Items filtered by date: Tuesday, 07 February 2017 - Botswana Guardian
Tuesday, 07 February 2017 15:50

Inside plan to oust Masisi

As divisions unravel within Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) youth, the party Chairman Mokgweetsi Masisi is the latest target as the Young Turks gun for him in the coming youth elective congress.

Botswana Guardian understands that as the youth descend on Tsabong this coming week one of the contestants who is allegedly close to the party chairman is being targeted with the aim of frustrating Masisi. It is alleged that the ongoing talks between various lobby groups to form one lobby group is aimed at going head to head with Simon Mavange who is said to be enjoying Masisi’s support.Mavange is currently the Secretary General of BDP Youth Wing National Executive Committee. He has allegedly also had a fallout with his outgoing Chairman Andy Boatile who is not supporting him. Currently there are six candidates for the chairmanship after Collen Mochotlhi formed an alliance with Thabo Autlwetse, (Autlwetse to contest as Chairman while Mochotlhi would contest as Secretary General).

It is alleged that other candidates Bruce Nkgakile, Ronnie Kgathi, Vuyo Notta and Fox Segwai are also in talks among themselves. Highly placed sources have indicated that the compromise idea is a small fish as bigger things are planned for the congress to down Mavange- the fall which young democrats believe will extend to Vice President Masisi.

This development is said to have been triggered by some young democrats whom on various social media platforms have indicated that those who are in the race with Mavange are anti-Masisi. Masisi is expected to defend his seat as Chairman of the BDP during the party’s elective congress in July this year. Information from the BDP corridors is that he would face a challenge from Minister of Infrastructure and Housing Development, Nonofo Molefhi and former Ambassador to Japan Jacob Nkate. Outgoing Youth Chairman Boatile has since expressed concern over the youth allowing the elders to interfere in their campaigns.

He said all the candidates must support the current party leadership and aspiring candidates should shun the interference of elders in their affairs. On the cards the delegates are said to be determined to ensure that from the floor there would be a call for motion of no confidence on the outgoing committee.

“This will mean that reports from Chairman, Treasurer and Secretary General would be rejected. This would in essence ensure that Mavange as part of the outgoing committee would have failed the BDP youth and would not be fit for office,” said a source close to the development. This publication has seen communication between youth members in a closed social media group where some of the plans are being hatched. Another bullet that could catch Mavange is that of age limit. It is said that at the time of the election Mavange will be 35 years and some months, which would trigger a request for proper interpretation of the party constitution and guidelines for BDP NYEC. This could also spell doom for Mavange if his age could be used against his candidature.

“We are not party to such allegations you are raising. For us it is about the party. We have no problem with Masisi or any other candidate that could be interested in the leadership of the party. Our aim is to build structures that would be active even beyond the July Congress. We just hear the news that Mavange is enjoying the support of VP. We suspect VP is not with Mavange but Mavange is buying attention from VP by peddling propaganda against others saying they support Molefhi,” said Molebedi Lunga Oduetse- Spokesperson for Autlwetse campaign team. 

He claimed that they are also in talks with Mavange to join alliance with them with the aim of uniting the youth. Oduetse stated that his camp is aware that there are communications from people purporting to be their supporters that have been circulating on social media. “We distance ourselves from any communication that does not come from myself, Mochotlhi or Autlwetse. Some may be from well-wishers not directly involved with the campaign while others could be propaganda”.
Mavange has since distanced himself from enjoying support from Masisi. He said he is sponsoring his campaign and gets assistance from well-wishers and not the Vice President. He expressed confidence that BDP youth would express their choice through the ballot without any influence.

Nkgakile who is alleged to be enjoying support from some of the constituencies said he is not aligned to anyone. There are reports that he is also a Masisi’ s man but Nkgakile denied saying, “I am an independent candidate not aligned to anyone because I am a man of principle.  I am running a clean campaign and I know what I want for youth of BDP. I have travelled around the country and the youth were impressed about my campaign message,” said Ngakile.

Nkgakile stated that once in office he would work with anyone who would be in the party leadership. He also claimed ignorance of any plans targeted at Mavange or Masisi. Nkgakile said he also learns of the matter from the media and social networks. Notta and Segwai who at the time of going to press could not be reached for comment, were said to be travelling across the country canvassing for votes. The congress will be officially opened by President Ian Khama on Friday next week while elections will be held the following day (Saturday).

Published in News
Tuesday, 07 February 2017 15:46

2017 budget: Matambo’s litmus test

Finance and Economic Development minister, Kenneth Matambo will present perhaps his toughest budget next week Monday, two years before what promises to be a highly-contested general elections for the landlocked country.

As he walks inside parliament buildings to face legislators in a televised event, Matambo, who has been minister since 2009, will be aware that the country is grappling with rising unemployment rates, a looming budget deficit, reduced growth forecast and so many other challenges which need urgent budgetary resolution such as education and agriculture.

Ahead of the highly-anticipated budget, economic commentators are all in agreement, that the minister must present an increased budget which can help bring the country’s economic and social landscape under control. “Our expectations are for the minister to present an expanded budget, not aggressive,” commented First National Bank Botswana economist, Moatlhodi Sebabole. He is expected to be one of the speakers at the bank’s budget review next week Tuesday night.

Sebabole, who has an Msc in Finance from Essex University, uses the word ‘aggressive’ carefully. This is because he is also mindful that the treasury is under pressure to raise funds for budget when the fiscal year begins in April 2017.  Revenues from SACU and minerals will be hard to come by.

