Items filtered by date: Monday, 15 October 2018 - Botswana Guardian
Monday, 15 October 2018 10:31

BDC eyes external markets

The state-owned investment arm, Botswana Development Corporation (BDC) this week made it known they are more than ready to expand beyond the borders of the country, taking advantage of the current bullish investment opportunities in the continent. The company’s Managing Director, Bashi Gaetsaloe made the revelation this Tuesday after BDC facilitated a deal which will ensure Transport Holdings (TH) is 100 percent citizen owned.

TH, one of the biggest logistics companies in the country was previously partly owned by a South African logistic firm, Imperial Group. Some five years ago, government, which is the sole shareholder of BDC gave the company (BDC) the go ahead to start investing outside the country. The Johnny-come-late, BDC will find other state owned enterprises such as the South African Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), already taking advantage of Africa’s economic growth.

IDC, which was formed in 1940 has invested in projects all over Africa.   A hyped-up Gaetsaloe, who has been at the helm of the company for more than three years is confident the time is now to spread wings and rip the benefits as long as they last. “Africa is an exciting place to be right now and analysts, investors, and economists have all remarked, ‘Ignore Africa at your peril.’ We believe that Africa is our ‘back-yard’ and have taken a deliberate strategy to invest across Africa,” said the BDC top executive.

Gaetsaloe is perhaps inspired to expand in the region and Africa by the fact that, some countries in Africa are currently recording Gross Domestic Product(GDP) rates ranging between 5 percent and 8 percent. “Serious business people looking for growth and new markets must look at the region and the continent,” said Gaetsaloe, whose area of specialisation include investment strategy, development finance, business strategy, organisational transformation, among others. 

BDC has not stated which countries they will expand to in the short to medium term, or which sectors in the African continent they will fund. Transport Holdings, which they have just helped through P160 million deal has ambitious plansof expanding further into Southern African Development Community (SADC).

Gaetsaloe, who has now roped in a corporate deal maker-Moatlhodi Lekaukau as Chief Investment Officer market, said the country’s narrow also makes them eager to taste unchartered waters outside. With its credit ratings status done by reputed Moody’s,BDC will release as much as P700 million from their war chest into new projects at home and abroad.

Last year, the Corporation injected P600 million into new businesses and managed to make a Profit beforeTax (PBT) of P150 million. BDC has announced itwill be using different funding models if the needs to raise more for projects arise.“As an A-Rated government and with BDC’s own investment grade rating of Baa2 – we can export highly competitive financial services and products and do so profitably and sustainably.

This is one of our competitive advantages as a country and as BDC,” said Gaetsaloe in a prepared speech.  Writing in the company’s 2017 annual report, the Chairman of BDC, Blackie Marole noted that the Corporation is seeking opportunities to mobilise resources together with African partners that can be deployed strategically to advance the development of Botswana, the region and the continent. “Financial sustainability is imperative for the Corporation to continue delivering on its mandate in the long run,” said Marole.

Meanwhile, Minister for Investment, Trade and Industry, Bogolo Kenewendo, under whom BDC falls, told attendants during the BDC/Transport Holdings transaction on Tuesday that BDC remains an important cog of government. “BDC remains mandated to developing the commercial and industrial sector through funding of commercially viable ventures and partnerships with local and foreign investors”.

Published in Business
Monday, 15 October 2018 10:26

Wilderness expects higher results

Wilderness Safaris announced that its interim results are expected to be higher than the previous period.In the same period last year, the group recorded 25 percent increase in profits to P117 million, revenue increased by 10 percent to P705 million while the occupancy rate declined marginally to 65 percent.

The company advised shareholders to exercise caution when dealing in the company’s securities. “Wilderness Holdings Limited announces that the company’s results for the half year ended 31 August 2018 are likely to be materially higher than those achieved in the corresponding period in the prior year,” reads the statement.

