As part of government package to support private sector growth in the local economy, President Masisi said over P742 million has been budgeted to fund local access network infrastructure. The project being implemented under the current National Development Plan (NDP) 11 will fund access in 33 towns and villages identified under the National Broadband Strategy.
“Government investment will complement those from the private sector,” said Masisi at the Orange Botswana 20th anniversary celebration recently.He emphasised that his administration places strategic importance on the ICT sector and also has plans to digitalise the country’s military. President Masisi said the country needs to combat non-traditional threats such as cyber-attacks to make the country much safer.
The investment is part of government’s deliberate actions to diversify the economy through ICT innovation and support the national transformative agenda.“In this context, government-funded initiatives include setting targets for broadband speeds and allowing telecommunications companies to access the rural market through the Universal Access and Services Fund (UASF),” said Masisi.The business community across the country continues to yearn for fast broadband, as most business move into the digital space.
Botswana Export Manufacturers Association (BEMA) has recently lobbied the country to move fast and exploit opportunities on the 4th industrial revolution wave.
“We need to plug in and realise the results of trading and living in a global village,” said Mmantlha Sankoloba, BEMA Chief Executive Officer. Her remarks were also echoed by Tshepo Tsheko, Botswana Innovation Hub’s (BIH) Director of Marketing and Partnership: “Everyone is talking digital, any business that is not moving into digital, in the not so distant future will be out of business.”
Meanwhile President Masisi has acknowledged that the country’s ICT market is driven by a strong and vibrant private sector. “These achievements were made possible by a liberalised regulatory framework, managed by the Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority (BOCRA).” He applauded the Authority for collaborating effectively with its regulated entities to enhance innovative service delivery.
Government is expected to spend a further P250 million in the BCL mine liquidation process, Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security, Eric Molale revealed. The Minister explained that as at Wednesday last week during a meeting with the liquidator, it was disclosed that there is P250 million available for this process.
The liquidator has been giving letters of employment termination for the care and maintenance employees arguing that he is running out of funds to keep the staff and continue with the liquidation process. Molale said they are mindful of the expenses of the funding, but as a responsible Government they are funding that and they continue to fund that and if the money gets finished because of this commitment, “I will go to my colleague and ask for money". At this juncture there could be no excuse whatsoever to say there is no money”, Molale told Parliament.
The minister was responding to a question from Member of Parliament for Selibe Phikwe West Dithapelo Keorapetse who wanted the minister to clarify why the liquidator was laying off staff while the Minister assured Parliament that no one would be fired at the mine.
The Minister pointed out that ordinarily the liquidation process has been such that all creditors fund the process, but the Government took a deliberate decision to fund the liquidation process for a number of reasons. Among these he said was to make sure that the asset there is kept in a state that if indeed government does get some buyers, it would not be costly for them to restore it to some mineable state and value.
He said much as there was retrenchment at the time of the closure of the mine, the care and maintenance that would ensure government retains the value of the asset would continue to employ people, and therefore that would be something that would help some of the former employees to continue to have employment; and there were issues of the environment where the law mandates the Government in the event the miner who previously was mining there cannot take care of environmental consequences of the closure, then the Government automatically takes over.
“Government was obliged but at the same time the Government was a major shareholder. We had to take over and make sure that environmental issues do not get worse, and actually we had to mitigate those.
So, it is for these three reasons that we said we are going to fund this process of liquidation and we continue to fund it.
“As at 31st October 2018 we had spent for the whole process P 1, 080billion (One Billion and Eight Million Pula). This amount includes a P122 million for Tati Nickel and P1 million for the BCL Investment Group, which means the bulk of the money has been spent at BCL and as I did say, it includes environmental clean-up, de-watering the shafts, care and maintenance of which a larger part of it was to work on the crusher and related aspets.