First and foremost, Matambo has to present an expanded budget because, the upcoming budget (2017/18) coincides with the start of the National Development Plan (NDP11). “This will bring pressure for an expanded budget to kickstart direction on the plan (NDP),” Sebabole told Botswana Guardian on Wednesday afternoon.

The draft NDP 11, which was presented last October by Matambo stated that, the total revenues for the first year of the plan are estimated at P52,7 billion and will grow by an average 6,7 percent in 2022/23.  Mathematically speaking, this means, the budget will expand by just over P4 billion. The estimates for 2016/7 budget are P48, 4 billion. Secondly, Matambo will have to present a budget which includes the cost of financing the Economic Stimulus Programme (ESP).

“This budget will cover the second year of the implementation of ESP projects. Forget whether the package has brought an increase in economic activity or not, it has to be funded,” predicted the FNBB economist. Two years ago, government came with the ESP to jack-up the weakening economy. The budget for the three-year programme is just over P3billion.

Garry Juma, head of research at Motswedi Securities also concurs with Sebabole.
“The minister will be under pressure to present a budget which will boost the struggling economy,” said Juma. Matambo and his boss, President Ian Khama have forecast that the mineral-led economy will increase at a rate of 4, 1 and 4, 3 percent during their budget and state of the nation address speeches last year.

In particular, treasury minister Matambo based his predictions on the recovery of the mining industry which had sunk the economy into a technical recession for the first half of last year.
However, things have changed as the diamond recovery has not been as expected. Diamonds are the biggest foreign export revenue earner for the 50 year old country. Any fall in diamonds revenue always spells trouble, as it is the case now. “At First National Bank Botswana (FNBB), we forecast a lower growth rate of 3.3 percent for 2017, slightly higher than our forecasted growth of around 2 percent in 2016 and much lower than the forecasts from the ministry of finance and economic development,” said Sebabole in an earlier commentary. 

The reduction in growth forecast for the year, basically means there must be more funds to be spent on activities which will pick the struggling economy, added Juma. To explain his argument further, the Motswedi Securities top analyst gave an example of budgets that preceded 2008, a recessionary period in which government increased annual budgets to jack up the economy. The resultant budget deficits were financed by tapping into foreign reserves and accessing loans from crisis lending institutions such as World Bank and African Development Bank.

He added that, the increase in budget ‘somehow helped to increase economic activity’. Meanwhile, Sebabole explained that, government is even in a much prettier position to finance the deficit, if expected revenues run short. Government is reported to have raised over P4billion in the debt market last year. “There is also room to finance the deficits coming from the expanded budget by drawing down from reserves,” said Sebabole, who has also been a lecturer at the University of Botswana.

Total foreign reserves as of November 2016 stood at P80 billion. However, government is entitled to about half of that as part of them are for pensions. Against all odds, government will be forced to come with short to medium term programmes which can help cut rising unemployment rates which currently estimated at around 20 percent. The unemployment scourge has been exacerbated by the closure of BCL mine which employed over 5000 workers in Selebe Phikwe. BCL has been put under liquidation as it has become a burden to government, Vice President, Mokgweetsi Masisi has been quoted as saying previously.

“We will continue to experience effects of the BCL closure and other copper mines,” said Juma. Some private and parastatals have also been cutting jobs to deal with reduced profitability among other factors. With limited options to deal with rising unemployment rates, government will be left with limited options but to increase budget for social safety programmes such as Ipelegeng, said Sebabole and Juma.

“There is also political pressure to do so. We are going for elections in two years time,” said Sebabole. The local government ministry which is the parent ministry to Ipelegeng, a low paying but labour intensive programme was allocated P1, 2 billion as operational budget. The total budget for Ipelegeng is over P612million. Government will also be under distress to increase budget to cater for grants associated with old age pension, World War II veterans, community home care patients, orphans among others.
More and more students are thrown into the streets as government cannot afford their tertiary education funding needs. The result has been those tertiary institutions such as Limkokwing Botswana cutting jobs. Sebabole said government might be forced to up the tertiary education ministry’s recurrent budget to deal with such challenges.

On the flip side, Juma feels government might cut the education budget and increase funding to ‘deserving projects such as infrastructure development’ that can bring immediate jobs to the mineral-led economy. More farmers will be waiting with bated breath to hear what relief measures government has designed to mitigate their commitments to National Development Bank. In a bid to fight drought, government has provided provision for relief for farmers who have been hit by previous droughts.
The relief has been in the form of reduction it total repayments for farm fertilisers and implements. Sebabole said this will also mean more budget expectations for those residing the countryside. As government runs helter-skelter to look for funds to fund the budget, Sebabole has suggested that a more diversified budget be provided in future.

“We cannot have a situation where more that 50 percent of revenues comes from minerals and SACU receipts,” said Sebabole. He added this is not sustainable given the current global uncertainties in trade and economic and political challenges to South Africa. The former is the biggest contributor to Southern African Customs Union which Botswana is a member.

This week, Standard Bank released a report that Botswana needs to diversify its economy. “We will thus be looking closely for progress on the implementation of government medium term plan (NDP 11),” said the report. Standard Bank is parent company to Stanbic Bank Botswana.

Published in News
Tuesday, 07 February 2017 15:42

UDC/BCP seal Pact

Umbrella for Democratic Change and Botswana Congress Party will today (Friday) announce the outcome of their cooperation talks following a week of confusion, chaos and instability between the parties.

