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Left in the cold



Left in the cold

Choppies BSEL suspenion remains despite releasing financial statements

Despite finally releasing its long overdue financial results for the year ended 30June 2018, Choppies Enterprise Limited remains suspended from trading its shares on the Botswana Stock Exchange Limited (BSEL).

The supermarket chain’s failure to release its audited financial statements for 2018 led to its suspension from the BSEL last November.

The long wait ended last Friday, when Choppies at last went public with their finances, declaring a loss of P445 million, as audited by Pricewaterhousecoopers (PwC).

However, this was not enough to see the company’s suspension lifted, as Choppies is still to satisfy other equity listings requirements.

These include the submission of the company’s unaudited financial statements for the half-year ended 31 December 2018 and the audited financial statements for the year ended 30 June 2019.

Meanwhile, PwC have abstained from forming an opinion pertaining to the consolidated and separate financial statements of Choppies Enterprise Limited and its subsidiaries.

The audit enterprise says it is unable to express opinion on the financial statements because it has not been able to obtain sufficient appropriate audit evidence to provide an opinion.

In auditing Choppies financial statements, PwC indicated that it relied heavily on the forensic and legal reports conducted on the company.

It notes that from these reports, there are a number of instances where no definitive conclusions could be drawn.

Furthermore, PwC says it has identified material and pervasive misstatements in the financial information of Choppies’ South African subsidiaries for the period ended 30 June 2018.

While the identified misstatements have been adjusted in the consolidated financial statements, PwC feels the nature and significance of these errors have increased the risk of further undetected misstatements.

After exploring all possible avenues to obtain the required level of audit evidence, PwC says it was unable to come to a conclusion as the accounting systems and processes did not create an environment that supported its ability to acquire sufficient and appropriate audit evidence.

Furthermore, PwC says multiple misstatements relating to the prior period were identified in Choppies group’s Botswana and South African subsidiaries.

In conclusion, the audit company says the potential interaction of multiple uncertainties contained in both the forensic and legal reports and their possible cumulative effect on the financial statements has resulted in it being unable to form an opinion on Choppies financial statements.


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Battling for booze



Battling for booze

Liquor industry wants alcohol sale ban lifted

Botswana Alcohol Industry Association (BAIA) is lobbying for government to follow the example of neighbouring countries and lift the ban on alcohol sales.

Their main reasoning being that citizens who live close to the border may be tempted to sneak out of the country in their desperation to buy liquor. They note this would be detrimental to the economy as well posing a serious health hazard.

The Association Chairman, Mothusi Molokomme told Voice Money they believe the ban – in place since 27 March – should be lifted to allow the public to purchase alcohol and consume it at home.

As much as the main focus is for bottle stores and wholesalers to open for trade, Molokomme revealed they also want bars to be opened, noting they are the only centres of distribution in some of the country’s remoter areas.

He stressed that bars should be allowed to operate on a ‘takeaway’ basis but only after they satisfy Covid-19 prevention protocols.

“The main worry is that there will be loitering around the bars. But it is our belief that operators will strictly adhere to the regulations and allow for takeaways only,” stated Molokomme.

The Chairman pointed to the recent surge in homebrews as indication that the ban should be lifted.

During the period of lockdown, the police have recorded escalating cases of homebrews, which in some instances have even led to the loss of drinkers’ lives.

“There is also a regional factor because South Africa has announced it will be opening next week. Namibia is opening as well and Zambia has always remained opened and because of our porous borders, we may see the illegal coming in of liquor,” continued Molokomme.

He said areas located along the borders of these countries pose a threat to liquor contraband.

While the association advocates for the ban to be lifted, he says as the industry, they will also intensify their message for safer consumption and promote good behaviour among consumers to exercise precautionary measures.

“We are hoping that we will reach an agreement. It will be difficult to convince government when it comes to opening of bars, but we cannot sideline the bars because, in some areas they are the only available points of sale,” reiterated Molokomme, who doubles as the Managing Director of Distell Botswana.

The association was scheduled to meet with the Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry (MITI), Peggy Serame this week to map a way forward regarding the sale of alcohol.

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Crafting a new life



Crafting a new life

The Enterprising Welder Me and My Business

Absorbed and happy in his work as a car mechanic, an unlikely request from a client three years ago changed the course of 35-year-old Bokamoso Selthabi’s life forever.

The self-taught welder now designs and makes various products from metal, including troughs, trailers, cages, kraal fences and other farm implements.

Having initially set-up shop in the North West of South Africa, his home of three years, the Morwa native retraced his steps back to Botswana to continue Bucha Rest Welding.

Recalling the meeting that altered his existence, Setlhabi told Voice Money he was working as a mechanic when a customer asked him to build a trailer for him.

“I made the product for him. After that he brought two more guys wanting my services. From there it grew into a fully-fledged business,” he explained.

“The business has now been running for two years based in South Africa. It is only at the beginning of this year that we relocated to Botswana,” continued the multi-talented craftsman, adding he briefly explored the Namibian market as well.

While he is still new to the local market, with much of that time blanketed by Covid-19 restrictions, Selthabi admits he is yet to reach a point where he can say business is as good as it was in South Africa.

“So far it has been a bit difficult locally. Some of the products that we do like metal kraals are still not highly rated here but we are working hard to market such products as a good alternative to wooden kraals,” he noted, a steely determination evident in his tone.

Setlhabi explained that one of the perceived disadvantages of products like metal kraals is because the metal conducts heat.

However, he points out that this can be overcome by simply applying paint.

“The good thing about it is that it is durable and lasts longer than other materials used to construct kraals,” he highlighted.

Despite the current low uptake of his products, the enterprising welder is optimistic his fortunes will soon turn around.

“It is promising because, when you work with customers who are not used to what you are doing, you have to carry out extensive marketing of your products. We hope when life goes back to normal after the pandemic there will be some improvement,” he said, adding that items such as feeding containers have proved popular and are in demand.

“We also have customers waiting across the country,” he added.

Other challenges – and the one Setlhabi describes as his biggest – is copycats who attempt to duplicate his work ‘but often fail to match my skills’.

“We have social media pages where we post our products. People would want to do exactly the same but often do not succeed because our designs are unique and the quality is top-notch,” said the National Craft Certificate (NCC) holder proudly.

As the business is still at infancy stage, he has engaged one person to assist but hopes as the enterprise grows he will be able to employ more.

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