“It is one of the biggest plants that we have at the mines. So, for anybody to take over the mine they would have to find the shafts and the crusher in good condition,” the minister said.Molale revealed that there is also the issue of cleaning the water that is being pumped, because it has heavy metals before it is discharged into the river. You cannot discharge that water without processing it to make sure that you extract from it, heavy metals that can have a deleterious effect on the health of people and animals. So that is the bulk of where the money has been going, he said.
Botswana has not been spared the brunt of neoliberal economic policies adopted by governments across the world and the growing influence of monopoly capital, which pose a threat to workers’ rights. In fact, Topias Marenga, the Secretary General of Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) is convinced that their National General Congress (NGC) which gets underway from 10th to 13th December 2018 in Kasane comes at a time when the worker is in a precarious position.
Held under the theme “Restoring the culture of Trade Unionism and Re-affirming the role of Collective Bargaining in advancing workers’ rights in Botswana”, the National General Congress provides an opportunity for the Union to introspect and map a new way forward, he stated.
“Botswana has not been spared the brunt of these policies. Botswana’s constant presence in the List of 25 cases addressed at the ILC for the past 2 or 3 years is indicative of the level of degradation,” said Marenga adding that to speak to this year’s NGC theme, BOPEU has invited Zingiswa Losi, the first Female President of COSATU.
President Dr Mokweetsi Eric Masisi is expected to officially open this congress. “We will host our brothers and sisters in the Trade Union movement from across the world. We expect guests from Ghana, Lesotho, Namibia and Brazil to mention but a few. This stems from the need for solidarity amongst workers’ organisations across the globe. We will continue to champion this call. “Our local brothers and sisters have also been invited.” He indicated that as this will be an elective NGC, on the last day of the NGC delegates will get to elect National Office Bearers (NOB) who will be entrusted with the stewardship of the Union for the next three (3) years. “We call for all who intend to run for office to put the interest of BOPEU at the forefront. We call for decorum and mutual respect. We expect to come out of the NGC united and reinvigorated.”
Marenga said the congress has been budgeted for between P1 million and P3 million. The funds are for accommodation for the delegates, conference, food and other logistics at the congress.“As BOPEU we are committed to being active and meaningful participants in the national economy. The NGC and or our annual general meetings provide us with the grandest opportunity to participate. We chose Kasane because of its capacity to host us and the realisation that we have to support local businesses.
“At the end of the NGC, we estimate that our event would have directly or indirectly benefitted Kasane’s economy to the tune of no less than P1 million. We pride ourselves in this. In recent past we have done the same in Palapye and Francistown. We will continue to seek out other venues that have the capacity to host us and invest in their local economies,” Marenga said.
As the year is coming to an end, so does the Botswana Democratic Party’s rich ‘Camp Dubai’ faction which is reaching a total fallout, Botswana Guardian has established. Camp Dubai which made history last year during Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) elective congress in Tonota as the most financed, with robust campaigns and strategies, has now reached its sell by date. Key figures in the camp include President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi, Vice President Slumber Tsogwane, Secretary General Mpho Balopi, Member of Parliament for Tati East Samson Guma, Specially Elected Councillor and BDP Sub-committee on Communications and International Relations Secretary Roseline Panzirah-Matshome.
Once a force to reckon with, relations soured for the camp after the Tonota congress but things have now escalated. According to information reaching this publication the key figures do not see eye to eye and have been doing everything possible to pin each other down.At the centre of the controversy is power and the need to be close to President Dr Masisi. It is alleged that members have resorted to underhand tactics against each other to be close and trusted ally of Dr Masisi since he became president.
Sources have revealed that preparations for next year’s congress have also come to play as the Camp Dubai players are vying for positions in the central committee. Guma has since indicated that he would be contesting against Balopi for the position of Secretary General while Panzirah-Matshome wants to be Deputy Secretary General. It is not yet clear if current Deputy Secretary General also Minister of Defence Justice and Security Shaw Kgathi will defend his seat. Guma was recently denied an opportunity to address a strategic meeting in Kgalagadi region which was abruptly cancelled. Balopi was blamed for the cancellation. He however distanced himself from such developments. Fresh information has revealed that Panzirah-Matshome is being cajoled into not contesting.
