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.
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.
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.
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.