Property market hit by bomb scares

SHARE   |   Sunday, 13 July 2014   |   By Phillimon Mmeso
A policer officer addressing some people after a bomb threat A policer officer addressing some people after a bomb threat

The recent security threats that have been happening in Botswana is said to be a threat to foreign direct investment as investors are skeptical of investing in the country.

According to the 2013 Botswana Confederation of Commerce, Industry and Manpower [BOCCIM] annual report on property sector, the threats have led to a drop in interest from international investors and local business.

“The political threats, barriers to entry, corruption, legal barriers and assassinations in the media also affect the demand for commercial space from investors both international and local,” reads part of the report. Early this year Gaborone and Francistown experienced bomb scares that stalled businesses especially in CBD and BOCCIM believe that it has the potential to scare away investors especially in property sector. In Francistown Gallo and Nzano malls which houses some of the biggest shops in the country were closed for over six hours after bomb scare which turned to be prank in May. Political assassination threats which also rocked this country this year as the country prepares to go to general elections is said to have a negative impact in luring international investors.

During his launch as Umbrella for Democratic Change parliamentary candidate for Gabane General Pius Mokgware revealed that he has some intelligence information that government wants to assassinate him and UDC President Duma Boko as well as Manual workers Union unionist Johnson Motshwarakgole. UDC leader Boko was also to have allegedly foiled an assassination attempt at his house in Tlokweng early in April this year. In May, a close associate of Boko had said that they foiled an assassination attempt on Boko after they received a tip off that the UDC leader’s residence in Tlokweng has been earmarked for attack by state intelligence officers. Apparently, a carpenter was arrested for breaking into Boko’s house in Tlokweng and has appeard in court this week where he pleaded to house-breaking but denied being part of a political plot to assassinate Boko.

“We have heard that there were death threats on me by reliable people in the intelligence business gathering. We are serious when we say we will fight back if this continues. We have the capability to fight back. If I was to die, you should know that others will stand up and fight,” Boko said in an interview with The Patriot on Sunday. A close Boko associate had told The Patriot on Sunday that they will fight to ensure that Boko is safe and will not let anyone kill him. Boko said if something was to happen to him, the state will be the first suspect because of the position that he occupies as an opposition leader. He said this may cause instability in the country.

He said the state should provide security to opposition leaders like him who are standing for the presidency. At the time, when asked by this reporter what conviction he has that indeed the man arrested for breaking into his house was an assassin to eliminate him, Boko said they have reliable and accurate intelligence that indicate that the opposition leader is a moving target. Meanwhile, in its report, BOCCIM called on all the stakeholders to always be receptive and accommodating to international investors and provide good atmosphere to do business especially as the country is now a diamond hub. Regarding the retail market, Botswana’s business community organisation observed in their 2013 annual report that the market has become saturated. This according to the report is evidenced by dead spots such as main mall and African mall that are now becoming marginalized against flagship malls such as Airport Junction, Riverwalk Game city and BBS Malls.

The population is being overwhelmed with regards the sprouting of new malls meaning it is advisable to wait for growth, reads the report. BOCCIM warned potential investors in retail market especially in and around Gaborone that investing in the market is currently not recommendable as it might render the investment obsolete. Residential rentals market have been dropping from last year (2012) and the most affected according to the report is the Phakalane market. “The drop in the rental market can be attributed to reduce lending rates that gave more buyers an opportunity to buy property instead of renting,” reads the 2013 BOCCIM report which was released last week. The relocation Diamond Trading Company [DTC] from London to Gaborone was envisaged to boost the property market especially the residential rentals as 50,000 families were expected to relocate but this did not take place as most of them have not yet relocated. BOCCIM blames this on the new immigration laws which they believe are very stringent.