Panzirah-Matshome was the top key player in Camp Dubai since the 2015 Mmadinare congress that ushered in Dr Masisi as party chairman. Dr Masisi came into the race at the last minute. It is alleged that if she contests some of the Camp Dubai members might bite the dust as the person who played a role is seeking funding and strategising would now be occupied with contesting for office. Her support for Guma’s bid for Secretary General of the party is said to have also worsened her relationship with Balopi- the man whom she has been working closely with while Dr. Masisi was still BDP Chairman and with whom they ensured that Camp Dubai flourish.
This is said to have sparked a serious tiff between her and Balopi. She is said to be accusing Balopi of sending people to attack her during party gatherings and in some of the party’s social media groups. The duo is said to have long been at loggerheads since Dr. Masisi ascended to the presidency. Impeccable sources have revealed that during the BDP Women’s Wing Conference that was held at Mogoditshane Senior Secondary School this past weekend Dr. Masisi promised to support Panzirah-Matshome.
“The President and the VP had promised her their support. However, what is confusing is that the promise seems not to be genuine. We need women also in the Executive Committee of our Central Committee which is why as women we stand by her. These men within the BDP do not want us to rise they want us to do the dirty work for them,” said a member of the women’s wing committee. The source further revealed that the president later met Panzirah-Matshome for a meeting with the aim of convincing her to make peace with Balopi and others.
Botswana Guardian is in possession of some communications in a BDP WhatsApp Group called Road to 2019 and another called BDP National Youth Wing 2017-2019 where there is an exchange of words between Panzirah-Matshome and other members of the groups. In the groups she is accused of being behind the creation of New Jerusalem Faction and dividing the party. Since the Tonota Congress Camp Dubai has never met for evaluation as agreed, Botswana Guardian can confirm. The camp also failed to host an appreciation party for their members as per the agreement. Some of the members who were in the campaign team still owe P100 000.00 which was pledged as a commitment towards the campaign.
Contacted for comment Panzirah-Matshome confirmed that all is not well between her and Balopi. She also stated that she is aware that Balopi has sent some people within the BDP to attack her. “I know the communication you are talking about. Those young boys who are busy insulting me are associated with Balopi and everyone knows that. But I am not going to crack, you should tell them so. I am contesting and I am not moved come rain or whatever. “I have worked so hard for other people and it is time I prove that even women can lead and we want our male counterparts to appreciate that,” she said. Regarding the support from President and Vice President and their meeting, Panzirah-Matshome said as a member of the Central Committee she would meet from time to time with the leadership of the party and “it is not anything new and something worth sharing with the media.”
For his part Balopi said he is not going to be involved in petty talks. He wondered why he would tell people to attack Panzirah-Matshome. “She should tell you what her problem is. I am not going to lower my stature and integrity to discuss such issues. As the BDP we have structures that deal with issues of concern.“I am not even in those social media platforms. I am bigger than that and I represent a bigger political organisation in the country. I am not for petty talk because I am not petty,” said Balopi. He pointed out that he has been attacked on several occasions about things he knows nothing about and has decided to keep quiet. The secretary general said he would not be drawn into discussing matters with the media while there are proper internal channels that can be used.
Former South African Minister of Home Affairs, Malusi Gigaba was a teenager during the mid-80s in South Africa when like numerous other young people at the time he was veered into active politics out of no choice of his own. He remembers the 1980’s as one of the most violent decades of the “struggle” against apartheid when the brutality of the regime was nauseating and the country was in turmoil.
