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Why CEDA rejected Ftown walker


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.


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.
 

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Civil Service volatility: Democracy vs Bureaucracy

19th April 2021
President Masisi

Here is how one Permanent Secretary encapsulates the clear tension between democracy and bureaucracy in Botswana: “President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s Government is behaving like a state surrounded with armed forces in order to capture it or force its surrender. The situation has turned so volatile, for tomorrow is not guaranteed for us top civil servants.

These are the painful results of a personalized civil service in our view as permanent secretaries”. Although his deduction of the situation may be summed as sour grapes because he is one of the ‘victims’ of the reshuffle, he is convinced this is a perfect description of the rationale behind frequent changes and transfers characterising the current civil service.

The result of it all, he said, is that “there is too much instability at managerial and strategic levels of the civil service leading to a noticeable directionless civil service.” He continued: “Changes and transfers are inevitable in the civil service, but to a permissible scale and frequency. Think of soccer team coach who changes and transfers his entire squad every month; you know the consequences?”

The Tsunami has hit hard at critical departments and Ministries leaving a strong wave of uncertainty, many demoralised and some jobless. In traditional approaches to public administration, democracy gives the goals; and bureaucracy delivers the technical efficiency required for implementation. But the recent moves in the civil service are indicative of conflicting imperatives – the notion of separation between politicians and administrators is becoming blurred by the day.

“Look at what happened to Prisons and BDF where second in command were overlooked for outsiders, and these are the people who had sacrificially served for donkey’s years hoping for a seat at the ladder’s end. The frequency of the changes, at times affecting the same Ministry or individual also demonstrates some level of ineptitude, clumsiness and lack of foresight from those in charge,” remarked the PS who added that their view is that the transfers are not related to anything but “settling scores, creating corruption opportunities and pushing out perceived dissident and former president, Ian Khama’s alleged loyalists and most of these transfers are said to be products of intelligence detection.”

Partly blaming Khama for the mess and his unwillingness to let go, the PS dismissed Masisi for falling to the trap and failing to outgrow the destructive tiff. “Khama is here to stay and the sooner Masisi comes to terms with the fact that he (Masisi) is the state President, the better. For a President to still be making these changes and transfers signals signs of a confused man who has not yet started rolling his roadmap, if at all it was ever there. I am saying this because any roadmap comes with key players and policies,” he concluded.

The Ministry of Health and Wellness seems to be the most hard-hit by the transfers, having experienced three Permanent Secretaries changes within a year and a half. Insiders say the changes have everything to do with the Ministry being the centre of COVID-19 tenders and economic opportunities. “The buck stops with the PS and no right-thinking PS can just allow glaring corruption under his watch as an accounting officer. Technocrats are generally law abiding, the pressure comes with politically appointed leaders racing against political terms to loot,” revealed a director in the Ministry preferring anonymity.

The latest transfer of Kabelo Ebineng she says was also motivated by his firm attitude against the President’s blue-eyed Task Team boys. “The Task Team wants to own the COVID-19 pandemic and government interventions and always cry foul when the Ministry reasserts itself as mandated by law,” said the director who added that Masisi who was always caught between the crossfire decided on sacrificing Ebineng to the joy of his team as they (Task Team) were in the habit of threatening to resign citing Ebineng as the problem.

Ebineng joins the Office of the President as a deputy Coordinator (government implementation and coordination office).The incoming PS is the soft-spoken Grace Muzila, known and described by her close associates as a conformist albeit knowledgeable.

One of the losers in the grand scheme is Thato Raphaka who many had seen as the next PSP because of his experience and calm demeanour following a declaration of interest in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Secretary post by the current PSP, Elias Magosi.

But hardly ten months into his post, Raphaka has been transferred out to the National Strategy Office in what many see as a demotion of some sort. Other notable changes coming into OP are Pearl Ramokoka formerly with the Employment, Labour and Productivity Ministry coming in as a Permanent Secretary and Kgomotso Abi as director of Public Service Reforms.

One of the ousted senior officers in the Office of the President warned that there are no signs that the changes and transfers will stop anytime soon: “If you are observant you would have long noticed that the changes don’t only affect senior officers but government decisions as well. A decision is made today and the government backtracks on it within a week. Not only that, the President says this today, and his deputy denies it the following day in Parliament,” he warned.

Some observers have blamed the turmoil in the civil service partly to lack of accountable presidential advisers or kitchen cabinet properly schooled on matters of statecraft. They point out that politicians or those peripheral to them should refrain from hampering the technical and organizational activities of public managers – or else the party (reshuffling) won’t stop.

