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Youth firms owe Gov’t P400 million

The Ministry of Youth, Sport and Culture Development opened applications for the Youth Development Fund on 3rd July 2017 and the move is certainly going to shoot the loan book to over P500 million.

 

With the Ministry already grappling with numerous bad apples, oversight bodies have called for more creativity and purpose in the Youth Development Fund, an improvement that the Ministry has promised to bring in this round of applications. At the Public Accounts Committee meeting last year June, Kago Ramokate, the permanent secretary in the Ministry had indicated that Government was not aware as to how much was owed.

 

This year, the results of a 2015/16 tracer study paint a heavy loan book, punctuated by bad debts. Tati East Legislator, Samson Guma Moyo blasted the Youth Development Fund calling it policy of appeasement, warning that it will collapse Government.

 

The fund ceiling for individual applications is P100 000.00. Funding is in the form of 50% grant and 50% interest free loan. Funding usually covers Micro and Small Scale Projects; P500.00 –P100,000.00 per project and; A special consideration is occasionally made to fund Youth Industries up to P450,000.00.  All projects fund under the YDF should be conceptualised, initiated and implemented by eligible Youth who shall be prepared to be involved in its running on a full-time basis.

 

Following a tracer study conducted in 2015/2016 it was discovered that the number of projects funded between 2009/2010 and 2014/2015 financial years stood at 5655. The study also revealed that the actual number of businesses traced was 4517 representing (85.8%).
 

In terms of loan repayments the results of the study show that 1205 businesses which 26.7% service their loans and 3188 businesses accounting for 70.6% do not service their loans. However within the businesses that do not service their loans, 1103 were businesses on grace period accounting for 24.4% and therefore not expected to be servicing their loans yet. The study indicated that only 2085 businesses representing 46.2% were not serving their loans as expected.
 

The study indicated that since inception P23, 235, 870 of P422, 828, 748 owed by the beneficiaries was collected leaving a balance of P399, 592, 878.00 still outstanding.  “Out of the 4517 businesses visited, 3756 (83.2%) of them were operational, leaving 753 that were non-operational representing 16.7%. A further scrutiny into the financial performance of those that were operational revealed that 751 (20%) were making profit; 1418 (38%) were at breakeven; while 1291 (34%) were ailing or loss making.
 

In his latest submission, the Ministry’s permanent secretary, Ramokate observes that projects funded after the tracer study have not yet reached maturity period, as a lot of funding goes to agricultural projects which mature after 18-36 months.
 

Last year June the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) branded the Youth Development Fund a ‘Cash Cow’. Members of the PAC asked the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Culture to consider suspending the Youth Development Fund (YDF) in order to develop essential frameworks necessary for the success of the programme. It came to the attention of the PAC members this week that the YDF programme is now a cash cow and projects are financed in a haphazard manner without clearly outlined objectives.
 

And indeed, Ramokate had acknowledged that government has no investment and monitoring framework that guides the fund; neither do they monitor successful beneficiaries. He had no idea of how much beneficiaries owed government through the same initiative. The PAC generally views YDF as a good program and suspending the YDF would not mean stopping it for good, but for some time while necessary measures that will ensure that government gets value for its money are being put in place.
 

YDF was established during former President Festus Mogae’s tenure as an empowerment program aimed at promoting active participation of youth in the socio-economic development of the country. It also aims to encourage the out-of-school, marginalised and unemployed youth to venture into sustainable and viable income generating projects.
 

Other objectives include promoting the development of competitive of sustainable and growth oriented citizen owned youth enterprises. The program also aims to reduce rural-urban migration by making it attractive to start growth-orientated enterprises at rural areas. It was also envisaged that it will create sustainable employment opportunities for young people through the development of sustainable projects.
 

Youth who benefitted from other Government Economic empowerment schemes such as but not limited to these; the Out-of-School Youth Grant,Financial Assistance Programme (FAP), KBL Kickstart and Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency may be considered for funding upon submission of proof to the effect that they sustain their project operations over time and that prospects of expansion are attractive. It is a very expansive funding initiative because youth who have benefited from LIMID and other poverty eradication schemes can be funded provided that they will be operating the same line of business.

