A declaration of war on corruption by the CEO of CEDA, Thabo Thamane, has set him on a collision course with disgruntled employees challenging their dismissal after they were found guilty of contravening the Agency’s conditions of service.
Thamane recently vowed to rid CEDA of corrupt employees in a bid to restore its integrity and trust. Subsequent to introducing the declaration, Thamane was quoted extensively in the local media vowing to discipline corrupt employees who actively violate CEDA policies and procedures. “We have to restore Batswana’s trust in us because we are custodians of public funds,” said Thamane.
The ink had hardly dried on his statement before CEDA was called once again to defend its stance last week at the Francistown Industrial Court where one of its employees, Victor Chivasera who was dismissed after being allegedly found guilty of negligence and contravening the Agency’s rules and regulations, had challenged the decision. Representing CEDA, attorney Doctor Pusoentsi of Modimo & Associates argued that Thamane’s decision was procedurally and substantively fair and therefore Chivasera's application for reinstatement must be dismissed because his relationship with CEDA has broken down irretrievably and “he is not entitled to any compensation,”.
BG News has learnt that Chivasera was dismissed in the wake of a P900 000 corruption scandal that was allegedly exposed by a routine patrol by the law enforcement agencies which culminated in the arrest of illegal immigrants who were working at a construction site. It is said that upon being apprehended, the illegal immigrants allegedly revealed that they were employed by a certain Kabelo Moalosi who worked as Portfolio Executive - Services at CEDA Palapye Branch. Further investigations revealed that CEDA had recently awarded a P900 000 loan to a certain Modiro Moalosi to construct a guest house at the same plot at which the illegal immigrants were arrested.
It is said Modiro Moalosi turned out to be Kabelo Moalosi’s mother. Kabelo Moalosi later confessed to a forensic investigations team that had been commissioned by CEDA that he prepared and submitted the loan application on behalf of his mother. He also allegedly informed his two colleagues - Victor Chivasera and Malebogo Moseki - about the project. Chivasera, who was employed as Team Leader, received the application and later allocated it to Moseki for processing.
The Investigations also revealed that Moalosi, Moseki and Chivasera are members of the same church. It is further alleged that Moalosi was actively involved in the appraisal of the loan application as he captured critical documents into the CEDA computer system. He also allegedly conducted site visits and filled out the Loan Appraisal Report. The loan application in question was allegedly later recommended for approval and endorsed by Chivasera.
Having satisfied themselves the forensic team later reported that Moalosi had violated principles of conflict of interest as defined by the Corruption and Economic Act and the CEDA Conditions of Service. Both Chivasera and Moseki were accused of negligence as they disbursed payments without verifying that indeed work had been done.
Subsequent to their investigation CEDA forensic team concluded that both Chivasera and Moseki were negligent in their duty because they both never met, saw the owner of the project and, or engaged her in any way, but instead proceeded to pay the contractors without any building inspection certificates to confirm that work had been done. Based on the above, CEDA dismissed the trio of Chivasera, Moseki and Moalosi. Chivasera has since launched an application challenging his dismissal. The parties will file their submissions in July while judgment will be delivered in August 2018.
Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA) has funded 1200 youth enterprises for a total of P600 million to date, says Chief Executive Officer, Thabo Thamane.
Briefing the media on Tuesday, Thamane said out of the money disbursed, P326 million has funded Agribusiness projects, P187 million funded services projects while only P71 million funded property and manufacturing projects.
He said over the years the agency has promoted entrepreneurship, job creation and youth empowerment through provision of funding, business advisory as well as training and mentoring services for new entrepreneurs.
“We strongly believe that young people are not only key drivers of future prosperity but also vital untapped human resource,” said Thamane explaining further that since 2014, CEDA has provided training to 277 young entrepreneurs, out of which 188 were trained on procurement and business management, while 77 were trained on piggery production.
Thamane said the agency is concerned with project mismanagement especially the youth projects under Young Farmers’ Fund. He said about 20 percent of youth have abandoned their projects. “When we visit these projects we always realise that the parents have now taken over the projects and the youth are no longer involved in them. This might be an indication that parents use the youth to access funding, but we are dealing with the problem,” he said.
He said through its new Mabogo-Dinku product the agency has disbursed P4.5 million creating over 5000 jobs, mostly for women. The product offers loans to individuals who belong to self-help groups that support them in saving and loan repayment accountability and through surety at application stage.
The loans range from P500 to P150 000 per person and are payable in a period of three to 12 months with repayment frequency ranging from weekly. CEDA has reserved P20 million for the product during 2017/18 financial year.
Thamane also highlighted that the agency has been able to generate income to support its operations. The agency receives government subvention each year to fund businesses. It also generates income in the form of interest and collection on loans already financed to augment government subvention.
“Government has given CEDA grants amounting to P934.7 million over the last three years and the agency disbursed P1.19 billion in the same period,” said Thamane. CEDA has achieved a collection rate of 105 percent in the last financial year ending March 2017. The set target for collection was P330 million and the actual collection amounted to P346 million.
Not even the chilly weather discouraged fashion enthusiasts from coming in a small army to witness the official opening and launch of Collezione Store last Thursday evening. Dressed in the latest fashion gear, both men and women who attended had a chance to mingle and see what the store which is located at Airport Junction mall, has to offer.
Owned by three Batswana: Scelo Hlope, Calistus Phologolo and un-named third party, the store is a franchise from Turkey. The original store in Turkey was established in 1986 as a fast fashion brand targeting the youth market. The Brand spans across multiple markets around the world with over 200 stores operating to date. This particular store in Botswana is the first Sub Saharan operation to be opened.
