Items filtered by date: Tuesday, 10 July 2018 - Botswana Guardian
Tuesday, 10 July 2018 17:16

Fire Tshekedi Khama

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) factional wars are now fought in any available platform as party members go for each other’s political survival, Botswana Guardian has established.A bitter war between rival Member of Parliament for Tati East Samson Moyo Guma and Minister of Environment, Natural Resources, Conservation and Tourism Tshekedi Khama erupted this week Wednesday when Khama rubbished a report following examination of books of accounts for Botswana Tourism Organisation (BTO) governance by Committee on Statutory Bodies and State Enterprises chaired by Guma.

The committee has in not so many words called on President Masisi to fire Khama as minister. The Committee has recommended that Masisi should take appropriate action in relation to the minister’s meddling in the affairs of BTO; that BTO be instructed to conduct a forensic audit for three-year period ending December 2017, under the direction of the Auditor General and report findings to Parliament.The report further says that Tourism (Amendment) Bill, 2017 seeks to validate a process which was done improperly, and therefore the committee recommends that the Bill be deferred pending the outcome of a detailed forensic; and the minister refrains from acting in such a manner that violates the BTO Act. Khama and Guma belonged to the same faction that supported Masisi in the build-up to Tonota Elective Congress last year where Masisi won the chairmanship of the BDP against Minister Nonofo Molefhi.

It has since emerged that the relationship between the two has soured, something which Khama came short of admitting this week after the Report was tabled in Parliament. The report was tabled by the Committee Acting Chairman Ndaba Gaolathe as Guma had indicated he could not table the Report because he is conflicted.Only Member of Parliament for Gaborone North Haskins Nkaigwa debated the motion calling for the adoption of the Report by Parliament before Khama took over and brushed aside the Report. Khama questioned the report indicating that some of the issues that were raised during the enquiry are not included in the report. “The report was initially supposed to be tabled by committee member Dr. Phenyo Butale MP for Gaborone Central and now I am surprised it is tabled by Gaolathe. The committee chairman has indicated that he is conflicted that is why he cannot table the report. I do not know if he cannot do that because the report has omitted most of the important things or because him the chairman once advised us as the ministry and BTO how we should correct some of the anomalies at BTO,” questioned Khama.

He said Guma has not explained how he is conflicted. He said Parliament has to adjourn so that Guma could clarify. He said Guma had been conflicted by giving them guidance and chairing the proceedings of the enquiry. In an interview outside parliament Khama told this publication that he was not surprised that the committee chaired by Guma would call for his reprimand. “Who is the chair of the committee? I know the committee was not in agreement with some of the recommendations. Only Guma could call for the president to take action against me.

“This is not the first time he is doing this. This is beyond governance it is a political battle. Now we are here at Parliament, where is he ene Guma? He is nowhere to be seen and he knows why he is not here tabling the report himself,” the minister stated. He said Guma could have given them guidance so as to set him a trap. Guma who is out of the country said it would be difficult to comment on what Khama has said.  He indicated that he holds all members of his committee in high esteem. Guma posited that the Report as tabled is a reflection of what transpired during examination.  “The copies of the proceedings and documents are annexed. I take full ownership of that report as the chairman on behalf of the members. I am told Parliament adjourned the debate on account of my absence. I will be available to Parliament to clarify any matter that needs clarity,” said Guma adding that there is no political witch-hunt on Khama.

Asked about being conflicted Guma responded, “please define to me conflict. This never arose during examination. The matter should have been raised during examination if ever there is.” Acting chairman of the Committee Gaolathe told Botswana Guardian that given the limitation of powers of the committee they only recommended according to their findings. He explained that the findings discovered breaches of governance.  He said in terms of the BTO Act for about eight months BTO operated without a Board and the minister was in control. “We do not have specific powers on what must be done. What we are saying is that the president should dig deep within the executive and find out what must be done when such breaches have been committed.  “It could be writing him a warning letter, suspension or firing him from cabinet. It is up to the president now to act looking at rules of governance,” said Gaolathe.
Parliament adjourned without adopting the report.

Presenting the report in Parliament Gaolathe stated that the committee in all its deliberations considers the need for viable state enterprises system. He stated that their report identifies specific actions taken at the BTO that feed “our inferences around breaches in governance, including; un-procedural establishment of the Dubai Satellite Office; unlawful instructions to the BTO to make procurement on behalf of the ministry; unlawful establishment of the Tourism Fund; unlawful restructuring of the BTO; irregular appointment of a Medical Insurance Company by BTO; improper appointment of an Attaché at the Washington, DC Embassy and unlawful termination of the Chief Executive Officer’s Contract of employment.” Gaolathe explained that their forage of information also paints a picture of a minister who has specifically, breached the dictates of the BTO Act in several ways among them failure to appoint a Board within reasonable time and going against procedural advice by Permanent Secretary and CEO.

