board Committee chaired by Kinsley Sebele in terms of Article 33 of the BDP Constitution.
Jacobs lost the BDP’s parliamentary primary elections for Lobatse Constituency to Economist Thapelo Matsheka. Matsheka was up against Ahmed Shabbeer Ishael, Kamal Jacobs, Patrick G. Kebailele, Sadique kebonang (incumbent) and Lone Lincoln Bome.
In the 25th August 2018 Bulela Ditswe results Sadique Kebonang got 1073, Lone Bome 66 votes, Ahmed Shabeer Ishmail 317 votes, Patrick Matlhodi 218 votes, Kamal Jacobs 1219 votes and Thapelo Matsheka won with 1376 votes.
Jacobs attorney Kagisano Tamocha argued this week before High Court Judge Michael Mothobi that Section 41 (1) of the Constitution of Botswana is not applicable in their case because they are talking about the presidency of the BDP. Section 41(1) states “whilst any person holds or performs the functions of the office of President no criminal proceedings shall be instituted or continued against him or her in respect of anything done or omitted to be done by him or her either in his or her official capacity or in his or her private capacity and no civil proceedings shall be instituted or continued in respect of which relief is claimed against him or her in respect of anything done or omitted to be done in his or her private capacity.”
Bogopa of Bogopa, Manewe, Tobedza and Company representing Dr. Masisi, BDP, BDP Electoral Board, Appeals Board and BDP Southern Region told the court earlier that in accordance with the section Dr Masisi is immune from the suit and he should have not been cited in the case. He said it is not disputed that Dr. Masisi is the sitting president and as such no criminal or civil suit should be instituted against him.
“The interpretation of this section has been done by both the High Court and the Court of Appeal in the 2009 Gomolemo Motswaledi case. The two cases are not distinguishable. The current case is a civil application in which a relief is sought against Dr. Masisi about something he has done in his private capacity as a member of the BDP.
“Both High Court and Court of Appeal have proved that actions taken by the president in his or her private capacity- no civil proceedings could be instituted against him or her,” said Bogopa. Otlaadisa Kwape of the Attorney General also concurred with Bogopa that in accordance with the section and its interpretation by the highest court in the land the sitting president is immune from any litigation.
Attorney General has joined in the case as Amicus Curie (Friend of the Court). Kwape told the court that therefore the application against Dr. Masisi should be dismissed. However, Tamocha representing Jacobs argued that the section is not applicable in the present case. He told the court that there is a difference between the current case
and the Motswaledi case as cited by the respondents. He pointed out that in the current case they are not asking the president to perform anything.
“Section 41 (1) is not applicable in this case because no one is claiming anything from or against Dr Masisi. This is a point of departure from the Motswaledi case. All what we are asking is for court to arrive at a finding as to whether Dr Masisi is holding the office of the presidency of the BDP in accordance with the BDP constitution.
“We are challenging his legitimacy as President of the BDP. Dr Masisi is a beneficiary of automatic succession in terms of the constitution of Botswana. However, the constitution of the BDP does not provide for automatic succession. Our interpretation of Section 41 (1) is of electoral importance,” said Tamocha.
At this point Justice Mothobi pointed to the attorney that his client is seeking relief against the president and others. Tamocha indicated that Section 41 should be read in its entirety and not in part. He argued that if Section 41 (1) was to be held to be applicable in the current case it would be a recipe for disaster, a human calamity.
He stated that the Motswaledi case is not applicable because the facts of the two cases are not the same and in the Motswaledi case no question of legitimacy was raised and such interpretation in the current case would be overreaching.
Section 41(2) states “where provision is made by law limiting the time within which proceedings of any description may be brought against any person, the term of any person in the office of President shall not be taken into account in calculating any period of time prescribed by that law which determines whether any such proceedings as are mentioned in subsection (1) of this section may be brought against that person.”
Tamocha further argued that an interpretation followed as in the case of Motswaledi is not for public good as provided for by Section 26 of the Interpretation Act, in that such decision would be denying members of the BDP their democratic right of electing their leader if they cannot question their leader’s legitimacy.
Regarding the citing of former President Ian Khama both Bogopa and Kwape argued that he should be struck out of the proceedings. Bogopa stated that no decision should be made regarding Khama because he was not in court to speak for himself.
“He has not deposed an affidavit and what would be said would be tantamount to hearsay. There is nothing in the court papers that says that Dr Khama is incapacitated and cannot sue someone to protect his rights and empowerment. He could have at least been cited as a co-applicant and not a respondent,” he said.