In its year ended February 2018, the group recorded 39 percent increase in profits after tax to P87 million contributed by the increase in bed night sales which rose by eight percent to P178.3 billion. Revenue increased to P1.2 billion driven by the increase in bed night sold. Wilderness Holdings Group,Chief Executive Officer, Keith Vincent said the group’s strategic intent is to invest in African tourism markets, which offers authentic wildlife and safari experiences.

“The Group’s strategic is to invest in African tourism markets which offer authentic wildlife and safari experiences and where we feel our specific ecotourism model can have positive conservation and community impacts,” said Vincent. The group offers access to 2.5 intent million hectares of Africa’s wildlife and wilderness areas through some 50 luxury camps and safaris across eight African countries, Botswana, Kenya, Namibia, Rwanda, Seychelles, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. In Botswana, the group recorded highest performance of P118.7 million followed by South Africa with P30 million. Rwanda and Kenya are the least performers with P15.2 and P5 million respectively.

Published in Business
Monday, 15 October 2018 10:18

Sefalana optimistic despite difficulties

Sefalana Group Managing Director, Chandra Chauhan said they remain optimistic as the economy shows signs of recovery over the next 12 months. The group continues to experience difficult trading conditions as government and consumer spending remain low and cautious respectively.Reporting on Sefalana 2018 annual report, Chauhan said during the year they experienced increased pressure on margins in both wholesale and retail operations as the overall profitability fell significantly.

“Efforts are being made to limit the impact of these pressures as we anticipate restored market conditions and improved results in the ensuing year,” said Chauhan.However, the group has opened four new stores in the year, increasing the total number of stores in Botswana to 55. Chauhan said they had taken a cautious approach to new store openings over the last three years as they recognized the saturation levels in the market and have tried to avoid increasing the overhead costs.

He said the group focus would continue to be on core segments that generate strong returns. “We identified the need to expand into the region and have successfully done this through a careful and cautious expansion plan into three countries over the last four years,” he said.

He pointed out that they are optimistic about the new operations in South Africa and Lesotho. “We are also growing our retail business and establishing a strong presence in the local market as we are now increasingly becoming the store of choice in the Botswana market. Currently the group has embarked on overhead cost reduction program and renegotiated input prices with service providers.

The group business includes, fast moving consumer goods, manufacturing, beverage, milling, beverage division and trading. The manufacturing business segment is heavily dependent on government tenders and the delays in government tenders have negatively affected the business. The segment contributed five percent profit and nine percent to the group turnover in the year. 

The group announced that it will commence manufacturing of juice in 2018 after the modification of the site in Ramotswa.Hong Kong is banning alternative smoking devices - the latest setback to the tobacco industry’s efforts to find growth markets as cigarette demand shrinks worldwide.In a surprise reversal, Hong Kong will impose a ban on e-cigarettes, a next-generation category of smokeless tobacco products, chief executive Carrie Lam said in a policy address on Wednesday.

Hong Kong joins at least 27 countries that have banned next-generation smokeless devices, heeding advice from the World Health Organisation.  The products have come under fire from health officials across the globe because of concerns about their appeal among youth. The backlash is bad news for tobacco companies, which are investing billions of dollars in developing products that could move the industry beyond cigarettes.

“Without doubt, the tobacco industry is strong at lobbying,” Lam said at a briefing after her address, adding that she’d received 3 000 letters this year against an e-cig ban. “But we have to do what’s right for young people’s health.” A legislative proposal this June had outlined regulating e-cigarettes the same way as conventional tobacco in Hong Kong, including restricting their sale to minors, and prohibiting advertisements and sponsorship.

“It’s unfortunate that the government decided to reverse its earlier balanced decision to allow and regulate these products in line with the international trend,” Philip Morris International said in statement on Wednesday. “We firmly believe that concerns regarding youth access can be better addressed through appropriate regulation and education.”

Tobacco makers were looking to Hong Kong as a potential market for alternative devices. Philip Morris said it doesn’t sell any of its new tobacco alternatives in Hong Kong, while Japan Tobacco said it only sells paper cigarettes in the territory.“A full ban of e-cigarettes will only make black market business more popular, not help to protect teenagers under 18 years old and consumers,” the Coalition on Tobacco Affairs, an industry group, said in a statement on Wednesday.

