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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.

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Jackdish Shah loses interest in BDP

17th May 2022
Jackdish

As the preparations for the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) congress are about to kick off, reports on the ground suggest that the party’s Deputy Treasurer Jackdish Shah will not defend the position in August as he contemplates relocation.

According to sources, the businessman who joined the BDP Central Committee in 2015 at the 36th Congress held in Mmadinare is ready to leave the party’s politburo. It is said he long made up his mind not to defend the position last year. A prominent businessman, Shah, when he won the position to assist Satar Dada in 2015 was expected to improve the party’s financial vibrancy. By then the party was under the leadership of Ian Khama.

According to close sources, Shah long decided not to contest because he has fallen out of favour with the party leadership. It is said he took the decision after some prominent businessmen who are BDP members and part of football syndicate decided to push him out and they used their proximity to President Mokgweetsi Masisi to badmouth him hence the decision.

“The fight at the Botswana Football Association (BFA) and Botswana Football League (BFL) has left him alone in the desert and some faces there used their close access to the President to isolate him,” said a source. Media reports say, Shah does not see eye to eye with BFA President MacLean Letshwiti who is also Masisi’s buddy hence the decision.

BFL Chairman Nicholas Zackhem is said to be not in good terms with Shah, who at one point Chaired the then Botswana Premier League (BPL). “He is seriously considering quitting because of what is unfolding at the team (Township Rollers) which is slowly not making financial gains and might be relegated and he wants to sell while it is still worth the investment,” said a highly placed source.

Shah is a renowned businessman who runs internet providing company Zebra net, H &G, game farm in Kasane, cattle farm in Ghanzi region and lot of properties in Gaborone. He also has two hotels in USA, his advisors have given him thumbs up on the possible decision of relocating provided he does not sell some of the investments that are doing well.

Asked about whether he will be contesting Shah could not confirm nor deny the reports. It is said for now it is too early as a public decision will have to be taken after the national council meeting and prior to the national congress. “As a BDP Central Committee member he cannot make that announcement now,” a BDP source said.

BDP is expected to assemble for the National Council during the July holidays while the National Congress is billed for August. It is then that the party will elect a new CC members. The last time BDP held elective congress was at Kang in 2019. The party is yet to issue writ.

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Govt ignores own agreements to improve public service

17th May 2022
Govt

The government has failed to implement some commitments and agreements that it had entered into with unions to improve conditions of public servants.

Three years after the government and public made commitments aimed at improving conditions of work and services it has emerged that the government has ignored and failed to implement all commitments on conditions of service emanating from the 2019 round of negotiations.

In its position paper that saw public service salaries being increased by 5%, the government the government has also signalled its intention to renege on some of the commitments it had made.
“Government aspires to look into all outstanding issues contained in the Labour Agreement signed between the Employer and recognised Trade Union on the 27th August 2019 and that it be reviewed, revised and delinked by both Parties with a view to agree on those whose implementation that can be realistically executed during the financial years 2022/23, 2023/24 and 2024/25 respectively,” the government said.

Furthermore, in addition to reviewing, revising and de-linking of the outstanding issues contained in the Collective Labour Agreement alluded to above and taking on a progressive proposal, government desires to review revise, develop and implement human resource policies as listed below during the financial year 2022/23,2023/24,2024/25

They include selection and appointment policy, learning and development policy, transfer guidelines, conditions of service, permanent and pensionable, temporary and part time, Foreign Service, expatriate and disciplinary procedures.

In their proposal paper, the unions which had proposed an 11 percent salary increase but eventually settled for 5% percent indicated that the government has not, and without explanation, acted on some of the key commitments from the 2019/2020 and 2021/22 round of negotiations.  The essential elements of these commitments include among others the remuneration Policy for the Public Service.

The paper states that a Remuneration Policy will be developed to inform decision making on remuneration in the Public Service. It is envisaged that consultations between the government and relevant key stakeholders on the policy was to start on 1st September 2019, and the development of the policy should be concluded by 30th June 2020.

The public sector unions said the Remuneration Policy is yet to be developed. The Cooperating Unions suggested that the process should commence without delay and that it should be as participatory as it was originally conceived. Another agreement relate to Medical Aid Contribution for employees on salary Grades A and B.

The employer contribution towards medical aid for employees on salary Grades A and B will be increased from 50% to 80% for the Standard Option of the Botswana Public
“Officers’ Medical Aid Scheme effective 1st October 2019; the cooperating unions insist that, in fulfilling this commitment, there should be no discrimination between those on the high benefit and those on the medium benefit plan,” the unions proposal paper says.

Another agreement involves the standardisation of gratuities across the Public Service. “Gratuities for all employees on fixed term contracts of 12 months but not exceeding 5 years, including former Industrial class employees be standardized at 30% across the Public Service in order to remove the existing inequalities and secure long-term financial security for Public Service Employees at lower grades with immediate effect,” the paper states.