Tamocha told the court that Dr Khama is important in the current case and that as much as no relief is sought against him, he remains important to the case. Dr Khama can deny or agree that he is the substantive president of the BDP.
“I can confirm that service of court papers was done on the 3rd respondent (Dr Khama) on the 19th December 2018. Proof of service is by way of an affidavit by one Tebagano Lebotse. It was filed with the court on Monday this week. This case is brought here in good faith and not meant to embarrass anyone. It is meant to get clarity on the legitimacy for Dr Masisi to hold office of BDP presindency,” Tamocha said.
Justice Mothobi would deliver judgement next week Wednesday.
Salary negotiations for public servants are yet to start under less than a month before Minister of Finance and Economic Development Kenneth Matambo makes his annual budget speech to the nation.This publication has gathered that the negotations which were to start in December 2018 failed to take off as the parties- public sector trade unions and the employer represented by Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) - could not meet.
This seems to have been the culture for years between the two parties to fail to agree on salary increment and conditions of service for public servants before the budgeting process gets underway. In most cases negotiations have been carried over to the next financial year. Trade unions have accused the DPSM of stalling to have the negotiations kickstarted.
However, President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi has expressed his wish for the unions and DPSM to conclude their negotiations before the delivery of the 2019/2020 budget. The president said this on New Year’s Eve when receiving a report on the Review of Salaries Conditions of Service and Entitlements for the Political Leadership, Justices of Court of Appeal and High Court, Members of Ntlo ya Dikgosi and Councilors.
The report was presented by the commission chairperson Justice Monametsi Gaongalelwe. The president assured public servants and union leaders that government has left some space in the budget within which to maneuver but the space cannot be as big as everyone would want.
DPSM Director Goitseone Mosalakatane could not be reached for comment as her mobile phones were not going through. Her supervisor Permanent Secretary to the President Carter Morupisi said he had not much information regarding the negotiations and Mosalakatane would be better place to talk about the issue.
“I do not have their timetable for the negotiations but in our recent meeting she told me that they should be meeting soon with the trade union party regarding the negotiations. It might be before end of this week but I am not very sure about the date because I do not have sufficient information on that,” said Morupisi in an interview.
Botswana Federation of Public, Parastatal and Private Sector Unions Deputy Secretary General Ketlhalefile Motshegwa confirmed that negotiations were scheduled to start in December last year. “As trade unions we wanted negotiations to start on the 21st of December 2018, but DPSM said they are not ready. So, we are still waiting for them to tell us as when they are ready,” said Motshegwa in an interview. Regarding the statement made by the president, the BOFEPUSU spokesperson said Dr Masisi has a propensity to announce things which his ministries and the DPSM operate parallel to.
He indicated that earlier during the State of the Nation Address, the president stated that the unions have been given a Report of Pemandu Consultancy which government commissioned to look into conditions of service of public officers.
“This was all lies, as up to now we have not been given the report. When we confronted the DPSM in our last meeting with them over this misleading announcement by the president, they could only apologise saying they do not know how the statement found the day,” he revealed.
The unionist stated that they have been promised the report before end of December 2018 but nothing has happened. Motshegwa said currently as unions they cannot share with third parties their proposals to the employer regarding increment and conditions of service.He however indicated that public servants in Botswana are currently living under severe, unpalatable and unberable conditions of service in a country so rich.
He said this was so mostly for lower scales employees some of whom though working are painfully poor and constituting the working poor. According to Motshegwa this is immoral and it’s a shame on the leaders of this country in that they have failed to instil dignity in the lives of the people despite the country being blessed with abundance of resources.
“Workers are creators of wealth of this country but sidelined to the periphery when it comes to economic distribution. It so happens that politicians always brag about how there has been developments in this country. What is disturbing is that the hard work of working people is not recognised as the national economic gains of their efforts does not translate or come with any meaningful reward for them.
“This is much driven and influenced by a capitalist system riddled with selfishness, massive corruption, a system with no regard for social justice and thus has created economic disparities, poverty and breeding many social ills,” Motshegwa said.
He pointed out that it is to that effect that as public sector trade unions they urge Government to be serious about improving the conditions of service of workers. There is need to addresses current salaries which are failing against the many economic dynamics inclduing the burden of inflation, he explained.
He added that there is urgent need for conditions of service to be reviewed for purpose of dignity at work.