The boycotts had started in the Vaal region, there were stay-away’s and students were targeted with tear gas, water canons and were being chased around the townships by police for boycotting school in massive numbers. Gigaba experienced his first school boycott in 1986, during the time that “organs of people’s power” had been established such as the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) in 1985, and the South African Youth Congress (SAYCO) which was formed in 1983. When the ANC was unbanned in 1990, Gigaba inevitably joined the party and active politics. “The apartheid regime sjambokked us into the struggle against it. It forced us into wanting to destroy the system,” says Gigaba. Gigaba was in Gaborone on Tuesday 4th December and formed part of a panel of speakers at the conference on finding the ‘Intersection between Gender Based Violence and Technology’. Also adding their voices to the cause were Vice President of Botswana, Slumber Tsogwane, HIV and Gender activist, Dr. Sheila Tlou, High Court judge Lot Moroka, and local human rights lawyer and activist, Uyapo Ndadi.
The conference, which attracted throngs of both young and elderly, gender and civic activists was hosted at Botho University premises and facilitated by Hlanganani ICT Botswana, Oracle Academy, Cisco and BONELA. Gigaba’s presence at the conference raised certain eyebrows particularly that his ‘image’ was deemed in some quarters as inappropriate particularly for GBV issues. The former South African Minister resigned almost three weeks ago from both his cabinet and MP roles due to public pressure after it was found that he lied under oath in court. Gigaba also found himself the fodder of tabloids after public misdemeanours one of which involved his wife and his then mistress, and the other was about his penis; his penis went viral when according to him his phone and the contents therein were misappropriated by a currently nameless person who Gigaba said wanted to extort money from him and he refused.
“There is probably a greater return in successfully blackmailing those with public profiles; revenge porn and sextortion. Complete violation of human dignity, of privacy. We need to end the weaponisation of technology. And to pay attention to emerging technologies and their impact,” says Gigaba.He is adamant that the negative aspects of technology need to be mitigated including the disclosing of private sexual images without consent, child pornography, human trafficking, indecent communication, sexual abuse of children, cyber hacking and cyber stalking, “Some of us see technology as an instrument of love,” he says. Gigaba became president of the ANC Youth League in 1996 when he was 24 years old, a position he was re-elected into for three consecutive years leading to eight years at the helm of the youth league. In 2004 he was re-elected into the South African parliament as Deputy Minister of Home Affairs, and he resigned a few weeks ago from his position as Minister of Home Affairs after serving the government for 14 years.
Gigaba pulls out his cellphone to show this reporter a recent message from his former personal assistant who says everything seems surreal without him in the office. Politics is fickle and he knows it but he does feel let down.
“A part of me does feel a sense of betrayal. I think the leadership of the ANC did not handle the issues that resulted in my resignation as well. I think they let me down. But I harbour no bitterness or anger or vengefulness. That is not me,” says the former minister who is still a member of the National Executive Committee of the ANC, and has been for over 20 years. He is also quick to point out that he was not entirely created by the ANC, that he has parents who always invested in him and made him focus on his education, “Sure enough you can take away the titles and positions but you can’t take me away from me.” In his observation the last 24 months have been hell on his ‘brand’ as he watched it being smeared in the media and forever engraved online. He aches to see his public identity, one that he worked so hard to build being destroyed in an instant. Most importantly it has pained him to see his closest family members being dragged in the mud with him.
The people he was most concerned about were his daughter, wife and parents. “Blackmailers don’t care how this will affect your family and loved ones,” he says. Compounding this is that no one will ever forget the incident with his penis because it is saved online and can be retrieved at any time, his digital footprint is aligned to this image, “some people did not know about me until that video went viral”.He adds that he is aware of how difficult it would be to seek the ‘right to be forgotten’ in the context of online information.
Judge Lot Moroka of the High Court also spoke on the ‘right to be forgotten” which seeks to extract affected people from the damaging material; and in extension some view this as the right to have an “imperfect past”. He observes however that the online world is difficult to restrain because once the images go viral no one has control over them. The plus side is that, “Digital footage can be useful in court as critical evidential material when required,” says Moroka citing a case of GBV in which a daughter captured via cell phone her father physically abusing her mother.