It added that none of its members is selling e-cigarettes or heat-not-burn devices in Hong Kong. Japan Tobacco investors were unfazed by the news. Shares closed with a 1.2 percent gain in Tokyo on Wednesday. The stock is down 19 percent this year, while Philip Morris shares have tumbled about 27 percent from a peak last October.

Published in Business

Thabit Ndilahomba, Letshego Bank Tanzania’s recently appointed CEO, is committed to extending Letshego’s reach and enhancing value proposition for customers, staff and other valued stakeholders in Tanzania.  In line with Letshego Group’s regional strategy, Letshego Tanzania offers simple and accessible financial solutions that focus on the needs of individuals, as well as micro and small entrepreneurs.

Formerly the Chief Financial Officer of the bank, Thabit brings to his new role a valuable understanding and appreciation for the financial dynamics and performance of the business as a whole.  Letshego’s Group CEO, Smit Crouse, commented on the recent appointment, affirming, “Thabit’s local experience gained from multiple growth sectors in Tanzania, as well as his financial skills and background, position him well in delivering Letshego’s strategic ambition for Tanzania. 

Letshego remains committed to Tanzania while progressing in its ambition towards providing solutions that create opportunity and flexibility for both individuals and small businesses, across Tanzania.”Prior to joining Letshego, Thabit worked for FINCA Microfinance Bank where he held various senior positions including Chief Finance Officer and Chief Accountant. 

Thabit’s career also includes a tenure with the RENCO Group, where he was Chief Accountant and Chief Financial Analyst.  Thabit commenced his career as a Tax Assessor at the Tanzania Revenue Authority. Since taking up his role at the helm, Thabit Ndilahomba announced Letshego’s recent strategic partnership with Airtel Tanzania and Jumo, a savings option entitled ‘Timiza Akiba’. 

This innovative savings solution aims to promote a local savings culture by enabling customers to save money in their mobile wallets, incentivising committed customers with rewards and interest, even on low account balances. “I am excited about the opportunities that my new role presents in delivering a strategy that not only enhances Letshego’s brand and reputation in Tanzania, but also stands to bring further value and benefits to one of our most important stakeholders, our customers,” said Ndilahomba. 

Letshego in Tanzania has more than 240 employees, offering credit, savings and transactional solutions to individuals as well as small and micro entrepreneurs, with a special focus on affordable housing, education and health sectors. JSE-listed Sanlam has been given permission to buy a majority stake in Catalyst Fund Managers, a Cape Town-based company that manages listed property investments for institutional and retail clients.

Sanlam said in September the deal would help its investments unit to diversify and strengthen its asset management capabilities. It did not disclose the value of the acquisition.“It provides Sanlam Investments with the opportunity to partner with a credible and well-respected business which has a compelling product offering,” Sanlam said at the time.

The Competition Commission said on Tuesday it had approved the deal without conditions, meaning that Sanlam Investment Holdings can go ahead with its acquisition of a 69 percent  stake in Catalyst. The commission said the deal was unlikely to reduce competition or the number of jobs in the industry. Founded in 2001, Catalyst originally focused on managing SA-listed property portfolios. In 2007, it started managing global portfolios.

“Catalyst Fund Managers executive management and staff support the change in shareholding,” said Michael Arbuthnot, CEO of Catalyst.Sanlam Investments CEO Nersan Naidoo said Catalyst would “provide our clients with a compelling asset class as we search for alternative sources of performance”.

The local listed real estate market has struggled so far in 2018, with the SA listed property index falling more than a quarter so far in 2018. Sanlam Investment Management said it would also acquire a 100 percent   stake in an Irish business, CIG Fund Management Company, “to complement the Sanlam group’s international investment management platform, Sanlam Asset Management Ireland”, Sanlam said.