After the two parties won the Tsabong and Palapye by-elections against Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) a fortnight ago, there was excitement among both parties’ rank and file that a deal would be announced. Instead the parties dropped a bombshell last week Monday that the announcement was postponed at the eleventh hour. But nothing was communicated and this annoyed some party activists who accused the leaderships of both parties of using delay tactics. It is said the deal was sealed on that Monday and it was agreed that the announcement be held today (Friday) as a roadmap to 2019. The parties want to unseat BDP which has been in power for the past 50 years.

“We are going to announce what has been happening at the talks. The deal is almost finished and we are very excited that the dream to unseat BDP is coming into reality now. We will be announcing what parties have agreed so far. We have learnt a lot from the talks that the time is now for opposition parties to take power,” said the source. BCP spin-doctor, Dithapelo Keorapetse confirmed that there is going to be a press conference at Oasis Motel today (Friday). He did not want to shed light on the deal. “Everything will be communicated at the press conference. I am sorry I cannot share further details,” said Keorapetse. His counterpart, UDC spokesperson, Moeti Mohwasa said he is not aware of any developments.

Botswana Guardian is reliably informed that the four presidents met early this week in Francistown to map a way forward and reconcile their differences over the “unfortunate incident” that led to the last-minute cancelation of the talks. The four Presidents - Motlatsi Molapisi of Botswana Peoples Party, Dumelang Saleshando (BCP) Ndaba Gaolathe of Botswana Movement for Democracy and Duma Boko (BNF) attended the Francistown meeting. However it is believed that the four presidents have agreed to create a position for Dumelang Saleshando of the BCP to become the second vice president of the UDC. The UDC will thus have two vice presidents in Gaolathe and Saleshando while Boko will remain the president.

The parties have apparently agreed to ditch the UDC+ name and retain just the UDC.
BCP executive committee was updated on the matter during a meeting Tuesday while the UDC leadership met on Wednesday. One of the issue that was delaying the talks was allocation of positions for parties. The negotiations between UDC and BCP have been characterised by controversy due to the not so good relationship between BCP and BMD. BMD and BCP have not been in good books since the collapse of the first negotiations dubbed Umbrella 1 in 2011.

In 2015, BCP wrote to UDC declaring their readiness to commence the cooperation talks.  BCP was given the green light to engage with the UDC by its 14 regions following countrywide consultations. A few months into talks in 2016 they signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on how to cooperate in by-elections in the build-up to 2019 general election.

Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) has been instrumental in the cooperation talks between opposition parties since 2011, which urging culminated in the formation of UDC. Some meetings were even held at the federation’s office in Gaborone.
“We cannot go into details of the letter for cooperation and the MoU. The media and public can only know the MoU proposal draft after our friends from the UDC have made their input and we both finalise the MoU. So, for now the document has to remain confidential. But what I can say is that the MoU is a much-improved version of the previous one that we had as opposition parties,” Keorapetse said when the talks started.

BCP expressed its interest to cooperate with the UDC during the former’s Kanye congress in July 2015. The congress resolved that the party should engage the UDC for cooperation talks. The duo after the by-election for Goodhope-Mabule Constituency in August 2015 entered a gentleman’s agreement for cooperation in all the by-elections that will occur before the 2019 general election.

Published in News
Tuesday, 07 February 2017 15:39

Seeletso says EVMs are not computer-based

The recent amendment of the Electoral Act, which has, among other things, introduced electronic voting and the cancellation of supplimentary registration, has divided the nation right in the middle.

While one section seems happy with explanations that the machines will facilitate a faster voting and counting process, the other argues that the machines are intended to save the ruling Botswana Democratic Party(BDP) from losing power at the 2019 general elections. Matters are not helped by the fact that, incidentally, when electronic voting was introduced in Namibia in 2014, the ruling SWAPO improved its electoral fortunes to 77%. The party had registered 76% and 74% of the popular vote in the 2004 and 2009 parliamentary elections respectively. Stakeholders remain confused how the cancellation of supplementary registration will eliminate voter trafficking.

Singing the praises of the Electronic Voting Machines (EVM), former secretary of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), Gabriel Seeletso, who is now doing consultancy work for the election management body, said that, besides making it possible for voters to spend less time queuing to cast their vote, the machines will eliminate spoilt ballots which sometimes bring about ties.

“The EVM will, therefore, improve the two key electoral processes of voting and counting,” he told stakeholders at Leseding community hall in the Francistown west constituency recently. He also explained the undesirability of ties in an election as they lead to by-elections which are expensive. EVM have been used since 1960 in America before their use spread to other parts of the world. In Africa, they were used for the first time in Namibia in that country’s 2014 general elections.

Unlike in Botswana, the use of EVM started after a lengthy engagement on the matter. EIS says discussions of introduction of EVMs in Namibian elections started in 2004. The need for reform was apparently given more impetus by the challenges faced by the country’s management body in the counting and tabulation process in the 2009 elections which had led to a delay in the announcement of the election results.

Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa contends that after the Namibian elections, “There is a general consensus among observer groups that electronic voting was largely successful in Namibia, with one observer mission even recommending its adoption by other Southern African countries, and their permanent adoption of electoral voting in Namibia.”

The raging debate currently underway on the EVMs has specifically to do with the issue of integrity. Ironically, one of the benefits of electronic voting is that, “It may reduce fraud.” As opponents of the EVM in Botswana have said, the problem with the new Act is that it does not provide for the use of a proper verification process. The 2014 Namibian Electoral Act introduced the requirement that the use of voting machines be subject to the simultaneous utilisation of a verifiable paper trail for every vote cast by a voter. Any vote cast could be verified by a count of paper trail.

