While President Mokgweetsi Masisi who is also leader of Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) has vowed to fight corruption, more rot is emerging in his backyard (BDP), Botswana Guardian has established.
In a leaked audio conversation between one of Masisi’s camp associates and long serving cabinet member Shaw Kgathi and a council candidate in his constituency it was revealed that many of the Bulela-Ditswe candidates have criminal records. This means there could be more criminals within the BDP and government (Councillors, Members of Parliament and Ministers).
BDP is holding its last batch of Bulela-Ditswe tomorrow (Saturday) where over 100 participants are expected to participate in the primaries. In the audio telephonic conversation that this publication has, Kgathi who is Minister of Defence, Justice and Security also BDP Deputy Secretary General revealed to Daniel Magwana - a council candidate for Molalatau Ward in Bobonong Constituency, that most of the candidates for tomorrow’s primaries have criminal records.
In that conversation in which the two conversing call each other by names and, uncle and nephew, Kgathi was requesting Magwana to pull out of the race to allow his (Kgathi) long time ally and current Molalatau Councillor Nathaniel Moribame to run unchallenged.Kgathi in the conversation also took a swipe at his challenger, mining consultant and former Debswana engineer, Francisco Kgoboko.
He accused Kgoboko of having no credentials and also having a criminal record. He wants Magwana who is allegedly supporting Kgoboko to ditch him and team up with Kgathi’s camp. Kgathi and Kgoboko have had skirmishes in the past after Kgathi had accused Kgoboko of campaigning illegally.
The audio conversation is said to have ruffled feathers following the utterances by Kgathi who is a senior cabinet member and member of the BDP Central Committee.News within the BDP corridors suggests that the thorough vetting process that the central committee ought to have conducted was not done.
BDP had during declaration of interest to contest in Bulela-Ditswe made a requirement for their parliamentary and council candidates to have an affidavit signed by the police clearing them of not having criminal records.
BDP Secretary General Mpho Balopi told the media that they want credible candidates for the 2019 election.
Balopi was reported to have indicated that they also want affidavits from their candidates to also check whether the information they provided while registering as candidates at regions is correct. He indicated that they want those who will occupy national leadership positions within the party to be very credible.
It has been argued that Kgathi as senior party member could have not just have made false utterances that have no basis. Reached for comment, Magwana indicated that time and again he has conversations with Kgathi as a relative and his area MP. He confirmed that he once had such a conversation with Kgathi about him compromising which is not anything new within the party and it has been encouraged that members should for the sake of the party always consider compromise.
He however expressed shock that their conversation was recorded. “I do not know anything about a recording. I wonder who could have recorded that. It comes as a surprise for me to hear someone from Gaborone telling me that they have a conversation of mine with my MP on audio. Maybe you could ask the minister if he so did record me,” said Magwana who stated that he could not discuss the matter further because he has flu and losing his voice.
For his part Kgoboko dismissed the allegations by this publication regarding the audio as a mere smear campaign. He expressed doubt that Kgathi as his elder, area MP, minister and his party’s Deputy Secretary General would make such utterances. “I guess you guys might be just making it up. There is no how I could have a criminal record while I filled an affidavit declaring that I do not have a criminal record but if the minster made such utterances it would be unfortunate.
“My credentials also speak for themselves. I do not think Kgathi would talk like that because membership registration, registration for candidature among other things falls under the office of the secretary general where he is a deputy. So these things could have been picked plus he has advantage of police to have investigated or better still approached me as my elder,” said Kgoboko.
When contacted, Kgathi who at the time was addressing his campaign team denied ever having a conversation with Magwana. He said because of obvious reasons that he is not in the same team with Magwana he could not have had such a conversation with him. He requested that the audio be shared with him to ascertain it is his voice on the conversation which was done via WhatsApp. During a follow-up call Kgathi said he was driving and should be contacted after an hour.
For his part, BDP secretary general Mpho Balopi indicated that it would be unfortunate if some people would have managed to be vetted in while having criminal records. The SG said they do not run the party through rumour-mongering and allegations. “We are a law abiding organisation and if someone has wronged the state and laws do not allow for that person to stand for elections such as IEC laws we would not allow that person to contest for our primaries.