In 2016 Khama accused Guma and his committee of conniving to hurt his political ambitions. At that time Khama had been summoned to appear for the second time before the committee to answer for his alleged maladministration at the Ministry. This was on the backdrop of developing events at troubled BTO where CEO Brian Dithebe was instructed to cut his stay at the organisation without any reasonable explanation. Dithebe’s work contract was abruptly terminated, allegedly at the instruction of Minister Tshekedi Khama. 

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The High Court has dismissed with costs a case in which Alpha Direct Insurance Company (Pty) Ltd was challenging decisions by Non-Bank Financial Institutions Regulatory Authority (NBFIRA) instructing the company to pay two of its clients who had submitted claims.

Alpha Direct Insurance Company (Pty) Ltd, a company incorporated in accordance with the laws of Botswana and carrying out business of an insurer as a short-term insurer under the Insurance Industry Act took NBFIRA to court praying for the decisions to be set aside. Tumelo Issacs Motlhala and Arsh Investments (Pty) Ltd had taken Alpha Direct Insurance Company to NBFIRA for refusing to honour their legitimate claims. According to the history of the case on or about April 2015, Alpha Direct and Motlhala entered into a written contract of insurance in terms of which Alpha Direct undertook to insure vehicles Land Rover Discovery with registration number B300 AXR and a Mercedes-Benz C 200K with registration number B 209 APL against the risks described in the contract.
On or about the 2nd of December 2015, Motlhala submitted a claim to the company in respect of a loss allegedly suffered as a result of the theft of the Land Rover. On the 11th of May 2016, after assessing his claim, Alpha Direct repudiated the claim.

The repudiation was on the basis that Motlhala had failed to comply with the provisions of the policy by failing to ensure that reasonable steps were taken to prevent the loss of the insured vehicle. Dissatisfied with the repudiation, Motlhala thereafter raised a complaint with NBFIRA, which subsequently wrote to Alpha Direct requesting reasons for the repudiation and after assessing the complaint and the reasons advanced by the company, then directed Alpha Direct on 19 August 2016, to pay Motlhala’s claim, on the basis that it was not justified to repudiate his claim.

On the other hand Arsh Investments (Pty) Ltd entered in a contract with Alpha Direct on or about 21st May 2015, in terms of which Alpha Direct undertook to insure the buildings located at the Arsh Investment business address against the risks described in the contract. In March 2016, Arsh Investments (Pty) Ltd submitted a claim in respect of a loss allegedly suffered due to damage to the swimming pool at the insured address. After commissioning assessment of the damages to the swimming pool, Alpha Direct repudiated the claim on the basis of an assessment report, indicating that the cause of the loss may have been a landslide and not due to heavy rainfall and based on an assessor’s report that the insured had not been totally truthful in submitting the claim. Arsh Investment then complained to NBFIRA which later directed Alpha Direct to pay the claim. Alpha Direct argued in court that NBFIRA’s power to issue a Directive under Section 53 of the NBFIRA Act does not empower the institution to determine parties’ rights and obligations under a contract of insurance.

It was further submitted that the said Directives were ultra vires and null and void because none of the jurisdictional facts that trigger into operation Section 53(1) of the Act were present and lastly that by issuing the said Directive to pay, NBFIRA purported to determine the rights and obligations between two contracting parties to an insurance contract, as if it were a court or a statutory adjudicating authority.

Dismissing the case on Wednesday this week, High Court Judge Michael Leburu stated that under insurance law, the insurer is enjoined to honour all legitimate claims from the insured. Such insurance law, Justice Leburu said is Financial Services Law. He explained that if the regulator is satisfied that there has been unlawful repudiation of an insurance claim, which will be a violation of a Financial Services Law, then the regulator, in terms of Section 53, has the jurisdictional competence to join the fray and issue a written direction, in order to protect the interests of the clients of the insurance company.