The opposition in Botswana has threatened to go to court to compel government to ensure that the envisaged EVMs have got operational specifications such as the availability of a verifiable paper trail in order to close out the possibility of fraud by the ruling party. The opposition will be emboldened in their threats to go to court to learn that, “The introduction of this requirement in the Namibian Electoral Act of 2014 results from a court case in India, in which the Indian Supreme Court ruled that verifiable paper trail should be indispensable for voter confidence in the system.”.

To allay fears of those worried that the machines may be manipulated at the expense of the opposition, Seeletso told stakeholders that the machines are not hackable because they are not computer-based. However, Motlhaleemang Moalosi disagrees. “This is preposterous. What he is saying is not true. Seeletso probably does not know what a computer is. Any electronic device, be it a pen or microwave, even if it is not networked, is computer based. In any case, the fact that the several machines from the polling stations will be connected to the tabulator at the end of polling means that the machines are not standalones at all,” said the computer expert.

His fear is that, the tabulator could be inserted with a malicious code that could then override what the machines that are connected to it had captured at the polling stations. “This would distort the results. So, the BDP may choose not to manipulate the machines at the polling stations but the tabulator itself and win the elections,” said Moalosi who does not understand what the reluctance to introduce a verifiable voter paper audit trail is all about.

“Seeletso should tell the stakeholders what this is. Is it a cost issue or what,”? he wondered. Seeletso has however explained where the problem comes from. He blames ignorance on the part of those against the machine for which he recommends voter education. “People do not easily accept new things. You will remember that when O Mang was first introduced, people objected and made a lot of insinuations about it. There is always fear of the unknown. So, this is not surprising,” he said.

When challenged to explain why the introduction of the EVMs was prioritised ahead of the other reforms which have been proposed over the years, the former IEC boss pleaded with the stakeholders to not kill the messenger. “I have recently learnt a Kalanga proverb which says Ntumwa aana mbonje (a messenger has no wounds). The law has already been made and my job is to explain to you what it says,” said Seeletso.

Stakeholders, especially the opposition are also opposed to the fact that Bharat Electronics has already been chosen as the preferred supplier. They say there should have been transparency right from the onset including surrounding the choice of the supplier.

Published in News
Tuesday, 07 February 2017 15:34

Teacher fired for criticising Khama appeals

The constitution of Botswana allows everyone to freely express themselves in criticising President Ian Khama and his administration, Advocate Sidney Pilane has said.

Advocate Pilane says a teacher who was sacked from his employment for criticising President Khama’s administration had done nothing wrong. Goitsemodimo Dintwe a former teacher at Radisele Junior Secondary School was fired in 2011. His dismissal, which he is challenging before the courts followed the publication of his opinion piece by a local newspaper on Khama’s administration in May 2011.

The opinion was published in 2011 following the historic public sector strike. Dintwe was summoned for a disciplinary hearing in November and was later that year fired from his employment. Advocate Pilane told a panel of five Court of Appeal Judges that the article titled ‘Khama’s administration style is questionable’ cannot be equated to a political statement as the employer has implied.

The published opinion piece read in part, “At party level after Kanye congress, BDP members went in numbers to vote for people whom they trusted to run the party. At that time the party was rigged by internal fighting and to that effect there were two warring factions (Barata-Phathi led by Daniel Kwelagobe and the A-Team led by Mompati Merafhe).

The democrats gave people of their choice the mandate to run the organisation. Contrary to the will of the people Khama fingerpicked a pack of his cronies to sit in the BDP central committee to run the affairs of the party. Motswaledi the then democratically elected Secretary General for BDP Central Committee sought clarity on how things were done by the leader of his organisation, but things turned nasty for him and he was expelled from the party.”

Pilane argued that there is no how the author of the article could be said to have been in contradiction of Section 34 (a) of Public Service Act. He said President Ian Khama was being criticised as the central face of government and there is nothing that is contradicting the PSA. “There is nothing wrong with the article because we are a democratic country.

This is our government and our president and we are entitled to criticise government of the day. It is wrong to suggest that what my client stated in the article is in contradiction with Section 34 (a) of the Public Service Act just because the article in part mentions Botswana Democratic Party (BDP). My client was commenting on a matter of general interest,” he stated.

Section 34 (a) of PSA states that a public servant “shall not, without the express written permission the Permanent Secretary to the President, act as the editor of a newspaper (not being a publication of Government), nor take part directly or indirectly in the management thereof, nor publish in any manner anything which may be reasonably regarded as advocating for or against any political party or candidate but he or she may publish in his or her own name other matter relating to subjects of general interest”.
Pilane argued that the client wherever he speaks about the BDP is not in favour of the BDP or against the party.

He said as Batswana “we can debate politics without advocating for or against a political party or a candidate. The article should not be read in part but in totality. If he criticises the President, he is not criticising the BDP. This is not the BDP government- it is my government,” said Advocate Pilane.

Counsel Matlhogonolo Phuthego from the Directorate of Public Prosecution said the article was advocating for BDP against Khama. “A reasonable person reading the article would come to the conclusion that the person was advocating for BDP. His fall was for advocating for BDP and saying Khama is destroying the party,” said Phuthego.

Advocate Pilane asked the court to determine whether a public servant can make a political statement criticising the employer. He said even if Freedom of Expression is not absolute Section 34 (a) of the PSA should be deemed unconstitutional as it contradicts the Constitution of the country.

