Connect with us
Advertisement

Govt disowns P100 million scheme

Matambo, Makgalemele distance themselves from the project

A multi Million Pula agreement between the Government of Botswana, Anglo American, DeBeers and Debswana dubbed ‘Tokafala’ that was allegedly established to support committed entrepreneurs to grow their business has caused a furor following suggestions that the programme is serving a selected few ‘big-bellied’ men who are using the secretive and controversial initiative for self-enrichment.


Van Der Weijden of Tokafala scheme confirmed its existence while Ministers Kenneth Matambo and Phillip Makgalemele said it was their first time to hear about the initiative.


Tokafala according to the partners agreement document is an Enterprise Development initiative established by the Anglo American Group and the Government of Botswana with TechnoServe as the key implementer on the ground. The secretive program allegedly focuses on supporting (financing, mentoring, and advisory) citizen-owned micro, small and medium-sized enterprises that demonstrate a commercially viable and sustainable business idea.


The initiative has been running for over two years now but has remained unpopular and without many known beneficiaries despite its significance,magnanimity and the big names behind it. It was initially to complement existing government programmes, by connecting enterprises to these programmes, and supporting capacity building at five Botswana Government enterprise development institutions.


Anglo American according to the agreement document has contributed US$ 3,957,726.00 (over 38 Million Pula) to Tokafala,an amount that is comprised of Anglo’s portion of the operating costs in relation to Tokafala and the capital.The government contributed US$ 3,953,134 (over 38 million Pula) while the two paid US$ 3 Million being the aggregate amount for the purpose of funding investments as a contemplated.The money which is supposed to be for Batswana is reportedly channelled into a selected few richmen’s accounts who are in this case masquarading as young micro, small and medium-sized enterprise owners.


Tokafala was/is  run on a  three year period and its first phase ended in December last year.According to the agreement document the initiative is its in second year running, and will end by 2015’s end. Sources say the silence  and secrecy sorrounding the multimillion pula initiative is a clear sign that some powerful people in government have found a better way to milk this country in the name of empowering the poor and unemployed.


Although it is run from the office of the president,investigations revealed that not many are aware of the initiative-including Assistant Minister of Presidential Affairs,Dikgang Makgalemele. In an enterview with WeekendPost Makgalemele said it was his first time to hear of Tokafala from this reporters.Minister Matambo who holds the purse also denied any knowledge of the secretive initiative saying he has never signed any papers or agreement about the project.


This publication reached the Tokafala programme director, Ineke Van Der Weijden to know more about Tokafala: “The Tokafala Enterprise Development Programme is a joint partnership between the Government of Botswana, Anglo American, DeBeers and Debswana. The program started in January 2014 and will run for at least 3 years,” he said.


Debswana however distanced themselves from the project, refuting claims by the Tokafala Programme Director that they were part of it.  When asked how many people Tokafala has benefitted, Van Der Weijden said the program has supported 75 businesses to date, 12 in the pilot phase (2013) and 63 since the start in 2014. In 2015, 39 new businesses have so far been enrolled. “The overall target for this phase of the program is 250. Once the second and third module of the program starts, this target will increase to over 900 small, medium and micro businesses across Botswana,” he explained.


She however declined to name any beneficiaries “due to privacy reasons we cannot supply you with the names of our clients,” she said in a written response.


She said the programme‘s popularity has been hampered by its area of focus. “In 2014, Tokafala’s focus was on the greater Gaborone area, but in 2015 the program will expand to the Francistown area, including the mining areas of Orapa and Selebi Phikwe, in the strong believe there are many promising SMEs in this area that can benefit from Tokafala’s support,” she said.


Despite this being said, Weekendpost has unearthed that the multi Million Pula programme is running without a proper agreement. No one in the government has signed the controversial agreement document yet government continues to pile money into the mysterious project. No Minister has signed the agreement.