In the view expressed by some Permanent Secretaries, Elias Magosi, has not really been himself since joining the civil service; and has cut a picture of indifference in most critical engagements; the most notable been a permanent secretaries platform which he chairs. As things stand there is need to reconcile the imperatives of democracy and democracy in Botswana. Peace will rein only when public value should stand astride the fault that runs between politicians and public managers.

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Morupisi fights for freedom in court

19th April 2021
morupisi

Former Permanent Secretary to the President, Carter Morupisi, is fighting for survival in a matter in which the State has charged him and his wife, Pinnie Morupisi, with corruption and money laundering.

Morupisi has joined a list of prominent figures that served in the previous administration and who have been accused of corruption during their tenure in office. While others have been emerging victorious, Morupisi is yet to find that luck. The High Court recently dismissed his no case to answer application.

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Pressure mounts on Biden to suspend Covid-19 vaccine patents

19th April 2021
Joe Biden

United States President, Joe Biden, is faced with a decision to make relating to the Covid-19 vaccine intellectual property after 175 former world leaders and Nobel laurates joined the campaign urging the US to take “urgent action” to suspend intellectual property rights for Covid-19 vaccines to help boost global inoculation rates.

According to the world leaders, doing so would allow developing countries to make their own copies of the vaccines that have been developed by pharmaceutical companies without fear of being sued for intellectual property infringements.

“A WTO waiver is a vital and necessary step to bringing an end to this pandemic. It must be combined with ensuring vaccine know-how and technology is shared openly,” the signatories, comprising more than 100 Nobel prize-winners and over 70 former world leaders, wrote in a letter to US President Joe Biden, according to Financial Times.

A measure to allow countries to temporarily override patent rights for Covid related medical products was proposed at the World Trade Organization by India and South Africa in October, and has since been backed by nearly 60 countries.

Former leaders who signed the letter included Gordon Brown, former UK Prime Minister; François Hollande, former French President; Mikhail Gorbachev, former President of the USSR; and Yves Leterme, former Belgian Prime Minister.

In their official communication, South Africa and India said: “As new diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines for Covid-19 are developed, there are significant concerns [about] how these will be made available promptly, in sufficient quantities and at affordable prices to meet global demand.”

While developed countries have been able to secure enough vaccine to inoculate their citizens, developing countries such as Botswana are struggling to source enough to swiftly vaccine their citizens, something which world leaders believe it would work against global recovery therefore proving counter-productive.

Since the availability of vaccines, Botswana has been able to secure only 60 000 doses of vaccines, 30 000 as donation as from the Indian government, while the other 30 000 was sourced through COVAX facility.  Canada, has pre-ordered vaccines in surplus and it will be able to vaccinate each of its citizens six times over. In the UK and US, it is four vaccines per person; and two each in the EU and Australia.

For vaccines produced in Europe, developing countries are forced to pay double what European countries are paying, making it more expensive for already financially struggling economies.  European countries however justify the price of vaccines and that they deserve to buy them cheap since they contributed in their development.

It is evident that vaccines cannot be made available immediately to all countries worldwide with wealthy economies being the only success story in that regard, something that has been referred to as a “catastrophic moral failure”, head of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

The challenge facing developing countries is not only the price, but also the capacity of vaccine manufactures to be able to do so to meet global demand within a short time. The proposal for a patent waiver by India and South Africa has been rejected by developed countries, known for hosting the world leading pharmaceutical companies such US, European Union, the United Kingdom, and Switzerland.

According to the Financial Times, US business groups including pharmaceutical industry representatives, have urged Biden to resist supporting a waiver to IP rules at the WTO, arguing that the proposal led by India and South Africa was too “vague” and “broad”.

The individuals who signed the letter, including Nobel laureates in economics as well as from across the arts and sciences, warned that inequitable vaccine access would impact the global economy and prevent it from recovering.

“The world saw unprecedented development of safe and effective vaccines, in major part thanks to US public investment,” the group wrote. “We all welcome that vaccination rollout in the US and many wealthier countries is bringing hope to their citizens.”

“Yet for the majority of the world that same hope is yet to be seen. New waves of suffering are now rising across the globe. Our global economy cannot rebuild if it remains vulnerable to this virus.”
The group warned that fully enforcing IP was “self-defeating for the US” as it hindered global vaccination efforts. “Given artificial global supply shortages, the US economy already risks losing $1.3tn in gross domestic product this year.”

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