Published in News
Tuesday, 07 February 2017 15:29

BCL advisors under investigation

In the latest twist in the BCL saga, BG investigations have uncovered that MDCB hired auditing firm Pricewaterhouse Botswana (PwC) to probe the appointment of BCL Advisors as well as Pula Steel, a company in which BCL holds a controlling stake.

BCL management appointed a South African company, Africa Finance Investment (PTY) Limited (AFI) based in Johannesburg, South Africa. This publication can reveleal that the company is owned by a Motswana, Goleele Mosinyi and his South African co-founder Siyanga Malumo. The contract agreement was signed by the BCL Managing Director Daniel Mahupela duly authorised by the board and Mosinyi on 12th March 2013.

The agreement mandated AFI to advise on various transactions, including Polaris II initiatives, following the withdrawal of South African based Rand Merchant Bank as BCL’s advisors. RMB had completed the life-of-mine validation, as designed by the technical consultants, TWP Consulting. Former BCL finance staff, management and board members told BG News that AFI was chosen because their principals have mining experience, international experience, particularly in large cross-border transactions and a track record in concluding significant transactions in the Botswana market.

The contract stipulated that AFI was to get a retainer fee of P250, 000 per month and success fees for mergers and acquisitions transactions and debt and equity raising. Among the many deals that AFI clinched for BCL was acquiring a majority shareholder of Pula Steel at 50.5 percent with other shareholders being the original owners, the Verma family of Indian origin. The deal also involved the government investment agency CEDA. BG News investigations have established that over the term of the advisory mandate, until the BCL liquidation, no fewer than ten team members from AFI have been involved in various capacities as advisors to BCL. These included Chartered Financial Analysts and Chartered Accountants, who for certain extended periods worked on BCL transactions on a dedicated basis.

It is said that the investigation on the Pula Steel deal allegedly started at the same time as the AFI appointment investigation. BG News has it on authority that the investigation is ongoing. However, none of the concerned parties were willing to shed light on the investigation as they were all hiding under the confidentiality clauses except Pula Steel Director, Depaak Verma who confirmed being aware of the PwC investigation. However, he stated that “the scope of investigation is limited to BCL investment on the Pula Steel”. Verma continued, “they contacted us about a month ago and we gave them all that they needed”. Verma clarified that his company is not under any investigation as it is a private company in which they invested their personal resources as a family.

Mosinyi was cagey with information stating that they know nothing about the investigation. When pressed further, he declined, citing confidentiality issues. Responding to a questionnaire from this publication Senior Partner of PwC Botswana, Butler Phirie said, PwC Botswana complies with domestic rules and regulations for independent auditors determined by the Botswana Accountancy Oversight Authority and Botswana Institute of Chartered Accountants.

“These requirements include adherence to stipulations of International Auditing Standards, application of International Financial Reporting Standards and requirements of the Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants (Parts A and B) set by the International Federation of Accountants,” he said addidng that these requirements, inter alia, require “us to adhere to strict confidentiality with respect to information which we gather through our client relationships. Accordingly, it is impossible to discuss any specific matters relating to any of our clients unless expressly required to do so by law or if appropriately authorised to do so by the relevant clients”.

While Paul Smith MD of Minerals Development Company Botswana (MDCB).  said, “We do not comment externally on internal work processes. All I can say is that PwC as an accounting firm has been appointed to assist BCL now under the management of the Provisional liquidator) with certain accounting work. PwC‘s appointment is simply part of work required and is ongoing”.

How AFI came aboard
BG News has established that the process which led to AFI’s appointment began with an introduction by a government agency to BCL in 2013 after having met AFI executives at various seminars run by AFI on subjects such as project finance, corporate finance, debt capital markets and valuations.

The PwC Investigation
BG understands that the investigation started immediately after Smith assumed his position as MD of MDCB. It is alleged that first the BCL management was ordered to terminate the services of BCL’s advisors, but management refused stating that the decision was above them since the appointment of AFI was made by the BCL Board. On being informed of this, MDCB immediately engaged PwC to launch an investigation into the appointment of AFI Corporate Advisors (AFI), and at the same time instructing PwC to investigate all aspects of the Pula Steel transaction, which again had been sanctioned by both the BCL Investment Committee and Board of Directors.

BG News understands that part of PwC’s investigation centres on the work that AFI did on Polaris II and the fees that AFI charged for their work. BG is in possession of the contract that was signed between BCL and AFI, following the BCL Board’s decision to hire AFI. The contract stipulates a retainer fee of P250, 000 per month and success fees for mergers and acquisitions transactions and debt and equity raising. The management and finance team which worked closely with AFI confirmed that a dedicated team serviced them and devoted considerable resources to the company.

This publication has confirmation that AFI was instrumental in Project Tungsten, which was the proposed purchase of Norilsk Nickel’s African mining assets, which included Tati and Nkomati. In the transaction, AFI was key to assembling and leading the due diligence team which included technical, legal and accounting teams from MSA South Africa, the technical mining experts, Norton Rose Fulbright, the international law firm and Deloitte Consulting.

The due diligence on Nkomati allegedly involved three full time senior staff from AFI and took a period of five months. Thereafter, AFI was involved in the negotiations which led to the signature of the sale and purchase agreement between Norilsk and BCL. Some former BCL management team members confirmed that resulting from the proposed purchase of Nkomati, concentrate was directed from the Nkomati mine for smelting in Selebi-Phikwe. The direct financial benefits to BCL arising out of this arrangement have been confirmed as being over P300 million, until BCL was liquidated.