“The trigger or jurisdictional fact would thus be a violation of financial services law (insurance), as envisaged by Section 53(1) (a).  The other jurisdictional factor, as envisaged by Section 53(1) (c) is when the non-bank financial institution conducts its affairs in an improper way.  The other pertinent factor that may trigger the issuance of a Directive is when it is necessary to protect the clients of the non-bank financial institution, in terms of Section 53(1)(f) of the Act,” the Judge pointed out.He explained that the two written Directives, issued within the present context, came about after the Regulator, determined that Alpha Direct was not conducting its affairs in a proper way, through unlawful and unfair repudiation of legitimate insurance claims by clients of an insurance company. Payment and honouring of legitimate insurance claims by an insurance company is an integral part of its affairs, he said.

Justice Leburu indicated that put differently, it is part of the affairs of an insurance company, that it renders to the insured, a sum of money, on the happening of a specified uncertain event, in which the insured has some insurable interest. 
“Insurance companies are enjoined to consider claims fairly and not to unnecessarily repudiate or delay legitimate claims of its customers, and in terms of paragraph 3(b) of the Schedule 2 of the Insurance Industry Regulations, insurance companies are required to do ‘everything to satisfy, as quickly as possible, the legitimate needs of claimants. 

“The legitimate need of claimants is that the lodged valid claims ought to be honoured and not to be repudiated, unlawfully.  NBFIRA is thus entitled to intervene and issue directives, if it considers that such obligation has not been discharged,” said Justice Leburu indicating that Alpha Direct has thus failed to make out a case for judicial review.

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Tuesday, 10 July 2018 17:07

ABM University accused of cheating

A group of former students at ABM University in Gaborone are disgruntled that the institution had awarded them a Certificate qualification after being sponsored and admitted to study Diploma in Electrical and Electronics Engineering.

The students reported the matter to the Office of the President last year November following numerous meetings with the school management.  Ernest Moseki of the Appeals Unit at OP confirmed this in an interview with Botswana Guardian. He acknowledged receipt of the letter in February.

This publication has learned that OP was convinced by the Ministry of Tertiary Education, on behalf of the school that the qualification was Diploma and not Certificate as students had stated in their queries three months before the OP’s response. In their letter, which they copied to the Department of Vocational Tertiary Education Training, the students said that they were sponsored and admitted for a Diploma qualification under Target 2000 for 24 months.

“We are doing an external qualification of City and Guilds where diploma is equivalent to City and Guilds Level 2, which is less the level we are sponsored for. Furthermore Department of Tertiary Education funding does not cover the progression from Level 2,” says the letter. They also notified the DVET on the issue. “According to City and Guilds, the programme is a Certificate qualification, whereas our sponsorship and admission letter states that we enrolled for Diploma,” they say in their letter dated September 22, 2017.

The students say they started their First year, semester one in October 2016, doing modules, which are not in City and Guilds programme, viz, Computer Application Appreciation, Self realisation, Economics, Introduction to Business, and Communication studies which ran till December when they sat for an exam. For the second semester, they registered for six modules, being Principles of Electrical and Electronics technology, Working in Engineering, Wiring and Faultfinding, Maintenance, Enterpreneur and Wilding& Fabrication. For the third semester, they registered for six modules.

“All the modules that we complete in Electrical engineering will be six in all, yet the school expects us to do six modules for a period of 24 months. The exams that we sit for are for a Certificate qualification. Our plea is that we should complete the course at a Diploma as stated in our admission and sponsorship letter,” say the students.

BQA’s response-written by Selebo Jobe-on behalf of the Chief Executive was that an evaluation of qualification of the learning programme was undertaken and it was concluded that ABM was offering a Diploma and not Certificate like the students were saying.
The students also engaged Engineers Regulatory Board, which confirmed that the City and Guilds Level 2 is a Certificate level ‘where the holder of the award only is competent as semi-skilled.’  ABM Engineering lecturer Leonard Ndlovu, whose name appears in the management/students meetings could not be interviewed and referred this reporter to Public Relation office.

ABM responds
In an email sent to Botswana Guardian this week, ABM’s Public and Stakeholders Relations officer Lesego Obotseng said that the matter had been in discussion and that the cause of the issue was a communication breakdown between the Franchise (City & Guilds) and the institution. “This matter has since been resolved. I confirm that the students shall graduate with a diploma qualification as already communicated to them on numerous occasions,” she said.

However, students told this publication that they received phone messages from management last Saturday night telling them to come for a meeting at school this Tuesday to resolve the matter. Less than 40 students attended, out of the 234 that study the course. “They admitted to us that they registered wrong qualification and that we should return the certificates to school for them to correct them. And they promised that our certificates will be bearing a Diploma qualification when we graduate in November,” said the students.Tshoganyetso Mangadi, who is the HOD Electrical and Electronics Engineering, and Ndlovu attended the meeting.