Sanlam Asset Management Ireland manages funds domiciled in Ireland. That transaction is subject to certain conditions, including Irish regulatory approvals.  [Business Day]  

Published in Business
Monday, 15 October 2018 09:42

BMD plans war on UDC

Embattled Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) has vowed to take the war to its coalition partners in Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) following its suspension from the coalition in a bid to protect its constituencies.

BMD which is expected to make representation before the UDC National Executive Committee (NEC) on Thursday next week has come up with a strategy to counter their colleagues in the UDC being Botswana Congress Party (BCP) and Botswana National Front (BNF) who are allegedly getting themselves ready to pounce on BMD’s 13 constituencies should the party be expelled from the UDC.

Currently there is a stalemate between BMD and UDC NEC regarding the suspension. BMD has rejected the suspension and made demands to the UDC President Advocate Duma Boko and according to information gathered, Advocate Boko has not responded to the demands put forward by the BMD. Following this development BMD NEC called a meeting with all prospective candidates to discuss the issue this past Sunday.

Botswana Guardian gathered that at the meeting, which took the whole day and was addressed by party leader Advocate Sidney Pilane, candidates expressed disappointment in the way the leadership of the UDC is treating the BMD. Some members of the party have called on the party leadership to unleash an attack on the BCP and BNF.

The intention is that should the UDC NEC go ahead and expel the BMD then the BMD should also target constituencies of their colleagues even if it means the trio losing in the 2019 general elections. The contention at the meeting was that there are a few greedy individuals within the UDC especially at leadership level who are preying on BMD constituencies. These leaders both from BCP and BNF are currently without constituencies and are only banking on the constituencies held by the BMD.

The BMD according to insiders would not allow itself to be a scapegoat and is prepared to fight tooth and nail for its legitimate rights.Sources who attended the highly charged Sunday meeting revealed that the BMD is prepared to go all the way to prove its point. If push comes to shove, the party will get candidates to challenge most of the UDC leadership at their constituencies including the leader of the coalition movement.

Failure to secure candidates the BMD is said to be prepared to support other political parties with other members at the meeting calling for the support of candidates of their splinter Alliance for Progressives (AP). Another meeting is scheduled to be held tomorrow (Saturday) where other issues would be finalised. The BMD has also come up with a series of in-house meetings and public rallies to counter what has been done by Advocate Boko and one of his deputies Dumelang Saleshando who is also President of the BCP.

BMD kickstarted this process with a rally in Mochudi last week. The party has also indicated that it would not make representation before the UDC NEC next week if it has not been furnished with the documents that they requested from Advocate Boko being, minutes and attendance register of the meeting that took the decision to suspend the BMD.

Advocate Boko has stated that the suspension is meant for the BMD to introspect following feedback from UDC members and the public that showed that the BMD leader was resented. He stated that the BMD constituencies remain under the care of the party but all UDC activities would continue in those constituencies.

In an interview BMD Chairman Nehemiah Modubule said he has not heard of any news regarding the scramble for their constituencies. As for the Sunday meeting he said, “As the BMD we hold meetings from time to time.” He confirmed that another meeting would be held tomorrow (Saturday) with candidates. After that they will decide a way forward about other meetings and public rallies.

Published in News

Indian companies have collectively invested several billion pulas into the Botswana economy and employ up to 10,000 citizens, says Manhar Mooney, the executive chairman of Trans Africa Group.   The majority of these companies belong to the Gujaratis, such as the motor magnate, Satar Dada; Trans Africa’s Manhar Mooney; Motovac’s Harshad Patel and many others.

Speaking Monday this week during the celebration of Gujarat Day at the Maharaj Conference Centre, Mooney said the advent of Gujeratis into Botswana is almost a century old. Mooney arrived in Botswana around 1979/80 from Zimbabwe, where he was involved in the freedom struggle against Ian Smith’s white-minority rule with “my political leader, Joshua Nkomo” of the Zimbabwe African Peoples Union (ZAPU).

His father came to Beira Port (Mozambique) in 1917 (exactly 101 years ago), after a two-month journey on a small vessel from Bombay (now Mombai). He was 22 years old -just like Mahatma Ghandi who arrived in South Africa at the age of 23 as a qualified barrister to represent a Pretoria-based Gujerati Memon trader, in a court case. The first few Gujerati families arrived into Botswana, due to oppressive apartheid laws in South Africa.