When asked about this, the programme director replied, “The agreement between Anglo and the Government is still pending signature from the Government. The Office of the President as well as the Ministry of Trade and Industry have been involved in detail so far. The agreement has been reviewed by the AG and budget has been allocated, so the final step is signature. In anticipation of this, the program commenced last year with funding from the other three partners. It is my understanding that signing will happen in the near future, but I could certainly not be sure of that,” she said in a written response further adding that they report to EDD, under the ministry of Trade and Industry.


According to the agreement,there is a company called TNS which has the expertice to and experience in implementing enterprise development programmes in developing countries,for purposes implementing and establishing Tokafala.


“The company has forecasted the establishment and implementation of Tokafala to cost around US$ 7,91 million (over 76 million pula) over a three year period. Anglo and government according to the deal are funding the costs,” reads the agreement.


The governement has undertook to fund annually in advance from the government contribution the operation costs of module 2 and 3 in the amounts and at the intervals up to a maximum agregate of US$ 2,573,134,00 (over 24 million Pula) the three year implementation period.The Minister of Finance and Development Planning Kenneth Matambo has distanced himself from the initiative saying he knows nothing about it. “I don’t remember any day signing papers of such a project or initiative and I dont know anything about it,” he said.


According to the agreement there is a Funding Partners Forum which assesses the progress and perfomance of the project.The government has one representative who attends meetings which are held once a year.Efforts to establish that person proved difficult.The agreement emphasises on the confidentiality of the agreement.In the agreement the parties agreed to keep funding information and confidential information secret.


For purposes of the agreement the parties communicate through the vice president’s secretary (name withheld) and the United Kingdom adresses.The said vice president’s secretary schooled in London and started working at the said office in 2010. She is currently with the vice president at the Ministry of Education and Skills Development. She declined to speak to Weekendpost referring all questions to the National Stratergy Office.


The Tokafala scheme is said to have originated from the said office which misled the partners into believing that the money will be used to complement existing government programmes. Efforts to get a comment from the office were futile as one of the central people to respond to our enquiry was said to have left the Ministry. An alternative respondent’s secretary enquired on our identity and the issue we want to raise before saying the target is unavailable to respond.


Director General of the National Strategy Office (NSO) Mr Uttum Corea promised to get back to his publication through his secretary but never did.


Tokafala was to mentor entrepreneurs to overcome the challenges they face in Botswana in establishing commercially viable businesses, which include limited entrepreneurial skills, limited effective mentoring support, restricted access to finance, limited market access, and low competitiveness of local offerings. The initiative however has remained a mystery inside an enigma.


The programme builds on Anglo American’s extensive experience and successes in enterprise development such as Zimele in South Africa, Emerge in Chile and two new programs in Brazil and Peru. Tokafala ‘s initial target was up to 560 micro and 415 small and medium enterprises over three years and it remains a mystery to many today, including the Minister of Finance and Development Planning.


Member of Parliament, James Mathokgwane who has been at the centre of the issue has promised to take the matter further and expose the rot happening at the office of the President. He said he will engage Parliament on the issue so that the culprits may be brought to book.


Anglo American was not available to comment despite being given the entire week to respond.

Continue Reading

News

No end in sight for Nam, Botswana borderline feud

27th July 2021
Namibian-report

Despite the President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi and his Namibian counterpart, Hage Geingob giving an impression that the borderline security disputes are a thing of the past and that diplomatic ties remain tight, fresh developments from Namibia suggest otherwise, following Geingod’s close confidante’s attack on Botswana and its army.

Giving a Zambezi region state of the affairs last week, a Geingob-appointed governor of Zambezi region, Colonel Lawrence Ampofu, a retired Colonel in the Namibian Defence Force, former plan combatant during the liberation struggle of Namibia, in a written speech, charged at the BDF and condemned their killings of the Namibians as unacceptable.

“The security situation within our borders remains calm. The incidence of the Botswana Defence Force shootings and wanton killings on the Nchindo Brothers on 05 November 2020 and other 37 Namibian lives lost since independence remain a serious challenge with our neighbor, Botswana.