AFI leaders professional experience
The CVs of AFI team leader Mosinyi and the firm’s co-founder Malumo shows that the latter’s experience spans over 38 years in investment and commercial banking across Europe and Africa. He was formerly a senior person at the African Development Bank before running a network of 16 commercial banks across East and West Africa. He was one of the anchor team members in the building of Fieldstone Africa, the infrastructure Investment Banking Firm, across Africa. His biggest transaction in SADC has been as team leader of the Cahora Bassa hydro project restructuring, which was a US$3.5 billion transaction. Apart from investment banking he has been active in the ownership of power utilities (generation, transmission and distribution).

Mosinyi’s CV states that his mining experience includes various mergers and acquisitions transactions in South Africa, in particular, with Harmony Gold Mining Company, mining debt capital markets transactions with mining companies when he worked with JP Morgan in London and being Chairman of the Audit and Risk Committee at Wesizwe Platinum and member of the Investment Committee. He resigned from the Wesizwe Platinum board in [2010]. Wesizwe is the same company that Paul Smith last worked for before joining MDCB.

AFI clinch ABSA- Barclays deal
In addition to the Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A), this publication has established that AFI was involved in the negotiations with the funding banks, which secured the US$200 million debt from Barclays and Nedbank for the purchase of Tati and Nkomati. The BCL team involved in negotiations with the Nedbank and ABSA/Barclays debt teams have confirmed that the work done by AFI involved extensive modelling and documentation.

AFI amongst Creditors
BG News has learnt that in March 2016, BCL, advised by AFI, raised US$100 million from Barclays Bank of Botswana. When BCL was placed under provisional liquidation there was backlog payments of some months owed to AFI. Sources have confirmed that to advance this loan, Barclays needed to perform an extensive assessment of BCL’s operations and made it a condition of the loan that the Nkomati deal should continue as BCL’s operations could only be viable if combined with those of Nkomati. BG News is in possession of the loan agreement between BCL and Barclays, detailing this condition. BG News further established that AFI was instrumental and was heavily relied upon by the banks to understand the structure of the proposed transaction, including the financial model.

The BCL and AFI contract, which BG is in possession of, states that BCL should have paid AFI based on funds raised at financial close. Financial Close means that all conditions precedent to draw-down have been satisfied and all that is left is for the borrower to draw-down. It is common for advisory agreements to have such conditions. Despite BCL having fully drawn down on its loan, AFI was allegedly never paid the fees due and BCL went into liquidation. On the other hand, Barclays were paid their arrangement fees and were paid back by government the full US$100 million last December after government placed BCL under provisional liquidation.

Other jobs done by Mosinyi
BG News has established that amongst his major jobs in the country, Mosinyi led the capital structuring and mobilisation of funding for the Botswana Vaccine Institute. Former chairman of BVI, Dr Martin Mannathoko led the recruitment of Mosinyi as advisor to BVI. Mannathoko confirmed this and added that through Mosinyi’s assistance they were to produce purified vaccines and “the project was completed to our satisfaction”.

The next significant transaction for Mosinyi was the Orange Botswana restructuring, which led to the Batswana shareholders selling a significant tranche of their shares to Orange Telecom of France, the controlling shareholder. Gobe Matenge, who chaired the team that concluded the transaction, confirms that his group engaged Mosinyi. Matenge described Mosinyi as a “true professional hard worker” who is “decisive and very reliable”.

Recently, AFI was hired by Ministry of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security to undertake a due diligence on the possible investment by the Botswana Government on Khoemacau Mining, the copper mining company. BG has also established that Mosinyi led the teams that advised the Botswana Housing Corporation regarding their commercial properties when New Africa Properties listed.

Published in News

It’s now official: cancer is the country’s top silent killer in HIV+ patients. Scientists gathered in Gaborone recently for the Botswana Harvard AIDS Institute Partnership (BHP) 20 years’ anniversary celebration, have confirmed.

A doctor at the Harvard AIDS Initiative (HAI), Dr. Scott Dryden-Peterson, said that although antiretroviral therapy has extended the lives of people with HIV, cancer remains the biggest challenge and has even overtaken Tuberculosis to become the leading cause of death in HIV+ patients in Botswana.

“We know that HIV patients are at increased risk of developing cancer, heart attacks, and strokes,” said Dr Dryden-Peterson further noting, “We have found that the risk of some cancers, such as anal, colorectal and liver cancers, are increasing over time mainly because HIV patients are living longer. If they survive for longer, they have more time to develop these illnesses.”

Dr Dryden-Peterson has done research to explore the interaction of HIV and cancer in resource-limited settings, particularly sub-Saharan Africa, where over 20 million people are living with HIV. He is currently the Principal Investigator of a pilot study, HIV and Malignancy in Botswana. Though the study is still in progress, there have already been major findings. Of the patients with cancer in Botswana, two-thirds of them have HIV. “It was surprising,” said Dr Dryden-Peterson. “I didn’t think it would be nearly that high.”

In 2010, he established the Botswana Prospective Cancer Cohort, which enrolls all cancer patients at Princess Marina, Nyangabwe Hospital and Gaborone Private Hospital. The project has enrolled over 2000 participants. Over the years, Dr. Dryden-Peterson said the cancer situation has been worsening, as many patients remain unscreened and undiagnosed. He emphasised that increased capacity for early detection and treatment of HIV-associated cancer needs to be a new priority for programmes. Not only that but, also improved quality of oncology care, particularly, he noted chemotherapy medication, which he said, was not always available.