They crossed into border villages like Ramotswa, Sikwane, Lobatse and others and moved on into other villages and towns as opportunities arose. “They assimilated into local communities and spoke the local languages fluently, providing services to these communities,” said Mooney.  Mooney said that some Indian Gujerati businessmen then saw opportunities from neighbouring countries, as did some professionals from the accounting and medical fields from India, who descended upon Botswana.

Many were recruited into government service and senior positions.   Today, the largest Indian population outside of India, Mooney said, is in the USA, then UK and then South Africa with Gujerati’s featuring prominently, mainly as traders. He said that in the USA, Gujeratis carry the label “Hotel – Motel – Patel” and that this is not by accident” but because they own 60 percent or more of the hospitality industry.

“They started buying up cheap low quality motels all over America. Their offspring have by now acquired some of the largest franchise hotels in the USA,” he said. Speaking at the same occasion on Monday, India’s High Commissioner to Botswana Dr. Rajesh Ranjan (incidentally also a Gujarati) called on Batswana businesspeople and Gujaratis resident in the country to participate in the VIBRANT GUJARAT GLOBAL SUMMIT 2019, which will be held at Gandhinagar, Gujarat in India from 18 to 20 January 2019.

Currently there are 19 operational Diamond Manufacturing Companies, out of which eight are of Indian origin, and together these companies employ 1000 young Batswana who have been trained in diamond cutting and polishing. Four of these companies – Dharmanandan, Mohit, Yaelstar and Karp Impex – were licensed in 2018. 

Indeed, acceded minister Eric Molale, Botswana’s diamond sector is largely dominated by the Gujarati community whose 500 families resident in the country and have invested largely in the diamond and hospitality industries, infrastructure development, trading and various Small and Medium Enterprises.  Among the world’s renowned Gujaratis are Mahatma Ghandi and the current Indian Prime Minister, Nahendra Modi.

In his keynote address, minister of mineral resources, green technology and energy security Molale, observed that Gujaratis are renowned for their mercantile ethos and business acumen, a trait accentuated by the executive chairman of Trans Africa Gorup, Manhar Mooney in his presentation on ‘the Journey from Gujarat to Botswana’ as innate to this enterprising group of people that originate in Gujarat, a state located on the west coast of India.  

Dr. Ranjan extolled the significance of Vibrant Gujarat citing the 2017 event, which he said had more than 100 countries with more than 2700 international delegates participating including two Presidents from Africa – Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta and Rwanda’s Paul Kagame as well as Prime Ministers from Portugal and Serbia. The 2017 Summit was also attended by nine Nobel Laureates and also organised 355 business-to-business meetings and 260 business to government meetings. 

“I would like to invite you all to participate in Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit 2019 to enhance the relationship between India and Botswana,” Dr. Ranjan appealed. Also in attendance on Monday at the Gujarat Day were Chairman of Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC), Victor Senye.

He told Botswana Guardian that he would take up the High Commissioner’s invitation with his management, in light of the fact that Gujarat is classified as one of the leading industrialised states in India.  Buttressing Gujarat’s commercial attributes, Dr. Ranjan emphasised that the state is one of the best places in India for the manufacturing of textiles, pharmaceuticals, and agro-based and petrochemical products. He cited among the major investors in the state, Adani, Clarins Paris, Ford, Honda, IBM and Kellogg’s.

In terms of economic performance he said that Gujarat recorded $66.8 bn worth of exports in 2017-18, contributing over 22 percent to India’s net exports and recorded $18, 7bn worth of foreign direct investment inflow from 2000 to 2018. Dr. Ranjan mentioned other attributes of Gujarat as the host to the world’s largest petroleum refining hub at Jamnagar and the world’s third largest producer of denim as well as a global leader in processed diamonds.

