Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA)’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Thabo Thamane has endorsed the idea of reviewing and merging some parastatals as proposed by Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Dr Thapelo Matsheka, after Monday’s Budget Speech.
Thamane however cautioned that in merging the parastatals, government should avoid at all cost the possibility of creating ‘monster institutions’, with bureaucratic processes that would result in inefficient institutions. “It is very clear that there are too many parastatals for a population of 2.5 million people. There is no one who can say we still need all of them to exist. We need to look at those with duplicating or conflicting mandates, and see how we avoid these overlaps,” Thamane told WeekendPost when responding to the Budget Speech on Monday.
“The essence is not to merge them. The essence is to say, how, do I create efficiencies. At the end of the day, we must also be cognisant that we do not create a monster with bureaucratic processes that will create inefficiencies.” “We need to make sure that national interest go above personal interest or institutional interest. There will always be need for CEDA and there will always be need for funding, not only funding but development funding. Whether you call it CEDA or something else, there is always going to be need for development financing. You cannot run an economy without development finance.”
Thamane who has been CEDA’s CEO since 2011, said he is not worried much about whether CEDA will merge with any other entity or not, because his concern lies with creating efficiencies in parastatals. “Whether I am still there as a CEO or not it does not matter. The fact of the matter is that I do support the review of the mandates of parastatals. I do support it with the hope that it will improve delivery. But I guarantee you that there will always be need for development finance,” Thamane argued.
The merging of parastatals first came to the fore in 2018, when then Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry, Bogolo Kenewendo indicated that her ministry will consider merging of the public enterprises under the ministry because of the perceived duplicates of mandates as well as overlaps. Thamane was also impressed with the budget which was incidentally presented by his predecessor and mentor at CEDA. Dr Matsheka is the founding CEO of CEDA, while Thamane is his immediate and only successor at the institution.
“I was kind of expecting him to come up with a very precise budget and it was done with immaculate attention to detail,” Thamane said. “I think three key areas are the highlights for me; manufacturing, tourism and agriculture. These are key to us, and that is what the Minister said. I love the manufacturing aspect because we are a net importer of almost everything.
“What it means for me and my team is that, when we take money and put it in manufacturing, let us be patient with them [those funded] because it takes longer for product quality and for people to trust the product and others. Let us give them time to grow and this is what we are going to focus on.” Thamane said on Monday, CEDA management will meet at Big Valley Lodge on the outskirts of Lobatse, to study the budget and see where their institution fits in.
Thamane has presided over the institution’s ambition to transform CEDA into a self-sustaining agency. Thamane expects CEDA to be fully self-sustaining within the next 6 years, following a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) entered into with Malaysian based SME Bank, a state owned financial development institution. For the first time since formation, CEDA collected P515 million against the target of P440 million in 2019. CEDA receives about P250 million as subvention from Government, but today it raises about P600 million internally.
Former Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Member of Parliament for Gaborone North, Haskins Nkaigwa has confirmed his departure from opposition fold to re-join the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).
Nkaigwa said opposition is extremely divided and the leadership not in talking terms. “They are planning evil against each other. Nothing much will be achieved,” Nkaigwa told WeekendPost.
“I believe my time in the opposition has come to an end. It’s time to be of value to rebuilding our nation and economy of the country. Remember the BDP is where I started my political journey. It is home,” he said.
“Despite all challenges currently facing the world, President Masisi will be far with his promises to Batswana. A leader always have the interest of the people at heart despite how some decisions may look to be unpopular with the people.
“I have faith and full confidence in President Dr Masisi leadership. We shall overcome as party and nation the current challenges bedevilling nations. BDP will emerge stronger. President Masisi will always have my backing.”
Nkaigwa served as opposition legislator between 2014-2019 representing Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) under UDC banner. He joined BMD in 2011 at the height public servant strike whilst Gaborone City Deputy Mayor. He eventually rose to become the mayor same year, after BDP lost majority in the GCC.
Nkaigwa had been a member of Botswana National Front (BNF), having joined from Alliance for Progressives (AP) in 2019.
Botswana has received assistance worth over P100 million from Japanese government since 2019, making the latter of the largest donors to Botswana in recent years.
The assistance include relatively large-scale grant aid programmes such as the COVID-19 programme (to provide medical equipment; P34 million), the digital terrestrial television programme (to distribute receivers to the underprivileged, P17 million), the agriculture promotion programme (to provide agricultural machinery and equipment, P53million).
“As 2020 was a particularly difficult year, where COVID-19 hit Botswana’s economy and society hard, Japan felt the need to assist Botswana as our friend,” said Japan’s new Ambassador to Botswana, Hoshiyama Takashi.
