Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Thabo Thamane has said stringent measures introduced by the agency have begun to pay dividends, as the institution collected a record P515 million in last financial year.
The measures are part of Thamane’s ambition to transform the 19 year old financial development institution into a self-sustaining agency. Thamane expects CEDA to be fully self-sustaining within the next 6 years, following a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) entered into with Malaysian based SME Bank, a state owned financial development institution.
“We collected P515 million, that’s more than half a billion. This was the first time in the 19 year history of the institution that we have collected that much. Our target was P440 million and we went beyond our target,” Thamane told WeekendPost this week. Thamane attributes this success to prioritising collection rate when he took over the reins, a feat achieved amid strenuous effort.
“When I was appointed, there was a general laxity from people that, because it was CEDA a quasi-government [institution] people did not want to pay their loans,” he said. “People were not forthcoming because of that mentality, so we had to curb the wheel, and we seriously did. It changed the mind set of the people, they now know if they owe CEDA, they have to pay because we keep them on their toes. We needed that.”The CEDA chief said the reforms introduced proved to be unpopular, but he was adamant that it was a necessary devil.
“People were crying and politicians were complaining that there was ‘In a matter between’ in every newspaper involving CEDA and their clients. I told them I had to and every relationship has to end at some stage. Either you pay the loan or we go to court. We developed a collection team dedicated toward phoning people,” he said. “Government gives us about P250 million as subvention, and we raise P600 million internally. The government subvention we don’t use it for rent or other operational costs, it goes to financing projects.”
PROJECT FACILITATION FUND AS GAME CHANGER
CEDA in partnership with Local Enterprise Authority (LEA) recently introduced Project Facilitation Fund, which is a pre-project funding targeting high impact projects with strong focus on agro-processing, manufacturing and tourism. “The Project Facilitation Fund was the minister [Bogolo Kenewendo] vision to develop the SME through her apex model. CEDA falls in the SME apex. We realised that there are certain legal and regulatory requirements, as much as they are good and necessary legal requirements, that have an impact on SMEs,” he said.
“This is so because SMEs are now unable to access capital, as a result of that, they cannot access the market. Consequently people just stay home with dreams, and they cannot do anything. This is what usually lead to people being frustrated and some even accusing CEDA of selling their ideas when somebody succeeds in the same business they wanted to do.”
Thamane noted that Project Facilitation Fund will be in the form money accessed in order to finance certain pre-requisite requirements for certain projects such as Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), product testing and processing certification, diligence, valuation reports, soil and water test, borehole test, structural reports among others. Though the initiative can accommodate other projects in exceptional cases, the focus is in high impact projects in agro-processing, manufacturing and tourism.
“If you look at these sectors Batswana are spectators. We have the data that shows how many Batswana are into these sectors. We as CEDA deliberately said we will focus on these sectors,” Thamane said. According to Thamane, CEDA is doing a manufacturing study, which will inform the agency on opportunities avail and what to fund. He said the study will assess the import bill and also offer suggestion on the low hanging fruits.
“We want to move to a situation whereby we direct people where to venture because we are the owners of the funds and we can dictate where the funds go. We want people to use the entire value chain of primary production of goods. There has to be on who grows, then one who processes and finally the one who sells to market,” he said. “One the biggest problems facing SMEs is that, one would want to do everything in the entire value chain. It affects efficiencies. “The next phase, we need to digitize our platforms so that people do not come to our office, they just communicate via our apps. Very soon we will unveil some of those apps. We want to leverage on technology as delivery channel.”
MERGING OF PUBLIC ENTREPRISES
Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry last year announced plans to review public enterprises, a process which has various implication which may include possible merging of quasi-government funding institutions such as National Development Bank (NDB), Botswana Development Corporation and CEDA among others.
“It’s a pity that people do not understand development finance. It is a very intruding landscape. You cannot mix micro-business with large businesses because at the end of the day we are going to focus more on large business at the expense of small business or then you focus on small businesses then you forget the large businesses,” he said.
Thamane is of the view that there is a risk of forgetting certain mandates if such was to happen. “I know what CEDA does, I have been here for the past 16 years; I know what LEA does, and I know what other financiers do. What is very critical is that we must be every carefully when making this analysis of merging public enterprises because their mandates were very specific,” he warned.
“It is one thing as for an institution that is not performing as per its mandate. If it does not perform, you do not just say you merge it. You basically say; why is it not performing? Is it the people or is it the mandate? So that is the starting point; If it is the people, you then put the right people so that they can make it perform; if it is the mandate, then review the mandate and then merge it with other institutions.” Thamane contended that the last thing that government needs is to create a monster of an institution, because the bigger the institution, the bigger the process.
APPOINTMENT AS CHAIRMAN OF AADFI
Thamane was elected the Chairman of the Association of African Development Finance Institution (AADFI) at Annual General Assembly held in Malabo Equatorial Guinea in June this year AADFI currently has 82-member institutions and is headquartered in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. The association is a member of the World Federation of Development Finance Institutions and has observer status at the World Bank. Thamane takes over from the CEO of the Development Bank of South Africa.