This is why we made people to sign affidavit to declare that they do not have criminal records. I do not have the benefit of your alleged conversation but it would be unfortunate for that to have happened”.
Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) leadership team that lost its case against union President Masego Mogwera has filed appeal papers with the court, Botswana Guardian has learnt.
The factions within the union leadership have resulted in a legal battle which has pitted BOPEU as 1st Applicant followed by Ogaufi Masame, Zibani Philemon, Mosalagae Tlhako and Motswaledi Monaiwa against National Office Bearers (NOB) members being union President Mogwera as 1st Respondent followed by Tlhabologo Galekhutle (Treasurer), Martin Gabobake (1st Deputy President), Topias Marenga (General Secretary) and Ketlhapelang Karabo (Deputy General Secretary).
Following a National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting last month at Cresta Lodge in Gaborone, Mogwera and team were suspended pending investigation. Philemon was subsequently appointed acting president. Mogwera’s team in turn declared a state of emergency and suspended Philemon and crew. NOB members are also part of the NEC. Philemon and crew approached the court on urgency to hear the matter.
Sources close to the development have revealed that Philemon’s team has been working round the clock with their lawyers since last week Friday’s judgment to appeal the decision by Lobatse High Court Judge, Godfrey Nthomiwa who agreed with Mogwera that the matter brought before him to forcibly remove her and the NEC from office was not urgent and that it was not brought properly before him.
The judge dismissed the application on urgency despite the interim committee having indicated that the union president was suspended in order for investigations to be carried without interference. According to information gathered by this publication, Mogwera and team were to be served with appeal papers between Wednesday and yesterday (Thursday).
Speaking to this publication Philemon said they are still weighing their options. He indicated that their lawyers are still scrutinising the judgment and would advise accordingly. Philemon explained that they still believe that they are the legitimate leadership because a lawfully constituted meeting had suspended Mogwera and team.
He said if not attended the matter might bring more harm to the union than it could ever be imagined. Philemon said all they want is to protect the integrity of ‘the union of choice’.In his judgment Justice Nthomiwa indicated that the matter is not urgent and the applicants are not entitled to the relief of the interim interdict they sought.
He explained that the matter is not properly brought before court by way of motion proceedings instead of being brought by way of action.Nthomiwa said because of the suspension of the applicants, they could not bring proceedings on behalf of BOPEU in so far as the change made in the composition of the NEC was in violation of legal framework governing Trade Unions.
He said it was on that basis that the applicants lacked the necessary legal standing to bring the current proceedings for and on behalf of BOPEU. The court also declined to have an audio recording from the Cresta meeting as part of the proceedings.Mogwera and team were suspended for failure to observe Articles 53.1 and 53.2 of the Union Constitution respectively, which speak of the secondment and remuneration of office bearers (president and treasurer general) as well as sanctioning the implementation of the new BOPEU structure.
They refused to vacate their seats saying only the congress can remove them. That is when Mogwera declared a state of emergency and suspended the interim committee, forcing them to take the legal route. Philemon and team are likely to face a disciplinary hearing anytime soon, however he told Botswana Guardian that they have not yet received any letters warning them about any pending disciplinary hearing. “We are waiting for such letters and they know where to find us if they want to take that route,” he stated.
Jonathan Raheem Hosseini, the Chief operations Officer (COO) of Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) who was suspended pending investigation has been cleared of all charges.
However, BG News has reliably learnt that BPC is under the investigation radar of both the parent ministry and Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) both of whom are doing their independent investigations.Hosseini was the subject of a forensic investigation by Deloitte which was instituted by the board following a tip-off from a whistleblower. Amongst the allegations was that Hosseini was and remained a director of a family company named Tobela Solar Power (Pty) LTD when he joined BPC on 22nd May, 2017.
Records show that he only resigned on 1st September 2017. Tobela was awarded a 1 Megawatt (MW) solar power pilot project in the Shoshong constituency. Tobela was formerly known as Vase Settings Propriety Limited before it changed on 31st May, 2017 according to their certificate of incorporation.