Although the target market for the store is young people, those adults who are young at heart can find an item or two for themselves as the collection of clothes in the shop contains some smart casual items. According to Hlope, the clothes are 100% manufactured in Turkey but their accessories are made elsewhere. “We are in talks with the Turkish embassy so that everything in our store can be much more global,” he said. He further said that although the prices for the clothes might appear steep, they would like to see even tertiary students being able to afford them.
Hlope added that their ultimate goal is to open a minimum of ten stores across southern Africa. It is a goal that could be realised if they work hard and luck plays in their favour. CEO of CEDA, Thabo Thamane, who was also in attendance, pledged a pre-approval facility to the owners should there be any plans of an expansion. “Luck favours a prepared mind,” he noted. Thamane noted that the owners were inspirational as they had identified an opportunity and acted on it. He added that the trio, who received financial support from CEDA, had impressed with their determination and passion. He also congratulated them for finding a good business opportunity under the current ‘difficult’ economic times and urged them to continue working as a team.
Government’s funding agency- CEDA - has skilfully manoeuvred its way to reclaim the majority shareholding of the country’s only steel plant - Pula Steel.
Had this not happened, the plant would have gone under the hammer together with its former parent company -BCL- when the latter was placed under provisional liquidation. Not only has CEDA taken control of Pula Steel, but it has appointed an audit firm, Grant Thornton to appoint qualified personnel to executive management as well as to do status records with the aim of reporting any wrongdoing to the law enforcements agencies.
The appointment of Grant Thornton to probe Pula Steel is the second following the appointment of another audit firm, Pricewaterhouse Botswana, to investigate BCL investment into the company by Minerals Development Company Botswana (MDCB).
The multimillion Pula plant has never operated since the shareholders invested in it. It was hoped it would start production after dilution of the BCL shares following a new capital call.
The shareholders set the date for production of the much in demand billets for 1st February 2017, but that was postponed to ensure the atmosphere was conducive for production including paying the employees outstanding salaries for December and January. Last week the plant employees decided to take the law into their hands by locking their CEO and Investor, Ranvir Kumar Verma inside the plant as they demanded to be paid their salaries as well as the removal of the Verma family from key managerial positions.
The situation calmed down after the intervention of Thabo Thamane, the chief executive of CEDA who assured them that they’d receive their dues as investors have injected new capital. Botswana Guardian investigation has established that the latest capital call of the Pula Steel which saw all the shareholders, except for BCL, injecting capital in order to save the company from collapsing, elevated CEDA to the majority shareholding at 49 percent after they bought equity. This automatically diluted BCL from 64.5 to 22 percent shareholding. Other shareholders are the Verma family and a citizen-owned company, Wealth Generation who own 23.5 and 5.5 percent respectively.
BG News has it on good authority that although BCL was represented at the board meeting when capital call was made, its representative, Nigel Dixon- Warren, who is the provisional liquidator, could not commit BCL as he does not have the mandate to either sell or buy on behalf of the company. It is said that the total capitalisation of Pula Steel is P29 million, and when CEDA bought equity, they did not only become the majority shareholder, but they took control and proposed to other shareholders that a management company should be appointed at Pula Steel.
BG News has learnt that CEDA has appointed a local audit firm, Grant Thornton which started last December. The first assignment of the latter was to do status records, meaning that the audit firm was mandated to scrutinise every document to ensure that all is in order. Part of the conditions that CEDA has set is that should Grant Thornton’s findings reveal any transgression when they scrutinise Pula Steel, then CEDA will refer such infractions to law enforcement agencies such as DCEC and others. CEDA has also proposed that Thornton should help to find suitable personnel for the positions of CEO, Chief Financial Officer and Technical Manager for Pula Steel.
BG News has established that the meeting that the CEDA did not attend led to their shares being diluted to 5.5 percent as they had not injected any capital. The same meeting led to BCL majority shares increasing to 64.5 percent, while Verma family went high to 23.5 percent with Wealth Generations staying at 6.5 percent.
BCL provisional liquidator, Nigel Warren- Dixon could not say much save that, “I am aware of what is taking place at the Pula Steel board because I sit there in my official capacity as provisional liquidator representing BCL. But, I am unable to discuss because Pula Steel is a private company and discussing such matters with other parties will be a breach of my duties in accordance with the Company’s Act.” The CEO of CEDA Thabo Thamane could not be drawn into much discussion but confirmed that Pula Steel will turn around and CEDA is committed to ensuring that jobs are protected and even more will be created as the plant operates.
Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency(CEDA) has introduced a simplified group funding to give opportunity to Small, Medium, Micro Enterprises to access funding without hassle.The new funding scheme named Mabogo-Dinku allows micro enterprises in a group of five to fifteen individuals in a group operating their own businesses to access funding.
Launching the scheme on Tuesday, CEDA Chief Executive, Thabo Thamane said unlike other CEDA products, the engagement and activities of this product follow clients where they have chosen to assemble according to their convenience without necessarily going to CEDA offices.“As the agency we launch Mabogo-Dinku with a high-level of confidence that it will provide greater social and economic impact to many Batswana who work very hard to create income for themselves and sustain the livelihood of their families,” said Thamane.
The product has been designed with unique features which include simplified application documentation, no detailed business plan required, no tangible security required and has shorter turnaround time. And it encourages savings culture.