 

The repayment periods for the loan component shall be as follows: Up to P50,000.00 shall not exceed 36 months; From P50,001.00 to P225,000.00 shall not exceed 60 months. While the grace period for the loans is up to 36 months.

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State forged Kgosi’s arrest warrant

22nd July 2021
FORMER DIS BOSS: ISAAC KGOSI

In a classic and shocking case of disgrace and dishonour to this country, the law enforcement agencies are currently struggling to cover up a damaging and humiliating scandal of having conspired to forge the signature of a Palapye Chief Magistrate, Rebecca Motsamai in an unlawful acquisition of the much-publicised 2019 warrant of arrest against Isaac Kgosi, the former director of the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS).

The cloak-and-dagger arrest was led by the DIS director, Brigadier Peter Magosi supported by the Botswana Police, Botswana Defence Force (BDF), with the Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) which accused Kgosi of tax evasion, in the backseat.

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UDC parties discuss by-elections

22nd July 2021
UDC

Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) constituent members are struggling to reach an agreement over the allocation of wards for the imminent ward by-elections across the country.

Despite a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) and Alliance for Progressives (AP) are said to be active, but the nitty-gritties are far from being settled.

The eight bye-elections will be a precursor of a somewhat delayed finalisation of the brittle MoU. The three parties want to draw a plan on how and who will contest in each of the available wards.

This publication has gathered that the negotiations will not be a run off the mill because there is already an impasse between the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) which is a UDC constituent and AP (currently negotiating to join umbrella).

The by-elections joint committee met last week at Cresta President Hotel in a bid to finalise allocation but nothing tangible came out of the gathering, sources say.

The cause of the stalemate according to those close to events, is the Metsimotlhabe Ward which the two parties have set their eyes on.

In 2019, he ward was won by Botswana Democratic Party’s (BDP) Andrew Sebobi who unfortunately died in a tragic accident in February last year.

Sebobi had convincingly won by 1 109 votes in the last elections; and was trailed by Sephuthi Thelo of the UDC trailed him with 631 votes; while Alliance for Progressives’ Innocent Moamogwe got 371 votes.

Thelo is a BCP candidate and as per UDC norm, incumbency prevails meaning that the BCP will contest since they were runners up. On the other hand, AP has also raised its hand for the same.

“AP asked for it on the basis that they have a good candidate but BCP did not agree to that request also arguing they have a better contestant,” one UDC member confided to this publication.

Notwithstanding Metsimotlhabe Ward squabble, it is said the by-election talks are almost a done deal, with Botswana National Front (BNF) tipped to take Boseja South ward in Mochudi East constituency. Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) will be awarded Tamasane Ward in Lerala/Maunatlala constituency, sources say.

“But the agreement has to be closed by National Executive Committee (NEC),” emphasized the informant.

The NEC is said to have been cautioned not to back the wrong horse but rather rate with reason and facts.

UDC President, Duma Boko has told this publication that, “allocation is complete with two wards already awarded but with only one yet to be finalized,” he could not dwell into much details as to which party got what and the reasons for the delay in finalisation.

Chairperson of the by-elections committee, Dr. Phenyo Butale responded to this publication regarding the matter: “As AP we contested and as you may be aware we signed the MoU with UDC and BPF to collaborate on bye-elections. The opposition candidate for all bye-elections will be agreed by these parties and that process is still ongoing,” he said when asked if AP is interested on the ward and how far with the talks on bye-elections.

Butale, a former Gaborone Central Member of Parliament, who is also AP Secretary General continued to say, “As the chairperson of the bye-elections committee we are still seized with that matter. We should also do some consultations with the local structures. Once the process is complete we will issue a notice for now we cannot talk about the other two while the other is still pending the other one”.

Butale further clarified: “There is no such thing as AP and BCP not in agreement. It is an issue of signatories discussing and determining the opposition candidates across the three wards.”

Apart from the three wards, there are five more council wards that UDC is yet to allocate to cooperating partners.

FROM PALAPYE MEET: BPP CAUTION NEC MEMBERS  

With the UDC cheerful from last weekend’s meeting in Palapye, the meeting however was very tense on the side of both BCP and BNF, with only BPP flexing its muscle and even lashing out.

BCP going into the meeting, had promised to ask difficult questions to the UDC NEC.