All these make for fine selling points to induce BITC. Other speakers at Monday’s Gujarat Day included Arjav Mehta of Arjav Diamonds who shared his experience of diamond trading with Botswana; Shailendra Singh, the new Managing Director of Bank of Baroda (which originates in Gujarat) as well as the chairman of the India Botswana Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Shyam Sreekaram.

The auspicious occasion was graced by hundreds of Gujarat families, minister Molale’s wife and minister Dikgang Makgalemele as well as captains of industries. It was spiced up by cultural dance performance.

Published in News
Monday, 15 October 2018 09:00

BMD, BCP in bitter war of words

Botswana Congress Party (BCP) President Dumelang Saleshando has rubbished reports that his party is the main instigator of problems within Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC).BCP, a contracting partner in the UDC, has been accused by colleagues - Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) - for being the root cause of the problems that the current UDC find itself faced with.

BMD was last month suspended from the UDC to give it an opportunity to introspect as its leader Advocate Sidney Pilane is being resented by the public as well as UDC rank and file. BMD Secretary General Gilbert Mangole revealed during a political rally in Mochudi that troubles started when BCP came into the picture.

According to Mangole before the arrival of BCP there was peace and respect among contracting partners being BMD, Botswana National Front (BNF) and Botswana Peoples Party. He said they decided to welcome BCP into the UDC fold after the former felt the wrath of electorates during the 2014 general elections. “In the build up to the 2014 general elections all the three parties that made up UDC were like a family.

We negotiated peacefully and with understanding. We respected each other and there was no big brother mentality. But since the coming of the BCP things changed and that is why we find ourselves where we are today. “It is because of people who just came yesterday and have not contributed or invested in the UDC,” Mangole said. However, according to Saleshando the BCP should not take the blame for the UDC mess.

He is of the view that BMD is the problem. He pointed out during an interview with this publication that the highest level political turmoil can only be traced to the time when the BMD went for its congress in Bobonong in July last year. There was bloodbath during the clash of the party’s two factions - one led by Ndaba Gaolathe and the other by Advocate Pilane.

Two parallel congresses were held and produced two National Executive Committees. According to Saleshando this is what should be a clear example of political turmoil, which occurred in the absence of the BCP.  But Mangole differs. He maintains that the BCP played a part in the split of the BMD, which saw the formation of Alliance for Progressives (AP) when Gaolathe and team dumped the BMD to form AP late last year.

Mangole who is also Member of Parliament for Mochudi West explained that Advocate Pilane was at the forefront of recruiting the BCP into the UDC. He posited that BCP encouraged them to go to Bobonong and ensure that Gaolathe and team do not take the leadership of the BMD. “They pleaded with us to ensure that we take the BMD leadership. They supported us because they knew that Gaolathe and team do not need them in the UDC. They used us to fight their battles.

“Because we wanted them in the UDC which is a project of Batswana we ensured that we fight with our colleagues. It is not nice that we have lost the likes of Gaolathe because of the BCP especially its leadership,” Mangole hit out. Saleshando dismissed as unfounded and shallow these claims by the BMD. “We have heard of such claims from them. I mean the funding which they say we extended to them to fight their colleagues clearly shows that they are not fit to be in politics,” Saleshando told this publication.

The UDC has for a long time not found peace especially within its leadership. The tension has now pitted the BMD against the BCP. Speculation is rife that come next week or before end of the month BMD - which is to make representation before UDC NEC - might be expelled from the coalition movement. BMD has however indicated that it would fight to the bitter end because it has invested a lot into the UDC project.

Published in News
Monday, 15 October 2018 08:52

Mowana Copper Mine struggles to pay wages

Trouble could be brewing once again at Mowana Copper Mine as the mining company is struggling to pay salaries for employees for the month of September 2018, Botswana Guardian has learnt.The mine, now owned by Leboam Holdings, a subsidiary of Cradle Arc has been closed before and there are fears that failure by the mine to pay salaries could herald the start of problems at the mine where Cradle Arc is expected to produce at least 5 700 tonnes of contained copper during the second half of this year.

