- – Botswana rough diamond exports down 66% in third quarter
Botswana’s rough diamond exports plunged around 66% in the third quarter compared with the same period last year, data showed on Friday, as the coronavirus pandemic hit demand and global travel restrictions impacted trading.
Botswana closed its borders in March to curb the spread of the virus, locking out international buyers from countries like India, Belgium and China who traditionally travel to Gaborone many times a year to view and buy diamonds.
According to central bank data, Debswana, a joint venture between Botswana and Anglo American unit De Beers, exported rough diamonds worth $287-million in the third quarter of 2020, against $863-million in the same quarter of 2019.
Botswana gets about 30% of its government revenues from diamonds, which constitute 70% of exports.
The government said this week that to restart the tourism sector, which is the country’s second-largest foreign exchange earner, it will from Nov. 1 open its borders to international tourists by allowing private chartered flights into two towns close to its prime attraction, the Okavango Delta
2.-Call for Motsamai to run for BNF presidency
In a dramatic turn of events, Ghanzi South MP Motsamai Motsamai could be the latest to join the race for Botswana National Front (BNF) presidency if developments on the ground are anything to go by.
News gathered is that the Ghanzi MP is being lobbied by both Ghanzi South and North BNF regions to contest for BNF presidency facing off against incumbent Duma Boko and Dr Prince Dibeela.
According to reliable sources, the BNF Youth League lobby team associated to presidential aspirant and Councilor for D’Kar Xukuri Xukuri is pursuing Motsamai with other structures.
The sources revealed that Motsamai is also pursued by some members of the BNF Veterans League who believe that he has the ability to wrestle BNF from Boko as they want his ouster.
3.-Khama’s harsh critic on U-turn
I’m not bigger than the organisation – Wynter Mmolotsi, one of the most vocal critics of former President Ian Khama and the UDC is now ready to work with them.
The outspoken MP for Francistown South Wynter Mmolotsi, who in the past has declared that he doesn’t hate former President Ian Khama but abhors him, has said that he has to tone down for the sake of his organisation – the Alliance for Progressives.
The recent announcement by the opposition that they have decided to work together in the upcoming bye-elections with hope of having a coalition in the 2024 General Election has set tongues wagging among members of Alliance for Progressives.
- – Masisi faces Unions’ revolt
Growing discontentment of labour unions towards President Mokgweetsi Masisi over unfulfilled promises needs to be resolved amicably, political analyst Lesole Machacha has cautioned.
Machacha said Masisi could be losing the sympathy from unions over unresolved issues such as the revival of the Public Service Bargaining Council (PSBC) and the implementation of recommendations contained in the PEMANDU report. “If trade unions become unhappy over government particularly the president himself there can be a problem but Masisi is able to deliver whatever unions are unhappy about. The unions do have influence which can harm BDP going to next polls. But so far Masisi has done better,” he said.
He opines that the unions should also appreciate the fact that the government halted public servants salary increase due to Covid-19 but later on paid them with back pays.
- – BOFEPUSU demands Living wage
President of Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) Johannes Tshukudu has berated the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) government for shunning the introduction of a Living Wage.
Briefing a Parliamentary Committee on Labour and Home Affairs, he called on the government to review wages by scrapping off minimum wage to address the expanding economic inequalities. Disgruntled Tshukudu said it was premature and ill-advised for the ruling party to reject the Living Wage motion brought by the opposition Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) in 2018.
Back in 2018, UDC through former Jwaneng\Mabutsane MP Shawn Ntlhaile brought a motion calling for establishment of decent living wage policy but the BDP MPs blocked the motion.
A P3 000.00 Living Wage was a key promise from the UDC in its elections manifesto during the 2019 general elections though critics doubted its sustainability.
Tshukudu said BOFEPUSU is in support of a Living Wage proposal as compared to the Minimum wage, noting that the minimum wage was impoverishing the working class.
- – Letlole withstands COVID-19 volatility7.
Home grown property outfit Letlole La Rona Limited (LLR) recorded profit before tax of P79.9 million, representing a 24% growth despite hurdles presented by Covid-19.
The Botswana Stock Exchange Limited (BSE) listed diversified real estate company unveiled the results on Friday.
LLR Acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Kamogelo Mowaneg said the 25 assets directly-owned by the company and two (2) core-owned assets investment portfolios have a value of P961 million.
“During the nationwide lockdown from April, only 42% of our tenants were classified as the essential services while 58% was not deemed essential. This meant that there was a decline in rental money. We offered rental deferments for our tenants as they recover,” said Mowanengl.
In addition, she said the pandemic had impact on the acquisition and transaction of regional expansions which forced them to suspend activities in that space.
7.-Botswana financial markets resilient
The Absa Africa Financial Markets 2020 Index Report shows that Botswana’s capital markets and economy have remained stable amid Covid-19 pandemic which crippled other African capital markets.
The 4th index of the report launched on Wednesday depicts that Botswana has made significant improvements boasting of a positive macro-economic environment to attract investors too.
Under Pillar 5 of ranking the countries being macro-economic opportunity, the index ranked Botswana as the country that has the lowest external debt amongst all 23 surveyed countries.
“There were decrease in external debt in Seychelles, Botswana, Ivory coast and Namibia raising their scores in this indicator. Three countries had their external debt above 50% of GDP in 2019. South Africa regained the lead in pillar 5 despite poor economic performance,’’ the report states.
8.-Stanbic, Statistics Botswana unlock growth
Stanbic Bank Botswana has in its endeavour to unlock growth signed a pact with Statistics Botswana (SB).
The bank unveiled a strategic partnership through signing Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the national statistics custodian as the bank moves to tap on valuable data.
Stanbic Chief Executive Samuel Mintal said the partnership with SB would enable the bank to continue on its efforts of empowering young entrepreneurs to alleviate high unemployment.
Minta said the bank is seeing economic value on statistical data as compiled and released by Statistics Botswana, adding that in Botswana businesses are seating on gold.
9.-COVID-19 harms Govt revenues
The Minister of Finance and Economic Development Dr Thapelo Matsheka has regretted the devastating effects that the Covid-19 pandemic has cast on government revenues this year.
Dr Matsheka said government revenues would fall from P62.4 billion to P52.3 billion in 2020\21 financial year due to the big decline in mineral revenue from P20 billion to P10.5 billion.
The Director for Research and Financial Stability at the central bank, Bank of Botswana (BoB), Dr Alex Kganetsano conceded that government’s major sources of revenue will be deeply hurt.
Dr Kganetsano while giving economic forecast during the bank’s launching of annual report recently said that Southern Africa Customs Union (SACU) and mineral revenue were exposed.
He emphasized that two major revenue pools are exposed to volatility due to Covid-19 crisis.
To this end, Dr Kganetsano said the notion of economic diversification should become a real reality, urging government to diversify its revenues away from minerals.
10.- Botswana Life launches Retirement Annuity Fund
Botswana Life Insurance Limited (Botswana Life) continues to cement its purpose, working to empower Batswana through insurance solutions and sound financial advisory, most recently with regard to retirement annuities. The leading life insurance provider launched the Botswana Life Retirement Annuity Fund, an umbrella fund now housing all previously existing retirement policies, and which works to provide even greater client delight.
The new Retirement Annuity Fund was licenced in September 2019 and is compliant with relevant regulatory requirements, and indeed follows legislative changes prescribed by the enactment of the new Retirement Fund Act, under the purview of NBFIRA (Non-Bank Financial Institutions Regulatory Authority).