The European Union (EU) has a number of opportunities to support Co-operatives financially because Co-operatives have a wealth of experiences to share for the benefit of many through their ideal combination between solidarity and entrepreneurship, Hermann Spitz, Head of Cooperation at the Delegation of the EU to Botswana told the just ended 11th Africa Co-operative Ministerial Conference.
The EU was keen to channel support towards investment in agriculture, energy, infrastructure and green sectors. This is because investing in agriculture gives the highest return on poverty eradication as small farmers are the main actors in agriculture in developing countries. ”They produce 80% of our food globally. Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises in agribusiness are job generators. They are central to our efforts for poverty reduction”
Hermann said real or perceived high risks often prevents investment in agriculture and in order to reduce this risk, there is need to increase available finance in order to reduce risks on the productive side through the provision of business and advisory services, skills, technology and innovation as well as through providing greater risk bearing through blending.
More than 2 billion euros in grants has been channeled through blending since 2007 to finance more than 250 projects, while EU grant contributions have leveraged over 44 billion euros in total investment in developing countries.
The EU intends to scale up its blending activities by multiplying its grant contribution by 3 over the period 2014 – 2020 to mobilize up to 100 billion euros of total investment. An African Investment Facility has been set up to support Africa more effectively in sectors such as energy, agriculture, transport, infrastructure, climate financing, and access to financing for small and medium sized enterprises.
Through private sector support, the EU appreciates the strategic role of cooperative enterprises in international development to lead the way in providing decent jobs, sustainable livelihoods and inclusive solutions to social problems.
In this regard, the EU will next year launch new initiatives, such as the Agriculture Financing Initiative (AgriFI), aimed at increasing investment in smallholder agriculture and agribusiness enterprises; the new Electrification Financing Initiative which was formally launched at the Sustainable Energy for All Forum in New York in May 2015.
The new interest in Co-operatives in Botswana comes after decades of neglect, collapse and stigmatization and relegation to the fringes of Cooperatives enterprises nationally, and the advent of a major paradigm shift in government policy formulation towards Co-operatives.
Participants at the just ended 11th Co-operative Ministerial Conference of the need to appreciate that Co-operatives value based business model is central to efforts towards inclusive growth, sustainable development, poverty eradication, employment creation, economic empowerment of marginalized socio-economic groups such as women and the youth.
A Co-operative are defined by the International Co-operative Alliance as an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily tom meet their common economic, social and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly owned and democratically-controlled enterprise.
They are based on the values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity. In addition to their founders, Co-operative members believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility and caring for others.
Deputy Director of Co-operatives, Boniface Tsheko told Weekend Post on the sidelines of the Conference that the need thinking in government manifests in the formulation of a new policy on cooperatives currently being implemented.
The Department of Cooperatives in supporting the development of cooperatives in Botswana through collaboration with other Ministries and government departments whereby various government empowerment programmes like those related to poverty eradication are pooled together for the benefit of groups their than individuals.
Tsheko says the challenge is to change prevailing public negative mindset against Co-operatives. His department, he says is looking a more innovative business models and encourage members to venture into production oriented activities where they enjoy a comparative advantage of having access to land such horticulture and property development and leave retail and consumer based enterprises to those better able to manage them.
The Conference participants were told that Co-operatives provide individuals and communities with an instrument of self-help and influence over their socio-economic development. Co-operatives have a long term aim of sustainable economic growth, social development and environmental responsibility.
They are builders of sustainability, spur growth and development in all sectors of the economy and achieve this by working in partnership with other stakeholders who have a common vision and interest.
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.