Our residents living along the Chobe, Linyanti and Kwandu rivers are living under constant threats, harassment, fear, intimidation and killings and such activities are condemned and not acceptable,” he said under the safety and security title.

The attack suggests that Namibia has not bought Botswana’s story. Ampofu was part of the entourage that accompanied Geingob to the three Nchindo brothers and their cousin who were gunned down by the BDF, and is reported to be privy to the details of the unpublished Botswana-Namibia joint investigations report about the killings as a governor or political head of the region which has eight electoral constituencies.

The report contains the sensitive details of how the three Namibians referred as poachers by the BDF – and Fisherman by the Namibian government were gunned down on 5 November last year along the Chobe River.  They were Tommy (48), Martin (40) and Wamunyima Nchindo (36), and their cousin Sinvula Muyeme (44).

His views are not really in contrast to his President’s views who also described the BDF as trigger happy in a scripted report to his cabinet.

The Zambezi region is located in the extreme north east part of Namibia and covers a total of 14,667.6 square kilometres. “We share borders with Angola, Zambia to the north, Zimbabwe to the east and Botswana to the South,” he said.

Sampofu was first appointed governor of the former Caprive Region in 2010 by the former Namibian president, Hifikepunye Pohamba and was reappointed as Zambezi governor by President Dr.Hage Geingob in 2015, a term running to 2025.

37 Namibia residents killed by Botswana army so far

Sampofu is a man who continues to insist that Botswana has killed 37 residents of his region. A video posted by the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) shows him alleging that at least 37 Namibians were killed by the BDF, after he met with the community at Impalila.

“It is true, the BDF started long ago. As we speak 37 lives have been lost here in Impalila along the Chobe river going to Linyanti and Kwado rivers up to Lizauli. All those families lost their loved ones,” Ampofu said in the video posted by NBC.

It is not known how the BDF, which has maintained their position that the Namibians were engaging in illegal activities of poaching, treats the constant attacks by the Namibian authorities, but they have repeatedly vowed to continue protecting the country’s sovereignty and natural resources.

Continue Reading

News

Masisi gives KBL the “middle finger”

27th July 2021
President Masisi

Botswana’s premier brewer and leading distributor of beer, Kgalagadi Breweries Limited (KBL), this month dragged the government of Botswana to court after President Mokgweetsi Masisi imposed an alcohol ban with immediate effect. KBL labelled the decision as unjustifiable, irrational and that it overrides the rights that are enshrined in the constitution.

This week, Masisi through attorneys representing the government disparaged the case in his written affidavit of KBL’s application, referring to it as frivolous and that it ought to be dismissed with costs on a punitive scale.

In his court papers, Masisi reminded KBL that Botswana is a Republic whose laws find validity from the constitution, and in terms of Section 17 of the constitution the President is empowered to declare a State of Emergency and that it is a common cause that Botswana is under such state.

“It is common course that there is in existence emergency powers (Covid-19) Regulations 2020 as amended from time to time which is solely designed to regulate the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.

Masisi pointed out that he denies that the application before Court is proper such as to challenge the lawfulness and validity of a regulation made and a notice published in the exercise of a legislative function in accordance with the Emergency Powers Act which empowers the President to make regulations as appear to him to be necessary and expedient for securing public safety.

Furthermore, the President revealed that the decision to ban alcohol sales was not arrived at willy-nilly, but rather that there had been careful considerations that the risks posed by Covid-19 had increased and therefore it was expedient and necessary to suspend all liquor licenses.

Moreover, Masisi denied that the decision to reinstate the ban should be made by the Director of Health Services as indicated by KBL in their nature of the application, “the Director is to cause the notice to be published in the Gazette after consultation with the President.”

Masisi indicated that the role of the Director of Health Services is to publish a regulation made by the President.

He further, reminded KBL that the power to make regulations in a State of Public Emergency in accordance with the EPA lies with the President, “such power includes the amendment of any enactment, suspending the operation of any enactment or modification of an enactment.”