In early September 2017, Directors of Tobela were listed as Morteza H Abkenari and Lister Tlale with the third being Jonathan Raheem Husseini who resigned on 1st September 2017. There was also talk of extending the tender to make it a 5MW. The Board and Human Resources Committee (BHRC) took issue with this and decided to suspend or lay Husseini on administrative leave pending the Deloitte forensic investigations.
Speaking to Botswana Guardian on the sidelines of a press conference of his ministry at Avani hotel, Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security, Eric Molale confirmed that the investigation on the COO has been concluded but, “they have not reported to me”.
But Molale said there were also other things that he needs to investigate, such as policy issues around Citizen Economic Empowerment. “If you take the North West Transmission line, BPC says it has complied with the requirements. I am saying no, so I have to then satisfy myself at that level to ensure that the citizen empowerment requirements of a huge project like those are actually investigated and I get a good picture of what is happening”.
He confirmed that the DCEC has received reports and are also making their own investigations, but could not share details citing the stringent DCEC modus operandi. However, he said this does not stop him from moving ahead to try and “remove pains that may be there at BPC”.
Asked if he had appointed any committee to investigate the BPC, Molale said, “No, It is an internal thing, and actually I am going to be visiting the project maybe in the next two weeks to also have first hand information and impressions on the ground”.
Hosseini could not be drawn to say if he was back at work citing company policy, which says that all company information is released by the Marketing and Communication Officer, Dineo Seleke or the CEO, Dr Stephan Schwartzfischer.
The Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) has hatched a plan to place its loss making Francistown plant under care and maintenance to save the parastatal a whopping P35 million annually.Brian Dioka, BMC spokesperson said the decision is in line with efforts to reengineer the company into a profit-making entity.
According to Dioka, the BMC’s Francistown abattoir gobbles over P40 million annually in cash losses while placing the plant under care and maintenance will require P5 million annually thereby saving P35 million per year. Dioka said the beef producer will look into positions available within its three plants – Lobatse, Maun and Francistown - to absorb employees on shutting down of operations in Francistown.
“Our shareholder (government) has approved our request and assigned us (management) to go and restructure BMC, consultations with internal stakeholders are ongoing to find a common ground including negotiations with workers union,” said Dioka highlighting that government has given BMC management budget in excess of P30 million for the restructuring.
The restructuring exercise is expected to be complete by end of August and once the Francistown plant is under care and maintenance, it will act as backup facility for the Lobatse plant. Quizzed on potential retrenchments, Dioka remained cagey and said consultations with internal stakeholders will guide the restructuring process.
“Not everyone will be absorbed, but we have employees that are almost reaching retirement and others that will voluntarily opt for packages. We cannot deny that people may be affected, the biggest casualty is inefficiency and multi- activities,” said Dioka. “We are not restructuring to retrench but to make BMC efficient,” he added. Dioka is optimistic that BMC could finally be saying goodbye to losses and inefficiency after restructuring.
“We could get the profits that Batswana have been yearning for at BMC,” said Dioka. He said the farming community should also play part in making the company profitable. Botswana Meat Industry Workers Union Chairman, Negro Thebe told this publication that as far as he knows the restructuring exercise has been put on hold until the BMD Board scrutinises the whole process.
Thebe explained that during consultations it has been agreed that the board would have to scrutinise the exercise to ensure that everything is done by the book and no one is disadvantaged by the process. “As the union we believe that following the closure of the Francistown plant some of the 241 employees there should be considered for absorption in Lobatse looking at their skill and experience.
We had about 153 temporary employees who were engaged and their contracts have since come to an end and we believe there could still be room to accommodate most of the staff from Francistown plant. In Lobatse we have about 41 employees who are not fit for work due to ill health and our contention is that they have to be given a good package as and when they are relieved of their duties,” Thebe revealed expressing faith that the negotiations which are currently progressing will end on a good note.
Currently BMC records P80 million to P90 million losses attributed to opportunistic diseases like measles. Meanwhile privatisation of BMC is ongoing following approval by government in March 2018. PEEPA is looking at the best method to commercialise BMC whose main active plant, Lobatse, is old and may not attract sizeable equity once put up for privatisation.
Over the past two decades the financial services industry has not promoted any meaningful citizen participation, this is according to new entrant in the market Fiducia, a pension fund administration company.