Public Health Specialist and Head of National NCD Programme at the Ministry of Health and Wellness, Dr Neo Tapela concurred. While discussing the Potlako study, a two-year study designed to speed up patient diagnoses and treatment for patients with cancer related symptoms, she reiterated the “urgent need to turn around the disturbing trend”. She said the study, which is conducted in the Kweneng East district has so far yielded positive results. 

To date, 117 primary care clinicians have been trained on identifying cancer related signs and symptoms, how to evaluate patients with these and link to treatment, a process that has been taking years resulting in patients only receiving treatment when it was already too late. 200 patients have already been enrolled to date.

Meanwhile on Saturday, the Cancer Association of Botswana (CAB) will join the rest of the world in commemorating World Cancer Day. This year’s theme is, ‘We Can. I can’. A statement from the organisation said, “The main aim of commemorating this day, is to take part in the global effort to show support to all those affected by cancer and to remember those we have lost to the fight”.

Within Botswana, cervical cancer is the leading cause of cancer death. More than two-thirds of cases occur in HIV-infected women, with a national HIV prevalence of 17–24 percent in 2013. Between 2003 and 2011, cervical cancer accounted for 14 percent of all cancers in Botswana and 26 percent of all the cancers in women.

Published in News
Tuesday, 07 February 2017 15:22

What I learnt from Women In News

Last year, WIN-IFRA combined its Sida-funded Women in News Africa programme with its Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs-funded programme to workshop participants in media management, peer mentoring and networking events.

The group of 45 high potential editors and journalists from Botswana, Rwanda, Zambia and Zimbabwe (Sida-sponsored delegates) and Kenya, Malawi and Tanzania (Norwegian-sponsored delegates) met on two occasions throughout 2016 to discuss serious issues pertaining to succeeding as a female journalist. Topics covered include Human Resource management, Finance, Marketing, Editorial, among many others. We interrogated impediments to the success of female journalists in newsrooms and came up with suggestions on how we can improve our careers and further help other women in our newsrooms.

WIN also provided a career roadmap coach for each country, the participant is tasked with guiding women in their career paths. A landmark survey in 2011 of more than 500 media companies worldwide found that women made up only about one-third of the journalism workforce. Although internationally newsrooms have seen some progress over the past few decades, there is little doubt that inequalities still exist in terms of women achieving equal pay and top positions, as well as longevity in management, suggesting both a glass ceiling and ‘glass cliff’ problem.

A survey undertaken by US-based International Women’s Media Foundation in conjunction with International News Safety Institute in August 2013 shows that women journalists are faced with unpleasant circumstances at work and on the field. The global report, released in January this year shows that 98 of the 1078 female journalists interviewed from around the world are working in unhealthy environments due to harassment and violence. Nearly two-thirds of respondents said they had experienced some form of intimidation, threats or abuse in relation to their work, ranging in severity from name-calling to death threats. Majority of threats, intimidation and abuse directed toward them occurred in the workplace and was perpetrated most often by male bosses, supervisors and co-workers.

It also found that most incidents of harassment and violence were never reported, even though a majority said they were psychologically affected. In response, one of the local female journalists interviewed in one of my articles ‘Female journalists abused,’ said the most predominant challenge she encounters is intimidation. “Our male colleagues don’t take kindly to a woman showing signs of maturity in their reporting,” she says, hence the many cases of sabotage where good stories begin to go unpublished. She has also received threats from sources, their friends and families after publishing a story in which they were involved. She has been promised beatings and called all sorts of demeaning names.

University of Botswana Media Studies lecturer Letshwiti Tutwane has observed that men see women in the local workplace as sex toys, whether single or married. He was shocked when one of his students confessed that a top government official wanted to have sex with her. She is doing her three-month internship, which is part of the programme. “Women should speak out and expose any acts of misconduct toward them and the culprits must face the wrath of the Law,” he says, adding that women should be professionals before anything else.

These were, but a few, experiences further shared by WINners (as WIN members are called). However, in the wake of finger pointing and victim-playing attitude arose a revelation that women also should come to the party. Newsroom will only become ‘A Boys’ club’ if we allow it. The media industry is by far one of the most challenging jobs ever and it takes a determined man and woman to stay relevant.

While throwing pity parties about being mistreated, there is already a deadline to meet and next thing, your name does not appear anywhere in the newspaper. Week-in week-out. Coming from a newspaper background, I realise that one’s byline carries their life. The type of stories you write, quality and your consistency count.

Your byline exposes you to outside markets. Reality is that the public (readers) is our final judge. So, the more we focus on negativity, the more we are going to lose focus and harsh as it may sound, become irrelevant. People often describe journalism as a calling or passion. 

I believe it takes mindset change to thrive in this, otherwise male-dominated industry. This does not mean condoning any form of harassment though. Perpetrators must face the music. Companies, through their Gender policies should assist in preventing discrimination and abuse. Finally, through WIN programme, we were enrolled with University of Wits in South Africa where we studied Media Management. The graduation was last week for Botswana WINners and the new intake for 2017 started.

Published in News
Tuesday, 07 February 2017 11:47

BFA purge targets Sebego’s remnants

Botswana Football Association (BFA) factions seem to be alive and well. Four months after the Maclean Letshwiti regime vanquished their rivals, factions seem to linger at the football association. 

