Goabaone Chwene had done two things that almost won him public sympathy – he went on a hunger strike in Francistown; and walked 430 km over six days from Francistown to Gaborone to see President Lt Gen Ian Khama. Both Chwene’s actions were meant to push the Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA) into financing his lab lab producing business which he intends to set up in Gulubane in the North East District.
However, it appears Chwene’s protests have not swayed CEDA’s resolve that the proposal as tabled by the aspiring farmer is unreasonable and almost beyond reach. Chwene arrived in Gaborone this week and was whisked into the biggest office on land at the Office of the President to table his displeasure with CEDA, and he was told to exhaust all CEDA channels of communication before he puts a lid on the talks.
Chwene is adamant that CEDA is hell-bent on frustrating his intention to be a big farmer in the north east. Through his company Baperi Investments (Pty) Ltd he had tabled a proposal amounting to just over P4 million pula in his first application; and later revised it to P3.9 million Pula, this after he was told that his business was over capitalised.
WeekendPost gathers that CEDA hired a mentor to guide him in putting together the second proposal and he rejected all the mentor’s recommendations because he did not want his original business idea fiddled with.
Another problem that was established by CEDA is that Chwene was starting everything from scratch. He had no land, so he had to buy it, in addition to the machinery. Valuations of the land he wanted to buy also demonstrated that Chwene was over charged by the owners. He was advised to apply for cheaper land with the land board but still resisted the advice. He insisted that he wanted to buy the land in Gulubane. This week, after his meeting at Office of President, Chwene visited CEDA offices with his grandmother to further his protest with CEDA officials.
Chwene believes that CEDA rejected his business proposal in 2012 without any valid reasons and it was done in bad faith. Elsewhere in the media, Chwene is quoted as saying he has lost money amounting to about P9 million over the last three years while he was battling to have the CEDA decision overturned. He had applied for funding of over P3.8 million to plough lablab, a hyacinth bean often grown as forage for livestock. However, his application was turned down and he believes CEDA officials did so in bad faith. Following the rejection of his proposal, the 30 year old father of two has revealed how he has been knocking on almost every door of authority in an attempt to have CEDA’s decision overturned, but to no avail.â€¨
CHWENE’s THREE YEAR TUG OF WAR WITH CEDA
Baperi Investments has been applying to CEDA since December 2012. He had wanted to start a lablab seed and feed production on 150 hectares on a farm to be purchased in Gulubane. He targeted BAMB for the seed and the cattle farmers in the country for feed. Feed in this instance will be secondary produce as the primary product will be seed. The farm being proposed for purchase is being sold by a syndicate and measures 880 hectares.
The first application was submitted on 04 December 2012 for an amount of P4.080 million. The loan was to broken down as follows: Farm – 1,250,000 Farm house and Barn 250,000 2 Mortor Vehicles – 450,384 Tractors and Equipment – 672,910 Fencing 165,702 Working Capital 1,291,004 Total 4,080,000
From the above break down, 30% of the loan being sought would go towards purchase of land, and only 17% of this land will be used for production. The working capital will then take 32% of the proposed loan, while 12% would go towards purchase of motor vehicles. Farm equipment and buildings would then take 22% of the loan.
Weekend Post established that the loan was assessed and subsequently closed on the 15 January 2013 and a letter was written to the promoter to this effect.
On the 12 March 2013, Chwene appealed the decision reached by CEDA to close his application due to financial viability. His appeal was then forwarded to the Appeals department to be presided over by the Board of directors. On the 26 April 2013, at the Board of Directors meeting, the Board upheld the Management decision not to approve the loan.
In October 2013, Chwene submitted a reduced application in the amount of P3,881,271. Although the amount of the loan had been slightly reduced, CEDA felt that the scope of the project had not been reduced by much. The amount being sought was basically to be used for the same purposes as the earlier application.
In order to assist Chwene and inform the process CEDA engaged a mentor. The mentor worked with him over a period to assist him with compilation of the proposal and to help with adequately capitalising the project. However, in the end the promoter could still not alter the capitalisation on the land that was not being fully utilised. Consequently as with the first application the application was closed for the same reasons as the earlier one in May 2014.
After this closure Chwene then approached the Client Service Centre, complaining that his submission had not been thoroughly looked at during the last submission. After a series of similar complaints, a decision was taken to retake his submission and review it once more.
At this stage Chwene was referred to the office of the Regional Manager where he was once again taken through the process and the rejection reasons that had culminated in the rejection of the project. It was pointed out to him that the purchase of the land was overcapitalising the project and it would have been ideal if he rented as opposed to buying in the initial stages. He however, pointed out that he had made up his mind and wanted to acquire the property.
He then made a submission on 28 October 2014. At the time he seemed desperate for funding and the submission was incomplete. Chwene was however informed that the application could not be appraised in its current state and he undertook to provide the requisite detail.
Information passed to this publication indicates that Chwene later on approached CEDA with his brother and were met by the Regional Manager where they pleaded that he would avail the rest of the documents and requests that the proposal be looked at.
The documents were subsequently availed, partly with the assistance of the previous mentor and the project was looked at. But because the project still had the burden of the unproductive land, the project remained unfeasible and was once again rejected by the Management Investment Committee in December 2014.
CEDA noted that currently none of the major commercial farmers in Botswana are able to get even 5 tonnes per hectare. Secondly Maize cannot be harvested 4 times and the promoter has not accounted for losses which usually range between 30 – 40%. Thirdly, the business plan did not account for the whole value chain i.e No provision for transportation, storage and looking at 150 Ha, one needs a typically good enough storage.
CEDA Head of Marketing and Communications Anno Tshipa said they are aware of Mr Chwene’s complaints against the organisation. She advised that they are handling his queries through the established channels at CEDA.
“We have established appeals mechanisms at CEDA presided over by the Board of Directors which is informed by requisite experts,” she said.
According to Tshipa, in the event a promoter is not happy with the outcome of this process the matter can sent to a further appeal where the proposal will be evaluated by outside firms which are experienced on the subject at hand.
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.