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Local suppliers ally fears of shortages

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Fear marched menacingly into the country this week as the reality of COVID-19 began to hit home.

Botswana, which goes into lockdown this Friday, imports the majority of her basic commodities – including food, beverages and fuel – from South Africa (SA).

With SA embarking on a three-week lockdown last Thursday, it seems inevitable this will lead to a shortage of supplies here.

Although travel is restricted between the two countries, government has announced that movements of goods will be allowed.

However, it is feared the South African lockdown will lead to demand surpassing supply in the country, which in turn will drastically reduce the amount of goods available for export.

With South Africans engaging in widespread panic buying, emptying all the shelves in major stores, this could potentially prove disastrous for local supply.

The rapid spread of the virus, which has already reached many parts of the world, claiming thousands of lives in the process, has had unprecedented effects on the global economy.

While there is fear of shortage of foodstuffs, distributors have allayed such concerns, as they believe they have enough stock to supply the local market.

It will soon be seen if their confidence is well placed!

Claude Hassett, the Managing Director of one of the leading distribution companies, CA Sales and Distribution told The Voice on Wednesday this week that consumers need not worry as CA Sales has triple extra stock to supply the market.

“Besides, trucks are still allowed to get into the country,” said Hassett, adding that they are hoping that the situation will not get worse.

Hassett although the spread of the Covid-19 has affected virtually everyone they have enough stock in the inventory.

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Business

De Beers cuts production as Covid-19 effects set in

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In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, diamond mining conglomerate De Beers – has revised its global production guidance.

The company, which operates Debswana Mines with Botswana government in a 50/50 joint venture, revealed this week that it has cut its global production guidance by 7 million carats to reflect demand and support long-term value.

When updating the media last Thursday afternoon, De Beers – Global Sightholder Sales Executive Vice President, Paul Rowley described the pandemic as unprecedented and nothing like what the world has ever faced.

Previously, production guidance was set between 32-34 million carats for the year, but non due to the pandemic which has affected business across sectors.

Rowley told the media that the diamond mining giant is also refocusing and repurposing marketing plans to reflect a changing situation.

Furthermore, he said the group is also working with partners in government to see how to generate revenue when international customers are unable to travel adding that creating viewing centres in other countries is another option being considered as a temporary measure.

Despite the current challenges facing the diamond industry, and all other industries, Rowley said De Beers continues to make major investments across the diamond value chain to ensure the industry’s continued success during these unprecedented times.

De Beers, according to Rowley, is making investments in production capacity expansion, rough diamond distribution efficiency and downstream consumer marketing campaigns.

Rowley told journalists that Covid-19 has impacted heavily on all the three streams, being downstream, midstream and upstream.

On the downstream side, he noted that the pandemic has had a direct impact of De Beers Jewellers retail outlets due to store closures and consumer demand impact.

In the midstream, he says the pandemic has negatively affected the rough diamond sales as the third sight was cancelled due to logistical challenges as countries went on a lockdown.

The fourth sight was only attended by local beneficiation Sightholders as international buyers were unable to travel once again.

In the upstream, Rowley said operations across the globe were impacted and the group has had to implement new requirements and procedures in the workplace to keep the workers safe.

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Business

Letlole La Rona suspends CEO

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Letlole La Rona (LLR), a property company listed on the Botswana Stock Limited (BSEL), on Tuesday moved to suspend its Chief Executive Officer, Chikuni Shenjere-Mutiswa.

His suspension, according to a notice to shareholders, follows preliminary findings arising from an investigation into issues relating to the company’s Long-term Incentive Plan.

Mutiswa who was appointed LLR CEO in June 2018, is said to have been suspended with full benefits pending the outcome of the full investigations.

Commenting on the latest developments, LLR Board Chairperson, Boitumelo Mogopa noted good governance remains sacrosanct to the board and all staff of the company.

“The preliminary findings of the possible misconduct arising from the investigations relate to the circumstances around the company’s Long-term Incentive Plan during or around March this year and possible acts or omissions by an individual in a unique position of power,” said Mogopa.

Mogopa said this by no means reflects the integrity of the board, financial performance and company portfolio.

“For us, it remains business as usual as the due process takes its course,” said Mogopa.

Meanwhile, the board has in the interim appointed Botshelo Mokotedi to hold the fort on an acting basis while investigations continue.

Mokotedi is seconded from Botswana Development Corporation (BDC) – a major shareholder in LLR – where he is the Head of Risk.

He is described as a forward-thinking, highly motivated and results-oriented individual with more than a decade experience in the financial services sector across a variety of senior roles, including Business Development, Credit Analysis as well as Portfolio and Risk Management.

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