“It is for this reason that grants of over P100 million were awarded to Botswana for the above mentioned projects.”
Japan is now the world’s fourth highest ranking donor country in terms of Official Development Assistance (ODA).
From 1991 to 2000, Japan continued as the top donor country in the world and contributed to Asia’s miracle economic development.
From 1993 onwards, the TICAD process commenced through Japan’s initiative as stated earlier. Japan’s main contribution has been in the form of Yen Loans, which are at a concessional rate, to suit large scale infrastructure construction.
“In Botswana, only a few projects have been implemented using the Yen Loan such as the Morupule “A” Power Station Rehabilitation and Pollution Abatement in 1986, the Railway Rolling Stock Increase Project in 1987, the Trans-Kalahari Road Construction Project in 1991, the North-South Carrier Water Project in 1995 and the Kazungula Bridge Construction Project in 2012,” said Ambassador Hoshiyama.
“In terms of grant aid and technical assistance, Japan has various aid schemes including development survey and master planning, expert dispatch to recipient countries, expert training in Japan, scholarships, small scale grass-roots program, culture-related assistance, aid through international organizations and so on.”
In 1993, Japan launched Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) to promote Africa’s development, peace and security, through the strengthening of relations in multilateral cooperation and partnership.
TICAD discuss development issues across Africa and, at the same time, present “aid menus” to African countries provided by Japan and the main aid-related international organizations, United Nations (UN), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Bank.
“As TICAD provides vision and guidance, it is up to each African country to take ownership and to implement her own development following TICAD polices and make use of the programmes shown in the aid menus,” Ambassordor Hoshiyama noted.
“This would include using ODA loans for quality infrastructure, suited to the country’s own nation-building needs. It is my fervent hope that Botswana will take full advantage of the TICAD process.”
Since then, seven conferences where held, the latest, TICAD 7 being in 2019 at Yokohama. TICAD 7’s agenda on African development focused on three pillars, among them the first pillar being “Accelerating economic transformation and improving business environment through innovation and private sector engagement”.
“Yes, private investment is very important, while public investment through ODA (Official Development Assistance) still plays an indispensable role in development,” the Japanese Ambassador said.
“For further economic development in Africa, Japan recognizes that strengthening regional connectivity and integration through investment in quality infrastructure is key.”
Japan has emphasized the following; effective implementation of economic corridors such as the East Africa Northern Corridor, Nacala Corridor and West Africa Growth Ring; Quality infrastructure investment in line with the G20 Principles for Quality Infrastructure Investment should be promoted by co-financing or cooperation through the African Development Bank (AfDB) and Japan.
Japan also emphasized the establishment of mechanisms to encourage private investment and to improve the business environment.
According to the statistics issued by Japan’s Finance Ministry, Japan invested approximately 10 billion US dollars in Africa after TICAD 7 (2019) to year end 2020, but Japanese investment through third countries are not included in this figure.
“With the other points factored in, the figure isn’t established yet,” Ambassador Hoshiyama said.
The next conference, TICAD 8 will be held in Tunisia in 2022. This will be the second TICAD summit to be held on the African continent after TICAD 6 which was held in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2016.
According to Ambassador Hoshiyama, in preparation for TICAD 8, the TICAD ministerial meeting will be held in Tokyo this year. The agenda to be discussed during TICAD 8 has not yet been fully deliberated on amongst TICAD Co-organizers (Japan, UN, UNDP, the World Bank and AU).
“Though not officially concluded, given the world situation caused by COVID-19, I believe that TICAD 8 will highlight health and medical issues including the promotion of a Universal Health Coverage (UHC),” said Hoshiyama.
“As the African economy has seriously taken a knock by COVID-19, economic issues, including debt, could be an item for serious discussion.”
The promotion of business is expected to be one of the most important topics. Japan and its partners, together with the business sector, will work closely to help revitalize private investment in Africa.
“All in all, the follow-up of the various programs that were committed by the Co-Organizers during the Yokohama Plan of Actions 2019 will also be reviewed as an important item of the agenda,” Ambassador Hoshiyama said.
“I believe that this TICAD follow-up mechanism has secured transparency and accountability as well as effective implementation of agreed actions by all parties. The guiding principle of TICAD is African ownership and international partnership.”
Directorate on Intelligence Services (DIS) Director General, Brigadier Peter Magosi is said to be hell-bent and pushing President Mokgweetsi Masisi to reshuffle his cabinet as a matter of urgency since a number of his ministers are conflicted.
The request by Magosi comes at a time when time is ticking on his contract which is awaiting renewal from Masisi.
This publication learns that Magosi is unshaken by the development and continues to wield power despite uncertainty hovering around his contractual renewal.