The recent reports from Lekidi are that the new regime dubbed ‘Servants of Football’ is moving quickly to finish off the remnants of the football administrators with allegiances to the vanquished Tebogo Sebego regime. The last known members of the Sebego regime are said to be constantly looking over their shoulders. The current regime is tying loose ends especially in the BFA National Executive Committee.

Masego Nchingane, a well-known Sebego regime lieutenant is the only remaining NEC member from the ‘Friends of football’ regime. However, speculation is that the Letshwiti camp is doing all in its power to charm the loyal Nchingane into switching allegiances to their side. 

Source close to the BFA said Nchingane finds himself in a peculiar situation and his future in football administration hinges on whether he switches to the Letshwiti regime or not. The Team Letshwiti insiders reveal that the former NEC additional member (women category) Suzie Montsho was allegedly forced out of her position at Lekidi. Montsho was part of the Sebego regime and her departure gave Servants of football an opportunity to co-opt their preferred candidate, Tshepo Mphoeng into the position.

The casualties are not only at Lekidi house as shockwaves of the clean-up campaign are felt in all BFA regions. One of the targets of the Servants of football is Kweneng regional chairman Loago Raditloko. The Kweneng regional chairman was known to be part of the friends of football faction led by former president Sebego. 

BG Sport has it in good authority that the Letshwiti camp served Secretary General Rapula Gaotlhobogwe and first division chairman Mpezeni Sambandawe with letters of suspension pending disciplinary hearing for misconduct. However, two were not found guilty of any charges and were later reinstated.

Another target of the Servants of football is the BFA Southern region chairman Lesego Leaketsa who was allegedly pushed out of office. Leaketsa who was with Team Sebego ahead of the BFA AGA is reported to have already left office. Leaketsa was re-elected at the regional level ahead of the BFA AGM. The former chairman of Southern regional association was also a regional block representative during the previous administration. There are 17 BFA regions and four blocks around the country.

The former Southern regional chairman is the longest serving member. He was elected in 2008 and has served as BFA NEC member since 2014. Leaketsa however refuted allegations that he was pushed out, and claims he voluntarily resigned from his post. “I have commitments which keep me away from the region for quite some time, I realised that the region will suffer a lot during my absence. I tendered my resignation and due process took place for my deputy to ascend to the chairmanship,” Leaketsa said. 

Published in Sports
Tuesday, 07 February 2017 11:42

Magosi strike gold in transfer window

BTC premiership outfit Mochudi Centre Chiefs (MCC) might have struck gold with their new signing of Absolom Limbondi from Tigers FC in Namibia.

Following the conclusion of the January 2016/2017 BTC premiership transfer window this week, Magosi brought in a significant number of new faces with Limbondi seeming to attract most of the attention. The 25-year-old Limbondi comes with quite a reputation having been voted player of the season and Player’s player of the Namibian league in 2015. However, reports reveal that the Namibian league has been inactive for some time now and Magosi grabbed the opportunity to acquire one of the best country’s best Namibian players.

Magosi had a rough ride this season and with the first round coming to an end this weekend, MCC finds itself limping in the middle of the log standings. Although it’s too early to confirm, Limbondi’s arrival will give MCC coach Bongani Mafu the much-needed boost in the scoring department.

“We have signed him on a one season contract and based on his performance we shall review and decide on the way forward,” said Magosi spokesperson Clifford Mogomotsi this week. Mogomotsi explained that Limbondi arrived in Botswana a week ago and has been training with the Kgatleng outfit. However, the team is still working on the player’s paperwork.

Nevertheless, Mogomotsi confirmed that the new player would not be part of the team that will face lowly-placed Green Lovers at the Serowe Sports Complex tonight (Friday). “We have been struggling with strikers who can get the ball across the net and Limbondi seems to have exactly what we need,” a confident Mogomotsi said. Meanwhile struggling rookies, Mahalapye United Hotspurs have signed 10 new players to address their faltering fortunes.

“It is really hard when a team does not have financial investors, our players are demoralised, even the support from Mahalapye fans is shallow,” team spokesperson Boniface Disho said.

Disho decried that even though they have embarked on rigorous campaigns to find sponsors, the community response is quite disappointing. He said they normally make about P2 500 from gate takings, which is barely enough to sustain the team as they have security and players bill to take care of. Disho also expressed concern over that Botswana Premier League (BPL) grants that are often paid late.

“We are hopeful that we will survive the relegation, I just wish BPL can also up its game because this late payments hit hard on us nevertheless we are hopeful that our technical team will come through for us,” he said. In other transfer window related matters Lobatse outfit Extension Gunners managed to acquire striker Kudzani Machazani of Zimbabwe and Moatlhodi Ralesotla from Gaborone United.

Maun outfit Sankoyo Bush Bucks have signed Kabo Matlhare from Maun Tigers, Refilwe Senyane and Kediemetse Radikoko while Mankgodi’s Black Forest released Kennedy Ramasa and brought in Willington Maposa and Stanley Ngala. Nico United has about 13 new signings with the likes of Thabo Mosielele, Addmore Motswakae, Remmington Masuke and released Gift Moyo, Daniel Taboka and Tlotlo Mpema among the 13 others.

The reigning BTC premiership champions Township Rollers have reunited with defender Edwin Olerile.In addition a resurgent Gilport Lions are enjoying the services of Bobby Gattuso, Jackie Mothatego and the Kgaswane brothers being Mpho and Kaelo from Magosi.

Published in Sports
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