Moroka also clarified that GBV is not gender specific, “but in practice the complaints are overwhelmingly men killing women, including beheadings.” Gigaba is currently unemployed and already worried about school fees for his children when 2019 begins as he is no longer receiving a salary. And although he has attempted some business ventures, he says, “life has a way of humbling you, and forcing you to develop multiple other skills.” What he is avoiding is being desperate and economically vulnerable lest he finds himself in compromised positions.
“This is politics. Someone may think I am too independent and try to entice me into doing favours for money,” he says. The optimistic Gibaba says he will always keep his thoughts positive. “Hindsight is a terrible teacher. I can only deal with my reality and not what could have been,” says Gigaba. His advice to other politicians is that they need to empower themselves with education and maintain their humility as they rise up the ladder. “The people who raise you must also be the first to receive you when you fall. Keep your bearings, your values and systems. Never lose your head to the benefits and incentives of public office. Work hard for your people. Whatever may happen to you people won’t forget the hard work you did for them, and when they do they will fight for you,” he says.
Botswana is not aware of Israel’s bid for observer status in the African Union (AU) neither has the country been official approached by Israel to support this bid.This was confirmed by Tebelelo Alfred Boang, the Director in the Department of Public Relations, Reaserch and Informantion in the Ministry of International Affairs and Cooperation in an interview ahead of last week’s commemoration of International Day of Solidarity with Palestinian Peoples.
Boang reiterated that Botswana, just like many other countries, maintains that Israel’s occupation of Palestine, including settlement activity undermines the concerted efforts by the international community to find a lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Accordingly, he said Botswana continues to join many other countries in calling on Israel, the occupying Power, to immediately end its occupation of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and to reaffirm support for the Two States solution, with Palestine and Israel living side by side in peace and harmony.
To demonstrate her support and solidarity with the Palestinian peoples, Botswana established diplomatic relations with the Tstae of Palestine on 08 March 2017. Palestine is alao an observer member in the African Union, a position she attained in 2013 during the 21st summit of the African Union. Israel lost the observer status in 2002 with the dissolution of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) and in recent times has been pursuing individual member states of the African Union – the latest being Ghanaian Government - to supporrt her bid for an observer status in the 54 member state bloc.
In her statement to observe the International Day of Solidarity with Palestine, Minister of International Affairs and Cooperation Dr. Unity Dow emphasised that Botswana “remains resolute” in its support for the Palestinian people in their quest for inalienable right to self determination and the pursuit of freedom, peace, dignity, and stable existence.
Minister Dow said that whie Botswana welcomes efforts by the “Middle East Quartet” to finding a lasting solution to the Middle East situation, the country regrets that today in the year 2018, which marks the 51st Anniversary of the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories, the situation in Palestine remains ëxtremely dire and fragile, marked by an ongoing conflict, violence and deteriorating humanitarian and economic conditions”.
“Botswana also remains steadfast in its support for a fair, durable and early resolution of the conflict, through the resumption of negotiations aimed at reaching a Two State solution, with Israel and Palestine State living side by side in peace and harmony,” minister Dow said.
The agricultural system is the major contributor of emissions now threatening human lives. For this reason, the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report emphasises a shift to healthier and more sustainable diets and lifestyles that limit food waste.
Contributors of the IPCC report are not the only ones concerned about the role diet plays in climate change issues. ProVeg International, a leading international food awareness organisation working across four continents, in six countries, is pushing for the reduction of meat consumption by 50 percent by the year 2040. Their actions are inspired by their belief that about 30 percent of greenhouse gas emissions originate from the global food system. Livestock farming, ProVeg says accounts for 14.5 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions more than the entire transport sector.
To end or minimise the effects of climate change, the IPCC report released in October, 2018 suggests limiting demand for greenhouse gas intensive foods, like meat. The report contributors view this as key to achieving a 1.5 degrees Celsius compatible pathway. Greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture the report posits need to be reduced by 40 percent or more relative to 2010 by 2050 if forest cover is increased. Despite the seemingly urgent need to address the role diet plays in climate change, out of around 200 official Side Events offering dialogue for a diverse climate change topics such as energy, financing, and just transition, only two are addressing shifting diets.