President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi has applauded the local mobile network operators – Orange, BTCL and Mascom for helping financial institutions close the financial divide through mobile money. “The agility of this product provides an alternative to the traditional brick and mortar of financial institutions,” said Masisi, speaking at the Orange Botswana’s 20th anniversary celebrations. He congratulated Orange for being a leader in financial technology innovation through its Orange Money product.
“The product is an essential technological bank for the unbanked,” said Masisi.Alliance for Financial Inclusion, the leading organisation on the financial inclusion policy and related regulations, estimates indicate that approximately two billion adults worldwide do not have an account in a formal financial institution. In addition, the vast majority of the unbanked adults live in developing countries.
Over the years, Orange Money has inked strategic partnership deals to increase convenience with institutions such as VISA Incorporation and other local major retailers. The World Bank collection of development indicators says the mobile money transaction per 100 000 adults in Botswana was reported at 29 1381 in 2014.
As of March 2016, statistics from Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority (BOCRA) show Orange leads her peers in the mobile money subscriptions with 356 938 subscribers followed by Mascom at 167 356 and BTCL at 2 496. Meanwhile, Orange Botswana has engaged 14 000 hawkers to distribute its services nationwide, a development that has also been applauded by President Masisi for creating employment and empowering Small, Medium and Micro-sized Enterprises (SMMEs).
Botswana and De Beers, the two shareholders of Debswana Diamond Company are just about to begin negotiations for the diamond production and sales agreement, two years before the current one expires. This came into the open this week during the annual diamond conference in Gaborone.
However, Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security Minister, Eric Molale and De Beers Chief Executive, Bruce Cleaver were this week not ready to give more specific details on imminent meetings which happen behind closed doors, often in luxurious and secluded locations in Gaborone, Johannesburg and London.
The current ten year diamond sales and mining agreement was signed in September 2011 and will end in 2021.Botswana government will be represented by members of the Minerals Policy Committee (MPC) which comprises Finance and Economic Development Permanent Secretary, Solomon Sekwakwa, his peer at the Minerals Ministry, Cornelius Dekop, Bank of Botswana Governor, Moses Pelaelo, and Attorney General Advocate Abraham Keetshabe. The team will be led by Molale himself.
It will be for the third time Molale becomes part of the arduous, but equally important negotiations with outcomes that are as important to the country as the diamonds themselves. Without letting off much, Molale told the press that, at this point they are crafting heads of agreement which will form the agenda for the upcoming meetings.
“We don’t want to work under pressure (hence they have started early),” said Molale. In addition, Botswana Government often involves high end corporate lawyers to back their team. Cleaver, who was also involved in the previous negotiations, told the media the partnership between De Beers and Botswana will continue.
“We all want a win-win situation,” he said. Earlier when giving the keynote address, President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi likened the partnership to a marriage. He added the negotiations are just like ‘renewal of vows’. “Through our partnership with De Beers, there has been over the years, increased participation in the diamond pipeline from prospecting through to cutting and polishing,” said the President before leaving for Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for the African Union meetings.
Commentators in the diamond sector have hailed the current sales agreement. Under the deal, Botswana negotiators succeeded in having De Beers relocate its diamond sales and distribution function from London to Gaborone. As things stand, all diamonds produced from De Beers mines in Botswana, South Africa, Canada and Namibia are aggregated locally before being sold into the international market.
Botswana Guardian also understands Team Botswana also pushed for the establishment of an independent pricing method away from the one which is currently being used by De Beers. This led to the establishment of Okavango Diamond Company (ODC), a Botswana-owned rough diamonds seller.
The company led by Marcus Ter Haar, sells about 10 percent of Debswana produced diamonds. Meanwhile, Masisi has told the conference that, there is need to move up the pipeline to jewelry manufacturing and retail. “Participation at these up market levels, however small, will go a long way in promoting the development of Gaborone as a diamond city,” said Masisi.
This week, De Beer’s jewellery unit, Forevermark opened its first shop at Sir Seretse Khama International Airport. Cleaver was upbeat the luxury shop will be successful. The latest round of diamond mining negotiations between the two long term partners come at a time when more has changed in the landscape and there are important decisions to make. Synthetic diamonds are threatening natural diamonds market, although Cleaver dismisses the fear.
There is no new diamond deposit the size of Jwaneng discovered by the parties in recent times, and surely not in the two decade or so. There are more capital intensive projects coming their way such as Jwaneng, Orapa and Venetia expansion. All these projects will force shareholders to dig deeper into their pockets to fund them amidst volatile diamond sales.