Thapelo Matsheka, Chief Executive of Fiducia said the economy and the country has not sufficiently tapped and mined the significant long term domestic capital generated by the pensions industry as is the case elsewhere within Africa and Europe, in the last 20 years.
Dr. Matsheka is not new to citizen empowerment drive, having been at the helm of government’s entrepreneurship scheme – Citizen Entrepreneurship Development Agency (CEDA) for over six years from 2003 to 2010.
Citing the NBFIRA 2017 Annual Report, Dr. Matsheka highlighted that as at 31 December 2016, pension assets were P75.1 billion, which accounts for 44 percent of GDP at market prices and that 63 percent of the retirement fund assets were invested offshore as at 31 December 2016. He said the data illustrates the general tendency and preference for offshore investments at the expense of local infrastructure development.
“Whilst there is indeed a strong case for diversification across both asset classes and a geographical region, as a risk mitigation strategy, Fiducia is convinced that the offshore exposures are way too high,” said Dr. Matsheka.He bemoaned that the retirement funds industry’s investments in local direct property were less than one percent of total pension assets.
Dr. Matsheka also warns of lack of innovation by the industry in aggressively exploring local alternative investment to spur local economic activity and job creation. “A platform has to be created for the Trustees to influence decisions made by the various asset managers with a core interest to develop and sustain entrepreneurial capacity that exists within Botswana, investigate and fund necessary national programmes, subject to such investments meeting the Fund’s investment criteria on yields and risk in line with the investment policy of each Fund,” he said.
Dr. Matsheka said Fiducia is advocating for a more deliberate and active participation by local institutional investors, through impact driven investment strategies and a more deliberate thrust in supporting citizen entrepreneurship.“We thus believe that we can do more for local citizen empowerment and also for the development of Botswana,” said Dr. Matsheka.
Turning to efficiency and growth of the pension fund administration industry, he said lack of competition has resulted in concentration challenges and lack of choice by boards of trustees leading to entrusting fund administration to two entities.He said this has led to quality of administration service being poor and high error rates, compromising data integrity with huge operational risks as quality of data informs benefit payouts as well as formulation of various policy decisions by the board, investment policy, and actuarial reviews, among others.
Fiducia is the first citizen owned pension fund administration entity now competing with other international companies in the local pension industry where Aon and Alexander Forbes have been offering services.
Justice Modiri Letsididi of Lobatse High Court is expected to preside over a dispute over the chieftaincy of Omaweneno village near Tsabong.The dispute stems from disagreements among the Bimbo royal house over who the legitimate heir to the throne is.
Members of the royal family have filed court papers, each claiming legitimacy to the chieftaincy. However questions are being raised regarding an answering affidavit deposed by the director of the Department of Tribal Administration, Masego Mooketsi.
The residents were eagerly waiting for Kgosi Sam Bimbo to hand over the throne to what they call the rightful heir, Paul Bimbo, but his contract as Headman of Record was extended for another year.
The issue dates back from 2015 when some family members of the Bimbo royal house requested government intervention as they argued that Sam was only a regent and should pave way for Paul Bimbo.In an affidavit filed before court, Paul Bimbo argues that he is the eldest surviving son of the late Stephen Bimbo who was the Headman of Omaweneno village.
“The Omaweneno village was founded and established by my late great grandfather Samuel January Bimbo…In terms of tradition it is the eldest male sibling who succeeds to chieftainship when the seat becomes vacant due to death or other reasons,” he argues.
He notes that Samuel January Bimbo handed over the throne to his eldest son, the late Jonas Bimbo when he passed on.
Jonas handed the chieftaincy to his eldest son Stephen Bimbo in 1978 due to old age. Stephen passed on in 1986 when his children were still considered too young and not matured enough to take over from their late father. According to documents, a decision was then made by the Bimbo family to install Azaria Bimbo on an acting capacity for Stephen Bimbo’s children.
Azaria was the eldest son to Edward Bimbo, younger brother to Jonas Bimbo. When Azaria died in 1995 his younger brother, Sam (the current Headman) was appointed, also on acting basis for Stephen Bimbo’s children.Meanwhile, the Director at the Department of Tribal Administration, Masego Mooketsi, has disputed the facts as presented by Paul Bimbo and posits that Sam Bimbo was never appointed as a regent but duly appointed as headman of record in Omaweneno village.
