The Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry Bogolo Kenewendo has revealed that the ministry has initiated a process that look into the possibility of merging various quasi-government enterprises owing to duplication and overlapping of mandates.
There have been calls from various quarters, including legislators and the business community over the need to merge some ministries in a bid to improve efficiency and profitability. “It has been observed that the mandates of some of the parastatals are converging resulting in some overlaps and duplications,” said Kenewendo, who was appointed as a trade minister at the beginning of April.
“A rationalisation exercise is ongoing in that regard, and the exercise will go a long way in eliminating duplication of efforts across the ministry’s parastatals where existent, culminating in improved service quality,” While a backbencher, Kenewendo had made her believes known that a number of parastatals do have overlapping mandates therefore requiring a rationalisation that would produce efficiency.
Parastatals that have been under microscope include Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA), Botswana Development Corporation (BDC), as well as National Development Bank (NDB) which are government owned funding institutions. BDC was established in 1970, as government investment arm and as main agency for commercial and industrial development. BDC’s primary mandate is to drive the industrialisation of the country by providing financial assistance to investors with commercially viable projects.
BDC provides both debt and equity financing to commercially viable projects that perform one or more of the following functions; pioneer new industries; unlock value in existing industries, stimulate private sector growth and foster linkages with the local industry, drive diversification and exports, and create significant employment. Meanwhile CEDA, which was created in 2001, has been mandated to provide financial and technical support for business development with a view to promote viable and sustainable citizen owned business enterprises.
CEDA was is established to address the need for coherent and holistic support for the development of small, medium and large scale enterprises through the soft window and package offered through the subsidiaries. CEDA offers funding for capital expenditure, stock or working capital in new and existing business ventures. It also offers training and mentoring for new and seasoned entrepreneurs and business advisory services to entrepreneurs in various skills as identified through the needs assessment that is conducted during project monitoring.
The monitoring, business advisory is also carried out by Local Enterprise Authority (LEA) another parastatal formed in 2004. According to the Small Business Act , which established the entity, LEA’s mandate is to promote entrepreneurship and SMME development through; providing business development services inter alia through; screening, business plan facilitation, training and mentoring as well as identifying business opportunities for existing and future SMMEs among others.
While NBD, the oldest of them all was established in 1963 during the colonial era, with a mandate to provide sustainable value creating financial services and partnerships that support economic development of the country. NDB has recently been going through a difficult financial phase. Few weeks ago, the beleaguered bank approached the Parliamentary Committee on Public Enterprises and Statutory Bodies to lobby for government recapitalisation.
EFFICIENCY AND PROFITABILITY: CASE FOR PARASTATAL S MERGER
In 2016, while speaking Grant Thornton Private Growth Business Awards, former cabinet minister, Charles Tibone indicated his lack of faith in the public enterprises in terms of their growth potential owing to their continued non-performance. “What is even more concerning is that the majority of these parastatals businesses are chronically unprofitable. They operate on negative returns on investment or on life support from Government through subsidies,” he said then.
“A case can be made for parastatals that provide a social service like Water Utilities Corporation (WUC) or those which regulate sectors such as Botswana Communication Regulatory Authority (BOCRA) or Civil Aviation Authority (CAAB).” Tibone does not see any reason for government to continue keeping public enterprises which have become weak after being owned by government for decades.
“One may ask; do we really need a national airline? Have we not done enough to demonstrate that passenger traffic exists? Nigeria, The United States of America, Hong Kong and many other countries do not have national airlines and yet traffic into these states remains strong,” he said. “Is it vital that National Development Bank (NDB), Botswana Development Corporation (BDC), Botswana Savings Bank (BSB) and Botswana Meat Commission (BMC), to mention just a few, should continue to be Government owned?”
Tibone, who resigned as Assistant Minister of Finance in 2011, and left his law making position in 2014, argued that if compared, growth profiles of the BDC and BIHL, both of which are in property and financial services, among other investments, one will notice that one zigzags up and down while the other has an upward trajectory. “It will not be difficult to guess which one is parastatal,” he said.
“Massive injection of state resources into that entity has not guaranteed growth. This evidence therefore leads one to the observation that there is a distinct prospect that the privatisation of a number of Government parastatals would not simply lead to quantitative growth of our private sector but possibly a dramatic transformation of our economy.”
While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.
Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.
Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.
Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.
Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”
“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.
He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.
He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.
According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.
There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.
Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.
“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication. The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.