“It is much easier for my own country to get capacity building and technical assistance. I can tell you this capacity building and technical assistance have been going to other countries because they attended these events,” said Thamane on the importance of the position. “’In Botswana we do not attend these events because sometimes people believe it is a waste of resources. Yet we want good things to come to us, but we cannot expect good things to come to us, without being part of these events.”
As the leader of AADFI, Thamane is expected to led a delegation to Frankfurt on green climate fund financing. “It is something I have been advocating for to say, let us have a green fund, and let us have projects that are eco-friendly and encourage them.”
The Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP)’s decision to reject and appeal the High Court’s verdict on a case involving High Court Judge, Dr Zein Kebonang has frustrated the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and Judge Kebonang’s back to work discussions.
JSC and Kebonang have been in constant discussions over the latter’s return to work following a ruling by a High Court panel of judges clearing him of any wrong doing in the National Petroleum Fund criminal case filed by the DPP. However the finalization of the matter has been hanged on whether the DPP will appeal the matter or not – the prosecution body has since appealed.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) top brass has declined a request by Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) to negotiate the legal fees occasioned by 2019 general elections petition in which the latter disputed in court the outcome of the elections.
This publication is made aware that UDC Vice President Dumelang Saleshando was left with an egg on his face after the BDP big wigs, comprising of party Chairman Slumber Tsogwane and Secretary General Mpho Balopi rejected his plea.
“He was told that this is a legal matter and therefore their (UDC) lawyer should engage ours (BDP) for negotiations because it is way far from our jurisdiction,” BDP Head of Communications, Kagelelo Kentse, told this publication.
This spelt doom for the main opposition party and Saleshando who seems not to have confidence and that the UDC lawyers have the dexterity to negotiate these kind of matters. It is not clear whether Saleshando requested UDC lawyer Boingotlo Toteng to sit at the table with Bogopa Manewe, Tobedza and Co, who are representing the BDP to strike a deal as per the BDP top echelons suggested.
“From my understanding, the matter is dealt with politically as the two parties are negotiating how to resolve it, but by far nothing has come to me on the matter. So I believe they are still substantively engaging each other,” Toteng said briefly in an interview on Thursday.
UDC petitioners saddled with costs after mounting an unprecedented legal suit before the court to try and overturn BDP’s October 2019 victory. The participants in the legal matter involves 15 parliamentary candidates’ and nine councillors. The UDC petitioned the court and contested the outcome of the elections citing “irregularities in some of the constituencies”.
In a brief ruling in January 2020, Judge President Ian Kirby on behalf of a five-member panel said: “We have no jurisdiction to entertain these appeals. These appeals must be struck out each with costs including costs of counsel”. This was a second blow to the UDC in about a month after their 2019 appeals were dismissed by the High Court a day before Christmas Day.
This week BDP attorneys decided to attach UDC petitioners’ property in a bid to settle the debts. UDC President Duma Boko is among those that will see their property being attached with 14 of his party members. “We have attached some and we are on course. So far, Dr. Mpho Pheko (who contested Gaborone Central) and that of Dr, Micus Chimbombi (who contested Kgalagadi South) will have their assets being sold on the 5th of February 2021,” BDP attorney Basimane Bogopa said.
Asked whether they met with UDC lawyers to try solve the matter, Bogopa said no and added. “Remember we are trying to raise the client’s funds, so after these two others will follow. Right now we are just prioritising those from Court of Appeal, as soon as the high court is done with taxation we will attach.”
Saleshando, when contacted about the outcomes of the meeting with the BDP, told WeekendPost that: “It would not be proper and procedural for me to tell you about the meeting outcomes before I share with UDC National Executive Committee (NEC), so I will have to brief them first.”
UDC NEC will meet on the 20th of next month to deal with a number of thorny issues including settling the legal fees. Negotiations with other opposition parties- Alliance for Progressives and Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) are also on the agenda.
Currently, UDC has raised P44 238 of the P565 000 needed to cover bills from the Court of Appeal (CoA). This is the amount in a UDC trust account which is paltry funds equating 7.8 per cent of the overall required money. In the past despite the petitioners maintaining that there was promise to assist them to settle legal fees, UDC Spokesperson, Moeti Mohwasa then said the party has never agreed in no way to help them.
“We have just been put in debt by someone,” one of the petitioners told this publication in the past. “President’s (Duma Boko) message was clear at the beginning that money has been sourced somewhere to help with the whole process but now we are here there is nothing and we are just running around trying to make ends meet and pay,” added the petitioner in an interview UDC NEC has in December last year directed all the 57 constituencies to each raise a minimum of P10, 000. The funds will be used to settle debts that are currently engulfing the petitioners with Sheriffs, who are already hovering around ready to attach their assets.
The petitioners, despite the party intervention, have every right to worry. “This is so because ‘the deadline for this initiative (P10, 000 per constituency) is the end of the first quarter of this year (2021),” a period in which the sheriffs would have long auctioned the properties.
President of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Duma Boko’s alliance with former President Lt Gen Ian Khama continues to unsettle some quarters within the opposition collective, who believe the duo, if not managed, will once again result in an unsuccessful bid for government in 2024.
While Khama has denied that he has undeclared preference to have Boko remaining as leader of UDC, many believe that the two have a common programme, while other opposition leaders remain on the side-lines.