BCP VP and also acting Secretary General, Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang, presented their qualms which were addressed by UDC Chairperson Motlatsi Molapisi, informants say.

It is said Molapisi is fed up and concerned by some UDC members especially those in the NEC who ‘wash party’s dirty linen in public’.

Insiders say the veteran politician cautioned the NEC members that they “will not expel any party but individuals who tarnish the image of the UDC.”

It is not the first time BPP play a paternalistic role as it once expressed its discontent with BCP in 2020, saying it should never wash UDC linen in public.

At first it is said, BPP, the oldest political formation in Botswana, claims disappointment on BCP stance that UDC should be democratised especially by sharing their stand with the media. Again, BPP was not happy with BCP leader Dumelang Saleshando’s decision to air his personal views on social media regarding the merger of UDC party.

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DIS infiltrates Police fingerprint system

22nd July 2021
Makgope

Botswana Police Service (BPS) Commissioner, Keabetswe Makgophe, has of late been dousing raging fires from various quarters of society following the infiltration of the police fingerprint system by the Directorate on Intelligence and Security (DIS), WeekendPost has learnt.

Fresh information gleaned from a number of impeccable sources, points to a pitiable working relationship between the two state organs. Cause of concern is the DIS continuous big brother role to an extent that it is now interfering with other institutions’ established mandates.

BPS which works closely with the DIS has been left exasperated by the works of the institution formed in 2008. It is said, the DIS through its Information Technology (IT) experts in collusion with some at BPS forensics department managed to infiltrate the Fingerprint system.

The infiltration, according to those in the know, was for the DIS to “teach a lesson” to some who are on their radar. It is said the DIS is playing and fighting dirty to win the fights they have lost before.

By managing to hack the police finger print system, a number of renowned businessmen and other politically exposed persons found their fingers in the system. What surprised the victims is the fact that they have never been charged of any wrongdoing by the police and they were left reeling in shock to learn that their fingers are on the data-base of criminals.

In fact, some of those who their fingerprints were falsely included in the records of those on the wrong side of law learnt later when other errands demanded their fingerprints.

“We learnt later when we had to submit and buy some documents and we were very shocked,” one politician who is also a businessman confided to this publication this week.

“We then learn that there are some fabricated criminality recorded for us, as to when did we commit those remained secret to the police, but then we had to engage our lawyers on the matter and that is when we were cleared,” said the politician-cum- tenderpreneur.

The lawyers have confirmed engaging the police and that the matters were settled in a gentlemen’s agreement and concluded.

All these happened behind the scenes with the police top brass oblivious only to be confronted by the irked lot, police sources also add. The victimized group who most of them have been fighting lengthy battles with the DIS read malice and did not blink when it was revealed that these were done by the DIS.

“And it was clear that they (DIS) are the ones in this dirty war which we don’t understand. Remember when we sue, it will be the Police at the courts not the DIS and that is why we agreed to a ceasefire more so they also requested that be kept under carpet,” said the victim.

Nonetheless, the Police through its spokesperson Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, briefly said: “we do not have any system that has been hacked.” On the other hand DIS mouthpiece Edward Robert was not in office this week to comment on the matter.

Reports however say DIS boss, Peter Magosi, who most of the victims accuse of the job, is said to have met his police counterpart Makgophe to put the matter to bed.

COVID-19 RAVAGES POLICE

As frontline workers, Police have not escaped the wrath of Covid-19. Already the numbers of those infected has reached the highest of high and they suggest that they be priorities on vaccine rollout.

“Our job is complicated, firstly we arrest including those who are non-compliant to Covid protocols and we go to accidents and many more. These put us at risk and it seems our superiors are not bothered,” said one police officer this week.

The cops further complain about that working spaces are small, as such expose them to contact the virus.

“Some tests positive and go for quarantine while the rest of the unit will be left without even test carried out. If at all the bosses are serious all the police officers should every now and then be subjected to testing or else we will be no more because of the virus,” added another officer based in Gaborone.

The government has since placed teachers on the priority list for the vaccines, it remains to be seen whether the police, who also man road blocks, will be considered.

“But our bosses should convince the country leadership about this, if not then we are doomed,” concluded a more senior officer.

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