The other agreement signed by the public sector unions and the government was the development of fan-shaped Salary Structure. The paper says the Public Service will adopt a best practice fan-shaped and overlapping structure, with modification to suit the Botswana context. The Parties (government and unions) to this agreement will jointly agree on the ranges of salary grades to allow for employees’ progression without a promotion to the available position on the next management level.

“The fan-shaped structure is envisaged to be in place by 1st June 2020, to enable factoring into the budgetary cycle for the financial year 2021/22,” the unions’ proposal paper states. It says the following steps are critical, capacity building of key stakeholders (September – December 2019), commission remuneration market survey (3 months from September to November 2019), design of the fan-shaped structure (2 to 3 months from January to March2020) and consultations with all key stakeholders (March to April 2020).

The unions and government had also signed an agreement on performance management and development: A rigorous performance management and reward system based on a 5-point rating system will be adopted as an integral part of the operationalization of the new Remuneration System.

Performance Management and Development (PMD) will be used to reward workers based on performance. The review of the Performance Management System was to be undertaken in order to close the gaps identified by PEMANDU and other previous reports on PMS between 1st September 2019 and 30th June 2020 as follows; internal process to update and revise the current Performance Management System by January 2020.

A job evaluation exercise in the Public Service will also be undertaken to among others establish internal equity, and will also cover the grading of all supervisory positions within the Public Service.
Another agreement included overtime Management. The Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) was to facilitate the conclusion of consultations on management of overtime, including consideration of the Overtime Management Task Team’s report on the same by 30th November 2019.

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Health Expert rejects ‘death rates’ links to low population growth

17th May 2022
Health-Expert

A public health expert, Dr Edward Maganu who is also the former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health has said that unlike many who are expressing shock at the population census growth decline results, he is not, because the 2022 results represents his expectations.

He rushed to dismiss the position by Statistics Botswana in which thy partly attributes the low growth rates to mortality rates for the past ten years. “I don’t think there is any undercounting. I also don’t think death rates have much to do with it since the excessive deaths from HIV/AIDS have been controlled by ARVs and our life expectancy isn’t lower than it was in the 1990s,” he said in an interview with this publication post the release of the results.

Preliminary results released by Statistics Botswana this week indicated that Botswana’s population is now estimated to be 2,346,179 – a figure that the state owned data agency expressed worry over saying it’s below their projected growth. The general decline in the population growth rate is attributed to ‘fertility’ and ‘mortality’ rates that the country registered on the past ten years since the last census in 2011.

Maganu explained that with an enlightened or educated society and the country’s total fertility rate, there was no way the country’s population census was going to match the previous growth rates.
“The results of the census make sense and is exactly what I expected. Our Total Fertility Rate ( the average number of children born to a woman) is now around 2.

This is what happens as society develops and educates its women. The enlightened women don’t want to bear many children, they want to work and earn a living, have free time, and give their few children good care. So, there is no under- counting. Census procedures are standard so that results are comparable between countries.

That is why the UN is involved through UNFPA, the UN Agency responsible for population matters,” said Maganu who is also the former adviser to the World Health Organisation. Maganu ruled out undercounting concerns, “I see a lot of Batswana are worried about the census results. Above is what I have always stated.”

Given the disadvantages that accompany low population for countries, some have suggested that perhaps a time has come for the government to consider population growth policies or incentives, suggestions Maganu deems ineffective.

“It has never worked anywhere. The number of children born to a woman are a very private decision of the woman and the husband in an enlightened society. And as I indicated, the more the women of a society get educated, the higher the tendency to have fewer children. All developed countries have a problem of zero population growth or even negative growth.

The replacement level is regarded as 2 children per woman; once the fertility level falls below that, then the population stops growing. That’s why developed countries are depending so much on immigration,” he said.

According to him, a lot of developing countries that are educating their women are heading there, including ourselves-Botswana. “Countries that have had a policy of encouraging women to have more children have failed dismally. A good example is some countries of Eastern Europe (Romania is a good example) that wanted to grow their populations by rewarding women who had more children. It didn’t work. The number of children is a very private matter,” said Maganu

For those who may be worried about the impact of problems associated with low growth rate, Maganu said: “The challenge is to develop society so that it can take care of its dependency ratio, the children and the aged. In developed countries the ratio of people over 60 years is now more than 20%, ours is still less than 10%.”

The preliminary results show that Mogoditshane with (88,098) is now the biggest village in the country with Maun coming second (85,293) and Molepolole at third position with 74,719. Population growth is associated with many economic advantages because more people leads to greater human capital, higher economic growth, economies of scale, the efficiency of higher population density and the improved demographic structure of society, among many others.

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