Nico Nettelmann, Campaign Manager at ProVeg International, when sharing during the ongoing 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP24) in Katowice, Poland said, ProVeg continues the conversation started last year at COP23, to advocate for a stronger focus on demand-side solutions.
Moreover he explained that there is still a gap in the diet and climate change conversation, but slowly he said agriculture and food security in general gets more attention at the international fora.In the lead up to the climate conference graced by over 28 000 participants from across the world, ProVeg did a submission to the Talanoa Dialogue. But the organisation does not work alone. It is part of two networks –the Food and Climate Alliance (FCA) and climate action networks. To date ProVeg has initiated a schoolkids programme in United Kingdom, among other countries, that encourage meat free meals for children. “110 primary schools in the UK have committed,” said David.
Impacts of meat and dairy on the planet are life threatening, both to humans and other species. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, overexploitation and agriculture are the most prevalent threats facing the 8, 688 threatened or near-threatened species from comprehensively assessed species groups.
While other life forms are being threatened by the intemperate meat eating habits of people across the world, human beings themselves are soon to be evicted from their homes by the dire effects of the climate change they are contributing to by eating meat, as 143 million people according to ProVeg may soon become climate change migrants.
Climate variability and extremes are also a key force behind the recent rise in global hunger. According to statistics ProVeg shared, world hunger increased and reached 821 million people in 2017 – that is 1 in 9 people.In order to get out of this sticky situation, ProVeg International believes that the world needs to focus on how to create sustainable forms of agriculture. The organisation feels that people spend time analysing how to make this transition to a fossil free transport system possible or how to transition towards renewable energy and move away from gas and coal, but the same should be done for agriculture, taking into consideration that 80 percent of agricultural land is dedicated to livestock production.
Orange Botswana wants to be the digital partner of the Government of Botswana to navigate through the 4th Industrial Revolution, the mobile company’s chief executive officer Dr Patrick Benon, said at a gala dinner celebrating the organisation’s 20th anniversary.
The 4th industrial revolution is driven by the emergence of the Internet and digitalisation and according to Benon, it is the first revolution which is not linked to the emergence of a new type of energy, but instead, it is technology oriented. It is also the first revolution which will impact all industries without exception and will completely change the world.Benon said Orange Botswana has noted President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi’s ambition to turn Botswana into a high-income country and a knowledge-based economy as well as to diversify the economy as articulated in the National Vision 2036 and the recent State of the Nation Address.
He said the president’s ambition to create more and sustainable jobs for the youth of Botswana can only be achieved through leveraging the opportunities coming from the 4th industrial revolution. “If Africa does not take advantage of opportunities coming with Internet and digitalisation, which are the starting point of this fourth industrial revolution, we will regret our hesitation for generations to come,” he warned.He said that Africans and Batswana have the skills and the talent to leverage on this revolution and that it is our “collective responsibility” to harness and nurture it and take the continent and country to another level. For the past 20 years, Orange Botswana has been a mobile telecommunication player mainly providing telephone and Internet services. In future, Orange Botswana will be a multi-service operator.
This shift has started already with the emergence of Orange Money which allowed Orange Botswana to be a digital partner of Batswana for financial inclusion. New innovations are coming in digital education, in e-health, in m-agriculture that will consolidate this positioning of Orange Botswana as a multi-service operator. This will bring a lot of opportunities for local startups because the plan is to create an ecosystem which will allow start-ups to develop solutions addressing the customer needs leveraging our infrastructure.
Benon said Orange, previously Vista Cellular Network, was conceived in Botswana. They began trading as a mobile network operator with passion and a firm commitment to changing the nature of the telecommunications landscape. “The journey has been incredible and we have seen tremendous growth in the sector and the country”.
He said there are notable actions over the past 20 years that illustrate Orange Botswana as a success story both as a business and as a corporate citizen. “For us, as a business, we are driven by the number of lives we touch, the change that we bring to the Nation and the footprint that we leave behind as a brand”.