According to Masisi, his decision to ban alcohol sales was based on evidence provided by the Director of Health Services who indicated to him that there was a sudden spike in the transmission of the Covid-19 virus following the reinstatement of liquor licenses.

Another piece of advice tendered by the Director of Health to Masisi was that bars and other liquor outlets were some of the major hotspots in the sense of such being high-risk areas at which the virus spread rapidly.

“Alcohol was one of the major causes of non-compliance with the health protocols that were put in place to control the spread of the Covid-19 virus. Further, there was an indication that more arrests were made on people failing to adhere to Covid-19 protocols more particularly at places where there were gatherings,” he contended.

He pointed out that therefore, it was expedient and or necessary to preserve lives and to reduce the risks of transmissions of the virus to reinstate the suspension of liquor licenses.

Moreover, the President says that it must be noted that he avers that the Director of Health Services is a credible source on matters of public health of which he also accordingly gave due weight to the Director’s advice on deciding to reinstate the ban through the impugned notice.

“I am aware and was always aware at the time of promulgating the regulation complained of that it shall negatively affect some sectors of the economy. However, after due consideration and receipt of advice, I decided to give priority to the safety and health of the nation,” Masisi said.

He presaged KBL that it would not be prudent and in the best interest of the nation to ignore a health emergency such as Covid-19 and gave preference to trading and making of profits by the applicant. “The results would only be catastrophic to the extent that when we emerge from the scourge we would be left with a depleted and ailing nation from Covid-19 and its side effects.”

Furthermore, his written affidavit further pointed out that the decision to reinstate the ban on alcohol was taken notwithstanding understanding and appreciation of the economic hardships that would befall the country.

However, he said he deliberately made the decision based on the evidence provided to him by the Director of Health, whose evidence he believes to be credible to give public/safety and health priority over economic considerations in some sectors.

In making the decision, Masisi states that he was and considered different options including allowing for sale of alcohol consumption off premises, however the evidence he had been provided with suggested that such other alternatives would not achieve the overall objective of securing public safety and health by reducing the risk of the spread of the virus.

“By the time I imposed the ban, alcohol was already being sold for consumption off-premises. This did not work. The information provided to me by the Director and the Presidential Task-Force team demonstrated that consumers purchased alcohol and then loitered and consumed it within the peripheries of bars and other liquor outlets,” he said.

Attached to the affidavit as emphasis, were photographs and videos of Gaborone West, Phase 4 in mid-June 2021, which he explains circulated on social media and was brought to his attention.

“I need not say much about the photos as they depict a crowd exceeding 50 gathered at the parking area of a bar. There is little or no regard to Covid-19 protocols. It was clear to me and my advisors, including the Director of Health Services and members of the Presidential Task-Force team that the total ban of alcohol was necessary to manage the risk of increase in infections, to understand what seems to have led to an increase in the risk of infection when alcohol is present I was advised by the Presidential Task-Force team that scientifically there has been evidence that alcohol narrows physical distance,” he argued.

Masisi says that allegations made by KBL are serious allegations of infringement of fundamental rights yet they fail to state how imposition and reinstatement of the suspension of liquor licenses out of necessity and expediency of the health of the nation infringes on the rights as alleged.

Continue Reading

News

Gov’t gives parallel statements on COVAX

27th July 2021
COVAX---lelatisitswe

In  an embarrassing turn of events that depicts disintegration in government communication on the fight against COVID-19, President Mokgweetsi Masisi and Assistant Minister of Health & Wellness, Sethomo Lelatisitswe gave two conflicting statements on the same matter, same day, just minutes apart.

The Commander-in-Chef told health practitioners and residents in Ramotswa that the COVAX facility has scammed African countries after billions were paid in a crowd funding effort to procure COVID-19 vaccines in bulk.

“We have pumped money as developing countries of the African continent into the COVAX Facility but the returns were not satisfactory, they cheated us,” the President said in Ramotswa.

