Wednesday, December 1, 2021

After foiled hunger strike, disgruntled CEDA applicant walks 450 km to see Khama

After his hunger strike was interrupted by the police two months ago, Goabaone Chwene will on May 25th embark on a 450 kilometers walk from Francistown to Gaborone, where he intends to seek President Ian Khama’s intervention over what he calls unfair treatment by the Citizen Entrepreneurial Development agency (CEDA).

Chwene believes that CEDA rejected his business proposal in 2012 “without valid reasons”. He had applied for funding of over P3.8 million to plough lablab, a hyacinth bean often grown as forage for livestock. However, his application was turned down and he believes CEDA officials did so in bad faith. Following rejection of his proposal, the 30 year old father of two has revealed how he has been knocking on almost every door of authority in an attempt to have CEDA’s decision overturned, but to no avail.

“I lost count of the letters of appeal that I have been writing to the authorities regarding my disagreement with CEDA,” Chwene said in an interview last week.

He claims to have lost revenue amounting to over P9 million over the last three years while he was battling to have the CEDA decision overturned. Last year, Chwene embarked on a hunger strike and sat for three and a half days in front of CEDA offices in Francistown before the police took him away and charged him with common nuisance.

The police briefly detained and charged him with disturbing the peace. His case was then brought before Donga Customary Court President Tebogo Stephen but was postponed because CEDA officials who were supposed to testify against the young farmer failed to turn up. It was at that point that Francistown based lawyer Morgan Moseki offered to represent Chwene pro bono in what he later told the media was part of his profession’s social responsibility to help out for free once in a while. The Good Samaritan lawyer then wrote to the police to have the case transferred to the Magistrates’ Court so that Chwene could have legal representation.

In February this year, Chwene wrote a letter to the office of the Vice President asking for a meeting, but he was directed to take his appeal to the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Trade and Industry. A month later, on March 18th the Permanent Secretary acknowledged receipt of Chwene’s appeal. In the letter addressed to Chwene, a copy of which has been passed to Sunday Standard, the Permanent Secretary wrote, “Please be advised that we have requested information on the matter from CEDA office in Gaborone to assist us in processing your appeal.

We will communicate the outcome of your appeal at a later stage”. Two months passed without any correspondence from the Ministry of Trade and Chwene decided to organize what he has termed “a walk for justice” where he will walk from Francistown to Gaborone in an effort to seek audience with President Khama. Interestingly, just a day after Chwene told the Sunday Standard about his intended ‘walk for justice’, the Ministry called and informed him that they had finally received his files from CEDA.

Chwene however has decided to proceed with his walk as he says the call from the Ministry could be a delaying tactic. Chwene said he has received overwhelming support from sympathizers who have pledged to assist with logistics and moral support during his walk. He said he was grateful for the support he continues to get from Attorney Morgan Moseki as he provides legal advice on the envisaged walk.

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