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Tuesday, 10 July 2018 17:04

CoA to hear ZCC case

Court of Appeal is today (Friday) scheduled to hear a case in which Zion Christian Church (ZCC) and its leader Bishop Barnabas Edward Lekganyane are appealing against a High Court decision barring them from holding disciplinary hearing against members.

ZCC and its leader Bishop Barnabas Lekganyane are appealing a decision by Justice Nthomiwa of Lobatse High Court which bars the church from proceeding with a disciplinary hearing against seventeen (17) members of Tlokweng Branch. The 17 disgruntled members of Tlokweng Branch had taken the church to court to interdict it against taking disciplinary hearing against them after they challenged the way things are run in Botswana. Justice Nthomiwa agreed with the church members that they have made a case and interdicted the church and its leader and restrained them from holding any disciplinary hearing against them in terms of the Notice to Attend a Disciplinary hearing dated 20th November 2015, pending the outcome of their case before Justice Mothobi.

The applicants also wanted the court to interdict the Respondents (ZCC and Lekganyane) from holding such a disciplinary hearing pending the church and its leader listening to and addressing the grievances lodged by the Applicants with the church on April 8th 2014 and alternatively, the Respondents’ furnishing the applicants with particulars of the charges they are alleged to have committed.

In a notice of grounds of appeal filed by Bishop Lekganyane and the church seen by Botswana Guardian they want the decision by Justice Nthomiwa set aside. According to the court papers the High Court erred and or misdirected itself by assuming jurisdiction on a matter involving theological/administrative disputes between church members. It is further argued that the lower court erred by holding that the 11 members (respondents in the appeal case) are entitled to an interdict restraining the church from conducting disciplinary hearing pending the outcome of the case before Justice Mothobi.

“The court a quo (court below) erred and/or misdirected itself by holding that the respondents are entitled to an interdict restraining the Appellants from holding disciplinary proceedings against the Respondents pending the Appellants listening and addressing the grievances lodged by the Respondents on the 8th of April 2014,” reads the court papers.

In his judgement Justice Nthomiwa dismissed claims raised by Lekganyane and the ZCC during arguments that the applicants had withdrew their case. “If an agreement was to settle had been reached it could have been confirmed in writing as is customary in this jurisdiction or at least an application could have been made to court for confirmation of the oral settlement agreement.

Of further note is that the Constitution of the ZCC does not exclude the right to have grievances heard. The ZCC as a voluntary organisation is also subject to rules of natural justice and the right to be heard is an important right,” he stated. He also dismissed the point raised by the Respondents that the Applicants were not entitled to request for further particulars of their offence. He said the request for further particulars was a valid request which the church and its leader should have addressed to facilitate preparations for the subsequent hearing by the Applicants.

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Students from tertiary institutions would likely get an allowance increase by end of this month, Minister of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology, Ngaka Ngaka has said. The minister said there are plans to adjust students’ off-campus allowance but would not commit the extent of the adjustment as the matter has not been finalised.

“I will make an announcement before end of this month. The allowance is presently not attracting any inflationary adjustments purely because this is a budgetary matter. We have a limited budget against the ever-increasing numbers of students needing sponsorship,” said Ngaka.The minister told parliament that funds permitting, they could consider ways of linking the frequency of adjustments, as well as the magnitude of the adjustments, to inflationary trends. “I cannot say here that the allowance would be taken back to P1 900.00 or not. This is because we are not only looking at off-campus students’ allowance.

“We are dealing with a broad evaluation and the report would advise us on how to go about everything,” he said. Ngaka indicated that last year his ministry engaged Students Representatives Councils from government and private institutions in Gaborone and Francistown regarding the matter.  He said they did this so that both parties would have a common understanding of the matter and challenges the ministry is faced with. The minister was responding to a question from Member of Parliament for Gaborone North Haskins Nkaigwa who wanted to know if there are plans to upgrade and why the allowance is not attracting inflationary adjustments.

In May this year, Botswana National Union of Students (BONUS) wrote to the ministry demanding the students’ allowances to be increased from P1, 400 to P2, 000. In the letter dated April 10, 2018 addressed to the ministry’s permanent secretary, copied to Minister Ngaka and his deputy Fidelis Molao, BONUS said their demand was influenced by the high cost of living. The students whom at that time wanted to deliver a petition to the minister failed because the minister indicated that he was not informed well on time.