According to President Masisi, the COVAX facility Vaccine only came in bits and pieces, frustrating the continent ‘s head immunity targets amid rapidly spreading Delta Variant which is currently reversing all progress made by Africa in containing the contagious virus.

“What we are getting is very small portions of the vaccine, they keep telling us that there is shortage of supply, this is not fair, but we have paid in advance, however what can we do, we have no choice but to spend more  money and look for other avenues of securing other available vaccines,” he said.

Meanwhile in Gaborone, Assistant Minister of Health and Wellness told Parliament that vaccine from COVAX facility is anchoring Botswana’s vaccination program.

“I am not aware of such information that COVAX facility is not delivering as expected, we are actually bolstered by COVAX facility in this country,” he said responding to a question from Mahalapye West Member of Parliament David Tshere who is also Chairman of Parliament Committee On Health and HIV/AIDS.

“We have received doses as ordered from the COVAX facility, and we are still receiving more, I have not seen that information which is purported to have been revealed by the President, unless its new information, we as the Ministry we are not aware of any frustrations by the COVAX facility,” he said.

COVAX is co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi and the World Health Organization (WHO), alongside key delivery partner UNICEF.

Its aim is to accelerate the development and manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines, and to guarantee fair and equitable access for every country in the world.

The facility is a global coalition that works to ensure fair and equitable access of COVID-19 vaccines around the world. So far, 190 countries have joined the COVAX initiative, including all 22 countries in the Eastern Mediterranean Region.

The COVAX Facility aims to have 2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines available for distribution across the globe by the end of 2021, targeting those most at risk (e.g. frontline health workers) and most vulnerable severe diseases and death (e.g. elderly and people with co-morbidities).

On other vaccination issues President Masisi revealed, still in Greater Gaborone vaccination centre visits, that Botswana has placed orders with Pfizer, a United States vaccine producer noting that they have promised to deliver next year.

Meanwhile, government kick-started phase two of the Covid-19 vaccination program this week, opening up for ages between 30 and 54.

President Masisi revealed that this was done because some elderly were reluctant to be inculcated.

“We can’t take forever trying to convince people to take vaccine, we moved to the next age segments because we cannot afford to have vaccines-which are already in shortage supply to just lie there,” he said.

On Friday, Ministry of Health revealed that it was receiving large numbers of people below the age of 55 lining up to be vaccinated.

In a statement the Ministry of Health said it, “acknowledges the huge turnout that marked the commencement of the Phase two COVID-19 vaccination program”.

Given this high turnout, especially in the Greater Gaborone region, the ministry announced an extension of operation hours in order to serve the huge crowds that had come for vaccination.

Of the nearly 85 000 doses that were being doled across the country as first doses, the majority of the Greater Gaborone vaccination sites were already getting depleted by 1800hrs on 22 July 2021.

As a result of this development, the ministry took a decision to discontinue the extended hours of operation announced yesterday for vaccination sites in Gaborone.

This means that vaccination sites in Gaborone and elsewhere in the country which still have some vaccines, will offer them in the normal working hours and days of the week.

The Ministry says it appreciates the great desire to be vaccinated shown by thousands of citizens and residents of this country and wishes to assure them that it will continue to expedite their vaccination every time vaccines become available. As has been communicated in various fora, more vaccines are expected in August 2021.

As at July 2021, Botswana has so far received 62, 400 doses of AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD bought through the Covax facility, 30,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine donated by the Republic of India, 19, 890 doses of the Pfizer vaccine bought through the COVAX facility, 200, 000 doses of the Sinovac vaccine, donated by the Peoples Republic of China and another 200, 000 doses of the Sinovac vaccine bought through bilateral negotiations with Sinovac company in China.

“We encourage Batswana to remain hopeful that although it’s taking longer than anticipated, enough COVID-19 vaccines will eventually arrive in our country. We urge them to always strictly abide by all COVID-19 protocols so that they protect themselves and others from this deadly virus,” the ministry said.

Continue Reading
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!