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‘Populist’ P570 million Constituency Fund in the spotlight yet again

Former Member of Parliament for Ramotswa, Odirile Motlhale, has defended the controversial Constituency Development Fund, following criticism of the initiative by former Assistant Minister of Local Government, Kentse Rammidi.

Motlhale who championed the initiative during the 10th Parliament contented that the Constituency Development Fund is still “very much relevant.” He said the programme reduces bureaucratic hassles which weaken the efficiency and effectiveness of government programmes by sending funds directly to constituency level hence enabling communities to identify their own local development priorities.

The program was established to stimulate local economic developments, creating employment and promoting productive and employment generating activities to mention a few. Rammidi has however questioned the effectiveness of allocating P570 million to different individual constituencies instead of channelling the fund to councils for better planning.

Rammidi, who previously chaired Southern District Council (SDC), contended that the Constituency Development Fund, which allocates P10 million to constituencies annually, undermines organised local government and distorts local planning.

“We are talking a whopping P570 million per annum that is deprived councils every year here. Are we getting value for money from this funding? I am still to hear of an outstanding project derived from the fund,” said Rammidi on his Facebook page this week.

“When my friend Odirile Motlhale brought a motion to Parliament to introduce the funding I vehemently opposed it.”  Rammidi said that if he puts this into perspective, if the money directed to Councils for development projects to be decided by them, Southern district with P70 million constituencies could be getting P70 million per annum.

He also said that if priority was to be roads, “surely with P70 million, these roads could be bituminised.”  He suggested that as an alternative, Members of Parliament should start thinking “motshelo” with the P10 million to achieve high value projects. Mothale, when asked if the fund has been implemented the way he had envisioned he said:

“I cannot claim to have knowledge of how the fund is currently being implemented neither have I seen the guidelines governing the running of the fund”
“However from what I have picked up it appears that some of what I view as key tenants of the fund are missing; the Member of Parliament should chair the fund (ii) a committee comprising different interest groups found in the constituency should drive the fund.”

Motlhale added that he believes CDF should continue, and that one of the things to be avoided is dividing the P10 million equally between different wards in the constituency highlighting that no impactful project could be implemented by doing so.

Last week it emerged that the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development has withheld P570 million Constituency Development Funds, as Councils countrywide struggle to complete projects.  Since the beginning of the 2017/18 financial year, the government has disbursed a total amount of P1, 7 billion to various districts for Constituency Developments.

“For this financial year, Government has not disbursed funds to the various councils because councils still have the balances to complete on-going projects and those that have not yet started,” said Masego Ramakgathi, the Ministry of Local Government spokesperson. Ramakgathi explained that the implementation programme has been affected by Covid-19 especially when it comes to the implementation and monitoring aspects.

Since its inception, the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD) from the allocated funds, expenditure stands at P1, 2 billion with the remaining balance still to fund some ongoing projects and those that have not started.

“The government is satisfied with the benefits of the program as it continues to achieve its objectives to stimulate economic growth at locality level by creating employment as well as increasing/improving infrastructure,” said Ramakgathi.

Meanwhile Southern District Council Chairperson, Thamiso Chabalala, confirmed to this publication that amongst other things that hindered government to fund constituencies during this financial year is the Covid-19 pandemic.

He stated that projects were not funded pending completion of previous projects and therefore constituencies where told to complete them by November 2021.  Chabalala indicated that ceasing of CDF has affected them as they had planned to start projects in order to develop his constituency.

“I am very excited to announce that there are a few projects underway that I am confident to say that they are close to completion even though there are some challenges here and there.”
Kweneng Council Chairperson, Motlhopi Leo, commented that he is hoping that once they complete pending projects, the government may consider funding them for other projects they had in mind in order to develop their constituencies.


Masisi to dump Tsogwane?

28th November 2022

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and some senior government officials are abuzz with reports that President Mokgweetsi Masisi has requested his Vice President, Slumber Tsogwane not to contest the next general elections in 2024.

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African DFIs gear to combat climate change

25th November 2022

The impacts of climate change are increasing in frequency and intensity every year and this is forecast to continue for the foreseeable future. African CEOs in the Global South are finally coming to the party on how to tackle the crisis.

Following the completion of COP27 in Egypt recently, CEOs of Africa DFIs converged in Botswana for the CEO Forum of the Association of African Development Finance Institutions. One of the key themes was on green financing and building partnerships for resource mobilization in financing SDGs in Africa

A report; “Weathering the storm; African Development Banks response to Covid-19” presented shocking findings during the seminar. Among them; African DFI’s have proven to be financially resilient, and they are fast shifting to a green transition and it’s financing.

COO, CEDA, James Moribame highlighted that; “Everyone needs food, shelter and all basic needs in general, but climate change is putting the achievement of this at bay. “It is expensive for businesses to do business, for instance; it is much challenging for the agricultural sector due to climate change, and the risks have gone up. If a famer plants crops, they should be ready for any potential natural disaster which will cost them their hard work.”