Among their biggest achievements is the Orange Money service, which is not just a means for financial transaction but is also a financial inclusion tool that continues to improve economic and social conditions of Batswana. Benon said they have also been instrumental in ensuring that the latest technology is available to Batswana, especially when it comes to data connectivity. They were the first to launch the 4G technology in Botswana in 2015. They have also been supporting start-ups and unlocking opportunities for young talented entrepreneurs across Botswana.
An example is a Botswana start-up named Brastorne which innovatively targets the farming community to improve access to markets and information. Brastorne currenrly employs more than 50 people and has a turnover of more than P1.2 million per month.
“Moreover, we have supported this start-up to expand beyond Botswana by introducing them to other Orange affiliates. As we speak, Brastorne has signed contracts with Orange Madagascar and is in advanced stages of signing Orange Guinea to launch their service in both countries”.
Orange also runs on an annual basis the Orange Social Venture Prize, which is an innovation prize to identify and reward social entrepreneurs who use technology to bring community solutions that drive towards social and economic development.
“Our actions also empower communities through the Orange Foundation, which is our philanthropic arm. Since its establishment in Botswana in 2011, the Orange Foundation has dedicated more than P8 million towards solidarity for people living with disabilities; to support women, girls and the youth; and to improve livelihoods in rural and underserved communities.
The Ministry of Transport and Communications has merged Botswana Postal Service and Botswana Couriers and Logistics to form a company known as Botswana Postal Services Limited, Botswana Guardian can reveal.The merger is part of the turnaround strategic plan to make BPSL efficient and profitable. Thankfully there will be no job losses in the process. Minister, Kitso Mokaila confirmed the ongoing amalgamation to Botswana Guardian.
“Botswana Post’s mandate is universal access to postal and ICT to Botswana and Batswana. We are trying to reach all Batswana at reasonable prices. Couriers bring the logistics to this entity streamline and make them more profitable. “We have been able to save all the jobs. We want it to be self sustaining and not require subvention from government,” he said. Although the management team is still to be appointed, close sources who followed the evolution of Botswana Post in the last decade tip Cornelius Ramatlhakwane to take over as the inaugural Chief Executive Officer, as he is credited with turning around the postal services into an efficient and profit making entity.
The Board of the amalgamated entity is in place and is led by Nathan Kgabi. The positive thing is that the ministry will give the amalgamated entity full support including recapitalisation where it deems necessary and is taking all due care to minimise job losses.
The Registrar of Companies Gaolathe Kanasi issued a certificate of amalgamation in terms of section 227 (1) of the Companies Act, 2003 chapter 42:01 on 27 November, 2018 and the company registration number is CO2015/12389. In 2009, government through Public Enterprises Evaluation and Privatisation Agency (PEEPA) approved implementation of a strategy for the rationalisation of certain Parastatals and Public Entities.
The merger between the two has been a long drawn exercise which was expected to have been completed in 2013, but couldn’t as there had to be buy-in from all stakeholders.Botswana Guardian has it in good authority that originally government approved the merger of Botswana Post and Botswana Savings Bank (BSB) through a cabinet directive. The merger was to include Botswana Couriers and Logistics which at the time had been established as a subsidiary of Botswana Post. However, it was realised that the merging of the two institutions required amendments to some existing legislation as well as promulgation of new legislation.
The merging also required the establishment of a holding company through the Companies Act hence the Botswana Postal and Savings Group (BPSG) was established as a holding company whereby all shares in BPS and BSB, following conversion from statutory entities to public limited companies under the Companies Act would be held as the 100 percent shareholder.
BPSG establishment was purely to facilitate the optimisation of public resources and improve efficiencies in the provision of services through a shared service structure for the BPS, BSB and BC&L and all required collaboration and cooperation between all key stakeholders.