A memo dated October 5, 2018 from General Manager Dominic Doherty says salaries would be paid in tranches with the final one being done at the end of this month. He explains that due to unforeseen breakdowns during the month of September, production from the Mowana Copper Mine was severely reduced, and expenditure on repairing broken equipment was at unexpectedly high levels.

“The result of the reduction in income from copper production and the additional expenses has impacted on the company’s cash flows and consequently we regret that payment of September salaries was delayed. We understand the serious impact that delays in receiving salaries has on individuals and the difficulties that you and your families face as a results,” the general manager said.

Doherty said management team is committed to ensuring that the salaries are paid in full and promised that the welbeing of all staff is their priority. “This includes planning to ensure that we all have a future here at Mowana Copper and that you can continue to derive benefit from the mine for years,” he said, adding that continued production is key to this effort. 

He explained that “payment of September payroll has begun with first tranches, equating to “30 percent of your total September earnings, having been made yesterday, Thursday October 4, and funds should be reflecting in your accounts from today (October 5). The company will be making a further payment at the beginning of next week with the intention of making whole outstanding payment by the end of October.” Doherty promised that they will work hard to get through these short-term challenges.

He promised to meet the employees on a one by one basis to hear their queries. Interestingly in another memo sent on October 3, 2018 and copied to Heads of Departments (Leboam Holdings and Penmin), Doherty explains that the salaries, which were due on September 30, 2018 have been delayed “due to the recent extended public holiday which has affected the clearance of our funds into our Botswana account.”

The general manager explained in the memo that they are doing all they can to ensure that salaries are paid within the shortest possible time. Efforts also continue to be made to minimise postponements and frequent delays in payment of your salaries, he said.Doherty could not be reached for comment at press time.

Production was first halted at the mine in 2015, when copper prices fell. Fresh market data however shows that copper has risen by at least more than 50 percent.Following the suspension of its operations at Mowana Mine mid October 2015, the mining contractor, Diesel Power Limited then approached the High Court to have Messina Copper (Botswana), a subsidiary of African Copper liquidated.

The previous owner, Messina Copper (Botswana) then suspended operations at the Mine, where close to 400 workers lost their jobs. In March 2017, new owners, Leboam Holdings resumed operations ramping up to an initial 12,000 tonnes a year of copper concentrate.

Then Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security Advocate Sadique Kebonang told Parliament in April this year that the liquidator has entered a Liquidator Term Loan Agreement, the terms of which the liquidation sale proceeds will be paid by the purchaser over a period of 24 months from January 2018. 

He explained that full repayment of this loan is expected to be completed in January 2020 unless early settlement is effected. In the interim parent company Cradle Arc has commissioned Tamesis Partners in London to initiate a refinance enquiry whereby the full liquidation and development capital is being raised.

The minister stated that there are six major funds and other capital providers who are currently performing their due diligence processes. The Advocate said if successfully refinanced, it will settle the liquidation balances and finalisation of all outstanding balances should be expected by end of July 2018.

Published in News
Monday, 15 October 2018 08:47

Youth owe Govt. P400 million in YDF debts

Government through Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development is failing to collect over P400 million owed by young people funded through Youth Development Fund (YDF).The ministry’s Permanent Secretary Kago Ramokate said they have set themselves a target of collecting P6 million annually but only managed to collect P2.8 million as payment for the grants given to the youth through YDF.

He told Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee this week that the ministry annually disburses on average P114 million for funding of youth projects. He explained that the collection of funds is faced with two challenges. “There are those young people who are unable to repay the loan and there are those who are reluctant to pay.

Those who are unable to pay is (sic) because their businesses are struggling or have failed.  There are those who are reluctant in the sense that their busineses are doing well but they are reluctant to come forth to pay the 50 percent loan.  “So the recovery of the loan will always depend on the performance of the project funded,” he said.

YDF is an empowerment programme aimed at promoting active participation of youth in the socio-economic development of the country. It aims to encourage the out-of-school, marginalised and unemployed youth to venture into sustainable and viable income generating projects. It also aims to promote the development of competitive sustainable and growth oriented citizen owned youth enterprises.