According to Moribame, Start-up businesses will forever require help if there is no change.

“There is no doubt that the Russia- Ukraine war disrupted supply chains. SMMEs have felt the most impact as some start-up businesses acquire their materials internationally, therefore as inflation peaks, this means the exchange rate rises which makes commodities expensive and challenging for SMMEs to progress. Basically, the cost of doing business has gone up. Governments are no longer able to support DFI’s.”

Moribame shared remedies to the situation, noting that; “What we need is leadership that will be able to address this. CEOs should ensure companies operate within a framework of responsible lending. They also ought to scout for opportunities that would be attractive to investors, this include investors who are willing to put money into green financing. Botswana is a prime spot for green financing due to the great opportunity that lies in solar projects. ”

Technology has been hailed as the economy of the future and thus needs to be embraced to drive operational efficiency both internally and externally.

Executive Director, bank of Industry Nigeria, Simon Aranou mentioned that for investors to pump money to climate financing in Africa, African states need to be in alignment with global standards.

“Do what meets world standards if you want money from international investors. Have a strong risk management system. Also be a good borrower, if you have a loan, honour the obligation of paying it back because this will ensure countries have a clean financial record which will then pave way for easier lending of money in the future. African states cannot just be demanding for mitigation from rich countries. Financing needs infrastructure to complement it, you cannot be seating on billions of dollars without the necessary support systems to make it work for you. Domestic resource mobilisation is key. Use public money to mobilise private money.” He said.

For his part, the Minster of Minister of Entrepreneurship, Karabo Gare enunciated that, over the past three years, governments across the world have had to readjust their priorities as the world dealt with the effects and impact of the COVID 19 pandemic both to human life and economic prosperity.

“The role of DFIs, during this tough period, which is to support governments through countercyclical measures, including funding of COVID-19 related development projects, has become more important than ever before. However, with the increasingly limited resources from governments, DFIs are now expected to mobilise resources to meet the fiscal gaps and continue to meet their developmental mandates across the various affected sectors of their economies.” Said Gare.

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TotalEnergies Botswana launches Road safety campaign in Letlhakeng

22nd November 2022

Letlhakeng:TotalEnergies Botswana today launched a Road Safety Campaign as part of their annual Stakeholder Relationship Management (SRM), in partnership with Unitrans, MVA Fund, TotalEnergies Letlhakeng Filling Station and the Letlhakeng Sub District Road Safety Committee during an event held in Letlhakeng under the theme, #IamTrafficToo.

The Supplier Relationship Management initiative is an undertaking by TotalEnergies through which TotalEnergie annually explores and implements social responsibility activities in communities within which we operate, by engaging key stakeholders who are aligned with the organization’s objectives. Speaking during the launch event, TotalEnergies’ Operations and HSSEQ,   Patrick Thedi said,  “We at TotalEnergies pride ourselves in being an industrial operator with a strategy centered on respect, listening, dialogue and stakeholder involvement, and a partner in the sustainable social and economic development of its host communities and countries. We are also very fortunate to have stakeholders who are in alignment with our organizational objectives. We assess relationships with our key stakeholders to understand their concerns and expectations as well as identify priority areas for improvement to strengthen the integration of Total Energies in the community. As our organization transitions from Total to Total Energies, we are committed to exploring sustainable initiatives that will be equally indicative of our growth and this Campaign is a step in the right direction. ”

As part of this campaign roll out, stakeholders  will be refurbishing and upgrading and installing road signs around schools in the area, and generally where required. One of the objectives of the Campaign is to bring awareness and training on how to manage and share the road/parking with bulk vehicles, as the number of bulk vehicles using the Letlhakeng road to bypass Trans Kalahari increases. When welcoming guests to Letlhakeng, Kgosi Balepi said he welcomed the initiative as it will reduce the number of road incidents in the area.

Also present was District Traffic Officer ASP, Reuben Moleele,  who gave a statistical overview of accidents in the region, as well as the rest of the country. Moleele applauded TotalEnergies and partners on the Campaign, especially ahead of the festive season, a time he pointed out is always one with high road statistics. The campaign name #IamTrafficToo, is a reminder to all road users, including pedestrians that they too need to be vigilant and play their part in ensuring a reduction in road incidents.

The official proceedings of the day included a handover of reflectors and stop/Go signs to the Letlhakeng Cluster from TotalEnerigies, injury prevention from tips from MVA’s Onkabetse Petlwana, as  well as  bulk vehicle safety tips delivered from Adolf Namate of Unitrans.

TotalEnergies, which is committed to having zero carbon emissions by 2050,  has committed to rolling out the Road safety Campaign to the rest of the country in the future.

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