She argues that the applicant is concealing facts in order for him to fraudulently present himself as the most senior descendant of Stephen Bimbo and to mislead the court. “In actual fact the Applicant has to my knowledge 3 full siblings…. Ezekiel who was the eldest has two children who have attained the age of majority,” she argues.
In the same breath Mooketsi tells the court in her affidavit that Paul’s mother was not legally married to Stephen Bimbo, and in terms of the Baherero of Omaweneno culture there is no way he can be a headman. “Applicant has two half siblings whose mother was legally married to Stephen Bimbo,” she posits.
However, some within the feuding family have not taken kindly to the Director’s statement and came short of accusing her of lying under oath.The family wrote to the director and questioned how she wrote about the late Kgosi Stephen Bimbo’s children and even claimed that Paul was born out of wedlock.
“It is so unfortunate for an officer of your caliber to confidently write about things that she does not know without seeking clarity first. We consider this as an insult to our Kgosi Stephen Bimbo and it is against our traditional customs,” reads part of the letter.
Meanwhile 80-year old Norah Kalako who is Paul’s mother deposed of an affidavit before court confirming her marriage to Stephen Bimbo. Harriet Bimbo, who was second wife to Stephen, also wrote an affidavit supporting the claims. Other members of the community also wrote supporting affidavits.
On the other hand Sam Bimbo, the current Headman of Record, has argued that the Applicant has no legal standing to bring the application, as he does not belong to the Bimbo family. He also argues in his affidavit that in 1995 the Bimbo royal family met and decided that he should take over the chieftainship as the younger brother to the deceased chief, Azaria. “I was never appointed by the royal house or the government as a regent or in an acting capacity,” he says.
Member of Parliament for Selibe Phikwe West Dithapelo Keorapetse has blamed government for the closure of BCL on not treating it as a parastatal or public enterprise.
In a letter he wrote to President Mokgweetsi Masisi, the MP argues that from the start there was a strong developmental role for BCL identified by government and from the outset, the government has been the custodian of BCL’s financial security. According to Keorapetse BCL was never formally a parastatal or public enterprise.
“But even when there were significant private sector shareholders in the early years, the government structured BCL in such a way to set it up as a recipient of government funds or funds raised by the government indirectly for the entity. The company was never set up as a normal commercial enterprise, with the flexibility necessary to be able to raise other money and determine its own financial fate.
“It was an immensely complicated financial structuring, enshrining BCL as a unique entity, and a bulwark of the country’s economy and the mainstay of the Selibe-Phikwe town’s economy,” reads the letter seen by this publication.
Keorapetse pointed out that in exchange for the implicit and explicit backing of government – the government never showed any intention other than to roll over BCL’s debts to the state.He stated that BCL became dedicated to providing a functioning operation that provided 5000 jobs directly and 10 000 indirectly.
He reveals in the letter that the debts were more akin to grants, thus entrenching the reality in the minds of the company, the government, Selibe-Phikwe residents and Batswana, that BCL occupied a special, protected place in the Botswana economy.
The legislator said from 2002 onwards, government increased its influence to complete control and ownership of the company, which crystallized with 100 percent control in 2008 after the departure of all external funders (they received about 5 percent of the nominal value of the debt owed to them - effectively, a full write-off).
“In the years that metal prices were high BCL managed to build up some cash. In the days when there was more private sector influence at BCL, these proceeds from the good times were used to invest in the company. This practice, built up over almost half a century, changed radically in 2014. It is important to note, that contrary to popular perception, BCL was in fact not given any money by government from 2002 onwards – all the debts dated before then.
The company had not been an active drain on the fiscus for 14 years when it was put into liquidation in 2016. By 2014, after the preceding price boom years, BCL built up its cash reserves.
It should have been allowed to use this money to invest in the business, for the inevitable downturn in prices – like it had before,” he posited Keorapetse pleaded with Masisi to make time to visit Phikwe and engage with fellow countrymen and women. “Please note that this letter will be shared with my constituents as these are their requests,” he said.