Ramokate revealed that they do not have guidelines for YDF and that they are currently working on them and will be ready by January 2019. He said they are working with beneficiaries to resuscitate collapsed projects that are viable. For projects that have no hope, the ministry salvages equipment that was bought and sell it by public auction in respective districts while others are donated to various government departments.

Published in News
Monday, 15 October 2018 08:40

Daggers out for Mpho Balopi

The bubble for President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s circle of friends at Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) could burst anytime soon, Botswana Guardian has learnt.It has since emerged that the once mighty Masisi camp is at war with itself as there is no longer trust between men and women who walked side by side when they ensured that Masisi retains his seat as party chairman in Tonota last year.

Masisi who at the time was Vice President defending his seat against Minister Nonofo Molefhi. This is the camp, which was said to be united, and would do anything to protect the then chairman who would later this year become party leader and president of the country.Fresh information has emerged that it is no longer all merry within the President’s circle as fellow democrats are no longer in good books with some going in pairs while others are lone rangers.

The tension is said to have been caused by the need for close association to the president to secure future influential positions in the party. At some point the team was accused of orchestrating a plan to ensure that parliamentary and council candidates who did not support Masisi ahead of the Tonota congress should be punished during the two batches of the party’s Bulelwa-Ditswe held in January and August this year.

Information gathered shows that the fight to be close to the president started just a few months after Masisi ascended to the presidency. The key figure in the blame game is alleged to be party Secretary General Mpho Balopi who is said to be pushing away his colleagues far away from the President with the aim of allegedly positioning himself to be the only close associate.

This development according to information gathered has not sat well with Balopi who is also BDP’s parliamentary candidate for Gaborone North Constituency. A motion of no confidence against Balopi was allegedly recently planned on grounds that as head of the secretariat, he is failing the party. 

The BDP meeting in Palapye on the 11th August 2018 where Bulela-Ditswe candidates for the final batch were being addressed is said to have been one of the platforms where Balopi’s failure was shared with fellow democrats who were also equally disappointed with the postponement of the primaries on the 25th of August 2018. This was one of the platforms where his downfall was to take effect.

In one of an intercepted conversation Balopi expresses disappointment about people who go around badmouthing him that he is de-campaigning some of the BDP candidates. He is also worried that some of his trusted rank and file members have changed allegiance to people who will never assist them in their lives while he had taken care and appreciated such people.

Botswana Guardian is in possession of a conversation between Balopi and a certain ‘D4D’ whom Balopi is not happy that he has distanced himself from the secretary general and is participating in meetings that are meant to discredit him (Balopi) where D4D has allegedly claimed that the SG was giving him sinister assignments.

He is also not happy that D4D did not alert him about an alleged motion of no confidence that was being planned against him. “I have never betrayed anyone even all the three presidents I served under- Festus Mogae, Ian Khama and Masisi I have remained loyal to them. They are my elders I respect them. You think I am a fool and I am not.

People come to me with recording of what you said others just come and make representations of what you said in conversations you had with them. You will be speaking to people you think you are in the same journey together. “You have moved away from me and are promoting whatever you are promoting. And the problem is that you know too much.

I have never assigned you anything sinister to undertake within the party. You also knew about a motion of no confidence on me but you did not say anything to me,” said Balopi in the audio conversation. In the conversation D4D denied being part of the plan but indicated that he heard about it during the Palapye meeting.

He also denied sharing with Vice President and party Chairman Slumber Tsogwane about being made to undertake sinister assignments by Balopi. According to reports Balopi is expected to defend his seat next year during a BDP Congress against former party chairman and MP for Tati East Samson Moyo Guma.  Guma is reported in local media to have revealed that fellow democrats have lobbied him to contest.

Guma was also part of Masisi’s campaign team for chairmanship last year. Balopi said he could not comment as he was out of the country. He said he would be back in the country on Thursday. The secretary general also said he would not be able to respond via WhatsApp when requested if the questions could be channeled through such form of communication.

Published in News
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