A Reference Group and a Task Force were established to spearhead the implementation of the merger. Both the Reference Group and Task Force consisted of representatives of the affected entities and stakeholders and the groups met regularly at the Ministry headquarters. The two groups are reported to have been meeting at least once a month to deliver milestones and approve deliverables, respectively.
Three Bills were approved by Cabinet and Parliament as enablers for implementation of the merger, these being, BSB Transition Bill, BPS Amendment Bill & BPS Transition Bill. The Amendment Bill of the Botswana Postal Services was approved to convert BPS into a body corporate (company) and it was then eligible to convert for registration with Registrar of Companies. While with respect to Botswana Savings Bank, the Bill provided for transition into an organisation that could be easily merged with Botswana Post. Botswana Guardian has learnt that the board of BPSG was appointed to oversee the merger. This meant that the Boards of BPS, BSB, BC&L reported to BPSG.
In order to have a smooth and transparent transition, it was decided that a holding company must be formed. That led to the engagement of Armstrong Attorneys law firm to assist in the process of registering the holding company and offering legal advice to the structures responsible for the merger.The company was named Holding Company Botswana Post and Holding Group (BPSG) and associated requirements being approved by Cabinet. Botswana Guardian has learnt that parent Ministry of Transport and Communications provided oversight for the supervision of the Holding Company and only remained a shareholder leaving governance to the Board of Directors, there by following the provisions of the Companies Act.
Internal stakeholder updates for Boards, Unions and staff of affected entities started in 2011. Subsequent to that the Ministry of Transport and Communications reviewed the merger as well as approached cabinet seeking approval for rescinding of the merger
This was followed by a directive to amalgamate Botswana Post and Botswana Couriers and Logistics into a single entity was approved. The Directive also instructed that BSB be transferred back to Ministry of Finance and Economic Development (MFED).
BSB will now partner with the amalgamated entity, BPSL to provide financial inclusion to communities that are unbanked. This will lead to the dissolution of the holding company BPSG. Hub 25 a subsidiary of Botswana Post based in South Africa will be closed but the process is not expected to affect amalgamation.
The PLSE results released this week Monday present the same old story witnessed in the past 12 years.Since 2007 PLSE results have hovered around an average of 70 percent pass mark. The lowest percentage was registered in 2011 and 2012 at 64 and 65 percent respectively.
The year 2013 recorded 68 percent and there was one percent improvement for 2014, 2015 and 2016 which registered between 68 to70 percent. The year 2017 had 71.62 percent while 2018 is 72.82 percent.Although there has not been much improvement, education experts however, credit the primary school sub sector for doing better than junior certificate and BGCSE which have been described as worse off.
The experts argue that there should be more room for improvement. For a start, primary schools are not afflicted by the same problems that secondary schools are facing. An example is that discipline of learners at primary is not much of a problem as that of students at secondary level. Also drug taking is not an issue at primary level as the learners are much more disciplined and willing to take instruction from the teachers.
The results however mean that for the last decade primary schools have not moved any inch from the average percentage of 70 percent. This means that the Ministry of Education must do some soul searching to find out what else can be done to address the problem. It is significant that the same problems recur in which schools in the same locality register extremely varying results. This calls into the question the management of schools; what the learners are learning; the teachers are teaching and how well are they doing it.
Besides resource constrains such as lack of photo copiers, teachers are not able to administer scheduled tests, or grapple with shortage of teaching material. There is also a likelihood that the teachers’ morale is at its lowest ebb. Experts say this could be healed by introducing fresh ideas or minds or improving professional development to ensure that teachers raise the bar in the class room.
The results released by Botswana Examinations Council (BEC) shows that out of a total 46 432 candidates that sat for the examination, 8 941 obtained Grade A, while 8857 got Grade B, 15 963 obtained Grade C, and 9 094 and 3 501 got Grade D and E respectively. Only 29 obtained Grade U. The results indicate an improvement of 1.20 percent from the previous year in Grade C or better. According to BEC Executive Secretary, Professor Brian Mokopakgosi this is a significant improvement because it is an improvement in quality grades.