The letter requested government to review the tertiary students’ living allowances in view of escalating rental costs and the general high cost of living. BONUS Treasurer, Tlotlo Madisa said in the letter “the cost of living is high due to increases such as the recent review of the public transport fares, increase in commodities in the past nine years since the allowance was reduced in 2009. Students find it hard to survive”.  In April this year, Alliance for Progressives (AP) Youth League also lobbied student bodies within tertiary institutions to mount pressure on government to increase students’ allowances. Young Progressives President Jacob Kelebeng said as young progressives they believe it is time something is done about the issue. The cost of living is very high and what the students are getting is too little for them to keep up with the changing and challenging world, he said.

“President Mokgweetsi Masisi as the former minister of education, we are sure he is aware of the demand on the call of allowance increment by the students due to the current economic status. About eight years ago student allowance were decreased from P1, 920 to P1, 420 on the notion that the country was going under recession. “Over the years the cost of living has escalated at a higher rate therefore there is a need for increment of allowance to match the cost of living. As the youth league we have since resolved to mobilise the SRCs, students and all members of progressive student movements to demand allowance increment as a matter of urgency,” Kelebeng said at the time.

Published in News
Tuesday, 10 July 2018 16:48

Masisi takes us for granted – BOFEPUSU

Botswana Federation of Public Parastatal and Private Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) has accused President Mokgweetsi Masisi of taking them for granted after he snubbed the Federation’s elective congress this past weekend in Gaborone.

Members of the executive committee are of the view that the congress was an opportunity for the president to mend relations with one of the most influential Federations in the country.The congress came immediately after the departure of former President Khama who left office on the 1st April 2018. Khama had intense and fierce running battles with BOFEPUSU to the extent that he refused to meet the Federation leadership.Their sour relationship culminated in the 2011 industrial strike and subsequent amendments of labour laws which unions viewed as anti-workers, and reported Government to International Labour Organisation(ILO), something that tarnished Botswana’s international reputation.

“The bitter relations between Government and BOFEPUSU saw the Federation de-campaigning BDP MPs in 2014 elections which led to most of them losing and the opposition gaining more,” said an insider after news came in indicating that Masisi and his second in command Slumber Tsogwane would not attend the congress. Newly appointed Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry Bogolo Kenewendo graced the event. From the atmosphere at the congress delegates were not happy with this development.
According to the Federation leadership, BOFEPUSU’s congress presented an opportunity for Masisi and his Government, it was expected that the new President would come up with a new approach of engaging with the labour centre.

“His luck came when the Federation invited him to come and address the Congress, and he confirmed attendance. Things took a twist when at the last minute Masisi snubbed BOFEPUSU and instead sent his Deputy Tsogwane. “To make matters worse, the Vice President did not show up at the Congress and instead Government sent the novice Minister Bogolo Kwenwendo,” said a BOFEPUSU executive member. It is believed this has angered the Federation as they felt insulted that the President and Vice President snubbed them and in turn sent a Minister who is wet behind the ears politically when there are seniors and relevant ministers such as Nonofo Molefhi (Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration) and Tshenolo Mabeo (Employment, Productivity and Skills Development). The development is interpreted as contempt against BOFEPUSU and non-consideration of workers’ importance in Masisi’’s work schedule. It is believed Masisi blew his chance and opportunity to appeal to unions, and they now view him from the same prism as Khama, as inaccessible which borders on arrogance.  The lack of access to the country’s top office for unions has been a growing concern to BDP parliamentary hopefuls, as they fear the wrath of unions.

It remains to be seen as to what impact will the latest turn of events have on the build-up to 2019 elections. During May Day celebration this year BOFEPUSU accused Masisi of taking workers for granted when he assigned Permanent Secretary to the President Carter Morupisi to read live on television, the May Day message on his behalf. The Federation fumed saying this undermines workers given that Morupisi is regarded as one of the enemies of the workers. The federation then gave Masisi 100 days to ‘come to his senses’.BOFEPUSU Publicity Secretary Mogomotsi Motshegwe confirmed that they felt belittled by the high office. He said the congress was a good platform for the president to address workers and for the federation to make him appreciate labour issues and matters of national importance.

He said when the new administration indicated that it is willing to work with unions; they thought Masisi would live to his promise. “We thought this was the opportunity for him to share with us his deliverables on labour issues. “We were disappointed when he changed at last minute and decided to send his Vice. We thought because they share the high office together we should be understanding but when he sent a new minister who do not understand some of our issues as workers we felt belittled. “There are other senior ministers who understand our issues better that the president could have sent. But because we are democratic we welcomed her. We are very disappointed because it now shows that the president’s level of priorities is questionable,” Motshegwe said.

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