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BOPEU’S investment in tourism futile

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  • Owns 30% in exotic Safaris at the Okavango Delta
  • Over P20m lost at Africa Wild Safaris
  • Over P50m lost in bad investments

GAZETTE REPORTER

Monies exceeding P20 million, invested by Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) in the lucrative and foreign controlled tourism industry is yet to bear fruits to the union of choice, punching holes into the union’s balance sheet.

Audited financial statements for the year ended 30 June 2018, passed to this publication, reveal that BOPEU, then under the stewardship of its former President Andrew Motsamai invested P21.7 million into a company called Africa Wild Safaris (Pty) Ltd, one of the few companies that own exclusive concessions in the money spinning Okavango Delta.

The Company was established by the Allistair and Ronnie McFarlane in 2013.Two years back, BOPEU bought a 30 percent stake in Africa Wild Safari. Other shareholders are the Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA), and Marble Gold. As at June 2017, investments made into the safaris lodge company were impaired, and BOPEU wrote in the latest audited financials that the investment remained impaired even by June 2018. This means that the money invested, is yet to benefit BOPEU. BOPEU is one of the few Botswana companies (through its commercial arm Babereki Investments) which own concessions in the closely guarded Okavango Delta. It has been widely reported that Botswana’s tourism sector is controlled by foreigners who profit at the detriment of native Batswana.

While BOPEU is yet to make money from Africa Wild, the company holds leases to lucrative concessions. Africa Wild operates Elephant Valley Lodge – based in the Lesuma Valley in Kasane.  Further, it also operates the Kadizora camp in the Okavango Delta, under the Concession area NG12. Shared with Natural Selections, Africa Wild also operates Mapula lodge and Great Plains (Duba Exploration Camp). The company also owns Saguni Lodge in Moremi East under the Concession area NG19. It also operates Khwai River Lodge, Tsaro lodge, and Bushways (Khwai tented camp). Since the acquisition of the first camp, Elephant Valley, in 2014, Africa Wild has grown into a formidable enterprise; Kadizora Pools Camp was opened to the public in December 2015 and Saguni Camp (Eastern Moremi – Khwai) was opened in July 2018.

Evidence shows that Babereki has been losing money to floppy transactions. During the 2017 financial year, Barereki Investments pumped in P11.1 million into Future Sustain International (pty) Ltd. In the 2017 reporting period, P18.9 million was invested in Africa Wild Safaris. A further P2.8 million was invested during the 2018 reporting period. Further, during the 2017 reporting period, P6.9 million was loaned to Babereki KaLorato, a funeral parlor in which Babereki acquired 51 percent stake two years back. A further P2.5 million loan was advanced in the 2018 reporting period. Babereki KaLorato acquired a further P8.3 million from BOPEU in 2017 and P309 826 loan in 2018.
Non performing investment punched a P45.3 million hole in BOPEU balance sheet in 2017, and a further P5.6 million in 2018.

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